16 Jun 2013 3 Comments
05 May 2013 2 Comments
I finished reading a book that blew me away. (Readers of this blog know that happens to me from time to time.) It started me thinking about an earlier post on the same topic as this one. If I were on the committee of any award given to high-quality children’s and young adult literature, there are a few that would get my vote. So, without further ado, here are the winners of the Bookloving Grandma Award for Excellence in Literature for Young People.
The title of this masterpiece describes it better than I ever could. This book (the one I referred to at the beginning of this post) tells the story of Auggie (short for August) Pullman. The ten-year-old has been homeschooled until now for good reason: he was born with a rare genetic disorder that caused his face to be severely malformed and a host of other health issues, necessitating twenty-seven surgeries. However, his parents believe the time has come for Auggie to attend school. So, despite strong misgivings, the fifth-grader enters Beecher Prep, a private school with a beyond-understanding middle school director. However, Auggie discovers that his fears are not baseless. Other students’ reactions to his appearance range from disgust to teasing to a game called The Plague (resulting in many avoiding touching him). With only a couple of kids willing to even have anything to do with him, how will Auggie make it through a whole school year? His story is full of everything that makes a novel great. It is truly a wonder.
At the beginning of this marvelous picture book, Ella introduces herself and informs the reader that this is her book. It has all the things she believes a good story should include: pretty things like princesses, funny things, exciting things, and scary things. One thing a book does not need is BEARS. That’s why, Ella tell us, there are none in her book. However, as the little girl begins her story, a bear wearing a flowered dress makes an appearance. Not only that, but as the young storyteller tells the tale, the bruin becomes the behind-the-scenes heroine. Readers and listeners will relish pointing out the bear’s presence, and giggle with delight at Ella’s obliviousness to what is really happening in “her” story. The piece de resistance? The bear’s recounting the tale to a group of well-known fairy-tale characters.
10 Mar 2013 3 Comments
in animal books, birds, Books, butterflies, children's books, friendship, interactive books, math books, picture books, Reading, seasons, summer Tags: animals, Books, butterflies, caterpillars, children's books, fairy tales, friendship, geese, humorous books, manners, math, picture books, Reading, seasons, series, summer
One rainy day, a young caterpillar named Farfallina meets Marcel, a gosling. The two youngsters become fast, inseparable friends. As spring turns into summer, Farfallina and Marcel play games (each careful not to engage in activity too difficult for the other) and enjoy their time together. However, one day, the caterpillar does not feel right, and goes up into a tree to rest. Marcel, devoted friend that he is, waits and waits for her return. When Farfallina does not reappear, the young goose sadly wonders if he will ever see his beloved companion again. The marvelous conclusion to this heartwarming tale puts Holly Keller’s timeless treasure alongside the greatest friendship stories of all time.
In a kingdom far, far away, live three little dragons. The realm is also home to the Good Knight, who keeps faithful watch from his tower. One night, the Good Knight hears a loud roar. When he dutifully goes to investigate, who does he find but a pajama-clad young dragon who wants a drink of water before bed. Being a Good Knight, the dedicated guardian complies–then returns to his tower. He is on watch for only a short time when another loud roar sounds through the night. When the Good Knight arrives at the cave, another little dragon is waiting for him. After tending to her needs, he makes his way home, only to be summoned again, and a fourth time. The Good Knight’s introduction to the three little dragons is the beginning of something wonderful in the world of children’s literature. Little people (and their parents) will smile at the familiarity of the bedtime scene. And everyone will be delighted by the further adventures of the Good Knight and his new friends.
A mother bird watches with excitement as her eggs hatch. When all seven youngsters have emerged from their shells, they immediately begin a chorus of “Feed us! Feed us!” The new mother immediately responds, flying off to find food for her brood. As each baby is fed, he falls asleep–but the remaining hatchlings take up the chant. Naturally, the increasingly exhausted mama bird rushes to fulfill their needs, until every tiny bird is satisfied. This treasure begs to be read aloud, and listeners will have a marvelous time shouting out the refrain. (And mommies will love the spot-on ending!)
Ella knows what a story needs to be perfect. It should have words like “Once upon a time.” And, of course, a princess, fairies, and funny and exciting parts are important. But there is one thing a story doesn’t need: bears. Once having made her preferences known, Ella begins her tale. However, unknown to the storyteller, a bear not only makes an appearance, but is an important part of the story. Hilarious.
Ant is thrilled: the king has invited her to a dinner party. She is careful to arrive on time, and uses her best table manners. However, the same cannot be said for the king’s other guests. As they grab food and otherwise act horribly, the royal host says nothing. Things reach a crescendo when a cake is passed around the table. The elephant takes half, and each succeeding guest takes half of what is left. By the time the cake reaches poor Ant, the piece is too small to divide, and crumbles under the knife (leaving nothing for the king). Embarrassed, she offers to bake a special cake for her host. Another participant promises two cakes, another four, and so on. This rib-tickling story will have kids laughing so hard, they may not realize they are learning several math concepts (and a lesson in proper behavior, as well).
07 Mar 2013 4 Comments
in animal books, biographies, Books, children's books, Jewish books, Jewish holidays, picture books Tags: animals, biographies, Books, children's books, family, friendship, humorous books, Jewish bboks, Jewish holidays, picture books, Purim, Reading, school stories, science books
When I decided to write about my favorites, I thought about sharing the best (in my humble opinion) ten picture books of all time. However, after a moment’s reflection, it occurred to me that narrowing my choices to such a small number would be next to impossible. There are simply too many unforgettable treasures out there. Even choosing the most-liked picture books published since 2000 is a daunting task. Yet, there are some that definitely stand out. They may not have won an award, but I believe they are destined to (or should) become classics. You, my readers, might not agree with me, and that’s fine. I would like to hear about some of your favorites, as well.
One note: this list is not in order of preference.
So, without further ado…
Aside from being an enjoyable story, this is an unforgettable and poignant tale. When Ruben Plotnick, the zany kid everybody likes, wants to come over to do homework, David is apprehensive. What will Ruben think of his grandmother, who suddenly begins talking to her husband (who passed away years before) and acting strangely? Will he make fun of her at school the next day? What really unfolds is what makes this story memorable. There is so much food for thought and discussion here beyond the obvious theme of dementia and its effects of family members. Friendship, popularity, not judging by appearances or first impressions, and the many facets that make up a human being are all topics that can be explored.
We know many things about our 16th President. Yet, there is one aspect about Abraham Lincoln that is less well known: he was a book lover from the time he could write the alphabet (if not before). In charming free verse, Kay Winters tells the story of how books were young Abe’s companions, provided comfort in a time of loss, and helped shape the incredible man he became. This warm story is sure to be popular with young people who love a good tale about a real person–and might create a few new book lovers. It’s too good to be shared only around President’s Day.
Miss Brooks is the librarian we all aspire to be. Her affinity for books knows no bounds; neither does her enthusiasm for sharing stories with her students. Even Missy, a first grader who detests books and much as Miss Brooks adores them, does not put a damper on her exuberance. This delightful story is well matched by Michael Emberley’s priceless illustrations. Even real-life Missies might find themselves turned onto this wonderful thing called reading by the time they’ve finished Barbara Bottner’s masterpiece. Kids and adults will laugh all the way to the library.
Yes, it was originally published in 1993, but I’m including this book for two reasons. Firstly, it was republished in 2010 with new illustrations. Secondly, Babara Goldin’s timeless tale merits inclusion on anyone’s list of favorites. As the story opens, young Hershel, the only blind boy in his European village, enjoys spending time at the riverbank, creating structures out of mud–and catching a frog whenever he can. Typical of boys everywhere, he is not above creating interesting “diversions” in class when he is bored. Yet he also feels concern for the difficulties he causes his widowed mother when he comes home with mud-caked clothing or she must appease his teacher after Hershel’s latest escapade. He longs to be a help to her, not only by performing mundane chores, but in a real way. Hershel discovers his chance when he is visited in a dream by an angel, who encourages him to make what he sees. Inspired, the boy locates the dough his mother warned him not to touch–with results that change not only people’s perceptions, but his future as well.
Mary Batten takes science books to a whole new level. Two pajama-clad girls learn about the sleep habits of a number of different creatures, and we join them in their journey of discovery. In simple prose, the author provides basic information, which is expanded upon on each page. Combined with illustrator Higgin Bond’s detailed art work, this wonderful book is more than just another animal book. It’s a treasure.
Stay tuned for Part Two!
15 Jan 2013 6 Comments
Everything’s coming up babies! The past nine months have seen two new granddaughters join our family. Is it any wonder that every time I see a lady in waiting (for her own big event), I feel a thrill of anticipation on her behalf? Or that I cannot resist peeking into a stroller at the tiny occupant(s)? Or that merely looking at baby clothes displayed in a store window or online makes me smile inside (and outside as well)?
If this is my state of mind when I come across anything baby, you can imagine what happens when the encounter involves books that are: (a) on the topic of the diaper set, or (b) of interest to those not yet old enough to read on their own. Join (or humor) me as I talk about a few of my favorites!
Leave it to the Berenstains to come up with not one, but two marvelous books about the new baby experience. The first, a 1974 classic, introduces Sister Bear to the family and the world. And in Baby Makes Five, the prolific writers address the sensitive topic of jealousy on the part of an older sibling–and do it well. Of course, Sister discovers there is much to like about her new little sibling.
Simple text and adorable photos depicting the activities of a chubby-cheeked baby and a rabbit make up this gem by Adele Arun Greenspun and her daughter Joanie Schwarz. The result is an irresistible book that parents will love sharing with their babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.
There are more out there: but I have an urge to go out and buy some “baby” books for my grandkids.
Don’t forget to visit www.http://bookandagarden.com for reviews of great books for kids of all ages.
18 Nov 2012 1 Comment
As anybody who knows me is aware, I’m an animal lover. Yes, that’s me on vacation checking out the area wildlife reserves and other spots to see and admire the wonderful critters with whom we share this planet. Guess who is whipping out the camera to photograph a lizard wandering around a shopping center or a crab making an appearance near our hotel? (My hand is up.) And when I am treated to a wonder like a mama alligator moving her babies to a better location, I feel a thrill akin to that of reading a book that turns out to be a masterpiece.
Since I happened (?) to mention books, you can imagine my delight when I looked through my library collections and became personally acquainted with some animal-book treasures for the first time. Take a peek and see for yourselves.
Mary Batten has taken informational books to a whole new level. A basic fact about animal sleep (“Most birds sleep lightly, awakened easily by even a small sound”) appears in a sidebar. Easy-to-read text and beautiful illustrations provide details. The serene quality of this more-than-a-science-book makes it perfect for bedtime reading.
Mother Duck wants to take her brood to the water, but one of her ducklings is not in the nest. As she asks other animals if they have seen him, readers and listeners will delight in pointing out the “missing” duckling as he explores his world. This almost-wordless book is a feast for the eyes.
Chock full of information about the three types of gorillas, Gail Gibbon’s recent work is a worthy addition to her impressive nonfiction collection. She presents Africa’s gentle giants as social, peaceful, and devoted creatures who even take delight in the arrival of a new baby. If readers are not concerned about the welfare and future of gorillas, they will be by the time they finish reading this book.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture book is priceless.
07 Nov 2012 3 Comments
The election is over. Whether or not the candidate of your choice won, it has ended. The President will hopefully realize that his was not a landslide victory, and make the effort to work on behalf of those on all sides of the political spectrum. (In my humble opinion, this is true even if a candidate does enjoy a “landslide victory.”)
Enough said on this subject. I recently came across a marvelous book that I want to share with everyone. (Presidents might do well to read it, too!)
Follow young Abe from his birth until his election to the Presidency. With poetic language and beautiful illustrations, this book–which is more than a biography–describes the times, experiences, and emotions that shaped one of the most fascinating personalities on the American scene since this country’s inception. Share it with a child in your life. (For more details, check out my review at www.http://BookAndAGarden.com.
A child can have too many toys, but never enough books. –Jarrett Krosoczka
25 Oct 2012 Leave a Comment
in Books, children's books, librarians, libraries, picture books, school library Tags: alphabet books, animals, Books, Caldecott Honor Book, children's books, humorous books, librarians, Libraries, picture books, school libraries, school stories
When you think of the word marathon, you probably think of a long race involving hundreds of participants. Boston might come to mind, or New York. Perhaps you know someone who has run. Maybe you have yourself. If so, you have earned my respect.
I’m running in a marathon of sorts. Since taking on the delightful and challenging job of setting up a new school library catering to preschoolers through second graders, I’ve been moving steadily toward the goal of opening for business and conducting class sessions. Now that the finish line is in sight–the principal has indicated that she wants me to begin meeting classes next week–the race is becoming even more intense. In addition to ensuring that the physical space is ready for the little ones, I must be prepared with programs that will engage the kids and turn them onto the magnificent world of books and reading. As this dedicated and determined librarian huffs and puffs her way to the above-mentioned finish line (which is in reality not the end of the race but the beginning of a year-long endeavor), she is unearthing some gems that beg to be shared.
Prim and proper Elliot, whose attire of choice is a tuxedo, isn’t exactly looking forward to a trip to the aquarium with his father. Once there, however, he discovers Magellanic penguins, and decides one would make an ideal pet. After all, they wear tuxedos just like his! What happens next makes this very funny story one that kids will adore from the first page to the surprising ending.
Alphabet books will never be the same. It all starts when “Adelaide annoyed Bailey./Bailey blamed Clyde…” and on through the whole alphabet of cantankerous preschoolers. But all is not hopeless: the kids learn that being nice also has a ripple effect. Hilarious.
A mother duck is searching for one of her eight babies. As she asks various animals if they have seen the youngster, children will have a blast pointing out the duckling, who is hiding on every page. The beautiful pictures tell the story in this treasure–and the repetition of “Have you seen my duckling?” gives young readers the satisfaction of reading the book themselves. Although published more than twenty years ago, this timeless treasure is every bit as charming as her more recent Silly Little Goose and Blue Goose.
TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six. Open your child’s imagination. Open a book. ~Author Unknown
04 Oct 2012 2 Comments
Two absolutely phenomenal picture books have come my way. They are so new I half expected the ink to be not fully dry when I removed them from their packages. Without further ado…
Meet Jane. As the Princess of 8th Street, she is serious about her royal duties–but she is also occasionally lonely. When her mother, the queen, urges Princess Jane to spend time with young lords and ladies on a playground, she is reluctant. However, something wonderful happens…
The world is open to children in the hands of a dedicated and enthusiastic teacher. This beautiful tribute has not yet been published, but it’s well worth the wait.
To learn more about these gems, visit http://bookandagarden.com.