Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Jazz Fly

Our household was first introduced to The Jazz Fly shortly after Elizabeth started kindergarten 6 years ago.  She came home raving about a book that her teacher had been reading.  We found the title and she begged that we buy it because she really wanted her brothers to hear the scat-singing fly.

I found this book to be a bit of a challenge to read aloud initially, so fortunately the book comes with a cd to help you navigate all of the "ZA-baza, BOO-zaba, ZEE-zah RO-ni" and other phrases.  Once you practice a few times, the book is really a joy to read aloud.  

I really appreciate the introduction to jazz music and rhythm here.  The fly's scat singing, as well as the pictures of the Jazz Bugs and their snazzy outfits, really makes for a lovely inauguration into jazz for little ones.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

City of Ember

I'm finally getting around to posting a few back-logged posts here on The Book Children.  I hope to have a few more posts out, including some collections over the next week or two.  Stay tuned!

The City of Ember is a book that Elizabeth first heard in 4th grade (2 years ago) when her teacher read this first book aloud to the class.  Elizabeth was immediately taken with this book and read the sequel in quick succession. She then started begging Philip to read them as well.  He enjoyed the books as well, although he didn't rave about them quite the way she did.  Here is his synopsis of The City of Ember:

A boy and a girl live in a town that is running out of supplies, and they don't know where to get more. One day the girl finds instructions for something. She finds out that the instructions are the way to get out of Ember. The boys finds a door. He wants to know what's in the door. One day they hear someone going in and out of the door, and they find out that it's not really the door to get out of Ember. They find a door full of boats and they travel down the river to a new place. I kind of liked this book because it had a little girl that was cute, named Poppy. And I like that the end of each chapter is suspenseful.

Monday, February 13, 2012


When Finn was gifted Animalia for his birthday a few years ago, I was not familiar with Barbara Berger's work. I soon became familiar because I was so impressed with this collection of animal stories with breathtaking simple, yet complex, illustrations.

Each story is pulled from the legend of a saint or from a traditional Chinese or Buddist tale. The stories are short enough for the attention span of young children without sacrificing the authenticity of the tales. Perfect for sharing when you want your children to have a love of good fables without the silliness or watered down stories found in so many children's books today.

Then there is the stunning artwork. And you know what a sucker I am for beautiful artwork in children's books!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Scholastic's First Discovery books

I don't remember where or when I first stumbled across this little ladybug book, but I'm guessing Elizabeth was 3-4 years old. She was immediately taken with the occasional clear pages that would hide then reveal the underside of a ladybug or show you the inside of a ladybug pupa. Once she tired of the book, Philip discovered it, then eventually Finn.

Somewhere along the way, another of these books entered our home, this one about castles. Now you weren't just looking at the impressive, imposing exterior of the castle, but you could see inside to the various rooms and people working various jobs inside.

I stumbled on 2-3 more of these books at our local used bookstore and always snatched them up when I found them so when our amazing next door neighbor carried over a whole stack that used to be loved by her, now mostly grown, children. Finn was so thrilled and he has read little else, or requested little else read to him, since this stack of exploration and learning arrived.

I think he convinced Paulie to read 5 in a row on Saturday morning before they even ate breakfast and I'm sure I saw Philip snuggled in his bed on Sunday morning while he begged for "just one more" before they came downstairs for the day. His favorite of the new stack, I think, is the penguin book with the sweet little birds walking on ice floes and diving into the water.

In keeping with the beauty of these books, he also gets to see the penguins swimming in the Antarctic and the bottom of the glacier.

Not only can he see underwater in the Antarctic, but the inside of a chicken, bees and butterflies pollinating flowers, the rainforest floor, and the various holes, tunnels, animals and bugs found under the ground.

What an amazing and attention-capturing way to present information to little ones!

PS. Some of these books are still in print, but many are not. However, you can find lots of used ones on Amazon and probably your local used bookstore.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mr. Popper's Penguins

Finn and I have been reading Mr. Popper's Penguins before his nap time every day for a couple of weeks. He was very attentive to this book and eager to continue when we picked it up again each day. I asked him to dictate a review for me, and here is his just-turned-5-years-old review:
Mr. Popper was a painter who painted people's houses. He went home, and he was reading about penguins at the Antarctic. And then a penguin came in the mail. His name was Captain Cook. Captain Cook got sick and then Greta came and made Captain Cook feel better. After Greta came, the penguins got all kinds of eggs, and the eggs hatched and made them have 12 penguins. Mr. Popper made ice in his basement, and Mrs. Popper would play the piano while the penguins danced and marched and made a show. Then they went to the theater to do their show and the people liked their show. At the end, the penguins went to the Arctic and Mr. Popper went with them.
I'm not sure why, but I really never heard of this classic until the movie came out. It's definitely a cute and entertaining read, especially for reading aloud to 4-6 year olds. The sparse illustrations are perfectly spaced and well-timed and add a sweet bit of whimsy to the novel, particularly Mr. Popper's character.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fever 1793

Elizabeth's class at school has been listening to the teacher read Fever 1793. The book, following the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia, made quite an impression on her, and she has mentioned it and the story several times since they began the book. I asked her to write a review of the book for me and she agreed.
Fever is about a yellow fever epidemic in 1793. A girl named Matilda, also called Mattie, is in Philadelphia when the sickness strikes. At the beginning, she is 13 or 14 years old, and life is easy. She likes the painter, Nathaniel Benson, and has a best friend, Polly, the servant. Polly dies from a strange disease. Not too long after, bodies are piled on a cart to bring to graveyards. Some are mistaken for dead and buried still alive. Sometime in the middle of the book, Mattie sees someone carrying a death cart and dump a woman on the side of the street. She was still alive, and it was Mattie's mother. Mattie must be sent away so she does not get the disease from her mother. Most of Philadelphia is either abandoned by people or the people die. Mattie also gets the fever but survives. At the end of the book, the first frost comes and stops the disease so the rest of the people are saved. Life continues as it was at the beginning.

Elizabeth has even taken an interest in the face on the cover of the book and I've found a few sketches like this one laying around the art shelf. Clearly this book has grabbed her attention!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's Snowing!

I wish I could claim the original recommendation of this sweet book, but I found the book over on Ginny's blog, who heard about it from Grace.

Two things really struck me about this book when I looked it up on Amazon, the calmingly beautiful nighttime snow scenes and the very simplistic pictures. I really appreciated that in the house pictures, you only see a cradle, fireplace, pot, kettle and mantle with a few candles. So soothing to see such a simple depiction of home.

It's Snowing shows a mama and baby enjoy a snowfall through each of their senses, smell, taste, touch, hearing. I feared that Finn might find it a smidgen beneath his big boy self to enjoy, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that he really enjoys the simple story.

I think Finn's favorite part is when the snow becomes a bear for the mama and baby to ride.

So you can take it on my advice, or on Ginny's or Grace's, that this is really a beautiful winter book for little ones. And who doesn't love those little round houses with the very pointy roofs and with the smoke curling cozily from the chimney!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sherlock Holmes: The Ectoplasmic Man

Paulie is helping me end the hiatus here at the book children by writing a brief summary of Sherlock Holmes: The Ectoplasmic Man which he picked out recently at our local used bookstore. He's eagerly awaiting the library copies of the rest of the series of these books, which should say something about how much he enjoyed this Sherlock Holmes edition!

Sherlock Holmes: The Ectoplasmic Man is about Sherlock Holmes and when he tried to help Houdini after Houdini was arrested for robbery and murder. Houdini was falsely accused of stealing papers partly because the people of the time thought he was in touch with the spirit world because of his tricks and they were afraid of him. Holmes and Watson had a harder time helping Houdini because 2 men were chasing them and trying to steal the last paper that Houdini supposedly didn't steal himself. Holmes must put on various disguises and do strange things of that time, such as disguising himself as a very young man and flying a aeroplane to chase the villains.

I think the most interesting part of the book was the tricks that Houdini did because the author described them in lots of detail so that I could pretend I was sitting in the theater watching him. And just the fact that Sherlock Holmes was helping Houdini get out of jail was interesting.

Many thanks to Paulie for his review of Sherlock Holmes: The Ectoplasmic Man! You can find out what Paulie is reading now on the sidebar of this blog.