Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf

In Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf by Judy Sierra, illustrated by J. Otto Seibold, we discover that the Big Bad Wolf has since retired to the Villain Villa Senior Center. He looks forward to checking the mail every day, but it's always bills bills bills! But one day he receives an invitation to come the library for a tea party. He doesn't much care for tea, but he loves cookies. His friend the crocodile informs him of proper etiquette by teaching him a catchy ditty. Mr. Wolf dresses in his best suit and is off to the library. After three cups a tea, he feels a burp coming on. Good thing he knows it's polite to say "excuse me" when one belches (although he didn't realize you say it after the fact, not before, and ends up announcing his faux pas to everyone)! This book is a really cute take on traditional characters that your child is sure to enjoy.

What's Under the Bed?

Joe Fenton's What's Under the Bed? introduces to a cute bespectacled boy named Fred, who would much rather play with toys the go to sleep. After some coaxing, he goes to lie down, but then... what's that sound? Is there something under the bed? Fred's imagination runs wild. Perhaps there's a monster hiding in his room. Is it red? Or green? Fat? Or thin? Does it have sharp teeth? Or long scary nails? What if it's hungry? Oh dear! We better take a look under there to make sure. There is something under the bed! It's Fred's teddy bear! What a relief. If your child has a fear of the dark this book might help put their mind at ease.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

P. Bear's New Year's Party

Paul Owen Lewis cordially invites us to the most smashing event of the season in P. Bear's New Year's Party. It's black tie of course, so only the most formally dressed of Polar Bear's friends will be there. An orca, some dairy cows, skunks, zebras, pandas, dalmations, and of course penguins are on the guest list. Help Polar Bear count down to his party, with the aid of a clock on each page and the setting sun and rising moon in the background of each dichromatic illustration. This book is great for teaching your child simple concepts of counting, colors (or lack thereof), and telling time. Plus it's just great to see a new year's party with a whale. I wish I was there!

I Can Save the Earth!

I Can Save the Earth! is from the line of "Little Green Books" teaching children about the environment. In this story we're introduced to Max, a little monster with some bad habits. Max throws his trash anywhere he pleases. He lets his sink overflow, and clogs his toilet with paper. He leaves every light in his house on, until one day there's a blackout. Max goes outside to see what caused it and discovers how beautiful the earth is. He hadn't noticed how much he loves the beach, and animals, and playing outside. Max changes his ways to help the earth. He conserves energy, recycles, reduces and reuses. He's a green monster now, and you can be too!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Neighborhood Mother Goose

The Neighborhood Mother Goose is one of my favorites by the fabulously talented Nina Crews. Crews was inspired by her neighborhood in Brooklyn to create this urban reprinting of traditional nursery rhymes. Each verse is illustrated photographically--pictures of real children with beautiful multi-cultural faces accompany each selection. Every page is a delight, whether it's Pat-a-cake with two girls in front of a bakery, Georgie Porgie on the playground, to market to market to buy a fat pig at the grocery store, or Mary Mary quite contrary watering her garden. It really modernizes and brings meaning to stories that seem trite and old-fashioned to the new generation. Check this book out for a spicy new taste of Mother Goose!

Even Firefighters Go to the Potty

Even Firefighters Go to the Potty is a hilarious book by Wendy and Naomi Wax, and illustrated by Stephen Gilpin. If you have a child who is hesitant to start using the potty, proof that everyone who's anyone sits on a toilet might be reassuring. As the title suggests, Firefighters use the potty. It's true! Police officers do too! Baseball players, construction workers, doctors and dentists--they all go to the potty. Astronauts use the potty (although its a little difficult with those bulky space-suits). When you're at a restaurant and wondering where the waiter is? He's probably on the potty (and most definitely washing his hands!) Do polar bears use the potty. No--but you can bet the zookeeper does!

Mouse Paint

Mouse Paint is one of several wonderful books concerning mice by Ellen Stoll Walsh. In this installment Walsh's mice are hiding from the cat, as usual, when they discover three jars of paint--one red, one yellow, and one blue. They, of course, jump right in (why not? there's a jar for each of them), and start dribbling colors onto a white piece of paper. When they step in each other's paint puddles (and do a little mouse dance) they discover that mixing colors together creates new colors!This is a fun book to help teach your child about colors, maybe with a craft to reinforce the lesson?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Duck for President

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin, and illustrated by Betsy Lewin, was incredibly popular around election season (check outs were usually accompanied by clever parents commenting that the duck seemed like a good candidate), but it's a great story for any time of the year. Duck lives on Farmer's Brown's farm. He and the other animals all have chores, but Duck doesn't like chores, so he decides to hold an election, which he subsequently wins. But running the farm is hard work, so he begins his campaign for governor. Soon Duck is head of the state, but this job too is extremely difficult. So Duck pulls out all the stops and runs for President (eventually retiring to write his memoirs). Duck for President is one of my favorite books! It's a kid-friendly commentary on politics that hopefully everyone can enjoy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Scaredy Squirrel

Make sure you wash your hands before reading Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt. Because Scaredy Squirrel is afraid of germs. In fact, Scaredy Squirrel is afraid of just about everything. This is why he never leaves his tree. This has advantages (less chance of being attacked by martians/sharks/tarantulas/etc) and disadvantages (it's kind of boring). He spends his days just eating and admiring the view, until one day he sees a bee! In his haste to flee, Scaredy Squirrel abandons his emergency kit, with its top secret exit plan, and jumps into the unknown, discovering he's actually a flying squirrel, and that the unknown isn't as terrifying as he thought.

My Many Colored Days

My Many Colored Days is a Dr. Seuss book you may not be familiar with. It was published posthumously by his widow Audrey Geisel. He had written it, inspired by the view from his study, and envisioned it to be illustrated by an artist with a completely different style from his own. That mantle was taken up by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, who created beautiful paintings for the book. "You'd be surprised how many ways I change on different colored days," Seuss writes, articulating how colors can affect, or be used to explain, our emotions, and how our moods may fluctuate throughout the week. My favorite pages are for feeling brown, and sort of "low down," immediately followed by bright shades of yellow and feeling like a "busy buzzy bee!"

Alien Al

Alien Al is from the Funny Faces line of children's books, with interactive features. Each of the pages have tactile elements, and introduce us to a new alien friend. Izzy is an interplanetary explorer with googly eyes and a furry green mouth! Zak and Jak visit the White House for fun and take a picture of their rough pink polka dots! Gaz is visiting a cousin on Mars in his shiny spaceship, and Beelo is having a birthday party on his parents' moon base! The last page is the best! At the alien dance, Deejay "shakes and moves, to spacey sounds and future beats, and cosmic disco grooves" which you can hear for yourself when you turn the page!

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime

Do you have a little dinosaur living in your house? Does your child like to ROAR? If the answer to those questions is "yes" then Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea is the perfect book for you! Nothing can stop the little dinosaur in this story! A pile of leaves? Defeated! A big slide? Crushed! A bowl of spaghetti? Beaten! Talking grown-ups? Overcome! Again and again, little dinosaur is challenged, but he roars his way to victory every time. He is the champion of taking a bath, and triumphant at tooth brushing! But what happens when little dinosaur faces his biggest challenge yet: Bedtime? He roars and roars until he is too tired to roar anymore. Bedtime wins for now, but I'm sure little dinosaur will be back to roar again soon!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh provides ten fun and easy eco-tips. These are all kid-friendly activities that a child (and their gaurdian) can do to help the planet without leaving home. Walsh suggest turning off the lights when you leave the room, or turning off the water while you brush your teeth. She also provides compelling reasons to follow her advice, for instance, remind your parents to unplug the TV when you're not watching it because "many electrical appliances use energy even when they are turned off. Of course there's a page about recylcing your cans, glass, compost, plastic, and paper. In fact, the book itself is made out of 100% recycled material!

Best Friend on Wheels

Best Friend on Wheels by Debra Shirley, illustrated by Judy Stead, is a great way to teach your child that people with disabilities are still people. Our narrator is a second grader who's teacher asks her to show "the new girl" around. She is surprised to see that "the new girl," Sarah, was in a wheelchair. At first she didn't know what to do, but once she got to know Sarah, she discovered they had a lot in common! They became best friends and now do all their favorite things together: painting, reading, having sleepovers, scrapbooking, and hot air balooning! They even go dancing--Sarah loves ballet--"Shes spins on her wheels and twirls every which way." Some people only see a wheelchair when they look at Sarah, but our narrator only sees her best friend.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Where's My Teddy?

It's a case of mistaken identity in the forest with Where's My Teddy by Jez Alborough. A little boy, Eddie, is searching for his lost teddy bear, Freddie, in the woods. The trees are dark and scary, and Eddie really just wants to curl up in bed with his favorite toy. But what does he find? An enormous teddy bear! "How did you get to be this size?" he wonders, until he hears a voice crying outside the clearing. Suddenly, a giant bear is stomping toward him, carrying Freddie, and bewailing his smallness. "My ted!" rejoices the bear, and then "A boy!" he screams in fright! The two exchange teddies and dash is opposite directions. The story ends happily with both Eddie and the bear in their own snuggly beds, with their own cuddly teds.

Punk Farm

Punk Farm is a fantastic read by Jarrett J. Krosoczka! What do you think farm animals do when the farmer goes to sleep at night? Well, on Farmer Joe's farm the end of the day is only the beginning of the fun for his animals. They have to get ready for their concert! Pig plugs in his guitar, Cow sets up her drums, Chicken gets her keyboard, Goat tunes his bass, and Sheep checks the microphone. The other animals are waiting outside to buy tickets, and soon the barn is packed! The crowd goes wild as the band leads them in a punk rock rendition of "Old MacDonald." Thank you Wisconsin! And don't miss the sequel Punk Farm On Tour.

Don't Worry Bear

Don't Worry Bear is an adorable book by Greg Foley. The titular protagonist, a little bear, is concerned for his friend the caterpillar. Caterpillar is hard at work on a cocoon. He's going to stay inside it for a while, but promises Bear he'll see him soon. Bear comes to check on him at night with a flashlight, but Caterpillar assures him he's not afraid of the dark. Bear comes again when it's windy and rainy and snowy, but Caterpillar assures him he's well protected from the elements. Bear is almost care-free until one day he visits the cocoon and find it lying empty on the ground. Caterpillar is gone, but in his place is Bear's newly transformed friend, a beautiful silk moth!
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