Friday, November 30, 2012

Interrupting Chicken

Caldecott Honor Book Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein is the perfect book for trying Mo Willem’s first secret for raising a reader. "Be ridiculous when you read together. Make loud noises and jump around. If your child sees that you're enjoying the book, she will think reading is cool.”

Interrupting Chicken

The Little Red Chicken wants Papa to read her a bedtime story. He says he will but she must not interrupt the story. Papa starts to read Chicken Hansel and Gretel. The children find a house made of candy in the woods and start to nibble on it. An old woman comes out and invites them inside, as they were about to go in a little red chicken jumps into the story and says, “Don’t go in, she’s a witch!” So Hansel and Gretel didn’t. The end! After another admonishment to not interrupt, Papa starts to read Chicken, Little Red Riding Hood. The story ends quickly when a little red chicken jumps in and says “Don’t talk to strangers!”  Chicken Little ends quickly when a little red chicken jumps into the story to say, “Don’t panic! It was just an acorn”. The weary Papa is out of stories, so he tells Chicken to write her own. She writes a story about a chicken who is putting her Papa to bed. Her story is interrupted by Papa’s snores.

As you can see there is lots of room for dramatic interpretation in this story, whether it is read by a parent or a child. The Sonoma County Library has many copies and the Yulupa Library has 2 copies. The grade level equivalent is 2.2.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Mo Willems’ books are a favorites with my grandchildren.  This book  is a rather twisted, but hilarious retelling of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story. It seems that the three dinosaurs are very hungry so they make up some chocolate pudding at three different temperatures, but decide to leave to go …uhhh…someplace else. The three dinosaurs go someplace else and were definitely not waiting for an unsuspecting kid to come by. Very soon a poorly supervised little girl named Goldilocks entered the dinosaur's house and ate all three bowls of pudding. The story proceeds with the dinosaurs hoping to return to find a chocolate-filled-little-girl-bonbon (which are totally not a dinosaur’s favorite treat in the whole wide world). Goldilocks finally catches a clue that she is not at the three bears house when all the chairs are too tall and all the beds are too big and escapes out the back door just as the dinosaurs return home.

Goldilocks and the three dinosaurs The Sonoma County Library has several copies. As an added bonus read Mo Willems’ Secrets for Raising a Reader. The interest level for this book is preschool to third grade.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Jackie Urbanovic and Max

When my children were young, in the seventies and early eighties, there was a trend in children’s books toward ‘learning life lessons’. They tended to be a little earnest; a little humor would have gone a long way to have made these books more readable. Jackie Urbanovic has figured out how to write funny books that just might offer a little insight into life.

Duck at the Door was the first of her books about Irene and her menagerie. One winter night a very cold duck named Max knocks on Irene’s door. He is invited to stay and he becomes a bit of a pest; he cooks meals no one likes and  he hogs the remote. But by springtime, when Max leaves to join his flock, all the animals  find that life is a bit boring and now they can’t wait for Max’s return in the fall.

Duck at the DoorThe Sonoma County Library has several copies. The Yulupa Library also has a couple of copies. The reading grade level is 1.6.

The next book in the series is Duck Soup. Max decides to create his own soup recipe. He is adding ingredients and decides that chives are just what the soup needs, so he heads out to the garden to pick the herb. As he leaves, Dakota, brody and Bebe enter the kitchen looking for Max. Dakota sees a feather in the soup and decides that Max fell into the pot. Chaos ensues. Max returns to find his soup destroyed but his friends elated that he was not duck soup.

Duck Soup

The Sonoma County Library and Yulupa Library have this book. The grade reading level is 1.4.

One day a very large alligator knocks on Irene’s door. He is fleeing a zoo detective because he mistakenly ate someone’s pet. “Please don’t eat us! everyone screams. But Max remembers what it was to be in trouble and alone, so he decides to help Harold, the alligator. He pleads with Irene to rescue Harold like she rescued him. Harold assures everyone that he is not dangerous. They decide to hide the alligator from the zoo detective. Again chaos ensues. It turns out that  Harold ate a HOT dog not a PET dog and the detective comes to bring the alligator back to his home.

Duck and Cover The Sonoma County Library and the Yulupa Library have copies of this book. The reading grade level is 1.6.

The fourth book in the series is Sitting Duck. Brody’s niece, Anabel, is coming to visit. Max agrees to help babysit because, “How much trouble could a puppy get into anyway?” Most of the animals, disagreeing with Max, flee. Anabel arrives. Chaos ensues. Exhausted, Brody falls asleep. Anabel asks Uncle Maxie to take her outside. He tries to interest her in the tire swing and the swimming pool. She doesn’t like either one but she spies a trampoline. That is perfect. Anabel jumps so high she gets caught in a tree. Chaos ensues. Anabel is saved when all the animals help to get her out of the tree.

Sitting Duck

The Sonoma County Library and the Yulupa Library have this book. The reading grade level is 2.0.

I have used these books with my Schools of Hope students. They love them. There is a bit of the Marx Brothers about these books that I don’t think is accidental.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The One And Only Ivan

Ivan is a lowland gorilla. His habitat has glass walls on three sides and a mural of a “waterfall without water and flowers without scent and trees without roots” on the fourth wall. It is located in the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade on I95. His animal friends are are Stella, an elephant and Bob a dog who “belongs to no one”. Ivan, like Julia, the daughter of the mall caretaker, is an artist.  He seldom thinks about his life before he came to the Exit 8 Mall until a new elephant named Ruby arrives.

The One and Only Ivan is written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by Patricia Castelao.  This book has 304 pages, but the chapter are 1-2 pages long, double-spaced and many have just a few words on the page. Ivan says “humans waste words”. The format of this book would make it a wonderful, ‘you read to me, I’ll read to you’ book.

The One and Only Ivan

I loved this book. Ivan, Stella, Ruby, Bob and Julia are compelling characters. You will have lots of conversation about their story. The Sonoma County Library has several copies of this book.

24 Christmas Jokes

Most kids love jokes. At this time of the year, most adults are very busy. To the rescue comes a blog from the United Kingdom with 24 jokes formatted and ready to be printed and cut out. A sample: “What falls but never hurts itself?  Snow!”.  A joke a day packed with lunch would make a great seasonal treat.

Hat tip: Imagination Soup.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Book on Every Bed

Two years ago Amy Dickenson of Ask Amy fame launched a literacy program in conjunction with the Family Reading Partnership called “A Book on Every Bed”. The first present a child would see on Christmas or Chanukah morning (or whatever winter holiday(s) your family observes) is a wrapped book placed at the foot of each child’s  bed. The goal is to foster a generation of readers; passing a love of reading from parent (or grandparent) to child.

The idea for this program came from Pulitzer Prize winner, David McCullough, the author of John Adams, Truman and The Greater Journey. Every Christmas morning during his childhood, he woke up to find a wrapped book at the foot of his bed, left by Santa. The tradition continues with his children and now his grandchildren.

My husband and I will be doing this for our grandchildren for the third year. I’ll be profiling the books we will be giving our grandchildren as well as some others I have been reading this fall.

Start your own holiday reading tradition this year. It is one of the best gifts you can give the children in your life.

Friday, November 16, 2012

November is Picture Book Month

Caldecott Honor winner Doreen Cronin explains why picture books are important. Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the printed picture book. Doreen Cronin’s book, Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type is a big hit with my grand kids and the kids I tutor.

Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type She even wrote a picture book for moms called M.O.M. (Mom  Operating Manual). A hilarious attempt to explain moms to their kids.

M.O.M. Last April I reviewed her first chapter book The Trouble With Chickens in a post about dog books at the book faire.  

Every day in November there is a new post from a different picture book author about why picture books are important. Each author has one book featured in their post. It is a great way to find new picture books to share with the young people in your life.