Friday, December 23, 2011

Book 97

Books I Buy for Christmas:

Bad Kitty, Nick Bruel, Roaring Press Books 2007

The star of Bad Kitty is a black and white female kitty who is very sweet, until her food dish is empty. Then she becomes a terror through the alphabet. The concept is funny and even oddly educational, with the alphabet words and the cautionary tale, and the illustrations are delightfully quirky.

I have a sweet black and white cat and a sweet female cat, who both turn into not-so-pleasant kitties when there food dish is empty. When I was recovering from a broken leg, their food dish was empty more often than usual. So, Bad Kitty, I bought for my husband. I'm sure it will end up in my son's room, but it will amuse me on Christmas Day when my husband opens this gift.

*For other reviews on books to buy, please see my companion blog, Books I Buy and Why

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Book 96

Books I Buy for Christmas:

I Want My Hat Back, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen, Candlewick Press 2011

This is a fun, quirky little book. Most reviewers/purchasers loved this book because of the twisted ending. Some hated it because they felt the ending suspended reality too much (as if talking animals didn't do that already). Anyway, the talking bear is wonderfully polite, if not terribly understanding.

The illustrations, not surprisingly, are fun and quirky. So the only real surprise is the ending, and I'm not telling you what it is.

*For other reviews on books to buy, please see my companion blog, Books I Buy and Why

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 23

Frosty the Snowman

Frosty Fairy Tale?
Old silk magic hat sparks life
In three balls of snow

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book 95

Books I Buy for Christmas:

Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems, Hyperion Books 2004

In this cautionary tale written and illustrated by the talented Mo Willems, Trixie is a toddler who carries a toy rabbit named Knuffle Bunny with her everywhere she goes. When Trixie misplaces her toy rabbit, she becomes most upset.

In my house, Thomas is a toddler who carries a toy rabbit named Hop Hop with him everywhere he goes. When Thomas misplaces his toy rabbit, he becomes most upset.

'Nuff said.

*For other reviews, please see my companion blog Books I Buy and Why

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book 94

Books I Buy for Christmas:

Boom Chicka Rock, by John Archambault, illustrated by Suzanne Tanner Chitwood, Philomel Books 2004

A few weeks ago, my little boy checked out Chicka Chicka Boom Boom from the library. He loved the rhythm of the book. So I did a little research and found Boom Chicka Rock. Boom Chicka Rock used numbers like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom uses letters (that will be another review), and is every bit as silly and fun.

The illustrations are bright and intense, although a bit too rough for my taste. That doesn't they won't appeal to a three-year-old, because he often surprises me.

Anyway, I can't wait until I can read this little rhythmic gem to my son. After Christmas, of course.

*For other reviews, please see my companion blog, Books I Buy and Why

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book 93

Books I Buy for Christmas:

The Spirit of Christmas by Nancy Tillman

The Spirit of Christmas was another Kohl's Cares find. I'll try not to gush, but I do love the Kohl's Cares program. This book came with an adorable plush lion, which represents the most striking illustration in this book. All of the artwork is truly beautiful, but the double pages containing the lion, lamb and dove and arresting in their simplicity and beauty.

The words for the book again came from a song, so they again read like a poem. The words are fine, and at time quite good; however this book with a lesser artist would not have worked nearly as well.

*For other reviews on books to buy, please see my other blog, Books I Buy and Why

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 22

The Seven Swans

Treed silent sister
Knits thirteen nettle sleeves for
Seven swan brothers

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book 92

Books I Buy for Christmas:

It's Time to Sleep, My Love, written by Eric Metaxas, illustrated by Nancy Tillman, MacMillan 2008, reissued through Kohl's Cares

I know I've raved about the Kohl's Cares program in the past, so today I will try to contain myself. Still, a beautiful, hardbound book for $5, and the proceeds go to a cause that helps children -- what's not to love?

Even though there were four titles available the day I went to Kohl's, I settled for two and bought the plush animals that went with both titles. When I flipped through It's Time to Sleep, My Love, I fell in love with the tiger illustration: It is breathtakingly beautiful. My son wanted a panda bear, and since the panda bear went with the book, this book was an easy choice.

All the illustrations in the book are stunning. The writing is broken down so there are only a few lines of text per illustration; therefore, more stunning illustration. The text originally was a song, so naturally it reads like a well-rhythmed poem. The writing is good, but honestly I don't think you buy this book for the writing. You buy it for the spectacular artwork. And the panda. And to benefit children.

*For other reviews on books to buy, please see my companion blog, Books I Buy and Why

Monday, December 5, 2011

Book 91

Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Suess, Random House 1960

Yesterday I took my brother to the main VA building in downtown Charleston. As usual, I had my little boy with me as well. The very kind lady at the Information Desk gave my son a book to read while we were there. It was: Green Eggs and Ham.

I've tried reading a few other Suess books to my son before but they just seemed a bit too long for him. Not so with Green Eggs and Ham. He sat still and listened to the entire story. And so did most of the grizzled veterans that were sitting with us in the waiting room. It turns out that Green Eggs and Ham is my brother's favorite book (not just one of his favorites).

When we finished at the VA I tried to return the book to very kind lady. She wouldn't take it back and told us it was for my little boy. So now, not only do I love this book, I love the memory associated with it.

Even as I type, my brother is giving a dramatic reading of this book to my little boy. Yet another happy memory being created.

*For other reviews on books to buy, please see my companion blog Books I Buy and Why

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 21

Little Red Riding Hood

Don’t stop, Little Red!
Wolves lurk ev'rywhere. Even
On road to Grandma’s

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day 30

I don't know, maybe Fairy Tale Haiku? ;)

PiMoBoId -- Day 29

On Sunday I was involved in a minor car accident. As a result, my plans for the day changed and the plans of the driver and passenger of the other car changed. The story wouldn't make much of a children's picture book, but it could make an interesting concept book (like Zoom).

Monday, November 28, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day 28

Buster went to the vet today and made a new friend...

PiBoMoId- Day 27

Loads of stories in the Catholic Bible...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 20

Peter Pan in Kensington Garden

Peter never aged,
But his mother and friends did --
Such a sad story!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Book 89

Brainy Baby ABC's, Brainy Baby Company LLC 2005

This will be a fairly short review because I've already written about two other books in this collection.

I've been enjoying watching my little boy "read" this book lately because he recognizes almost every animal or item, and if he doesn't, he'll say "What's that?", and because he recognizes all the capital letters and is starting to learn the lower-case ones. A year or so ago, we were lucky if he spotted the dog or cat or moon or zebra. It's great fun to watch your child grow smarter by the day.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

PiBoMoId- Day 26

This Thanksgiving we had a family of friends of my brother over. My three-year-old son was quite taken with their ten-year-old daughter. I just saw the photos. I think there is a story there...

Friday, November 25, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day 25

In the December issue of the Parenting magazine wheels for empty boxes were featured. So you have to wonder, where would a box take you?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day 24

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day 23

Tonight when I was reading my son his bible story, I read one of the parables. So I thought, maybe parables should be modernized...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day 22

Watching my little boy dance gave me today's story idea.

Monday, November 21, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day 21

Little boy helped me make cookies today. While it was kind of frustrating to have his help, it did give me a story idea.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day 20

I was warning my brother about our cats: Buster bites and Chloe claws. Then I thought, what a great title!

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 19

The Brown Owl

King dead; princess young
King dead? Or has he transformed?
Whooo is the brown owl?

This charming story was written by a very young Ford Madox, and, even better, illustrated by his grandfather Francis Ford Madox of the Pre-Raphealite Brotherhood.

PiBoMoId- Day 19

Yesterday neither my little boy nor his Uncle Jeff wanted to get dressed so they ran around the house in their pajamas. And that gave me an idea...

Friday, November 18, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day 18

This morning I took my little boy for a longish walk around the neighborhood. The weather had changed overnight, so again it was Fall and a treat for the senses. I think there is a story there...

PiBoMoId- Day 17

My little boy had his birthday on November 12, then his Uncle Jeff had one on the 16th. I thought Thomas might be jealous and not understand the cake and presents weren't for him. I was wrong. There's a story there...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day 16

Yesterday was Thomas' three-year-old well visit. He's very healthy, but a trip to the doctor's could make a good story.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day 15

Going shopping with a three-year-old can be such an adventure. I think there is a story in that...

Monday, November 14, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day 14

I spent a good portion of the night up with a sick puppy. Think there's a story there?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

PiMoBoId -- Day 13

See Sunday Poem...

Sunday Poem

I'm taking a break from Fairy Tales in honor of my son's birthday yesterday:

The Day Before Three:

On the eve of your birthday
You destroyed your room
You forced open the closet
And broke the vacuum

You upturned your toy box
And dismantled a sled
You shattered a frame
Tracked glass in your bed

You pulled down your curtains:
Rod, shears, blinds and all
You snapped a toy phone
And deflated a ball

You moved the rocking chair
To climb up your shelf
It is no small wonder
You did not hurt yourself

You did all this
When you were still two --
Now that you’re three
What more will you do?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

PiMoBoId -- Day 12

Sometimes things you joke about in your house could turn into story ideas...

Friday, November 11, 2011

PiMoBoId -- Day 11

We just got back from Applebee's where my brother ate free for Veteran's Day. Brilliant idea: the veterans felt honored and the restaurant was packed all day. So, Happy Veterans' Day! I just know there is a story idea there.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

PiMoBoId -- Day Ten

Today my "boys" inspired me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

PiMoBoId -- Day Nine

Story Time day at the library -- there's a story in that!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

PiMoBoId -- Day Eight

I'm starting to think that my kid will never be potty-trained! At least there is a story idea there...

Monday, November 7, 2011

PiMoBoId -- Day Seven

What do cats think all day? Who knows? Could be a story...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

PiMoBoId -- Day Six

Three-year-olds are so curious. Fortunately, that gave me my idea for today.

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 18

Little Mermaid

No man worth losing
Your voice or your true nature,
Lost little mermaid

Saturday, November 5, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day Five

Our gorgeous Fall foliage inspired me today.

Friday, November 4, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day Four

Today, my dog inspired me. What inspires you?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day Three

I wrote down my idea of the day -- somehow, I think I will run out of ideas before I run out of days this month, though.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

PiBoMoId- Day Two

OK -- I wrote down my idea for today. :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Book 88

Brainy Baby -- 123's, Brainy Baby Company 2005

Brainy Baby -- 123's was another book in the four-book set I bought when I first found out I was pregnant. The great thing about buying books like this: They are gender-neutral. Whoo-hoo! Anyway, these books having been kicking around our house for three-and-a-half years and have been in the hands of our little boy for nearly three years. Of all the books in the series, this is the only one that is shedding its paper cover (with little boy help, of course). I still have to give this book set points for virtual indestructibility.

Even before Thomas was learning to count, he loved the pictures of the cats, monkey, dogs and rubber ducks. Then, when he was learning to count to ten, he liked to count the objects. Now that he can count to ten, and most days even twenty, he likes to recognize the numbers on the page.

So, all in all, another very solid investment if you are looking for books for a soon-to-be baby, a baby or a toddler.

*For other reviews on books to buy, please see my blog Books I Buy and Why

PiBoMoID- Day One

I'm not entirely sure how this thing works, but I've written down my first idea. Am I supposed to post anything anywhere?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 17

In time for Hallowe'en, a truly spooky fairy tale:

The Necklace of Princess Fioremonde

Beautiful princess,
Evil heart. Suitor princes
Form her witch necklace

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book 87

Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram, Walker Book 1994

I remember one of my co-workers raving about how much her two little girls loved this book -- those "little girls" are now in their twenties. I wonder if they still love this book.

This was another book that I put in my son's Easter basket this years. Since then, whenever anyone says "I love you" to him, he's been adding "so much". It is irresistibly cute. The last line of this book is also irresistible. Seriously, if anyone told me he loved me "right up to the moon -- and back", I'd be tempted to run away with him.

"Little Nutbrown Hare" and "Big Nutbrown Hare" trip me up with every reading, and, besides my son thinks that "hare" is what is on his head, so he gets confused. He does, however, know what a rabbit is. He thinks the adorably quirky illustrations are rabbits, so that works.

*For other reviews, please see my blog Books I Buy and Why

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 16

A little late and not strictly a fairy tale, but still one of my favorite stories:

Many Moons

Princess and Jester:
Wiser than the wise. They know
Secrets of the moons

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book 86

BANANA! by Ed Vere, Puffin Book 2007

One of my friends, Louise, recommended this book in her review blog (Louise's Blog). It sounded interesting, and, since our local library did not have a copy, I ordered it.

The first thing I noticed about the book was how similar the author's name was to the name of the man who may have written Shakespeare's plays (Edward DeVere) -- and now a movie is coming out about him (DeVere, not Vere). That little bit of trivia has nothing to do with this book.

Two words are all that are employed in this book. One, of course, being "banana"; the second being the magic word. So this is a very simple book: My son can read it.

The illustration is knock-out; almost literally as the color is so intense that it nearly jumps off the page. My son loves the stunning background colors and the exaggerated expressions of the monkeys. He has no trouble following the spirit of this story.

All in all, I am so glad my friend found this little gem for me.

*For other reviews, please see my blog Books I Buy and Why

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 15

Sleeping Beauty

Hundred years of sleep --
Sure, she’s beautiful. Dear Prince,
Don’t you think she’s old?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book 85

The House At Pooh Corner, written by A. A. Milne, with decoration by Ernest H. Shepard, 1928 E. P. Dutton

My little boy has turned his affection to the Pooh cast of characters. He still has to have both Hop-Hops to sleep at night, but quite often there is a Pooh Bear or Piglet or both in that same bed. Eeyore waits for Thomas in the back seat of our car. He is still looking for his tail. And right now Tigger is perched atop the tea trolley in the kitchen, just ready to bounce into action. So buying the second Pooh book for that little boy was a pretty sure bet. The tales contained within are every bit as charming as those in the first.

Once again the beautiful work of E. H. Shepard graces the pages of the book. Only this time, those lovely pen and ink illustrations have been tinted, so they virtually pop off the pages they grace.

*For other reviews, please see my blog Books I Buy and Why

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 14

Lame Prince and Travelling Cloak

Stuff-and-Nonsense brings
World to lame, imprisoned prince --
Then the crown -- What lark!

This is another Victorian Fairy Tale. Can you guess what I've been reading? :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 13

Pied Piper

Strange fellow with pipe
To the river leads the rats,
To cave, the children

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book 84

Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne, decorated by Ernest H. Shepard, E.P. Dutton 1926.

When Winnie-the-Pooh first came out in 1926, Dorothy Parker reviewed it. She famously wrote that it was so sweet she "frowed up". If I were reading the book as an adult without the view of children, I'd probably agree -- but then why would I be reading it as an adult? As I did read the book as a child and I do now have a child, however much I admire Ms. Parker, I'd have to disagree with her wittily caustic review. Winnie-the-Pooh is a delightful read for children.

The first illustration of Christopher Robin dragging Edward Bear down the stairs looked made me laugh because it looks very much like my son dragging Hop-Hop down the stairs, and Hop-Hop is his most cherished possession. E. H. Shepard is one of the best children's illustrators. The movement and spirit he captures in simple pen and ink drawings is nothing short of amazing.

Please note, there is no mention of Walt Disney in the above review. There is a reason for that.

*For other reviews on books to buy, please see my blog Books I Buy and Why

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 12

Jack and the Beanstalk

Simple boy trades cow
For beans to sky and giant --
Goose, harp, boy come down

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book 83

Animalogy: Animal Analogies, written by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Cathy Morrison, Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2011

I have another book downstairs to review. This one came in through the front door by way of the post because it is a brand-new book.

As with all of Marianne Berkes' books, when I first read it I thought "What a great idea! Why didn't I think of that?" And that is what makes the books of Marianne Berkes stand out in a crowd. In my years as a children's librarian and later as a mother of an avid "reader", I have read classics, old and new, but never have I read a book like Animalogy. I've read several opposite books. I've read quite a few comparison books. But I have never read an analogy book for toddlers/preschooler before. Even if my not-quite-three-year-old does not fully understand the concept of analogy, at least when it is presented to him in school, it will be a reacquaintance and not a new introduction.

The illustrations in this book are sharp. I would have thought almost too sharp, especially the lion's and dog's teeth; however, my little boy does not seem to agree with me. At his age, he still likes cute and cuddly -- Classic Winnie the Pooh, but he also likes sharp and spiky -- rubbery, ugly dinosaurs. I think he likes the danger that can be found in the natural environment, from a safe distance, of course. Anyway, the animals are instantly recognizable to him and he seems to prefer that over the silly cartoony ones that could be one thing as easily as another. And, when it comes down to it, so do I.

So, if you are like me and are hoping to raise a genius (or at least a smart, young reader), you will need to add this book to your children's library.

*For reviews on other books, please see my blog Books I Buy and Why

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 11

King of the Golden River

From gold mug, comes king
From kind acts, water holy
From boy, wealth regained

(King of the Golden River is a Victorian Fairy Tale)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bonus Poem

New Fish

We have a new fish
A peacocky-blue fish

A spikes-on-tail fish
A likes-to-sail fish

He's a swims-through-plants fish
And a doesn't-wear-pants fish

I think he's a good fish
He's a ready-for-food fish

We have a new fish
A peacocky-blue fish

We don't have the red fish
Because that is a dead fish

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 10

OK, I had fun with this one:

Snow White?

She lived in forest
With seven men -- She is called
Snow White. No! Really?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book 82

Big Red Barn, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Felicia Bond, HarperCollins 1995

Another book has migrated downstairs for my review. Before I wrote this review, I had to do a little research on the author. I vaguely remembered that she had no children and died young -- I was right: she never married, had no children and died of a post-surgery blood clot in 1952 at the age of 42. Yet her work lives on in a big way. Why?

Big Red Barn, like Goodnight Moon, reads like a lullaby. It is about impossible to not lull your voice when reading it. Its phrases end with a gentle rhyme, not forced-feeling rhyming couplets. And, also like Goodnight Moon, as the book winds down, the phrases become shorter until they just disappear and the story is over. That's why an adult at a child's bedtime would like. Why a toddler likes it, I don't know. It could be the animal noises interspersed in the story. It could be the lullaby effect of the book. It could be anything. I just know that my toddler likes it.

Felicia Bond is very well-known for her illustrations in the "If You Give..." series, and rightfully so. Her pictures brim with personality, color and humor. None of those qualities are lost in this edition of Margaret Wise Brown's classic.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 9

The Reluctant Dragon

Exchange of poems?
That’s what we do! Maybe we
Are good dragons, too.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bonus Poem

My Leg

No boot, and only sometimes a cane
I can go hours without any pain
My leg’s a bit nubbly
The hair’s a bit stubbly
But I wouldn’t have the cheek
To complain --
I only have therapy one time a week!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 8

Red shoes

Orphan girl, red shoes;
She dances without ceasing.
Loses feet, not head

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book 81

Brainy Baby -- Shapes and Colors, Brainy Baby Company LLC, 2005

When I first found out I was pregnant, I went shopping at my local Waldenbooks to pick up some board books. Sadly, the Waldenbooks is gone now, but I still have the books I found on that trip.

I spotted the Brainy Baby collection and knew I just had to have it for my little peanut. After all, I wanted him (or her) to have every advantage. Shapes and Colors is one of a set of four, and I'm reviewing it first, because it happens to be downstairs (thanks, Thomas), and carrying things up and down the stairs is still a challenge.

What to say about this book? Well, first it is very sturdy. This was one of the first books I let my little boy hold when he was still a baby, and it still is in near-perfect shape. As the title would indicate, it is very colorful. It does present shapes in an easy-for-a-toddler-to-understand way. Apart from calling a rectangle a square, my not-yet-three-year-old has mastered this book. And toddlers/preschoolers really seem to love it. After all, my little boy brought it downstairs for me to read with him.

The other three books in this collection are just as good, and I'll be reviewing them as they show up down the stairs.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 7

The Ring and the Rose

"Little misfortune",
Fairy Blackstick, ring and rose --
Rightful royals wed

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book 80

How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten?, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague, Blue Sky Press 2004

A few weeks ago I reviewed "How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?" and wrote that it was my favorite dinosaur book so far. It still is. However, I think "How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten?" may be my son's favorite.

I'm still recovering from my badly broken leg, so although I can hobble around downstairs or upstairs wearing my boot and not using a crutch or a cane (I look like toddler walking!), and cannot go upstairs or downstairs without using a crutch or a cane and relying on the handrail. Therefore, I cannot carry anything upstairs or downstairs. I thought I was out of books downstairs to review until my son hunted through his library, found this book, and said "again". That "again" is the charm of this book.

The last question in this book is "Now that he's counted from one to ten, how does a dinosaur count again?" And the answer, which my son gave when he handed me this book, is "again". Next to "no", "again" and "more" are probably his favorite words. Because this book was written years before he was born, I'm guessing he is not alone in toddler world in favoring that word. And to have it at the end of a counting story, well, that's just perfection for him.

I love, love, love Mark Teague's illustrations (again!). My only complaint would be that he is so brilliant and I am so jealous -- but I can get over that and buy his brilliantly illustrated books.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 6

Frog Prince

“Kiss me!” croaks the frog
“No!” cries princess, “Well, OK”
Prince from frog becomes

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 5


Dad dead; step-mom mean --
Wretched Ella slaves until
Godmother saves day

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book 79

Over in Australia: Amazing Animals Down Under, written by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Jill Dubin, Dawn Publications 2011

Marianne Berkes' books are an absolute delight to read. Not only are they entertaining, as all good pre-school books should be, they are extremely informative. Whenever I read one of her books, I, as well as my toddler, learn something. I can't even imagine how much research must go into these books. So when her newest book about Australia was released this year, I had to buy it. And, of course, have her sign it, because as I've mentioned before, she is very gracious about that.

The illustrators for her books are amazingly creative, especially for the "Over in..." books, using polymer clay for some titles and for this one, paper cuts. The depth created by these three dimensional media is rich and breathtakingly lovely.

Over in Australia, like the other "Over in..." previous titles is set to the tune of Over in the Meadow, so once you work it out for the first one, the following books pretty much fall into place. Over in Australia, also like the other "Over in...", is a beautiful book and an educational and fun (really!) read. I would recommend the entire series for any toddler/pre-schooler.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 4

Ugly Duckling

“Ugly Duckling, go!”
Quacked the others. So he went
And became a swan

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 3


Your hair need cutting?
See wrathful witch in tower --
Prince can climb no more

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book 78

How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague, Blue Sky Press 2009.

If you know anything about Jane Yolen's fantastic books for young adults, you might be surprised to see her name behind the wildly successful Dinosaur books for toddlers. Then again, maybe you wouldn't be. A well-written book is a well-written book, and Jane Yolen is a master at her craft.

Originally, I bought this book for my son because it appeared on the list of 100 Picture Books put out by the South Carolina State Library. I am familiar with most of the books on the list, having been a children's librarian until fairly recently, and then continuing to follow newly released books through the library, and I'm not crazy about all of them, so I won't be investing in all of them. The Dinosaur book, however, seemed like a safe bet. Even though I didn't know this particular book, I knew enough of the series to think that my son would like it. And I was right.

So far, of all the Dinosaur books I've read, this one is my favorite. When a book starts out "You woke up this morning is such a bad mood", it is pretty easy for me to connect the dinosaurs in the book with my toddler. And, more importantly, it is also pretty easy for my toddler to see a good deal of himself in the dinosaurs.

And do we read it often? Oh, yeah. We've only had this book for about two weeks and already I have the text memorized.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fairy Tail Haiku -- 2

Beauty and the Beast

Man turns into beast --
A rose, time, love of Beauty --
Beast turns into man

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book 39 -- Addendum: The Cat Came Back

(From June 12, 2011)

The Cat Came Back, by Fred Penner, illustrated by Renee Reichert. Roaring Books Press, 2005

I shattered my leg about three weeks ago, and I live in a two-story house. So, for the past three weeks, I've been living in the first floor of the house. Most of my son's books are upstairs in his room. We brought a few books downstairs so that I could do the bedtime stories with my husband for my son. The Cat Came Back was one of the books my SON brought downstairs.

When I reviewed this book in May of last year, I gave you my opinion. I re-read the review today, and, while I agree with what I wrote, I didn't nearly do this book justice.

Right now, this book is my son's absolute favorite book, even when his daddy sings the song. From repeated readings/singings, he's learned the words at the end of every line. It is hilarious to hear him say "give the cat the boot" and "run amuck", and the "ho, ho, ho" spurts out at the most inopportune (but funny) times, like when the lady tried to cut in front of my husband and son in the grocery store line. But funniest of all must be when he says the lines in the final verse, "crash", "meow" and "roar". This child is a born actor.

So my two-and-a-half year old highly recommends this book for all toddlers.

*For other reviews on books to buy, see my other blog: Book I Buy and Why

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fairy Tale Haiku 1

A few months ago I read an article about how people were summarizing the librettos of opera on Twitter. I was intrigued. My favorite ones didn't even use half the Twitter characters. So, in the spirit of brevity, I thought, why not fairy tales in haiku? My first entry is, of course, Cupid and Psyche, because it is the mother of all fairy tales. :)

Cupid and Psyche:

Cupid loves Psyche--
Psyche fears, frets, loses, works.
Psyche wins Cupid

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Cast Came Off...

This little re-worked poem is based on my son's favorite current book and his purple cast coming off...

The cast came off
On the 15th
The cast came off
I think it was a Wednesday
The cast came off --
No more breaks, I pray!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book 77

Baby Einstein: What Floats?, by Julie Aigner-Clark, illustrated by Nadeem Zaidi, Hyperion Books 2003.

(From May 15, 2011)

As I was reading this very soggy and soap-slimed book to my son in the bathtub tonight (he was in the tub, not me), I realized I had yet to review this book.

I have to say, I did not buy this book; it was given to my son when he was three days old by my former co-worker and dear friend, Louise N. But even though I did not buy the book, it has been read to my son more often, with the exception of Goodnight Moon and Top Cat, than any other book. We started reading it to him when he first started using the big bathtub to take a bath. Not long after that he came down with chickenpox and we would read this book to him four or five times while we were waiting for the Aveeno Oatmeal bath to take effect.

What Floats? is one of those (so far) indestructible, plastic, waterproof books. It is light, squishy and, not surprisingly, floats. It is also a simple rhyming book with very colorful illustrations. And, of course, it is designed to be taken into the tub with the child. My little boy has been through many, many bath toys, but this book has always been right there with them, and he still gets excited when I read it to him.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Eloquent Tail -- the end

OK, this probably will not be the last poem in the series when I put them all together, but it is the last reverso on this subject.

Striped tail wild cat
on my
beautiful coat.

beautiful coat
on my
striped tail wild cat.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday poem -- revised nursery rhyme

Two days after I came home from the hospital in a wheelchair, my son made like a monkey and climbed out of his bed. Unfortunately, he had a very hard landing.

Thomas has a purple cast,
A purple cast,
A purple cast.
Thomas has a purple cast
And a broken wrist

He climbed out of his crib one day
Crib one day
Crib one day.
He climbed out of his crib one day
And landed on the floor

So now he has a big boy bed
Big boy bed
Big boy bed
So now he has a big boy bed
Of which he can slip out

Even with his purple cast
His purple cast
His purple
Even with his purple cast
He still climbs out of bed.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday poem -- Eloquent Tail continues:

Spotted: Wild cat
to chase the little boy,
her tail
she curls.

She curls,
her tail
to chase. The little boy
spotted wild cat.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday's poem

Here is a poem I wrote Wednesday morning, before I fell. Although I am very pleased our backyard no longer has a dumpster, port-a-potty, torn up sod or wax myrtles, I am a less excited about going out and using it right now. :(

The story of our back yard:

It started all pristine and green
Except for some ugly weed-trees.
Up went the garage, up tore the yard,
And walking around was really hard.
With roots uncovered
The trees still hovered.
Not only did our yard look stranger,
But it presented a clear danger.
And so we decided to pay
Someone to take the trees away
And lay some grass of brilliant green.
Maybe then it will pristine.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What not to do...

...On a beautiful Spring morning in May.

Do not wear heavy tread shoes on rough brick stairs with no railing, turn your ankle, fall with your weigh on leg of said turned ankle. What happens: A nice clean break in the tibia; a twisted, splintered break in the fibula; a broken and sprained ankle; loads of torn and stretched ligaments; not to mention a crazy amount of bruising and road burn all down the leg. This is even worse if it is your favored leg.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book 76

What's Up, Duck? A Book of Opposites, by Tad Hills, Schwartz & Wade Book, NY 2008

I LOVE the original Duck and Goose book. The only reason I haven't yet bought it is because it is still a little long and a bit advanced for a two-(and-a-half)-year-old. So when I saw this book on the South Carolina Libraries 100 Picture Books for Preschool Children list, I thought it would make a great little board book to put in my son's Easter basket.

Before I bought the book, I did read some buyer's reviews about it and not all were positive. This is a book about opposites, so it is a concept book. With this, as with all concept books, your can't just read it if you want your toddler to understand it. You have to explain and demonstrate. It isn't difficult. For example, for the near and far concept, I held the book really close to my little boy's face and then moved it way back. He gets it and thinks it's funny. He also really likes the loud and quiet (especially the loud).

Anyway, sometimes you can't just read a book and expect the child to grasp the concept and understand -- how easy would potty-training be then?! Sometimes the reader has to do a little extra work. If you do, this is a great book for toddlers. And I love it almost as much as the original Duck and Goose book.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why.

Sunday poem -- Eloquent Tail continues:

Cat’s tail
little boy

Little boy
cat’s tail

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Book 75

Pat the Bunny, by Dorothy Kunhardt, Golden Book 1940

This year for Easter, my little boy got a basket of books. He also received some small stuffed animals and a little chocolate, but mostly he got books. He loved it. And he loved this book to pieces, literally. In fact, after I write this review I will have to try to mend the book.

I bought this book for his Easter basket because it was on the South Carolina Libraries list of 100 Picture Books for Toddlers. I did not own this book as a child and my mom won't admit to owning a copy. Before I purchased the book, I read some scathing reviews, so I was hesitant, but I figured with a matching rabbit I couldn't go too far wrong.

I should say, as if you don't already know, my son at two-and-a-half is a toddler and probably the exact market for whom this book is written. And he loves it! He would not put it down, except reluctantly for bath-time, for a week. I can't tell you exactly what he loves so much about it because he seems to enjoy every page. This book appeals to all his sense (alas, even taste) in every sense.

If I am lacking in supplies and skill to mend this particular copy, I will be looking for another, hardier version, because he really wants this book back.

*For other reviews, please see my other blog Book I Buy and Why

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day poem, sort of...

Here's a silly little poem I wrote under the inspiration of my son's foam alphabet letters:

I loves U
By jumping the Q
H clings to I
To hail a “hi”
N with O
Form a resounding “no”,
But O slips away
To join kooky K

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I never do this, but...

Sometimes you find such a great deal that you want to tell everyone about it. And I did.

Another thing I almost never do is buy jewelry -- I make jewelry -- so something has to be outstanding or very shiny for me to buy it.

On Etsy I found Surfside Sea Glass Jewelry (, and in the "shop" I found some gorgeous silver-plated filigree lockets with sea glass inside. The pieces were stunning. So I ordered three different styles; two for gifts and one for me. Those three pieces were so beautiful that I ordered three more. Again, one for me, two for gifts. The prices were outstanding. The Seller had problems with one of the chains, so she sent me an additional sterling chain at no extra charge, and she sent me a fourth necklace in my second order as a free gift. So that makes three for me to keep and still have enough for gifts. Happy, happy me.

Seriously, if you were looking for unusual and lovely bridesmaid gifts or anything like that, check out her shop.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Book 74

Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef, written by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Jeanette Canyon, Dawn Publication, 2004

My son is not yet two-and-a-half, and can count to ten by himself. What does that have to do with this book? Well, Over in the Ocean is a counting-to-ten book, and he has heard this story repeatedly. Never underestimate the power of reading to your children.

Over in the Ocean is also a "song" book (to the tune of Over in the Meadow), and it is a beautifully, polymer clay, illustrated book. It is also another book by my friendly acquaintance, Marianne Berkes. In fact, the first time I heard this book was when the children's library staff was helping her present it to a very full room of children at a summer program. I was really into the song until I got caught out by the seahorse. That one little twist makes the book memorable. And as I've said before, it is beautiful, with its turquoise ocean and brightly colored sea life.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Cat-bird saga conclusion....

Here is the end of the cat-bird saga. It began about two weeks ago and was interspersed with The Eloquent Tail if you want to read it beginning to end.

Wings in face, the trance is broken
And the senseless kitty stirs.
Through the door the stalker darts
Into the safety of the house.
Once inside the cat is breathless
While the other cat seems amused

What’s the moral of this story?
My answer is there are two, in fact:
A mother will protect her young
And curiosity could kill a cat

-- I should say, for any animal lovers, no cat was injured and there still are three (so cute!) baby birds in the fern hanging from our porch. Unfortunately, the porch is just beneath our bedroom window, so around dawn, those three crying birds are a little less cute. My cats still sit by the window and cry, but neither attempts to run outside when the door is opened. :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cat-bird saga continues:

OK, I was going to wait until Sunday to post the next installment. Then I decided it would be a better idea to finish the poem-story this week. So here is the latest installment:

With flapping wings and shrieking calls,
The guarding birds swoops closer still.
In a panic, the frightened cat freezes.
In the house the other cat cries
And taps the pane beside the door
To stir the silly, witless cat

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Not a reverso 15

Here's the latest installment of the cat-bird saga. Because I haven't quite finished my story before the end of the month, I'll be writing a little into May. Then I think, Poetry Sundays -- you know, unwind with a cup of coffee and catch up on poetry, so I hope other people will be posting some as well...

Suddenly, the door is opened
Very quickly a cat runs out
Even faster two birds swoop down,
From the tree across the yard,
Beaks and talons on full display,
To descend upon the stalking cat

Friday, April 29, 2011

Eloquent Tail -- 15

Little boy,

little boy!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Not a reverso 14

The latest installment of the cat-bird saga:

In our house there is a door
Around the door there are two panes
And by these panes the two cats sit
And hear three birds call from their nest
And see a bird fly from the nest
By the door the two cats cry

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eloquent Tail -- 14

Your dish
not empty.
from sink,

from sink
not empty
your dish?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Not a reverso 13

Here is the fourth installment of the cat-bird saga:

From our porch there hang four ferns
In one fern there is a nest
In that nest there are four eggs
In that nest three eggs open
From each egg comes a bird
Each new bird calls quite loudly

Monday, April 25, 2011

Eloquent Tail -- 13

Today's poem:

speckled cat
dances with
little boy.

Little boy
dances with
speckled cat.

I think this is my favorite so far. Not only is it funny, it is a pretty accurate description of a house with cats and a toddler. Throw in a dog, and you are well on your way to a mad house. :)

Not a reverso 12

I took yesterday off from writing to enjoy Easter with my family. I hope you all enjoyed your Easter as well.

Here is the third installment of the cat-bird saga. The first two installments were posted last week.

Above the door there is a pane.
Below the pane there is a ledge.
On the ledge a bird is perched,
Outside the door of our house.
Inside the door of our house,
Two cats beside the windows sit.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eloquent Tail -- 12

little boy
red dog,
cat’s tail.

Cat’s tail
red dog;
little boy

Friday, April 22, 2011

Not a reverso 11

In our house there are two cats
And each cat has two eyes
And each cat has twenty claws
In our house there is a door
Around the door there are two panes
And by these panes the two cats sit

(Second part of cat-bird saga)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book 73

The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too!, by Mo Willems, Hyperion Books, 2005

The infamous pigeon is back for an encore performance in the toddler book world. And fortunately, this book arrived in plenty of time to purchase before my son arrived in 2008.

This books does not have much of a story, so if you are looking for that, you may want to stick to the pigeon books for older children. What this book does have is a gamut of emotions. As anyone who has every been a parent to, or even probably around, a two-year-old knows, two-year-olds also have a gamut of emotions. And usually they go through them in about the space of time it takes you to read this very short books. Toddlers don't understand their emotions, and this book does not try to explain them. The book, with its simple text and expressive pigeon, shows them, and that seems to be enough.

If you are wondering if my son still has temper tantrums, the answer is "yes". He has stopped throwing himself to the floors. Now he just "goes boneless" (another Mo Willems book) slowly with the contorted grace of a 1920's ham actor in a death scene.

One caveat: It is probably not a good idea to take yourself too seriously when you are reading this book. I can read it and express the emotions and my son laughs because he thinks I'm being silly. When my husband reads it, my son cries at the angry part.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Not a reverso 10

From our porch there hang four ferns.
In one fern there is a nest.
In that nest there are four eggs.
Across the yard there is a tree.
In that tree there is a bird,
Who jealously guards her four eggs.

(The cat-bird saga begins)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eloquent Tail -- 11

dishes --
Little wild cat
tuxedo cat.

Tuxedo cat
little wild cat;

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Not a reverso 9

It started with a bird variety,
and then a host of butterflies three,
Then two chipper squirrels rushed to meet me.
It felt like a movie from Walt Disney!

Not a reverso 8

Monday, April 18, 2011

Eloquent Tail -- 10

cat is

bird --
Cat is

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Not a reverso 8

Like a rank braggart,
April winds blustered and blew --
All sound, no fury.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Eloquent Tail -- 9

With its four feet
from tail to head,
the little wild cat
completely occupies
the bed.

The bed
completely occupies
the little wild cat,
from tail to head,
with its four feet.

Book 72

The Pigeon Loves Things That Go!, by Mo Willems, Hyperion Books 2005

First a personal confession: I love, love, LOVE the pigeon in Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!. So much so that when I was decorating the baby's room in advance of the baby, I worked a little pigeon into all the paintings. Almost three years later, and I still find it amusing. So when I saw that there was a pigeon board book, of course, I just had to buy it.

And I did. Second confession: I don't LOVE this pigeon as much, but I still like it. And what's more, my toddler boy seems to prefer it to the original, at least right now. He loves the vehicles and thinks the pigeon is silly. So, considering that the Smidgeon of Pigeon series is not written for me, but is, in fact, written for toddlers, this book and the others are definitely a great investment if you are buying books for toddlers.

*For other reviews, please see Book I Buy and Why

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eloquent Tail -- 8

Black and white cat
leaps upon
speckled wild cat;
whirling into

whirling into
speckled wild cat
leaps upon
black and white cat.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Not a reverso...number 7, I think...

Sophie was pleased with herself yesterday.
She was barking and dancing around.
I thought, perhaps, her wits went away,
Till I saw what lay on the ground.

It wasn't a mole
Come up from its hole.
It wasn't as simple as that.

Oh, no, lying dead,
Bleeding wound to the head
Was a partially mangled old rat!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eloquent Tail -- 7

This is my favorite kind of reverso -- the meaning doesn't just shift subtly, but is almost quite the opposite.

behind the toy tunnel--

behind the toy tunnel.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Not a reverso...

Storm clouds roll in.
Thomas starts to pout.
Before very long,
It rains inside and out

Monday, April 11, 2011

Eloquent Tail -- 6

The little boy
the speckled cat
by the tail.

By the tail,
the speckled cat
the little boy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Not a reverso...

Baby wouldn't sleep,
So he emptied his crib. Then,
baby couldn't sleep.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Eloquent Tail - 4 and 5

I have weekend company arriving shortly, so I'm posting today's and tomorrow's poems today. I'll have to post two on Monday to catch up for Sunday.

tail tells on you

Tail tells on you,

wild cat!

Wild cat
tail --

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book 71

Pretty much everyone who has a child or ever was a child is familiar with "The Wheels on the Bus", but did you know there is a sequel -- and, no I don't mean the fifty-odd verses that seem to go with the original. The sequel is -- you guessed it! -- The Seals on the Bus.

The Seals on the Bus, written by Lenny Holt, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, Henry Holt and Company, 2000.

The Wheels on the Bus is a fun song. The Seals on the Bus is a funny book. If you know the tune for the first, you'll have no trouble singing the second. The illustrations are appropriately silly; this is not the place for realism. So funny book, great illustrations, kids love it -- need I say more?

* For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Yesterday I planted a garden...

There is something quite hopeful
about planting a garden.
You trust winter truly is over
and the ground won't harden.

You trust rain to fall
And the plants to grow.
You hope one day to reap
more than you sow.

Yes, planting a garden
is quite incredible.
Especially if you are wanting
something that is edible.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eloquent Tail - 3

Wild cat
moving --
still --

wild cat?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Not impressive, but sweet...

Ten little fingers
Ten little toes
One little mouth and
One little nose

Two little ears
Two little eyes
One little boy --
Just the right size

Monday, April 4, 2011

Eloquent Tail - 2

Today's poetic entry continues the tale of Chloe's very expressive tail. :)

when you feel
does your tail form
a question?

A question:
Does your tail form
When you feel?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Book 70

What Am I?, Sterling Press 2003

This was one of those books that my son picked out from the library and didn't want to return. Because I am a former children's librarian, I cannot condone that. To prevent an ethical quandary, I ordered him his own copy before the three-week check-out period ended.

Although this book is wonderfully colorful and delightfully drawn, it is not one I would have bought on my own. Never underestimate the power of concentric circle eyes. Not only does my little boy love to run his finger over the ridges, he also discovered that the eyes are just the right size for the Pier One ceramic balls I bought for Spring. He also discovered that those balls do NOT bounce on a hardwood floor -- that would be another story.

As far as the writing goes, it is super-simple and rhymed, although sometimes the rhyming feels a bit forced. I can't fault it too much, because sometimes so does mine. Anyway, as I said, I would not have decided to buy this book except for the fact that my son loves it so much. And your child loving a book is a pretty darn good reason to buy it.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why
Here is my poetic entry for today (not a reverso). Instead, this one is for my little boy.

My Sweet Thomas--

For Easter last year, I bought you a rabbit.
You carry it wherever you go.
Stuffing has slipped from the neck where you grab it.
Now its head freely flops to and fro.

When you've grown, I wonder, will you love that rabbit
With its fur gone pilly and matty?
Will you carry it about, or break that habit?
Will you been seen with a rabbit loved ratty?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Eloquent Tail -- 1

For this month's poetry challenge, decided I wanted to write a "story" in the reverso style that I can illustrate later this year if I'm feeling ambitious. I will NOT be writing a reverso every day -- maybe every other day -- I want a challenge, not a migraine!

For my subject, I chose my fat, lavender-eared, little wild cat. Her markings make her resemble a Mau, but her farm-cat build makes her look much more like an African wildcat. Anyway, she has a most expressive tail, so the title for the ongoing work will be The Eloquent Tail. Here is today's entry and the first verse of my reverso:

The little wild cat
the eloquent tail
to speak

to speak:
The eloquent tail
the little wild cat.

Friday, April 1, 2011


It's bad poetry month -- I mean poetry month, so as promised? threatened? here is my first entry:

It's the first day of April
And I was dressed like a fool,
For the sun was warm and bright
But the wind was Arctic cool.

And just think, I typed that with a wiggly two-year-old on my lap. :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book 69

Blue Moo: 17 Jukebox Hits from Way Back Never, by Sandra Boynton, Music by Boynton and Ford, Workman Publishing Company, 2007

In earlier posts, I mentioned I like silly books, and song books and Sandra Boynton books. Well, this book has all three. To be honest, I haven't really read the book, except to sing along with the enclosed CD, but the drawings are Sandra Boynton-charming and the words/lyrics are hysterical. What I really love about this book is the enclosed CD.

The CD contains the silly lyrics of a child's song with sophisticated tunes of really, really good music. And the recording artists -- well, B.B. King sings about a missing shoe, just to give you an idea of the quality of the recording artists on this CD. It's crazy. It's outstanding. I love listening to the CD. My son loves the music and loves the accompanying illustrations. Now if I could only get the Uninvited Parade by the Uninvited Loud Precision Band out of my head. Or maybe not. It is a great tune. Even if I don't know all the words. I just boom, boom, boom to the tune and my little boy is in giggles every time.

*For other reviews, please see Book I Buy and Why

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Book 68

Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme, written by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Jeanette Canyon, Dawn Publication, 2005 (board book 2008).

As mentioned in a previous post, I am a sucker for signed books, so when I saw one of Marianne Berkes' books in a pamphlet of 100 Picture Books for Preschoolers, I just knew I could renew our acquaintance and have her sign a book or three for my son. Actually, Marianne is very gracious and would sign a book for anyone who asks.

Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme was the book listed in the pamphlet, so I'll review it first. This book is deceptively simple. Marianne Berkes takes a simple tune (Over in the Meadow) and replaces the lyrics with counting verses about rainforest animals. Sounds pretty easy in theory, but not so much in practice. Anyway, it works very well in this book.

Jeanette Canyon uses polymer clay to create brilliant, dimensional illustrations. I'm not sure I would like that style of illustration in too many books, but with the rainforest book, it is a perfect marriage.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

When I was reading this book for the first time to my two-year-old son, he walked over and pointed to the 4 on the leaf and said "four". I thought he was a genius. Then he pointed at the 5 and said "four" and the six. Oh well. So much for great expectations. :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book 67

The Cow That Went Oink, written and illustrated by Bernard Most, Voyager Books 1990

For Valentine's Day this year, I painted a big shipping box to look like a barn and put in it a plush cow and a pig and this book, and gave it to my two-year-old son. Weird -- yeah, maybe. Smart -- yeah, definitely. He looks the toys and the book, and all of his farm animals are now housed in the barn box.

I first encountered this book in its oversized version when my friend and former colleague, Louise N., were looking for books for Reader's Theatre. We found this book, and since we already had the pig and cow puppets, it was a cinch to use. The only challenging part was turning those oversized pages and working the puppets at the same time, but that's another story. Anyway, whether this story is being read to thirty five-year-olds or one two-year-old, it's a riot. Which makes it hold up really well for repeated reading and is one of my standards in buying a child's book.

The title of the book tells about half the story, so I won't give away any more. It does have a happy ending, which is another one of my standards in buying a child's book, especially for a toddler.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Monday, February 28, 2011

White blossomed trees -- must have one (or five!)

I recently moved from Florida to South Carolina, and while I did not enjoy the ice storm at the beginning of January, I am loving the changing of the seasons. The sights of the seasons, to be specific.

In the past week, these trees in our neighborhood and around our little town have erupted into the most beautiful white blossoms. So gorgeous! I was so struck by the trees' beauty, I had to ask our local nursery what they were. Turns out they are Cleveland pear trees. The trees don't actually produce pears, but who cares, those blossoms at the end of February are divine. Alas, the nursery was sold out. So I bought a lovely little pink blossomed peach tree for now.

Book 66

Book 66: Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman, 2002.

I LOVE Jane Chapman's illustrations. I'd probably buy anything she illustrates. Her animals are adorable without being twee, and personable without being human. Her work is what I would aspire to.

Bear Snores On is my favorite "Bear" book. It is the most poetic of all the "Bear", not just because of the rhyming couplets, but because of rhythm within the lines. And the big scene where the setting changes is the most dramatic of all "Bear" books. There is actually a bit of suspense in a toddler's book, which, of course, resolves happily.

My husband and toddler like to help out with the telling of this story: My husband snores for the bear, and my little boy works the bear puppet. By the time the story is finished, we are all laughing.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Monday, February 14, 2011

Book 65

The Color Book, Laura Kelly Designs, Ollie Bollie Book 2009.

Back in July, I was getting ready to move from Florida to South Carolina. My husband was already in South Carolina. Our household furnishings were boxed up on a Thursday and not loaded onto a truck until the following Tuesday. Did I mention this was July? In Florida? With my husband not around?

On Friday, I did what any reasonable person would do -- I left the house and went shopping. Although not for any household belongings. More like for lemonade and ice cream. However, I did stop by the Beall's Outlet next door to the Publix, because it was cool, and although a bit chaotic, positively serene compared to my boxed-up house. While I was there, I let my 20-month-old son pick out a book. He picked out The Color Book.

I wasn't expecting to like this book as anything more than a pleasant diversion at a pretty stressful time (for my toddler and for me). My little boy, though, did take to it right away. It is a board book. The text is limited to just the name of the color in a font of that color, and the illustrations are bold and simple.

Anyway, the little boy liked this book in the summer during our move, and now that we've been settled into our new house and he has ALL of his books around him, he still pulls this book off his quite frequently. He didn't even want me to take it downstairs so I could write about it. So, to me, this book is a winner.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book 64:

Book 64: My Potty Book for Boys, by DK Publishing 2001.

As I learned when I worked in the children's department of the library, DK publishes really great real-life, photo books. This one is no exception.

I bought this book for my son when he was one and I was very optimistic. He is now two, and I am more realistic, but he does still like this book. He recognized his potty from the pictures in the book. He saw he was supposed to sit on his potty like the boys in the book. He even knows to wash his hands because that what the boys in the book do. So, he never was really afraid of the potty and he has no problem sitting on it, and he can't wait to wash his hands, it's just that middle part that is giving him trouble.

This book, as all books that are given to toddlers to handle to should be, is a board book. It is colorful and simple and using photographs of real children to convey the message. And it works, if I can just get him to sit longer and more often.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More bad poetry on the way...

The other day, my son pulled from the shelf the binders that contained some of the poetry I wrote during a 13-month-long challenge (April '09 to April '10). I decided not to take up the challenge again after April '10 because we were in the middle of a long, drawn-out move.

When I flipped through those binders, I kind of wished I had followed through. Not because the poems were good. Many were far from that. But the line drawings and other sketches that accompanied them were charming, especially the ones that featured my then-baby boy. So, this April, I think I will at least write one poem a day for a month, and see what happens after that.

I discovered toward the end of the challenge a style of poetry called "reverso", which I love because it truly is a challenge. I actually had written one in the last line of my second book, which came out in 2008. I had no idea this was actually a form of poetry, I just thought it was a clever word play:

...before the beast
I was,
I was
before the Beast

Monday, January 31, 2011

Book 63

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Philomel 2010.

Every so often, Kohl's runs their "Kohl's Cares" program and offers really great books at a really great price, and the net proceeds of which benefits children's health and educational issues. Right now, four of Eric Carle's books are featured in this campaign: The Mixed-Up Chameleon, The Grouchy Ladybug, The Foolish Tortoise, and, of course, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Of these four, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is my favorite, and not just because the matching toy at Kohl's was a caterpillar, although that did play a role in my purchasing decision.

For the most people, I probably don't have to explain why The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a wonderful book for any child's library -- it is a counting book, a progressive story, a food story, a color story and a true metamorphosis story. Instead, I will explain why this edition is so wonderful. First of all, the price for a hardback book is outstanding. And it comes with a matching toy (a really large and colorful caterpillar, just like the cover). And it benefits children. And finally, and most exciting to me, there is a foreward by Eric Carle describing how The Very Hungry Caterpillar came into existence.

So, run to Kohl's before this present campaign ends and buy a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (or any of the other three). Not only will you be getting a great book, you'll be helping a very worthwhile cause.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book 62: The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon

Book 62: The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon, Four Magical Stories, by Crockett Johnson, first story published in 1955, collection reprint 1987, HarperCollins Publishers.

A while ago I reviewed "Not A Box" (Book 29) and commented on how it reminded me of "Harold and the Purple Crayon". I liked "Not A Box" because the genderless rabbit could be male or female and therefore could appeal to a boy or a girl. I love "Harold", though, because he reminds me of my fair-haired, toddling son.

Not only that, "Harold" is about a child's imagination, which I think is an excellent subject for a children's book, especially a clever child's imagination.

The illustrations are simple; the colors are few, although purple does play a prominent role; and the result is perfection in illustration.

As an addendum to this posting, I have to say that not only does my son rather look like Harold, but for the past month or so, he has been coloring on the walls with anything he can find, including a purple crayon. I set up one of those AquaDoodle sheets on the wall to try to limit him coloring with drawing instruments that leave marks that are very difficult to remove from the wall. It helps, but not entirely. Obviously, Crockett Johnson was a genius or he had a two-year-old.

*For other reviews, please see Books I Buy and Why