Tuesday, August 24, 2010

poetry from a child's garden

The wonderful, if ubiquitous, A Child's Garden of Verses, found it's way into our family over the summer, and I am thoroughly enjoying it's addition to our poetry collection. Although I have had this book on my list for ages, I hemmed and hawed over exactly which version I desired until the thrifting gods decided for me. For the record, the classic illustrated version is absolutely amazing, although I can't only imagine that the Tasha Tudor illustrated version is quite nice too. Maybe we need two copies?

These poems just really call to me. The language and ideas are so pre-WWII in the best way. Like the poem below..."world is full of meat and drink...children saying grace...every Christian kind of place." Not exactly the children's poetry of the 2000s, but in a sweet, nostalgic way, I wish it was.

And the illustrations in this version really are sweet. From the antiquated clothes to the simple lines and color, I really enjoy the simplicity.

I'm trying to start a new rhythm this year by reading a verse of poetry, a Bible verse or something else meaningful while the children are eating breakfast in the mornings. I hope it will become a tradition they enjoy. This morning, we read about The Wind. Elizabeth commented that it was interesting that the opposing page picture for The Wind was of kids flying kites, but it didn't show the kites, only the kids. I love it when they are observant in noticing details like that, especially before 7 am.

I really don't think you could go wrong with any version of this book. Keep it in a handy place and find some time for a poem a day. We'll start our tradition together. :)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

read Red?

Barbara Lehman's The Red Book, a 2004 Caldecott Honor book, is a shining star in the wordless picture book genre. This simple unassuming cover houses a huge adventure waiting to be put into words by any child daring enough to follow the journey inside this magical world.

A little girl finds a similar red book tucked into a snow bank as she walks to school one day. As she loses herself into the book's adventure, she find herself on an adventure of her own.

Brilliantly illustrated in a simple style, this book will delight your child many times over. Peering through the portal of this red book will lead the reader to wonder what adventures waiting under the cover of their other books.

They may even start checking snow piles and sand dunes for a Red Book of their own.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

first prayer book

A friend introduced me to this reprint of a very sweet, vintage children's prayer book and it has become a frequent last-book-of-the-evening when I'm reading with Finn. Originally published in 1941 by Rachel Field, the simple reverent (and dripping with 1940s sweetness) illustrations by Elizabeth Orton Jones won the Caldecott Medal in 1944, which was the book official publication date, almost 2 years after the author died.

Finn loves listening to the lyrical verse and discussing the little girls bread, milk, toys and activities.

I enjoy the soft color and simple illustrations so reminiscent of idyllic childhood.

I'm also touched that the child in the book not only asks God to bless her food, belongings, family and friends but all the other children of the world, in every race and nationality, and asks him to keep them safe and free from fear. What a powerful message to bring to my own 3 year old, to hold forth other children's care and safekeeping in this manner.

There are other prayer books which we definitely enjoy reading in the evenings, but this book with it reprinted large format is always a favorite.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Harry and Horsie

The minute I laid eyes on this book, I knew it would be a hit at our house. The artwork alone is a fabulous first picture book from Lincoln Agnew. A little bit modern and a lot retro, this book has such a winning combination of adventure, sentimentality and suspense that most preschoolers (and their parents) would be hard-pressed to resist.

Seriously, see those dots! So reminiscent of Lichtenstein and his fabulous cartoon art.

The author is Katie Van Camp, otherwise known as the nanny to David Letterman's son, Harry, who the book was written for, along with his pal, Horsie.

Ack...the art just astounds me! I *heart* it in a serious way. :)

Needless to say, Finn loves this book. We read it nightly for about 3 months, and he still regularly pulls it from his shelf to flip through in the evenings. All the rockets and racing cars immensely appeal to my boy. And the heartwarming end will leave you satisfied that inside every rough and tumble boy who dreams of rockets and fast cars lives a sentimental spirit.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Plenty of Fish!

If you haven't heard of Vintage Kid's Books My Kid Loves yet, you need to get yourself right over there and check out some of the marvelous books she reviews...and not just because she does a giveaway every Monday. In the not to distant past, I was the fortunate winner of one of her Great Monday Gives and what a fun win it was. (And not just because it's fun to win in general.)

Plenty of Fish is a sweet story about a little boys' quest to own a fish and learning about their eating, breathing and living habits along the way. I really like this "science reader" because it's so different from the fact-based science readers that you can find at bookstores today. Through experiential learning, the boy discovers many facts about his beloved fish rather than reading a textbook of information.

The boy tries living like a fish for a while too by eating fish food, eating only once a day and breathing by opening and closing his mouth. His discoveries that humans have different needs from fish are often humorous.

The simplicity of the illustrations with charcoal, orange-red and green accents is simple with a great vintage appeal. The early 60s outfits of bathrobes, top hats and pipe are nostalgically sweet as well.

By the end of the reader, the boy has many grand plans of fish-capades to come, and you might find yourself at a nearby shop hunting down a little fish and bowl as well.

Monday, August 9, 2010

fun with malapropisms

Our kids have had great fun with language silliness in the following two books. The King Who Rained is a book of homonyms taking common phrases (some of them less common now than when the book was published in 1960) and making a silly cartoon based on a homonym of one of the words, or the phrase itself. Written and illustrated by Fred Gwynne, of Herman Munster fame, with fun, kitschy illustrations.

Some of the pages use homophones instead of homonyms but are equally delightful.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves is a children's picture book based on the adult bestseller of the same name. With each page showing what can go wrong when commas are misplaced, or not placed at all, kids will howl with laughter at some of the depictions including the gun-toting panda made popular on the adult bookcover.

The illustrations are rather cartoonish, but do a very effective and silly job of exploring the difference a comma can make.

In searching Amazon for links on these books, I found a list of other books that have fun playing with language. What a fun way for kids to explore (and learn!) word usage and grammar!