“Dad, listen to this!”

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Last night I was searching for a particular book that I wanted to share with my college students in class today.  I had been through every room and looked among every bookshelf and was now upstairs in the secret book room, searching through the piles of our children’s books that we have accumulated over the past 20 years together.  Of course, I got lost in the experience…to be around that many good books and illustrations is like getting caught in a really wonderful rainstorm.  The books were falling everywhere and I was happily caught in their flood.

And then, our youngest daughter (age 9) appeared in the little doorway and said, “Dad, listen to this!”  She was holding a newly discovered book from her school library.  A good friend had read this particular book only a few weeks before and they were talking about it that day, so she checked it out and brought it home to read.  She was about 20 pages in when she came across a couple of pages that she wanted to read to me.

It was a wonderful passage that was very poetic and very solemn, and she read it as though she were auditioning for a Shakespeare play.  Her eyes were alive with these words.  Her voice was alive with these words.  Her physical appearance was alive with these words.  Something about them reverberated somewhere within her young heart.

I’m glad she read to me.  What I heard, I needed to hear.  But what I saw, I will never forget.

Father Knows Five 4-18-14

*Every Friday we serve you an “a la carte” list of 5 unique videos, articles, ideas, etc. from all kinds of locations. (If you are viewing this blog through your email subscription, please follow the link to our website to view all videos.)  See you next week!

1. There are “Bunnies Galore” in many new children’s books this year!

2.  We received this book for Easter when our middle daughter was born.  It has remained a favorite for many years.

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3.  Anytime I can add a book that includes BOTH Charlotte Zolotow and Maurice Sendak, I’m going to do it.  This is a wonderful story:

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4.  We read The Golden Egg Book just before bedtime last night.  The very last page and line of this wonderful title in The Little Golden Books Series is worth a million.

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5.  Our list of rabbits and children would not be complete without sharing the world of Beatrix Potter.  We have always enjoyed reading these adventures together with the children and love finding just the right voice for such a great variety of characters.  Click on the poster below to go to Beatrix Potter’s wonderful Peter Rabbit website!

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Baby Frederico Makes-a-Movie Thursday!

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*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story (or book review or movie) from our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico. His backstory can be found here.  Enjoy!

Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, blue crayons, popcorn and…animal crackers.  Here is something entirely new!

I’ve made a fun movie at the house with my friends.  Maybe you can even make up your own version of the story you will see here! Either way, enjoy:

 

Bigfoot Lives!

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This past Valentine’s Day the girls surprised me with this wonderful story (my version even has illustrations) that they wrote about a character that we have laughed about and told stories and watched documentaries on for years.  I wanted to share it with you, as well.  Happy Wednesday!

BigFoot has big feet…to roam at Mitch Park and play hide and seek with the people.

BigFoot has big hands…to make big pancakes for his BigFoot daughters on Saturday mornings.

BigFoot has big ears…to listen to music while he’s taking a shower in the rain or a bath in the pond.

BigFoot has big eyes…to watch lots of movies during the summer at the Drive-In theater (he gets in for free!)

BigFoot has a big mouth…to smile at the children who come upon him in the woods (so they won’t be frightened!).

BigFoot has big hair…his beard trimmer ran out of batteries years ago!  

BigFoot has a big nose…to smell the yummy dinner his BigFoot honey makes for him each night after a long day of playing hide and seek with people. 

BigFoot has a big tummy… to hold lots of flavored water and coconut popsicles (and the occasional M&M.) 

But most of all, BigFoot has a very, very, very, very BIG HEART… to hold all the love given to him all year-round! 

The End!

‘Cranberry Easter’ – Tuesday’s Look at THIS Book!

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* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room.

 

Today’s great book: Cranberry Easter by Wende and Harry Devlin (1990, Aladdin Books)

The Authors’ FUN Website:  http://www.harryandwendedevlin.com/

Time to Read: we read it just before bed

Summary:  from the website…”Mr. Whiskers realizes something must be done, but what? Just when things look their worst, his young friend Maggie comes up with a plan that may save the egg hunt, and convince Seth that Cranberryport is the place for him after all!”

Best Quote from the Book:  “Suffering codfish, Seth, these old folks are all alone.  Somebody’s got to help.  They need you!”

Our View:  I am especially fascinated right now by what I like to call “kind-hearted books.”  If there were ever a book that had kind-hearted characters in it, this would be the one – actually, the entire Cranberry series introduces us to a wonderful group of people.  There is something special and rare about a children’s book that does not speak down to children and does not create only child characters, but instead offers a story that brings generations together and instills a respect and wonder for those around us. The illustrations are colorful and interesting and will easily capture the attention of children of all ages.  From a sense of community to a sense of humor, Cranberry Easter weaves a tale of family and friends that will strike a familiar and hopeful chord with its readers.

Recipe Alert:  This series also includes a great cranberry recipe in the back of each book!

 

I Love a Rainy Walk

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My sweetheart and I got caught in a downpour while we were in San Antonio.  We had been attending separate conference meetings all day when we just happened to bump into each other in one of the noisy and crowded hallways of the hotel where the event was being held.  We looked at each and said, “Let’s get out of here and see the city.”

As we walked outside to catch a taxi, deep dark clouds were just beginning to gather near us to the west of the hotel.  Our goal was to walk the city’s famous (and obviously outdoor) Riverwalk and we considered the possibility that we might see some rain but, as we had packed no raincoats or umbrellas, it mattered little…and so we went.

We had no idea where to tell the taxi driver to drop us off, so we let him decide for us.  He suggested a big hotel that included a back door with outside stairs that dropped down into a cavernous walkway that would allow us to meander among a number of great restaurants and shops.  Large, heavy drops of rain were just beginning to hit the sidewalk as we paid the fare and ran inside the hotel lobby.

Eventually, we found the back door and opened it – there was not another soul in sight to question and we had no real idea where we were going.   As the door was about to close, I noticed a sign which read, “This door to remain locked at all times.  You must use your hotel key for readmittance.”  We had no hotel key and, by this time, the rain was coming down in sheets.  We looked up into the sky and down into the winding staircase that led to the river below, and then I held that door and read the sign aloud one more time.

“Are you ready?” I said.  “There’s no going back.  We let that door close and it is down those stairs in the rain, okay?”

“Where do they lead?” she said.  “Is there a place to get out of the rain once we get down there?”

No idea.  Because it was a high and winding outdoor staircase, there was no way to tell what was at the bottom.  And, it was raining harder now and the wind was starting to blow the rain through the door and into the hotel.  We had to stay or go, but close the door either way.

And then, in one of those cinematic moments that I swear could not have been scripted more perfectly, she said, “Let’s walk in the rain.”

So we did.  And I’ll never forget it.

Father Knows Five 4-11-14

*Every Friday we serve you an “a la carte” list of 5 unique videos, articles, ideas, etc. from all kinds of locations. (If you are viewing this blog through your email subscription, please follow the link to our website to view all videos.)  See you next week!

1.  Here is a wonderfully creative clip that introduces us to Chip Kidd’s new book, Go, about design for children.  We met him at the ABC Children’s book conference in San Antonio earlier this week and really enjoyed his perspective on things:

2.  Here is a classic treasury of great children’s poems and rhymes that we are reading before bedtime at home this week.  After I read, I made (the good) mistake of leaving it at the end of our 9-year old’s bed as I said goodnight and left the room – and a half hour later she was still reading from it to her older sister.

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3.  Speaking of poetry, I had no idea that April is always Poetry Month.  Here is a great idea for your classroom – a “Poet-Tree” – for all of our favorite teachers out there:

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4.  I can’t talk about poetry for children without thinking about Where the Sidewalk Ends and its fascinating author, Shel Silverstein.  His website, http://www.shelsilverstein.com/, is so much fun!

5.  Anyone remember this great book?  I found it at a bookstore in Seattle a few months ago and it brought back some great boyhood memories so I had to purchase it:

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