Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Giant Jam Sandwich

Do you remember this story from your childhood as much as my husband and I do?  It's The Giant Jam Sandwich (c. 1972) with story and pictures by John Vernon Lord and verses by Janet Burroway.  Oh, it's a classic!  Discover (or rediscover) this tall tale:
                           One hot summer in Itching Down,
                           Four million wasps flew into town. 

I would tell your more about this wonderful story, but it's one of those that you truly have to see and read for yourself.  So whether you're trying to rid yourself of pests or you're just trying to bring some humor into your life, this book proves itself time and again as a phenomenal read-loud for young and old alike.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Royal Wedding Found Only in Picture Books:

First come the attendants:

from Kate Greenaway's Marigold Garden.

Then we have a lovely image of a bride and groom, complete with top hat:

from Joan Walsh Anglund's book, A Child's Year.

And lastly, if you want to delve further into a royal wedding, ballet style that is, check out:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

By now you've heard about the deadly tornadoes that have ravaged our beautiful southern states and devastated families, neighborhoods, cities, states, a whole region.  If you're looking for a way to help, please consider volunteering with or donating to

through visiting their website here:
Thank you!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Ugly Duckling

You know the tragic story: an egg is separated from its mother.  It's eagerly adopted, hatched, and comforted by a mother duck who fiercely protects it against the tauntings of others.  However, eventually the duckling is heckled away by his brothers and sisters.  He seeks out to fend for himself.  Driven from one home to the next, he finally arrives at pond/lake where he admires the beauty of the swans . . . only then does he discover the truth about himself.

Jerry Pinkney's illustrations (c. 1999) startle with the beauty and splendor of the natural world.  Pinkney sparks sympathy and sensitivity through his strong yet graceful watercolors, which received the 2000 Caldecott Medal.  Three-time Caldecott award winning Pinkney proves himself a master at his craft, so don't miss out on this book.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Little White Rabbit

I'll always recommend books that encourage early exploration of imagination, and Kevin Henkes' newly published story arrived in time just for that - while enjoying his enchanting spring landscapes.  Little White Rabbit (c. 2011) presents a story perfect for the youngest in your family.  In fact, it's as if Henkes wiggled his way into the imagination of a 2-4 year old as he wrote and illustrated Little White Rabbit, where a young rabbit wonders what it would be like to . . .

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Calling all cat and bunny lovers . . .
you'll quickly find Clare Turlay Newberry's illustrations in Marshmallow (c. 1942) to be quite remarkable, after all, she was recipient of the Caldecott Honor.  Newberry's illustartions originiated as real life studies, documenting how her cat reacted to the small, cuddly rabbit she brought home to her Manhattan apartment.  You can almost see Marshmallow wiggling that little pink rabbit nose, hopping around to explore his surroundings.    Newberry also faithfully captures that wry look that cats so fondly give when depicting Oliver's examination of the "intruder."  Thus ensues the beloved children's story Marshmallow.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Story of Ferdinand

 The Story of Ferdinand (c. 1936) by Munro Leaf with drawings by Robert Lawson celebrates it's 75th anniversary this year.  Who could resist a tale that starts:

Oh, I could just spend hours daydreaming about that first page illustration alone!  Read about the aesthetic bull Ferdinand and his affinity for pleasant scents . . . particularly of flowers.  This aesthete finds that his fondness for fragrance shapes the events in his life.  Together, Leaf and Lawson deliver a humorous spin on Spain's hazardous bull fights that you won't want to miss!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Beatrix Potter's Spring

from The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or The Roly-Poly Pudding

For me, different seasons inspire different books.  Perhaps you're the same way?  So when springtime finally rolls around with buds bursting forth from tree and ground and with birds rejoicing in their melodious sounds, I pull out Beatrix Potter.  Her illustrations celebrate all that's natural, whether flora or fauna.  Truth be told, her accurate drawings satisfy the studied botanist.

First let's start with a little spring cleaning.  For that we'll have to call upon Mrs. Tittlemouse.  Dear Mrs. Tittlemouse was left with quite a mess when Mr. Jackson came to visit . . . uninvited, I might add.  He left puddles of water on her floor and honey throughout her corridor.  Fortunately, he solved the sticky bee situation.  And after a good night's rest, Mrs. Tittlemouse went straight into a two-week spring cleaning:

One to reward herself, Mrs. Tittlemouse then gave a party:

Next, let's enjoy a peaceful spring rain with Timmy Willy!  Timmy Willy loved his home in the country.  However, one day his curiosity and exploration of a vegetable basket led him into the uncharted territory of city life, with Johnny Town-mouse acting as his gracious host.  After soon growing homesick, Timmy Willy returned to his beloved cottage.

Do you recognize Potter's spin of the classic tale a town mouse and a country mouse in The Tale of Johnny Town Mouse?

To conclude our spring ramble through Beatrix Potter's tales, let's waddle on down the rain-soaked lane with Jemima Puddle-Duck.  Poor Jemima!  Of all Potter's characters, she is the daftest.  In seeking the perfect spot to nest, she places her trust in sly Mr. Tod.  However, I just love the illustrations, especially this setting in the foxgloves!

If you'd like to read more Beatrix Potter recommendations, revisit my introduction to Beatrix Potter here:

Oh, and be sure to enter (by Friday evening) the most recent give-away!  Just click here: 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bear Wants More

I've shared with you before about one of my youngest's favorite friends in Bear Feels Sick.  If your kids enjoy that title as much as mine do, then you'll be ready for a new "Bear" story.  Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman give us another charming rhyming tale of friendship, perfect for a "springtime read-aloud" in Bear Wants More, and don't forget to let the kids "read" aloud all the But the bear wants more! lines, beginning with:
               When springtime comes,
                in his warm winter den
                a bear wakes up
                very hungry and thin!
We especially enjoyed Chapman's (who lives with her family in Dorset, England) settings of cheerful emerald forests and meadows.

Oh, and be sure to enter the most recent give-away by Friday!  Just click and comment here: 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hedgie's Surprise

Hedgie's Surprise (c. 2000) remains my favorite of all of Jan Brett's elaborately illustrated tales.  I know, that's saying a lot!  I encourage you to put me to the test, especially if you've never read this title before.  Hedgie holds a unique charm of intricate needle-pointed boarders, framing Brett's trademark Scandinavian settings, detailed in watercolor illustrations.  And what's more, it's a perfect tale for spring.

Poor Henny hen quickly tires of Tomten elf stealing her eggs for his breakfast.  Insult adds to injury when she sees Goosey-Goosey out with her brood of goslings.  The kids and I just love the humorous and satisfactory ending of Henny's tale, thanks, of course, to Hedgie's clever strategy.  Read Jan Brett's notes outlining her inspirations for Hedgie's Surprise here:

Oh, and be sure to enter the most recent give-away by Friday!  Just click here:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cicely Mary Barker

Over the next few weeks, months, possibly years, I will be posting some of the poems and illustrations from Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies books.  The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies is an anthology of Barker's works: Flower Fairies of the Spring, Flower Fairies of the Summer, Flower Fairies of the Autumn, Flower Fairies of the Winter, Flower Fairies of the Trees, Flower Fairies of the Garden, Flower Fairies of the Wayside, and A Flower Fairy Alphabet.  Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies books presents an enchanting way of teaching your children to identify various names of prevalent flowers.  Countless children have been mesmerized by Barker's meticulously accurate and beguiling illustrations.

Now a little bit about Cicely Mary Barker :
 ~ born in West Croydon, Surrey, on 28 June 1895; died 16 February 1973
 ~ suffered from epilepsy
 ~ lived a happy, secure childhood with her father, mother, and sister, Dorothy
 ~ her father, Walter, encouraged her artistic talent
 ~ 1908 - 1940s enrolled in the Croydon Art Society; Cicely's father first enrolled her in the Croydon Art Society when she was thirteen years old
 ~ 1908 - 1919 enrolled in an art correspondence course
 ~ like Beatrix Potter, Barker studied natural world with botanical accuracy
 ~ strongly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and Kate Greenaway
 ~ always used real-life models for her paintings
 ~ remained a devout Christian throughout her life

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Give Away #4

Hi, Readers,

In enjoying my flower beds and my sewing closet, I've completely lost track of time.  In belated announcement, I'm happy to congratulate Jane at on winning her very own copy of Frog and Toad Are Friends to read to her "pixies."  Congratulations, Jane!  Readers, be sure to check out all the Frog and Toad books; you're kids will love them!

For my next give-away:  comment to this post by this Friday, April 15.  I promise not to hold you in suspense; rather, I will promptly announce the winner on Saturday.  Now, a book for your older readers, I'm excited to give away this edition of Caddie Woodlawn.  Be sure to check out more on this quintessentially American frontier tale and it's spunky heroine at my past blog post:!

Happy reading and best wishes!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Calico the Wonder Horse

Okay, folks, this is a book that has all the makings of an action packed, knock-your-socks-off, read-it-again-and-again, Western for the not-so-faint-at-heart.  To begin with:
Way out West in Cactus County there was a horse named Calico.  She wasn't very pretty . . . but she was very smart.  She was the smartest fastest horse in all of Cactus County.  She could run like greased lightning and she could turn on a quarter and give you back fifteen cents in change.

And, like all bang-'em-up Westerns, there's a standoff between the good guys (Calico and Hank) and the bad guys:
Stewy Stinker - was said to be so mean he would hold up Santa Claus on Christmas Eve
Butch Bones - boasted that he was so tough he would bite a live grizzly bear's nose
Snake Eye Pyezon - was so crooked , that if he swallowed nails he'd spit out corkscrews
Buzzard Bates - was so bad even a buzzard wouldn't use him for bait

This book has it all: a round-up, "Badlands . . . good only for hideouts for Bad Men," a stagecoach driven by none other than Diehard Dan, a cattle rustling, a kidnapping, a stampede, a holdup, and a chase.

So run, don't walk, to your local library and check out Calico the Wonder Horse or The Saga of Stewy Stinker by Virginia Lee Burton before they're all hustled off the shelves.