Tag Archives: religious (Christian)

The Beasts and Children, Day 11: A Christmas Goodnight

A Christmas Goodnight

A Christmas Goodnight, by Nola Buck, illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright (2011)

BoyChild was disappointed that “all it had was goodnight!” I think that’s because he is at the age where he prefers a story with a plot, and this cute book would be a great bedtime book for toddlers and preschoolers at Christmas time!

The book opens with a semi-typical depiction of the nativity scene, different only in that they are pictured in a cave (a more likely traditional setting for a stable than a wooden structure). Like usual (and inaccurate to the Biblical account), the Wise Men are there at the birth with the shepherds. (Just getting my beef with many nativity-based stories out of the way!) From that point, the story is more implied than told, and you don’t really fully understand what’s been happening until the end of the book! The book is, as BoyChild said, a series of goodnights. The words and pictures show a goodnight to (among many others) “the baby in the hay” and “the sleepy mother,” a variety of animals, the angels, and the rest of the nativity story characters. The very next page starts with goodnights to the moon and the cold air (with an appropriate image of a rural nightscape), then moves into a house where we see a family with a young child saying goodnight “again, sweet baby” to the baby Jesus from their nativity set, then finally, “Goodnight–God bless the whole wide world, for tomorrow is Christmas Day!”

If you have very young children, you know that going to bed can involve a lot of goodnights to people and inanimate objects; this story seems to tap into that tendency. My understanding is that the whole story is actually part of the child’s nighttime routine at Christmas: say goodnight to all the pieces in the nativity set before saying goodnight to his own surroundings and the world (with one more goodnight for the baby). The pictures help move the text along in that they start with close-ups of all the characters in the nativity story, then zoom out to show some of the surrounding area, then move away from Bethlehem into the fields. They then transition to the snowy outdoors scene, then to the farmhouse window, then inside the home where you see the parents and child with the nativity set. The very last picture, with the words “for tomorrow is Christmas Day” shows a wide view of a snowy Christmas morning on a farm with a small village in the distance. The publisher’s recommended ages are 4-8, but I think that skews a little old for such a simple bedtime book (at least one that hasn’t become tradition for the child) and would suggest starting a little younger. It is a really adorable book for small ones!

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The Beasts and Children, Day 4: The Christmas Pageant

The Christmas Pageant

The Christmas Pageant, by Jacqueline Rogers (1989)

I didn’t realize when I picked this book up that the author/illustrator is the woman who provides the cover art for the new Ramona reprints and for Calvin Coconut (a series I discovered in the school library recently). The style is very different from those books–much more realistic–but it’s clear that she has varied talent!

This book shows the story of the dress rehearsal and performance of a rural Christmas pageant (performed in a barn surrounded by snowy hills and not much else!), and the text represents the contents of the pageant (matching up with the scene the pictures illustrate), including songs with sheet music! The picture story begins with final preparations of costumes and set pieces. From there, we see the angel Gabriel making his announcements to Mary and then Joseph (while set work continues in the background). Then Joseph pulls a wagon (with a donkey cut-out taped to the front and Mary perched on a box inside) across the stage, and we see the toddler (a little girl, according to the cast list on the title pages) who is playing Baby Jesus pestering an innkeeper behind the inn set while another child leads some real animals into the barn for the performance. Mary and Joseph have some trouble keeping the “baby” in the manger once she sees the cow and sheep on stage, and one of the sheep chews on a shepherd’s head covering while the angel appears to proclaim the birth. Then an angel choir (with appropriately mixed behavior) sings as the shepherds make their way to the stable (where Jesus sucks on a pacifier and tries to pull off the head covering of another shepherd). The real program begins at this point of the illustrations as the costumed wise men (one carrying the camel cut-out) trek through the snow on the country road leading to the barn where cars fill the plowed out area that is serving as a parking lot. They track snow across the stage while the audience looks on with pride. The faux Jesus has actually fallen asleep for this evening performance, and Mary and Joseph smile as they place her in the stage manger. Then all the cast gathers around the sleeping child for the final song (“Joy to the World”) and curtain call. As the performers and their families file out of the barn after the performance, snow is falling, delighting the children.

With as much charm as a real performance of a Christmas pageant, the text of the book could actually be used as the basis for a production (with directors reminded by the illustrations of what pitfalls exist with child performers!). It is not verbatim text from the Bible, but it summarizes and condenses much like any Christmas pageant would (and, like most pageants and nativity sets, features the wise men–inaccurately–at the birth for the purpose of seamlessly including their part of the account.) The characters in the illustrations are actually based on real people, credited by the author/illustrator on the page facing the title page. While the director’s hairstyle, outfit, and glasses might give away the 1989 publication date, it’s not jarring (or prevalent) enough to distract from the art, and the kids look like any kids from any time in the late 20th to early 21st century. (The biggest hint of the publication date might actually be that none of the audience is holding up a cell phone to record the performance!) This book would make a great read-aloud for preschoolers, and readers in middle elementary grades could probably handle it independently.

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The Beasts and Children, Day 3: Merry Christmas Mr. Mouse

Merry Christmas Mr. Mouse

Merry Christmas Mr. Mouse, by Caralyn Buehner, pictures by Mark Buehner (2015)

This is another one that BoyChild really enjoyed. Part of the fun of this is the built in hidden pictures–but we still haven’t found the cat, T-rex, and rabbit in all of the illustrations! (And I really wish I knew the backstory behind the dedication: “For Mr. Joe, who’s as handsome as a bus and as clever as a tractor”!)

Mr. Mouse hears that there is a spot available for sale under a kitchen stove, so he and his family (a wife and seventeen small mice) move in. As Mr. Mouse is exploring the human house one day, he discovers an evergreen tree covered with lights has been brought in and notices all kinds of new smells and new activities going on. He and his family observe and wonder the reason for all the festivities, so Mouse creeps upstairs and overhears the nativity account and the story of Santa being told. “All that fussing upstairs is for Christmas, and Christmas means joy, and love,” he reports back to his wife. She decides it would be a good idea to decorate and celebrate, too. Mr. Mouse goes around borrowing small items to recreate the decorations he has seen upstairs while Mrs. Mouse makes pajamas for everyone, and they wrap the gifts in scraps of colorful paper. Crumbs of gingerbread and bits of candy cane serve as their treats. Then they gather the whole family for the celebration with games and music, treats and gifts, and a retelling of the Christmas story. They each hang a tiny stocking before bed, just in case. To Mr. Mouse’s surprise, they awaken to find a small gift for each parent and a chocolate chip and a bit of cheese for each little mouse. Mr. and Mrs. Mouse decide that Christmas is worth celebrating every year.

The story is told in rhyming verse (ABCB pattern), but it’s not overly rhythmic, so it doesn’t feel too forced. The illustrations, in addition to the hidden images in each one, feature rich, vibrant colors, and the contents of the Mouse home, in particular, are creatively made using regular household items (much like in The Borrowers, a childhood favorite of mine). Small readers can try to figure out the origins of all the items, from the paperclips and buttons on the sprig tree to the chili powder can they use as a fireplace and the dominoes, Tinker-Toys, and blocks they use as seats for the children. (There’s even the little Scottie dog from a Monopoly game as a table-top decoration and birthday candles used for light!) (In an added twist, I recognized the cover of another Christmas book I’ve reviewed, Christmas Day in the Morning, on the page where the mouse is listening to the humans share Christmas stories–because the illustrator of this book is the one who illustrated that one!)

Even though it’s not heavily emphasized, it’s easy to take the central message of the book and apply it in the lives of our little readers–“Mouse learned that on that night long ago/was born the Lord of the earth,/and the lights and the songs and the giving/were to celebrate His birth.” Great for preschool and early elementary read-alouds.

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The Beasts and Children, Day 2: Christmas in the Country

Christmas in the Country

Christmas in the Country, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Diane Goode (2002)

I may have liked this book more than BoyChild, but I suppose he’s not quite old enough yet to be the sentimental sort. Although I’m not sure it’s entirely autobiographical, the author often includes episodes and people from her life in her works, so there is every possibility that much of the story is true.

The narrator looks back to when she was a little girl living with her grandparents in the country. Each season brings new experiences, and this book focuses on winter and the anticipation of Christmas. In her family, her grandfather goes to chop down a tree while she and her grandmother get out the ornaments, each one a reminder of years past. Christmas Eve is a chance to sing with the other children in front of the church and get a small gift of fruit and candy after the service. Before she goes to bed when they get home, she writes a nice note for Santa to leave with the milk and cookies. Early Christmas morning, she wakes her grandparents to go see what Santa has brought her, and she is always pleased to receive the new doll she has asked for and a special second gift that’s a surprise. After opening her gifts, they go to church once again for a quick reminder of what Christmas is about, then they return home to entertain the friends and family who visit throughout the day. When Christmas is done and the New Year comes, the tree comes down, the ornaments are packed away, and the anticipation of each new season–and other Christmases–begins again.

Most page spreads have one page with a decent amount of text in a frame with a small illustration and a full page illustration on the opposite side. A few feature a paragraph of text that takes second place to the full spread illustration. I find myself once again wishing I had the knowledge and vocabulary to describe the art! The setting is clearly in the past, but the illustrations depict the kind of timeless country home that could still be found represented all over. (This one has electric lights but is heated by “an old coal stove,” so the time can’t be firmly established.) Plenty of details give young readers something to study on each page, and many will find the three dogs’ activities interesting enough to warrant a longer look.

I think what I liked most about this book is the focus on memories of traditions. None of the things she writes about are big, showy things, but they are childhood experiences that have importance in her mind. Our family has a tradition of adding an ornament to the tree each year that represents a family experience of the year; some years, everybody gets their own for some special memory from the year. (BoyChild’s is BB-8 this year, in tribute to his new Star Wars obsession, and our family ornament is from our visit to Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine this past summer. (Our kids earned Junior Ranger badges there, and GirlChild did some extra work and got the patch!) We’re still deciding on what part of GirlChild’s busy year we’re going to commemorate with an ornament!) We parents also have our childhood ornaments that were given to us by our parents for our new tree for our first Christmas when we were married. Decorating the tree each year is a drawn-out process. Each person hangs his or her own ornaments, and there are usually stories shared about when we got each ornament or who gave it to us or what we remember about the experience that prompted the choice. We don’t relive every Christmas tradition our families had growing up, but we’ve selected some from each side and have developed our own that work for our little family, too. From the apple, orange, and nuts in each stocking from my husband’s family to the multiple advent calendars from mine, we build tradition and meaning into the whole month. Our most firm tradition, though, is to always read the Christmas account from Luke 2 on Christmas Eve right before bed. Like the narrator’s preacher on Christmas morning, we find it important to always remind ourselves what Christmas is about so it carries with us through the rest of our celebrations and gives them a foundation in love and giving.

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The Beasts and Children, Day 1: Christmas Cricket

Christmas Cricket

Christmas Cricket, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Timothy Bush (2002)

The dedication page implies the inspiration for the story. The author writes, “To the Christmas choir in my garden. You sing like angels.” This book tells the story of a cold, wet, and dejected cricket who makes his way indoors and takes shelter in a brightly lit tree he finds there. Once he hides himself there, he begins to sing, and he is startled by sudden voices nearby. When the larger of the voices agrees with the smaller voice (who says she thinks she heard the angel ornament sing) that he thinks he hears singing, too, Cricket is surprised to hear him also say, “Did you know that angels sing in the songs of birds, and frogs and people and crickets?” Cricket is calmed and encouraged by the thought, and he joins in with the voices as they sing “Joy to the World” with joy in his own heart.

BoyChild really enjoyed this book. He even gave sounding out a few lines a try: “What should he do? He must not be found. Should he jump? Should he try to get away? Should he stay hidden?” (Clearly, not all of that can be sounded out, but he tried!) When we reread it the next day, he willingly tried it out again, only missing a few tricky words, so I’m encouraged by his effort! While he liked the part when Cricket is crossing the kitchen tiles (“jump-jumped across something, cold as frozen snow”), the hardwood floor (“skid-skidded across somewhere, slippery as pond ice”), and onto a rug (“a place as soft and fresh as grass”), he really loved the illustration showing Cricket hopping across the living room floor and up into the tree. I think he found it funny how Cricket interpreted the different flooring types based on his own experience with the outside, and the implied movement of the illustration was fun for him. The art is done in watercolor and features an assortment of perspectives that keep the illustrations interesting and make the reader feel close to the action of the story. While the claim that angels sing in the songs of animals and people is a little suspect, I explained to BoyChild that the Bible says that nature proclaims God’s glory (Psalm 19), so the author probably means that it’s as if the angels are singing when creatures in nature make their music. The point of the story, then, is found in the following passage: “He was small, then. But not worthless. What a great discovery!” For little children feeling small and powerless (and perhaps their parents, feeling insignificant in a big world), the reminder that even the smallest voice–each member of God’s creation–speaks a bit of heaven is a refreshing and empowering thought.

Great for a read-aloud for preschool to early elementary, this book has large illustrations and small chunks of text that would make it a great independent read for an early reader as well. Definitely BoyChild approved, and GirlChild thought it was cute, too.

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BoyChild Chooses: The 12 Reviews of Christmas 2015, Day 2–A Gift for the Christ Child

 

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A Gift for the Christ Child, by Tina Jähnert, illustrated by Alessandra Roberti, translated by Sibylle Kazeroid (2004)

BoyChild wanted to do “the book about Jesus” next! I sometimes struggle with recommending books that alter the Christmas account found in the Bible, but this one does an okay job of keeping things in a historical fiction kind of strain rather than adjusting the whole thing or adding fantasy elements (like talking animals and the like). I explained to BoyChild which significant parts were different (we’ll have to review the Luke 2 account to give him a frame of reference now that he is able to remember things more clearly–I’m sure he’ll be able to point out the differences then!); we’ll address the whole traditional detail versus Biblical account thing later!

This book tells the story of Miriam, the very young daughter (I’d guess four or five years old based on the illustrations of her size) of an innkeeper in Bethlehem. She envies her older brother, Malachai, and her parents for their important work–she’s always told she’s too little to help! Miriam, red comfort blanket in tow, finally tells her mother how she feels, and her mother is quick to assure Miriam that she is important to her mother and to all who know her simply “because you are you–unique in the whole world.” However, she agrees to try to find ways Miriam can help because she is so eager to do so. The opportunity arises quickly; Miriam is asked to lead a man and young woman on a donkey down to the stable because they need a place to stay and there is no more room available. Miriam does her job diligently, but she is surprised that the young woman seems grateful for her accommodations, thanking God for the solitude and comfort. Miriam wakes in the night and finds that there is a light glowing in the stable, and she goes to see if their guests need something. When she finds that there is a baby newly arrived, she immediately lays her own blanket down in the manger for the child and tells the mother, “I would like to give this to the little baby,” and she is overjoyed to see her gift being wrapped around the infant. Very shortly, shepherds arrive, and they exclaim over the news that they had heard from angels: “Jesus Christ, the son of God, had been born to save the world.” Miriam, soon joined by her family, listens in wonder and they all praise God. When Miriam’s mother notices the red blanket, she offers gentle praise to her daughter for her sweet gift, and Miriam feels “big and tall and proud” because she knows she is important not just to her family and friends, but to the Child and, therefore, to the whole world.

The illustrations in this book are soft and muted, the scenery is mostly in browns and tans and shows hilly, somewhat barren terrain and simple block structures, the clothing fits the traditional depictions of Biblical scenes (with the somewhat unusual but historically likely inclusion of hoop earrings on the innkeeper’s wife), and the people are illustrated with natural proportions if simplified features. (I still feel like I should take an art class where I can learn to identify and name all these different styles of illustrations and techniques!) The full-page illustrations have rich color and a good bit of texture but feature simplified details so the pages don’t appear cluttered or too busy. There are also a few focused illustrations of characters in a kind of color haze on an otherwise open white space on a page. BoyChild says his favorite illustration is the one where Miriam is playing with the lamb and her doll because he likes to play, too. I just love the way the illustrations show Miriam’s expressions, looks I’ve seen on the faces of my own young children and find very sweet and open.

While the Bible doesn’t include anyone but the shepherds visiting Jesus in his improvised cradle, the events of this story are plausible, and they don’t alter the original account in any significant way. That a young child struggles with feelings of inadequacy and insignificance is certainly relatable, and a young child’s insistence on helping is, too. Her mother’s reassurance of her importance is perfect, but it is even more beautiful that such a young child is able to discover her importance to the son of God himself! While our children certainly can’t personally lend Jesus a blanket to keep him warm, we are reminded that whatever we do “for the least of these” is done for him (Matthew 25:40), and a heartfelt, sacrificial gift to someone in need may be just the opportunity your child needs to realize his or her importance in the eyes of God.20151201_204616~2

A family Christmas tradition my parents started with us when we were young helps illustrate this concept for little ones. My dad built a small wooden manger and my mom filled a basket with strands of straw-colored yarn and placed it next to the manger. The three of us were allowed to place one strand of the hay in the manger every time we did something nice for someone or resisted responding inappropriately to our parents or siblings. (We weren’t allowed make a point of putting the “hay” in the manger so that there was no bragging about good deeds or significant glares while we walked “virtuously” away from a potential argument–that would kind of defeat the purpose!) On Christmas morning, we would find Baby Jesus (a swaddled baby doll reserved just for this purpose) lying in a manger made soft by our good choices and loving acts, and we strove all December to make that makeshift bed as welcoming as we could! As we grew and matured, it became less necessary, so my parents retired it, but I brought it home this year for my own children to use. While they’re still so young (four and seven), it might still be necessary to tell them when they should put in a strand and to give them a second chance to make a better choice and have the opportunity to put one in, but I’m hoping it will both be an incentive to help them cope with the irritability that often comes with anticipation and busy seasons and realize that what they do for each other, they are also doing for God!

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Themed Third Thursday: My Bin of Books

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So, illness and vacations kept us away from the library this past month, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t have plenty to read! This month, I’ll give you a glimpse into my living room where there is always a bin of child-chosen books ready to read! (There’s not enough space in a single blog entry to cover the books on the shelf in the kids’ closet or the giant IKEA shelving unit in my bedroom…)

Knuffle Bunny, by Mo WillemsKnuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, by Mo Willems (2004): The first book we purchased for GirlChild while she was still in utero, Knuffle Bunny’s tale of a beloved stuffed animal, mundane family tasks, and a child’s first words pretty much makes me cry every time still. GirlChild reads it to BoyChild now, and he chimes in for the “WAAAAA!” and points out facial expressions. We have three Scholastic videos of Mo Willems’ works (including this one), and the book and video remain favorites.

Margret & H.A. Rey’s Curious George’s Curious George's First Day of SchoolFirst Day of School, illustrated in the style of H.A. Rey by Anna Grossnickle Hines (2005): George goes to school on the first day to be a special helper, and he does help with many things. When he “helps” mix the paint, though, he makes a big mess. George feels bad about the mess, and the children feel bad for George, so they all chip in to help clean up the mess. George is invited to come back any time.

Alphabet RescueAlphabet Rescue, by Audrey Wood and Bruce Wood (2006): Charley’s Alphabet decides to take a trip to Alphabet City (where they were made) while Charley takes a trip to visit his grandparents. The lower case letters set out to try to rescue things with a little firetruck they fix up (after their first attempt at practicing fire-fighting with the capital letters fails), and they help M, u, and d wash a car and rescue c, a, and t from a tree. When the capital letters in their firetruck blow a tire as they head toward a fire at the letter-making factory, the little letters invite the capitals on board their truck and race to the fire. They rescue all the trapped letters, and the city throws a celebratory parade in their honor. They then return home to Charley to help him write his thank-you note to his grandparents for a good trip.

Alphabet Under Construction, Alphabet Under Construction, by Denise Flemingby Denise Fleming (2002): Mouse is very industrious, and he goes through the alphabet doing things like airbrushing the A, carving the C, and erasing the E. Uses a good variety of craft and construction related verbs with illustrations to help show the meaning of the words. The art is unusual in that it was “created by pouring colored cotton fiber through hand-cut stencils.” The last page shows Mouse’s work schedule calendar on which he has crossed off all the letters.

Barbie: Horse Show ChampBarbie: Horse Show Champ (Step Into Reading, Step 1, Ready to Read), by Jessie Parker, illustrated by Karen Wolcott (2009): Barbie gets out of bed on the day of the horse show, eats a big breakfast, and brings an apple to her horse, Tawny. Barbie prepares Tawny and herself for the show and tells her she hopes they win a blue ribbon. Tawny does well until she shies at a jump, but she tries again for Barbie and makes it. They end up with a white ribbon and a trophy.

How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read?, How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read?by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague (2003): Although learning to read can be frustrating and requires following some basic book-care rules, little dinosaurs who stick with it and treat books respectfully learn to love to read!

Product DetailsWhisper the Winged Unicorn: Journey to Julie’s Heart, concept by Amber Milligan, written by Christopher Brown and Jill Wolf, illustrated by Tom Kinarney (1986): Although this was published when I was but a wee lass, I have to admit that I do not recall having read this book. (It belonged to GirlChild’s aunt and came to our house with a collection of other old books from Grandma and Grandpa Florida [not their real names, clearly].) GirlChild, however, loves it enough to keep it upstairs with the books for frequent perusal, and I’m betting that the fact that 1980s cover illustration might make a little girl’s heart feel all warm and snuggly, along with a winged unicorn as a main character and Julie’s father being a veterinarian like GirlChild’s probably round out the reasons why a not-too-picky reader would choose this one as a current favorite. (The image here is not the same book, but it is the same series. If you click the image, though, it will bring you to a customer image of the actual book we have!)

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovelby Virginia Lee Burton (1939): It doesn’t matter to BoyChild that steam shovels have gone out of style…he loves any books about diggers! In this classic title, Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, Mary Anne, look for jobs to do when steam shovels are being replaced by electric and gasoline and Diesel shovels, and they find one in Popperville digging the cellar for the new town hall. They work faster and better as they collect an audience, and as the sun sets, they finish…but find themselves deep in the cellar without a way to get out. The people of Popperville decide to let them stay, Mary Anne converted to a furnace for the town hall and Mike as the janitor, and they live happily ever after right where they did their last digging job.

Lalaloopsy: Chasing RainbowsLalaloopsy: Chasing Rainbows, by Jenne Simon, illustrated by Prescott Hill (2014): Several of the inhabitants of Lalaloopsyland are spending a rainy day indoors when the rain stops and a rainbow appears. They have heard that there are surprises at the ends of rainbows, so they go out looking. Each time they think they’ve found the end of the rainbow, they encounter another friend who joins them as they see that the rainbow actually continues. Eventually they run into Bea, the resident librarian, and she tells them that a rainbow is actually a circle, so they’ll never find the end. (This, contrary to other things Bea finds in her library, is actually true.) They decide to celebrate the rainbow with a picnic even though they never found the end.

Cars 2: Travel Buddies, Travel Buddiesillustrated by Andrew Jimenez, Harley Jessup, and Jason Merck (2012): Lightning McQueen and Mater take a “shortcut” on the way home from the race in London, and they end up visiting ten different countries before finally arriving back on the mainland and home.

Doggies, by Sandra BoyntonDoggies: A Counting and Barking Book, by Sandra Boynton (1984): Ten different dogs (and one cat!) and a variety of different dog noises make up the pages of this silly counting book by my favorite board book author! BoyChild, despite aging out of the board book crowd at age three and a half, still loves to hear me woof my way through this one!

My Big Book of Trucks & Diggers, My Big Book of Trucks & Diggersby Caterpillar (2011): It might be clear that BoyChild is the one home most often to read books in the living room by this selection of titles, and this book is no exception. Each spread shows a different work vehicle with four smaller images of different labeled parts of that digger or truck on the facing page. Nothing makes BoyChild happier than knowing the specific words for obscure things, and this book is the reason that “ess-cuh-vay-tor” was one of his first multi-syllabic words after turning two!

Mele the Crab Finds the Way OutMele the Crab Finds the Way Out, written by Gail Omoto with Jan and Judy Dill, illustrated by Garrett Omoto (2007): Financed by a grant from the United States Department of Education and as a publication of the Partners in Development Foundation, this Hawaiian book is a story-with-a-moral. It tells of Mele (“merry”) the Crab who is used to getting her way by force, and she doesn’t care who she hurts to do it. When she gets caught by fishermen and put in a bucket with other crabs, she is frightened because they fight against her escape. When she remembers what her grandmother taught her about putting others first, she comes up with a plan to help the others out first, then escape herself. When she learns to put others first, she discovers the joy of friendship and taking turns. This book was purchased by GirlChild’s globe-trotting aunt (the same one with the winged unicorn book in her childhood library) while she was in Hawaii and comes with an audio cd of the story as well (which helps since Hawaiian words aren’t all easy to pronounce!).

Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!, Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!, by Mo Willemswords and pictures by Mo Willems (2006): The preschool-like Pigeon is supposed to be getting to bed, but he comes up with all kinds of excuses and reasons why he doesn’t need to…until he conks out mid-explanation! Like every Mo Willems book, tons and tons of fun for little listeners–my children like to read this one together.

Llama Llama Misses MamaLlama Llama Misses Mama, by Anna Dewdney (2009): GirlChild got this one almost two years ago, but they like hearing Llama Llama read aloud almost as much as their mama likes reading it! Llama Llama is dramatically upset about being left for the first time at preschool, but he comes to realize that it’s okay to like school and your mama!

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, Product Detailsby Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld (2011): Quite possibly BoyChild’s favorite book (he found it at the library at the same time as he found the Trucks & Diggers book, and we had to get them both for him at Christmas that year because the library’s copy was always at our house!), this story tells about the diggers getting ready for bed after a hard day’s work at the construction site. He can quote vast sections of it as he pages through on his own due to frequent rereadings with anyone he can snag!

Mudshark, by Gary PaulsenMudshark, by Gary Paulsen (2009): This book was a gift from Santa at GirlChild’s Breakfast with Santa at school, and we haven’t read it yet. It’s not in the same vein as Hatchet and many of Paulsen’s other works, but this one seems funnier and less dramatic than those and well suited for a younger readership (but probably still older than my kids) than some of those intense titles. We’ll give it a whirl before it gets relegated to the boxes with my boxes of fifth grade classroom books, though!

Viking Ships at Sunrise (Magic Tree House #15), Viking Ships at Sunrise (Magic Tree House #15)by Mary Pope Osborne (1998): I’ve not actually read this one (it was another gift from Santa at GirlChild’s Breakfast with Santa), but, like every other Magic Tree House book, it uses fantasy and time travel to help young children explore history and legend. Peppered with facts and trivia and with an extra list of facts at the end, if a child is particularly interested in a topic in one of these books, many of them have associated research guides for further factual information! I haven’t yet gotten GirlChild into these books, but I’m hoping to do so…historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and fantastical historical fiction is a great way for kids to ease into the craziness of history!

Besides the books, we also have several magazine subscriptions in the bin: American Girl, Clubhouse Jr., Highlights, and High Five!

While you may not care for all the titles we have here (and you can probably tell which of these aren’t my personal favorites!), it’s always great to have a selection of books for browsing out and available so your children get used to the presence of books in their lives and it’s easy to just grab something and get sucked in!

 

 

 

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