‘A Chair for My Mother’ – Tuesday’s Look at THIS Book!

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

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Today’s great book: A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams (1982, HarperCollins)

About the Author: http://www.kidsreads.com/authors/vera-b-williams

Teacher Resource:  http://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?tid=1264&a=1

Time to Read: 32-pages, a touching family story; we read it before bed

Summary:  from the publisher…”The jar of coins is full. The day has come to buy the chair – the big, fat, comforable, wonderful chair they have been saving for. The chair that will replace the one that was burned up – along with everything else – in the terrible fire.  A book of love and tenderness filled with the affirmation of life.”

Best Quote from the Book:  “When we can’t get a single other coin into the jar, we are going to take out all the money and go and buy a chair.”

Our View:  Written and illustrated by Vera B. Williams and named a Caldecott Honor Book by the American Library Association, A Chair for My Mother has been a longtime favorite of mine and I read it every semester to my college students who are aspiring to become teachers of young children and their families.  The story places itself firmly in the lives of a little girl and her mother and grandmother, deep in the heart of the city, among a close knit group of family and friends that surround them.  Taking care of each other, hard work, saving, financial issues, fire and the loss of a home – each topic weaves itself through the plot and brings to life the courage and dedication of a family to keep going and do great things…together.  

‘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!

 Pat bunny

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.

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…

 Shrek 1

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.

Look at this Book! ‘An Extraordinary Egg’

* 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…

 Egg

Today’s great book:  An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni (1994, Alfred Knopf Inc.)

Time to Read: short and sweet; bedtime; when you need a good laugh

Summary: from the inside cover…”For three frogs, an ordinary day on Pebble Island becomes extraordinary when one of them discovers a beautiful white egg.  Although they’ve never seen a chicken egg, they’re sure that’s what it is.  So, when the egg hatches and out crawls a long, green, scaly, four-legged creature, they naturally call it….a chicken!”

Best Quote:  “Alligator!”  said Marilyn.  “What a silly thing to say!”  And the three frogs couldn’t stop laughing.

Our View:  Leo Lionni is a must-have children’s author for your book collection.  He has written many children’s books and all of them are worth gold.  This funny story about three frogs, one egg, a chicken, and an alligator is just right for a quick bedtime story and some wonderful belly laughs!  The artwork is colorful and simple and the case of mistaken identity that fuels the plot of this great book will really surprise you.

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

Look at this Book! Goodnight iPad

* 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 bookGoodnight iPad:  A Parody for the Next Generation by Ann Droyd (2011, Penguin Group).

Time to Read: short and funny and true

Summary:  from the back cover, “In the bright buzzing room…it is time to power down.  For parents and children alike, here is a modern bedtime story about bidding our gadgets goodnight.  Don’t worry, though.  They’ll be waiting for us, fully charged, in the morning.”

Best Quote:  “Goodnight remotes and Netflix streams, Androids, apps, and glowing screens.  Goodnight plugs and power lights that guide us to pee in the darkness of night.”

Our View:  What a funny parody of the classic children’s work, Goodnight Moon.  My oldest gave this one to me for my birthday last week and we have enjoyed reading it every night since!  I think my favorite thing about this book is how well it captures life a decade into the 21st century.  Who knows what future technological invention is poised on the horizon, so this book will be a treasure to me another 20 years from now when I read it to my grandchildren and reminisce about the birth of apps and streaming movies and nooks and e-books and LOL and MP3 and HDTV and 3-D glasses and viral clips and tweets and texts.  The illustrations are pitch perfect and the rhymes are smooth as butter.  One great book for dads everywhere!

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

Look at this Book! Ghost Horse

* 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…

Ghost Horse Cover

Today’s great book: Ghost Horse by George Edward Stanley with illustrations by Ann Barrow (2000, Random House).

Time to Read: a chapter book; 69 pages; 2-3 evenings.

Summary:  from the back cover…”Emily Clark just moved.  She doesn’t like her new  house.  She doesn’t like her new town.  Then one night she wakes up to find a horse in her backyard – a ghost horse!    Where did he come from?  And why is he haunting Emily’s backyard?  Only by solving the mystery can Emily set the ghost horse free.

Best Quote: “Emily wished the ghost horse could talk.  Why had he come to her?  The ghost horse knelt down on his front legs.”

Our View: First, the illustrations in this book are so life-like.  They are drawn in pencil and really jump off the page as you encounter each one among the chapters.   The story itself is great.  We love mysteries and this book keeps you guessing from start to finish.  It isn’t really scary, but there is a descriptive walk as Emily is led through a cemetery by the ghost horse.  The horse is indeed a ghost and has a good reason for seeking out Emily, who has always wanted a horse.

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

Look at this Book! Bully

* 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…

bully

Today’s great book: Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (2013, Roaring Brook Press).
Time to Read: short and just right for both the bully and the bullied
Summary: A small bull is bullied, which leads him to become a big bully himself. When a billy goat stands up for his friends who are being bullied by him, the bully quickly realizes how mean he has become and changes his ways.
Best Quote: “Wanna play?”

Our View: The single most surprising thing about this book is its perspective. It reads just enough through the eyes of a bully – both when the book starts and he becomes a bully and then when he is called a bully. This is powerful, relevant stuff for the life of children. It also helped me see the importance of defining the term bully for children everywhere. When a bully actually understands what it means to be called a bully, change just might come after all. The words and illustrations are sparse, making this book all that more powerful and helpful to young eyes and ears, and just right for this big issue. This is the kind of book that will be a lifesaver in your classroom or your home.

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