‘St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning’ – A Special MONDAY Look at this Book!

* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room, but since today is St. Patrick’s Day we wanted to share our favorite book on a Monday rather than a Tuesday this week!  Here it is:

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Today’s great book: St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Jan Brett (1980, Clarion Books)

Teacher Website:  http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/readers_guides/bunting/

The Illustrator’s Website:  http://www.janbrett.com/index.html

Time to Read: short and sweet; March 17 was made for this book!

Summary:  from the back of the book…”Come and join Jamie Donovan as he creates his own St. Patrick’s Day parade and proves that he is big enough to climb Acorn Hill!”

Best Quote from the Book:  “The sun jumped up like a firecracker from behind the mountain.  ‘A happy St. Pat’s to you, sun,’ Jamie shouted.  The words made a great shimmer of sound in the emptiness.”

Our View:  This books has always seemed like an old classic to me.  It has that wonderful Jan Brett illustration to accompany the gracious, kindhearted text of Eve Bunting – and there is lots of green on every page to put you in that St. Patrick’s Day spirit.  The other aspect of the book that we like is how we watch the little boy figure out a way to become part of the grand celebration of the village.  There is just no way to consider a book like this as just a story for the holiday.  It is so much more and so beautifully told.

 

A Valentine List of Books

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“I love you so much I really can’t eat, but maybe you’re hungry so sweets to the sweet.” – David Carter

Here is a list of some of our favorite children’s books that we have enjoyed as we celebrate this great holiday. They’re in no particular order:

1. Valentine Friends by Ann Schweninger (1988, Scholastic) – a very creative story of best friends, Buttercup and Lucy, and all of the wonderful ways they celebrate this holiday; it even includes a how-to on creating construction hearts as well as some great knock-knock jokes!

2. Arthur’s Valentine Countdown by Marc Brown (1999, Random House) – one of the best lift-the-flap holiday books and it stars Arthur!

3. Love Bugs by David Carter (1995, Simon & Schuster) – one of the best holiday pop-up books ever!

4. A Kiss For Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik (1968, Weekly Reader Books) – with illustrations by Maurice Sendak!

5. Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink by Diane de Groat (1996, Morrow Junior Books) – the title of this book alone makes it a must-have!

6.  Cranberry Valentine by Wende and Harry Devlin (1986, Aladdin Books) – our friend Rhonda Flint gave us our first “Mr. Whiskers” book and this series is among our favorites to this day.  The illustrations are classic works of art and Mr. Whiskers is hilarious in his quest to discover who is his secret admirer!

7.  Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine by Barbara Park (1999, Random House) – this was among our first series of books with actual chapters and the Valentine story is among our top three favorites.  This is a kindergartner you must read all about!  Another great secret admirer story, mixed so well into the perspective of the kindergarten mind!

8.  Valentine Cats by Jean Marzollo (1996, Scholastic) – writer cats, artist cats, postal cats, and a few kittens thrown in for good measure!

9.  Emily’s Valentine Party by Claire Masurel (1999, Puffin Books) – our aunt Mary Elise bought this as our oldest’s first book with her name in the title.  Emily the rabbit is having a party for her friends and the reader joins in by lifting the flaps as she prepares for her favorite holiday.

10.  The Valentine Bears by Eve Bunting (1983, Scholastic) – with illustrations by Jan Brett!  This is my personal favorite of the ten:  “Mr. Bear and Mrs. Bear always missed Valentine’s Day because they were hibernating.  But this year they share a wonderful surprise.”

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Happy Valentine’s Reading!!!

I’m Lovin’ It

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If there is one holiday beyond Christmas that we celebrate big at our house, it’s Valentine’s Day. And in a house full of girls, finding new ways to celebrate such an event for nearly twenty years can be quite an endeavor. Thankfully, we take turns. Let me explain.

When our oldest daughter was five or six, I decided to surprise the girls with a prom. We moved all of the furniture out of the living room and turned it into a dance floor with snacks and punch and music, even a disco ball! We danced and laughed and quickly fell in love with the idea of turning Valentine’s into a holiday that we would not soon forget.

Since that day, we have transformed the rooms of our home into all kinds of things – the kitchen has been a secret garden (with long vines and gigantic flowers made of construction paper), a winter wonderland (with bags of sugar for snow!), a Star Wars movie scene (with a camping tent turned into the Millenium Falcon), an Italian grotto with live saxophone music and steaks shaped into hearts, and our kitchen table once became the Love Boat; our walk-in closet served as a mysterious bear cave; and our living room has been everything from a drive-in movie theater (with the two couches turned into a convertible car replete with a window speaker and concession food), to a Beach Boys-themed party with an ironing board surfboard and shark fins and blue paper for water.

Valentine’s Day is a big deal. We love the fun and the surprise of it all, but the memories continue to become the treasure.

This is why we look forward to dedicating this week’s writing to the holiday on Friday. Stay tuned for some great books and thoughts about the day. And whatever you do, celebrate big!

‘A Turkey for Thanksgiving’ – Look at this Book!

* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room, and give you a unique “recipe for fun” this week over on our Book Cook page…

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Today’s great book:  A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting with illustrations by Diane de Groat (1991, Scholastic Inc.)

Time to Read:  short and sweet with great friends and lots of kindness and humor and even a bit of mistaken identity; great for bedtime or anytime

Summary:  from the back of the book…”Everyone has turkey for Thanksgiving, and Mrs. Moose wants one too.  So, Mr. Moose and his friends set out to find a turkey for dinner, but Mr. Turkey has other ideas.”

Best Quote:  “It’s even nicer to be AT your table and not ON it…Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.”

Our View:  The last pages of this book are such a nice surprise to a person reading it for the first time, so we won’t give away the plot other than in that best quote above.  This is among the most creative of the Thanksgiving books in our collection.  We have quite a few, but this one remains special and is a grand reminder of that favorite part of this holiday season – gathering with family and friends and making the most of that time together.  Friends are everywhere in this book and working together and laughing together and sharing a meal together are the centerpiece of this grand Thanksgiving table.  As a student teacher, I read this book to my second-graders and they enjoyed it so much they decided to create a reader’s theater-style play from it.  We had sound effects people and actors and costume designers and props and one illustrator, Daniel, a little boy who found his talent as he was drawing all of the wonderful backdrops that the children would end up using to tell their story.  It was such a success that they ended up making tickets and posters for the entire elementary school, who came in shifts with friends and family and administrators to see the wonderful performance.  That is the power of a little book!  Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – “Turkey’s TrailMix” – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.