Monthly Archives: July 2012

Uff Da!, by C. L. G. Martin, illustrated by Richard Clark

Uff Da
Uff Da!, by C. L. G. Martin, illustrated by Richard Clark
(2004, Tricycle Press, ISBN 1-58246-117-1)

Uff da: the exclamation I have probably used more often in my lifetime than any other except, possibly, “Oh, my goodness!” (We say it kind of like “OOF-dah.”) If eating lefse and kringla and “putacaga” (presumably “potet kaker” [potato cakes] in Norwegian that hasn’t been corrupted terribly by my sweet and wonderful (albeit spelling-impaired) grandmother) for pretty much every family celebration throughout my childhood gives me leave to claim my one-quarter heritage and say my ancestry is Norwegian, so be it! Regardless, my family history with this word is why I grabbed this book from the library.

Timmer and his family move into a “real fixer-upper” according to his father (or a dump, according to his sister). Grampie Gustie says, “Uff da!” and shakes his head. Turns out that Grampie Gustie is in for a lot of “uff das” in this house as Timmer keeps reporting problem after problem that needs repairs, and Grampie Gustie, after uttering his customary exclamation (the rough equivalent to “Good grief!” in Scandinavia), calls another member of the extended family who can fix it to come on over, from Great Gramma Gerta with her rug-braiding skills to Great Grandpap Sea Dog Sven for the cooking. Timmer wants to help, but he is told repeatedly that he’s too little, so he spends a lot of time in his room constructing the elaborate Timmertown with scraps from his relatives’ construction endeavors. Soon the place is a madhouse, overrun with overworked, overwrought relatives from (nearly) every trade imaginable, and things are getting out of hand. Dinner one night ends up with a broken table and everyone sulking in their bedrooms. The next morning, they awake to discover traffic signs all over the house, signs that help them navigate the perilous hallways of an overly-full house, and there’s Timmer directing traffic into the dining room. When his sister suddenly discovers that gophers have invaded the yard and Grampie Gustie has to call in even more family to fix it, Timmer has his own “Uff da!” to exclaim, but with the newly appointed (by Grampie Gustie) best-in-the-world traffic director on the job, things are under control.

The illustrations are mixed media, but they have an oil painted feel. They are semi-realistic with somewhat exaggerated, caricature-like features (like the larger-than-life expressions, the plumber sisters’ stubby legs, and occasional perspectives like you might expect in a 3-D movie) which seems consistent with the illustrator’s style (since his image on the jacket flap is actually a self-caricature). The illustrator shows extreme attention to detail in textures and highlights, and the colors are bright and warm. My favorite illustrations are the one where Timmer is peeking around the corner when he discovers the broken windows and the one where Third Cousin Thurston is loading a sheet of glass into the oven and the fire is reflected in his goggles.

GirlChild’s Reaction: “That was…a little great.” Um, glowing review, GirlChild. She liked how Timmer said “Stop!” with the stop sign, but she didn’t like that the man banged on the table and broke it. Contrary to her normal wild and crazy behavior, I think she wasn’t happy with all the chaos in the book…maybe it was just the yelling at one another, since she’s really not into angry voices. I have to admit that it wasn’t the most compelling story in the world, and I kind of expected Timmer’s obvious construction skills (as evidenced by the impressive Timmertown) to be acknowledged, but the problem of a child trying to find a place to help is a pretty common one (although the solution is a little strange), so I think many kids could relate. Although I’m glad my Norwegian family isn’t as irritable at family gatherings as this one seems to be, I do wish there were more tradespeople to help out when we need home repairs! ūüėČ


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Themed Third Thursday: The Body Edition

While many of these books¬†are more fun than¬†informative, here’s a little survey of the body¬†from head to foot!
All of Baby, Nose to Toes

All of Baby Nose to Toes, by Victoria Adler,¬†pictures by Hiroe Nakata (infant/toddler): This cute rhyming book introduces the basic body parts with¬†elaborations¬†and “Who loves baby’s eyes/nose/toes/etc.?” followed by, “Me! I do!” and a picture of a family member playing with the baby. Perfect for cuddling with a baby on your lap, and it’s also available on¬†We Give Books¬†for an online read.

Horns to Toes and in Between
Horns to Toes and in Between, by Sandra Boynton (infant/toddler): Although I hope no one reading will have horns to start their head-to-toe body part identification play with a young child, this monster-themed body book is tons of fun for little ones! The body words are bold and colorful in the rhyming text, and a sturdy board book like this one is great for snuggling a little one and learning body parts the fun way! If you own the Rhinoceros Tap cd, you can hear the song that goes with the text, or you can get the MP3 of the song on Amazon to sing along to the book.

Look at You!: A Baby Body Book

Look at You!: A Baby Body Book, by Kathy Henderson, illustrated by Paul Howard (infant/toddler/preschool): This book of what the jacket flap calls poems (using the word kind of loosely, in my opinion) explores babies and toddlers and what they can do. The pencil and watercolor illustrations show a variety of babies at many ages (newborn through toddler) and in many stages (milestones and common activities and behaviors). My favorite illustrations are the “Clothes off!” one (because I think I have a photograph of GirlChild looking just like that post-bath) and “I feel…shy (I don’t know why).” A good book for reading with a little one and identifying body parts and expressions. My only hang-up is that it’s not a board book.

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School, by Laurie Halse Anderson (preschool/early elementary): Although this author is better known for her historical fiction for upper elementary and YA, this tribute to hair is a perfect start¬†at the top of the head. Zoe’s hair has a mind of its own (literally, as it is capable of petting the cat and erasing the chalkboard), and this causes her some trouble when she gets to first grade and her teacher demands some order in the classroom and her hair rebels. Her hair finally finds a way to win over her teacher and find a place in the first grade. GirlChild and my nieces (ages 2 to 7) adore this book and had Grandma read it to them a multitude of times this week while they were all visiting.

Your Teeth (Dental Health)

Your Teeth, by Helen Frost (preschool/early elementary): This book about teeth and dental health is written at a very basic reading level for independent reading. Labeled photographs make this book an excellent introduction to nonfiction with a table of contents, glossary, recommended reading, internet sites, and an index (except that there are no headings in the text to match the table of contents).

Kissing Hand (Paperback with CD)

The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn, with illustrations by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak (preschool/early elementary): This “starting school” book is quite possibly used in every kindergarten classroom in the country. When Chester Raccoon is reluctant to head off to school for the first time, his mother gives him a secret: the Kissing Hand. It’s a simple reminder that, even when he’s away at school, his mother loves him, and he can feel comforted and loved just by pressing his palm to his face when he needs to remember.

Belly Button Book (Boynton on Board)
Belly Button Book, by Sandra Boynton (infant/toddler/preschool): This Boynton book also comes with a song (found on the Philadelphia Chickens cd, although it’s just a portion of the book. The hippos tell all about their love of bellybuttons. This was one of GirlChild’s favorites as a baby, and we used to sing the song to her and drum on her tummy when we changed her diaper, so she learned what a bellybutton was pretty early. We’ve All Got Bellybuttons!, by David Martin, is another fun book with bellybuttons in the title, but it’s another cute whole-body review for little ones.

Chicken Butt!
Chicken Butt!,¬†by Erica¬†S. Perl, illustrated by Henry Cole (elementary): It’s hard to find a good book about…bottoms. (I should know; we bought my sister-in-law–the one who abhors the word “butt”…and “moist”…and “armpit”–the book¬†The Day My Butt Went Psycho¬†one year…) That said…this book really isn’t that good. I’ve always despised the “Guess what?” “Chicken butt!” exchange anyway, so if you dislike it like I do, don’t bother with this book. IF, however, you like that ridiculous retort (or just saying “butt” a lot), you’ll love it! Check it out! It goes through thighs, eyebrows, underwear, and tattoos as well. Please let me know¬†in the comments, though,¬†if you know of a more clever title on this topic!

The Foot Book (The Bright and Early Books for Beginning Beginners)
The Foot Book, by Dr. Seuss (preschool/early elementary): All different kinds of feet are showcased in this Dr. Seuss classic. Opposites and colors are the most common combinations.

Dem Bones
Dem Bones, by Bob Barner (elementary): Based on the song, this nonfiction book sprinkles in scientific blurbs about bones along with the song lyrics and paper collage skeleton illustrations.

So there it is–the body from head to foot (and even a peek inside at the bones)! Do you have any suggestions of really good nonfiction titles about the human body? There was a decided lack of quality material in my library when I was looking (many of the titles I found were checked out already), but I know there’s some great stuff out there. I think there’s a Steven Biesty cross-section book out about the body, and I’d love to hear about that one! Let us know in the comments!

UPDATE: I found this nonfiction book on We Give Books! It’s by DK Publishing and seems like it would be great for probably second to fourth graders. (It’s listed in the 8-10 year group, but it seems a little simplistic for fifth graders.) It not only goes through most of the organ systems, but it talks about germs and body processes as well!

Human Body (DK Eye Wonder)


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