Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Moonshine

The first time I heard the title of this book, I remember thinking, "was there really a vintage children's book about making moonshine?!" (I guess I'm a true Southerner!) Fortunately, I'm here to tell you that Pumpkin Moonshine is actually a very sweet story and not at all about making moonshine. (Well, at least not the illegal alcoholic kind.) This book, written in 1938, is about making what we commonly call a jack-o-lantern.

Sylvie Ann learns about making pumpkin moonshines from her grandparents and it's on their farm that she sets off on an adventure to find the perfect pumpkin from which to make her moonshine.

Adventure and havoc ensue, of course, on her way from the pumpkin field back to her grandparents' house.

The illustrations, like all of Tasha Tudor's picture books, are simply sweet and full of the gentle breath of nature. From the animals to the pumpkin fields, the watercolors are comforting, and guaranteed to make you feel the of nostalgic pull of your own pumpkin moonshine-creating childhood.

Be sure to head over to the giveaway on An Art Family!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Findus & Pettson

When I first heard of the Pettson and Findus series of books, I was drawn to them because the Findus sort of reminded me of my own Finn. Once I found out the books are Swedish, I was completely sold as some of our very favorite children's books come from Swedish authors. We currently own 2 of the Pettson and Findus books (although a little birdy told me Finn might receive a few more for Christmas), and they are some of our favorite picture books.

When Findus Was Little and Disappeared is actually one of the later titles in the series, but it's a favorite as it features Findus as a tiny little kitten and explains the story of his coming to live with Pettson and being named Findus. Of course, in typical Findus and Pettson fashion, there are many hijinks along the way, and the tiny creatures who also live in Pettson's house, and often mischievously move his belongings, are introduced.

Pettson treat Findus like a child, makes britches for him and they spend most of their time doing mundane things like crossword puzzles, making meals, and feeding the chickens. Nordqvist's illustrations add another layer to each story with little side details learned through the studying the pictures.

In Pancakes for Findus, Pettson's neighbors think he's a bit odd to celebrate Findus's birthday multiple times a year and to make pancakes using rather unorthodox ingredients.

Pettson and Findus have a blended relationship that's part parent-child and part grumpy co-habitors which makes for humorous and delightfully silly interaction. All's well that end's well when Pettson and Findus finally enjoy their pancakes in the garden by the gramophone.

I have to say that these picture books are some of my favorites to read aloud, and fortunately, Finn loves them too. We will definitely have fun building on this collection.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tyger Tyger, burning bright

This is such an odd little poetry book that I'm not sure how to begin describing it, but since each of our kids could quote the first verse of The Tyger before they were out of diapers, I couldn't avoid it's inclusion here at The Book Children. A Visit to William Blake's Inn is a Newberry Medal-winning, Caldecott honor book that I just stumbled upon at our favorite used bookstore. (Don't you just love happenstance that provides little gems like that?) With Chagall (notice flying animals) meets Rousseau meets Russian Orthodox art/architecture, the illustrations lend a vintage feel, however you shouldn't assume that all is as it seems. Much like the myriad of interesting characters hosted at Blake's Inn, the illustration and verse will lead you on an imaginative journey not unlike Blake's own writing.

The older kids especially think the mirror of Blake's Tyger poem is particularly hilarious, and this book was probably worth the $2 price tag just for that snippet.

Although this is clearly a children's book, I really think that any collector of poetry or Blake admirer would find it enthralling. A Visit to William Blake's Inn definitely stands as a poetry book in it's own right.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Little Blue and Little Yellow

Yes, he's probably more famous for Swimmy, Frederick, Cornelius and a permanent color-desiring chameleon, but Leo Lionni's Little Blue and Little Yellow is right at the top of my list of favorite art books for little ones. The pure genius of personalizing a blob of color and giving it a bigger blob of color for parents makes this story so easily identifiable to the preschool set in a simple yet engaging way.

The main blobs of color, little blue and little yellow, even find other little blobs of color friends and play hide and seek behind black strips of paper. Genius, I'm telling you!

When little blue and little yellow hug and turn themselves permanently green, hilarity ensues as their parents think they are missing. A fun way to use this book to help young children express creativity is to see what other little colors could be made if different color blobs hugged.

Little blue even shares a smooch with his parents at the end, and you can almost see the affection between these different sized blobs of color.

What a fabulous book for stretching a little one's creativity while giving them imaginable adventure! I love it!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Owl Babies

Finn received Owl Babies when he was around 18 months old, and it quickly became his favorite book to read at bedtime. The heartwarming story of these 3 baby owls who wait patiently, if nervously, for their owl mommy to return from her journey will melt any mama's heart, and the lyrical text will captivate any little one's attention.

Martin Waddell's illustrations provide the perfect compliment to the sweet dialogue between the little owl siblings. The owl babies look like an amazing combination of adorable, innocent, and anxious with their huge eyes and soft downy feathers.

Little Bill particularly captured Finn's heart, which I spoke of here, and we would frequently read the story together with me pausing for him to recite the words of Bill. You could almost hear Finn's breath catch in his throat nearly every time we arrived at this page where the 3 baby owls closed their eyes wishing that their mother would return quickly.

"And she came. Soft and silent, she swooped through the trees to Sarah and Percy and Bill."

I can guarantee this little book will steal your heart and provide the perfect book to snuggle in your own nest with your mama-needing little ones.