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.