‘The Magician’s Nephew’ – Tuesday’s 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: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (1955, HarperCollins)

The Author’s Book Website:  https://www.cslewis.com/us

Time to Read: about two weeks (we read before bedtime each night)

Summary:  from the author’s website…”On a daring quest to save a life, two friends are hurled into another world, where an evil sorceress seeks to enslave them. But then the lion Aslan’s song weaves itself into the fabric of a new land, a land that will be known as Narnia. And in Narnia, all things are possible.  Discover the magical lands of Narnia in The Magician’s Nephew, the first title in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has enchanted readers of all ages for over sixty years.”

Best Quote:  “Make your choice, adventurous Stranger,Strike the bell and bide the danger,Or wonder, till it drives you mad,What would have followed if you had.”

Our View:  This is one in the series of The Chronicles of Narnia that I had never read until just a few weeks ago.  Being that this is the first one in that famous landmark book series, I am amazed that I had never read it until now.  While it brings the world of Narnia to us for the first time and introduces characters and locations (such as the lampost!) that we will see throughout the series, it also gives a backstory unlike any other series I have read and it is action-packed, funny, and harrowing from chapter one.  The entire work is exciting and interesting and full of time-travel style mystery and wonder and fear and adventure and risk, but the chapter that I will never forget is entitled “The Bell and the Hammer.”  I was reading it aloud to the girls and truly lost myself in it – and that doesn’t happen very often, even though I love to read, because it is usually at night after a long day and I am tired anyway.  But this chapter, all I can tell you is that if you read this one chapter, it will force you to buy the book and read it aloud to your children!  One great book and one great experience for us all.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – “Delightfully Delicious Disappearing Delicacy – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.

Look at this Book! – I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting off a Little Self-Esteem

* 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:  I’m Gonna Like Me:  Letting off a Little Self-Esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell (2002, Joanna Cotler Books/HarperCollins Publishers)

The Author’s Book Website:  http://www.jamieleecurtisbooks.com/

Time to Read:  short and sweet; great for naptime or anytime

Summary:  from the dustjacket…”Through alternating points of view, a girl’s and a boy’s, Jamie Lee Curtis’s triumphant text and Laura Cornell’s lively artwork show kids that the key to feeling good is liking yourself because you are you.” 

Best Quote:  “I’m gonna like me when I make a mistake and put out the candles on dad’s birthday cake.  I’m gonna like me when I open the box and smile and say ‘Thanks’ even though I got socks.”

Our View:  Superstar Jamie Lee Curtis is best-known among everyone at our house as a superwriter.  Curtis’s series of books with the wonderfully detailed and colorful illustrator Laura Cornell are the perfect medicine for children as they figure out their place in the world and learn of the priceless gifts that reside within them.  This particular book is among my college students’ (who are aspiring teachers) favorite choices for reading with young children.  The lessons of this book are focused upon this important issue of self-esteem and helping children come to see themselves as unique and special because of that uniqueness.  This is a wonderful book to keep in your collection and share just when your child could use a little extra help in seeing that they are one-of-a-kind…and that’s a good thing.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – “A Little Cup of ES-STEAM” – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.

‘Gingerbread Baby’ – 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.  To celebrate the holiday season, we are reviewing a great Christmas book every Tuesday this month!

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Today’s great book:  Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett (1999, Scholastic)

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

Time to Read:  short and sweet; great for naptime or anytime

Summary:  from the publisher…”A young boy and his mother bake a gingerbread baby that escapes from their oven and leads a crowd on a chase similar to the one in the familiar tale of the not-so-clever gingerbread man.”

Best Quote:  “They measured and mixed.  Matti rolled the dough into the shape of a gingerbread boy and they popped him in the oven.  Bake a full eight minutes.  No more.  No less.  DO NOT peek, the recipe read.”

Our View:  If you are at all familiar with the wonderful variety of Jan Brett’s masterful children’s books, you know that one of the most special aspects of her books are the intricately detailed artwork that frames each and every page of her stories.  In this particular work, the Gingerbread Boy actually ends up in a surprising place as he is chased through the forest by a wonderful group of interesting characters.  This is a story that nearly tells itself through the illustrations and is great fun to read with your children.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – “Gingerbread Babies” – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.

‘Sadie and the Snowman’ – 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.  To celebrate the holiday season, we are reviewing a great Christmas book every Tuesday this month!

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Today’s Great Book:  Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan and illustrated by Brenda Clark (1985, Scholastic)

Time to Read:  short and sweet for bedtime or anytime

Summary:  From the back of the book…Sadie made a really good snowman. And he lasted for a long, long time.

Best Quote:  “The sun kept coming out and the snowman kept melting. But there was always enough of the snowman left to start all over again.”

Our View:  Our oldest was a kindergartner at Christmas in the year 2000 when she received this outstanding winter children’s book from her excellent teachers, Connie Westhof and her assistant Marilyn Oldfield. We read it throughout the season and have returned to its comforting story every winter since. The story follows a little girl through a wonderfully instructive time in which she makes her first snowman (the illustrations are perfect for enhancing this learning aspect of the story). As the season moves along, she discovers a way to keep her snowman year-round. When summer comes, she fondly remembers the experience of creating the snowmen. It is a wonderfully simple idea that is common to so many young children and its instructive style really is helpful in bringing a young child along in their thinking about time and change and memory. Sadie and the Snowman is a wintertime classic here at our house.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – “We All Scream for Snow Cream!” – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.

‘Pat the Christmas Bunny’ – 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.  To celebrate the holiday season, we will review a great Christmas book every Tuesday this month!

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Today’s great book:  Pat the Christmas Bunny by Edith Kunhardt (1999, Golden Books)

Time to Read:  short and sweet, especially for a Christmas baby; great for naptime or anytime

Summary:  from the back of the book…”Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt is recognized by leading educators as the most important first book for a baby’s early development.  Its unique interactive and sensory approach helps stimulate a baby’s developing mind.  In this companion to Dorthy Kunhardt’s Pat the Bunny, Paula and Judy are getting ready for Christmas.  Toddlers can join in the fun by helping them write a list for Santa, smell a candy cane, and even ride on a toboggan!  All nine activities will fascinate your little one.”

Best Quote:  “But we’re so excited that we can’t fall asleep.” (our favorite interactive page too!)

Our View:  For a while now, we’ve been wanting to include a book review for those with babies and so to celebrate our first ever month-long “Look at this Book!,” we have decided to begin the month with the kid’s first Christmas book favorite.  Pat the Christmas Bunny is that book.  Claire was 11-months old when she received this book from us to celebrate her first Christmas.  The interactive style and the simple words and pictures, along with the small format of the book, is just right for little hands.  The sensory aspects of this story make it a perfectly developmentally appropriate work for young ones and the short story is just right for tired parents.  The original Pat the Bunny was first published in 1940 and has now sold more than 7 million copies worldwide.  Random House includes a wonderful website dedicated to the history of the story and includes this comment:  “The history of pat the bunny has shaped its way into becoming one of the most recognized classic children’s books today. The success of the entire collection can be attributed to Dorothy and Edith Kunhardt, as they created these books with love and consideration to the joy and interaction that child and parent would get by reading these books together.”  You can visit the website at http://www.randomhouse.com/golden/patthebunny/story.html

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – “Eat the Coconut Bunny” – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.

‘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.

Look at this Book – ‘Shrek!’

* 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:  Shrek! by William Steig (1990, The Trumpet Club)

Time to Read: short and funny; another great bedtime or anytime story

Summary:  School Library Journal wrote of the book, “(PreSchool-Grade 3) When a horrid ogre ventures out into the world, he encounters a nasty witch, a knight in armor, a dragon and true love with a princess who’s even uglier than he is in this tale by William Steig.”

Best Quote:  “Shrek snapped at her nose.  She nipped at his ear.  They clawed their way into each other’s arms.  Like fire and smoke, these two belonged together.”

Our View:  Has there ever been a more devoted storybook character to bring understanding to the old cliche, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?”  Though most every reader and parent will recall the great trilogy of movies by the same name, few realize that they were born in this very children’s book!  When I read it to my college students a few weeks ago, they were stunned that no one had ever told them one of their favorite movie characters was first a great big green mess of a giant named Shrek!  Known for his wonderfully creative children’s books like Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and Doctor De Soto, author William Steig (1907-2003) brilliantly captures the gross and the beautiful, all in one fair book.  My daughters laughed and laughed at the colorful illustrations and hilarious poetry.

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