Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Make Way For Ducklings giveaway!

You knew it was coming, didn't you? After all, you can hardly have a proper children's book blog without one of Robert McCloskey's books coming up at some point. I'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite between Make Way For Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal, but for today, let's just discuss Make Way for Ducklings, shall we?

I can't even remember the first time I read Make Way For Ducklings, but it's safe to say that this charismatic brood of feathered friends have been with me for a long time. I remember being slightly disappointed as a child that the book wasn't "colorized", but now I feel that it lends a bit of charm.

The story first grabbed me as a small look into the parental mind when the duck parents were searching out a home for their ducklings. Having settled on an island in the middle of Boston Public Garden, the duck family embarks on a harrowing journey to the safety of their new home. (If we ever make a family trip to Boston, this will be on my must-see list.)

Finn's favorite page is the spread with the near accident between the cars and the duck family. No surprise, since my boy loves cars. But he always laughs out loud at all the honking and quacking going on here, a bit of levity in a scene that could seem harrowing to a preschooler.

Of course, a friendly policeman is nearby to help the duck family safely across the dangerous road.

And they eventually make their way to the promised land.

I happen to have an extra new copy of this wonderful book, although I'm sure many households already hold a copy of this jewel. No matter, it could be a lovely gift for a niece or nephew or simply the next child's birthday party you attend. Everyone should make way for these ducklings. ;) Just leave me a comment, become a follower, and/or leave me a comment letting me know you referred to this giveaway from your blog and you'll be entered up to 3 times for the giveaway. I'll draw a winner on Friday morning at noon.

According to the random number generator, Charlotte is the winner! Please email me your address so I can mail Make Way For Ducklings to you!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

gone fishin'

Another book that I remember quite fondly from my childhood will wrap up our beach week here on The Book Children. I'm not really sure why this book stands out to me so much. Of all the things I enjoyed doing outdoors as a child, fishing isn't something I even remember doing more than once or twice. The book I remember looked a bit different than this version, especially the cover. But when I saw that it had been reprinted in hardback in 2005, I just had to snatch up a copy.

The same simple, sweet story I remember drew in my own kids. Finn most recently discovered this book on a sibling's bookshelf so we've been reading it frequently in the last few weeks. I love the sparse yet expressive illustrations that made Crocket Johnson famous. Interestingly, I knew and loved this book before any of the Harold books, and my first thought upon meeting Harold was that he looked so much like the kid from the The Little Fish That Got Away.

Another component of the book that I think children find really appealing is the repetition. The GREAT GREAT big fish comes, then the GREAT big fish comes, then the BIG fish comes then the little fish comes and then they come around again. And they swim around and around and around and around. I've caught a least a couple of our kids quoting the book to themselves very soothingly since the words from page to page are relatively predictable.

Then, of course, there's the ending. What little kid isn't thoroughly impressed by the boy eating the entire GREAT GREAT big fish all by himself?!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

farming by the sea

Down on the coast of SC, I spent a good bit of my childhood romping and picking my way through gardens and picking various veggies from soil mixed with sand while tasting the salty sea air. So while the following book may be about the beach specifically, a Little Farm by the Sea definitely holds a bit of nostalgia of living on the shore for me.

Little Farm by the Sea was actually written based a real farm on Long Island which the author enjoyed visiting in the summers. Her love for the little farm is felt deeply through the gentle words and beautifully rendered illustrations depict berry-picking children, baby burros and suckling piglets.

You might wonder why I don't have the cover art shown here. Unfortunately, we don't own a copy of this lovely book, although we're frequent borrowers from the library in the summer. I didn't think you'd want to see the dinged up plastic-y cover from the library. I've never been able to find a copy for a reasonable price that was in good shape. If you ever see this book at your local used bookshop, consider yourself a lottery winner and snatch it up quickly! Until then, check your local library. :)

One of the things I most appreciate about this little farm book is the description of organic farming methods the farm employs. Oh, it's not called "organic farming" since this book was written in the 90s before "organic" became such a buzzword. It's the simple descriptions of the farm keeping birdhouses to discourage insects and using fertilizer from the animals to enrich Farmer Brown's fields.

And who doesn't love little pigs that make such a ruckus?!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

watch that Wave

In honor of our week at the beach, I have some beachy books to share with you. The first book is one I happened to fall in love with at the bookstore one day. I'm easily drawn into children's books with interesting cover art and this book definitely stood out amongst the shelves of cartoonish counterparts.

Wave is the story of a little girl encountering a large wave on the beach. The story is one so familiar to most of us that it quickly makes us reminisce about the point in our lives when the waves were enticing, menacing, and delightful all rolled into one large crashing tunnel of salty sea water.

Wave is told through charcoal and blue-turquoise acrylics but no text which puts it in a minority of children's picture books. A story this familiar needs no words however, and beautiful colors and lines of the illustration really tell the story in it's marvelous simplicity. The little girl's thoughts and emotions come through her varied expressions and our own experiences in her place.

I really enjoy asking younger children to tell me the story using books like this. You can learn a lot about what they think of their own beach wave experience through their storytelling of this book. A particularly handy thing when you're at the beach!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mama, Is It Summer Yet?

Here we are on the cusp of summer and nothing will put you in the mood for all of it's sunshine-y goodness quicker than Mama, Is It Summer Yet? This first literary offering from Nikki McClure, although she also illustrated All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant, is a delight for both the ears and eyes with it's rhythmic text and gorgeous illustrations.

The premise for the book is the answer to a boy's question, "Mama, is it summer yet?" His mother patiently answers on each page showing him the winter changing into spring and the spring into summer through the nature around them.

The intricate details of the paper cut illustrations are amazing. Each scene is created from a single sheet of black construction paper. Yet the blooming trees, the swooping birds, the sprouting seedlings are captured with vibrant precision.

With the strawberries ripe for the picking, mama assures her son that summer has finally arrived.

And when summer finally does appear, your toddler to preschool-aged child will be begging to read through the mesmerizing book again.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Who's Benjamin Franklin?

Benjamin Franklin has always fascinated me. A Founding Father of the United States, he possessed a vast array of talents as an author, printer, politician, inventor, scientist, and soldier. One of the first introductions to Ben Franklin that we bought for our kids was the Step Into Reading book below. I generally think of those books as being kind of cheesy, but this one really appealed to Paulie with it's advertisement of *magic*. Paulie has a wide interest in math and the description of mathematical process of the numbered squares and the magical outcome really caught his attention and quickly made Ben Franklin one of his first biography interests. There are several websites, including this one, with more information about Ben Franklin's magic squares if you're interested.

Now & Ben focuses on more of Ben Franklin's inventions, shown in picture book format, with an invention we now take for granted shown beside the idea that Ben came up with to facilitate the invention. A nice synopsis for the slightly younger set to familiarize them with the enormous amount of inventions we have now because of Ben's ideas.

{timeline of Ben's inventions}

Ben and Me is more of a tongue-in-cheek biography, to use that word loosely, of Ben Franklin and his pet mouse, Amos. The story is told from Amos's point of view, and according to Amos, most of Ben's inventions came largely from Amos's ideas. Although some critics don't appreciate the way the writer makes Ben sound less than intelligent and the mouse sound sometimes derisive toward his master, I really appreciated the more humorous approach to the historical telling of Ben Franklin's inventions. I also liked the language of the book, which was kind of typical of the 1930s when the book was written, and the more robust vocabulary than you often find in current children's biographies.

{inventing the Franklin stove}

{sending poor Amos up on the ill-fated kite flight}

Saturday, June 12, 2010

come visit Noisy Village

"In the winter the boys usually throw snowballs at each other during recess. In the spring they shoot marbles, and the girls play hopscotch. When the boys have nothing else to do they fight, and during class they get into all kinds of mischief, whether it's winter or spring."
~The Children of Noisy Village

I'm not sure where I first heard of these books, but in my opinion, the stories of these children from Noisy Village even surpasses Astrid Lindgren's more famous offering of Pippi Longstocking. The simple, sweet adventures of the children around the farm, on their way to and from school, and their holiday celebrations make for a fun and gentle read of farm life in Sweden in the 1940s.

In The Children of Noisy Village, the story is told from the perspective of Lisa who lives in middle farm with her two older brothers. Her friends who make up the rest of the children from noisy village live on either side of her farm in north and south farms. Together they squabble, tease and play their way through an idyllic Swedish childhood.

In the sequel, Happy Times in Noisy Village, the farm next door has a new baby, Lisa is a little older, but essentially there are more stories and adventures along the same vein as the previous book. This second adventure in Noisy Village includes losing teeth, capturing a musk oxen, finding a chest of the wizards, taking a baby lamb to school and learning how to babysit.

Another story including the Noisy Village children is Christmas in Noisy Village, a beautiful picture book depicting the celebratory activities around the Christmas season. All of my kids enjoy this addition to our Christmas-time book basket with it's joyous portrayal of the children's holiday gatherings.

Apparently there's another picture book in this series as well, Springtime In Noisy Village, but I have yet to snag a copy of this out-of-print book at a thrift store. So if you see one, grab it! ;)

Be sure to visit the Caps For Sale post and leave a comment, if you haven't already, so you can be entered into the giveaway!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Caps For Sale and a giveaway!

One of the books I remember most fondly from my childhood (outside of the previously mentioned Bobbsey Twins) is the ever-popular Caps for Sale. Caps for Sale was a book from my mother's own childhood that she introduced to me. I was immediately captivated by the simple illustrations, bold colors and storyline with which any child could personally identify. I mean, what little kid doesn't appreciate the foot-stamping, fist-raising frustration those monkeys cause?!

When I first purchased this book for Elizabeth, I probably hadn't seen my childhood copy in 15 years. The picture below is the one that really took me on a trip down memory lane. I remember how impressive it was that the peddler could carry all those hats on his head at one time, and I remember thinking the foremost building was a church. I'm not really sure what gave me that impression except that the top of the building resembles a belfry.

And then there are the monkeys, those mischievous rascals!

One thing I appreciate about this book is the easily identifiable beginning, middle and end to the story. We occasionally ask the kids various questions about the books we've read aloud, and this one is great for a 5-7 year old to begin to understand the structure of a story.

As a way to get the ball rolling on this new blog, I've decided to giveaway a copy of Caps For Sale to one lucky commenter. You can also gain a second entry by following The Book Children blog and a third by mentioning this giveaway on your own blog. The giveaway will end on Monday (6/14) at 8 pm and a winner will be announced shortly thereafter.

The winner of the first giveaway by The Book Children is Ginny! Congrats Ginny!

Welcome to The Book Children!

beginning of The Book Children

Has there ever been something that was such an integral part of your life that you don't ever remember it not being there? A deep love of books has been a core part of my inner being for as long as I can remember. My mother says it runs in my family. I think my father owns as many books as just about anyone I know. He even built bookshelves in his office and our house, including a pair of small shelves for my brother and me, and when Paul and I married, our first addition to this house was floor to ceiling bookshelves in a small room off of our living room which became the library.

Some of my earliest memories include being read to by my mother and grandmother. My favorite bed growing up was the double bed I had as an elementary schooler with a built-in bookcase in the headboard. I kept all my favorite Bobbsey Twins books on that shelf, and I would read until late into the night with just the light coming through the crack in my door to see by.

I don't think I was ever as avid a book collector as I became when I had my first child. So desperate was I to raise children who love reading, I began collecting as many wonderful children's books that crossed my path as I could, starting with many of my own favorites from childhood. I've become relatively picky with my children's books over the last several years. There are just too many good ones to choose from. Why settle for less than a fabulous illustration or a great story. I hope to bring many of our favorites to this space and also hear of some new ones along the way.

Join me, won't you!