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Monday, May 21, 2012

Picture Book Roundup: A Little of This and That

Picture Book Roundups are simply an overview of what my kids and I have been reading together. These are not books that were sent to me for review. They are books my children and I discovered at the library, a bookstore, a yard sale, or on our bookshelf at home. Some might be old, some might be new. Some we might love, some we might hate. We read whatever strikes our fancy. The only kickback I get from reviewing these books here is my Amazon Associates fees if you purchase through the links on my blog.

This is a cute story about a little girl that loves to read, and who makes a new friend and introduces her to the joys of reading as well. Her friend also introduces Lily to the joys of the outdoors and play! The two friends then combine their two interests for double fun! This would be a great intro to a conversation about interests and hobbies, and about being open to new things. 

Beautiful book. My boys liked the way it had a kind of graphic novel feel to it. Plus, it was a story about the lights going out, so that made it even cooler to them! As a mom, this is one of those stories that gives you the warm fuzzies without being so sentimental (or nostalgic) that your kids can't enjoy it too. It's a simple story about a family that is reminded, through the experience of going through a blackout together, of how fun it can be to forget about all your busyness and just hang out as a family. It would be fun to read this as a family and then stage your own blackout at home for an evening!

A book about a little girl that day dreams about having her own library? What's not to love? I loved the illustrations. The parade of animals that comes through her library are such fun. It would be fun to discuss with your kids or students, what kinds of books each animal might like reading ("What kind of book would you give a giraffe to read?"). It would also be a great tool for discussing what the role of a librarian is, and how they can help you when you go to a real library. How fun would it be to let your kids or students design their own imaginary library? Oh my goodness, I could see this being a real hoot of an activity with my students. They would love it!

I was not a fan of this book. In fact, I gave up on it and didn't even finish reading it when I was doing story time with my preschool son. I must admit, I'm pretty snobby about alphabet books. I generally don't like them. Reading them often feels more like work and less like fun to me. So I rarely find one I actually like. Bad Kitty was a prime example of my beef with alphabet books. I didn't even realize it was an alphabet book till I began reading it with my son, otherwise I probably would have left it on the shelf. I found it tiring, and my son did too. Alphabet books always feel so contrived... I guess that's because they are. It's hard to do one well, though many seem to try. My stance is, if you can't do an alphabet book well, then don't do one. 

Love the illustrations. Charming, and just very visually interesting. My kids have been pretty fascinated with seeds and plants and gardens lately, so they could really relate to this story, and the feelings of the protagonist. I loved the gentle silliness of the birds and the bears. And we spent a long time on the page with the illustration of all the burrows. I could see a fun art project there! My boys thought that was way cool! I had heard a lot of chatter and buzz about this book, and now I see why. A real gem! 

My boys love Caps for Sale so I picked this one up while I was at the library this week. My preschooler dug it out of the book pile in his room today, flipped through it a bit on his own, and then asked me to read it to him. I bribed him into folding and putting his clothes away by telling him I would read it to him only while he was doing his chore. Worked like a charm. He folded his little t-shirts and shorts while intently listening to this new story of his beloved peddler on another adventure with his caps. Both my listened to this one and enjoyed it, seemingly as much as the first, thought it didn't induce quite as much laughter as the first one. They liked predicting what was going to happen though, and they were both pretty fascinated with all the various circus performers in the story. I'm not always huge on picture book sequels, but we liked this one!

I don't remember what got him talking about it, but my preschooler son started telling me about the story of the "fish with the shiny spot" that he heard at school. I knew he must have been talking about The Rainbow Fish  and when I mentioned the title he asked if there were more Rainbow Fish books at the library. I told him that I was pretty sure there were, and so he requested a quick trip to the library. We had to stop at the grocery store first and he fretted the whole time we were in there, worrying that someone else was going to get to the Rainbow Fish books at the library before us. Luckily, we found a couple on the shelf when we finally got there. He was very happy to read this one! I love seeing him developing his own reading preferences, and I'm glad he knows he can always look for more of what he likes at the library!

This is such a perfectly simple book. I love that my older son can practice his reading with it, and feel like he's reading a real book (and not some convoluted phonics-reader "story.") But it's also great for my preschooler who can "read" it with me by filling in the easy to predict ending to each sentence (using the illustrations as prompts). I love that when I was reading this to my preschooler, I read the page that said, "When I drive, I drive carefully." And then he said, "Why?" Ha! Ha! I guess this one is a great conversation starter with little ones too. Perfect for in a learning center at a preschool or child care center. Or great to just go along with some play time with toy cars at home.

This is one of those books that fully utilizes the picture book format to tell a clever, entertaining tale. Cornelius P. Mud is asked by his mom if he has put away his toys, brushed his teeth, fed the goldfish... as well as a handful of other tasks he's required to do before bed. Cornelius' answer is always, "Yes." But the reader sees in the illustration that Cornelius is not completing these tasks in the way his mom is probably expecting and hoping for. What's especially fun about this book is that the kids that are listening get to cleverly point out what Cornelius is doing wrong. And then everybody gets to have a good giggle over it. You can really ham it up and play dumb, as the teacher/parent/reader; "What?! What's wrong with the way he's getting his pajamas on?"

We're going to Disney this summer, and in an attempt to get my kids well acquainted with Mickey and the gang, I may have created monsters. My boys are all about Mickey and nothing else now (especially my three year old). But they enjoy a good Mickey story just as much, if not more, than a Mickey movie or show. And this particular book is a long one, and my boys both sat captivated through the entire thing. I really like these books that use the Disney characters to tell classic fairy and folk tales. They keep my kids' interest while giving them a bit of culture. Hee!

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