Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

So you've just discovered the addition of a new nephew, niece, grandchild to the family, and you would love to give a book.  But you find yourself standing in Barnes & Noble feeling completely overwhelmed.  It's been ages, decades perhaps, since you last visited the childrens' section, and you just don't know where to begin.

You can't go wrong with We're Going on a Bear Hunt (c. 1989) retold by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.  This is the ultimate read-aloud!  And I don't make that statement lightly.  Do be forewarned that this particular book will become quite worn with love.  And the child you plan to bequeath it to will be able to repeat it scores of years later.  A terrific bonus since this same repetition encourages pre-literacy skills.  Said child will recall Oxenbury's gorgeous illustrations whenever he hears the word bear due to early childhood imprinting.  And if I haven't convinced you, take another look at Oxenbury's illustrations and/or listen to Michael Rosen's brilliantly animated YouTube performance:

The kids enjoyed this performance so much that we've played it several times over.  Michael Rosen's YouTube performance of We're Going on a Bear Hunt:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Are You My Mother?

Well, one of the children just surprised me by beginning Are You My Mother? (c. 1960) by P. D. Eastman.  If your child is learning how to read, I encourage you to check out P. D. Eastman's books.  They're quite a hit!  In this particular story, a baby bird searches for his mother, interviewing the animals or machinery with whom he comes into contact.  As his selections become odder and odder, the kids laugh harder and harder.  Will baby bird ever find his mother?

P. D. Eastman is right up there with Dr. Seuss as far as I'm concerned.  His sense of humor strikes just the right chord with the I Can Read age group.  And he doesn't get mundane.  In fact, it's a trip down memory lane reading (or listening) to these universally favorite reads.

Recently, we borrowed Robert the Rose Horse (c. 1962) from our friends over at My Two Sons.  Let me just tell you, this little story brings the house down with laughter!  And everyone especially loves the surprise ending.  However, it introduced a whole new problem.  Yep, it's an I can't live without it favorite.  So her kids moped about while we enjoyed it, and my kids moped about after we gave it back.  Thank goodness Nana came to the rescue with Are You My Mother?  So you know what I'm now on the look out for . . . more P. D. Eastman books!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tops & Bottoms

What happens when you mix a clever, determined Hare and a lazy, slothful Bear?  A topsy turvy tale!  As the publisher says:
With roots in European folktales and the slave stories of the American South, Tops & Bottoms celebrates the trickster tradition of beating hardship by using one's wits.  And an acre of hilarity tops it all off!

Author and illustrator Janet Stevens masters the art of storytelling while exploring the artistic frontiers of childrens' book illustration.  Stevens executes her illustrations by using watercolor, colored pencils, and gesso on paper made by hand by Ray Tomasso.  In addition to the clever tale, the kids especially delighted in the way the story opens vertically, top to bottom.

So, hop on over to your local library to check out Tops & Bottoms (c. 1995), the perfect harvest time read.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Morris Goes to School

 For your budding reader, check out Morris Goes to School by B. Wiseman (c. 1970).  It's just the kind of slapstick, Amelia-Bedelia type of humor that those budding readers enjoy so much.  They'll be secretly wishing that Morris will appear in their classroom.  Oh, and be sure to get a bag of gumdrops to go along with this story-time read.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Berenstain Bears Go to School

 Okay, folks, a back-to-school reading list would be incomplete without including The Berenstain Bears Go to School (c.1978).  Call it nostalgia or good karma, either way this book makes any child want to race through those kindergarten doors.  Take it from me, once a painfully shy, Wemberly worrier, first-day-of-school stomach-somersaults child . . . this book changes everything!  It's classic Stan & Jan Berenstain at their best:

Let me be so bold as to add that this is their best in The Berestain Bears series.  Who wouldn't want to begin kindergarten in this classroom with Miss Honeybear?

Sign me up!  Now don't you wish that you were starting your first day in kindergarten?!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Oh My Baby, Little One

 This particular book is absolutely beautiful! To say Jane Dyer's illustrations are wonderful is an understatement.  Dyer gives us cozy watercolors that parallel the experience of cuddling up with a blankie . . . thumb or pacie in place.  Likewise, Kathi Appelt's gentle rhyming text lulls the reader and listener into a rhythm of comfort.  My youngest would have me re-read this gem nightly . . . and I would gladly accommodate!  Would you like a glimpse into the opening?

Oh my baby, little one,
the hardest thing I do
is hold you tight, then let you go,
and walk away from you.

But even when I'm far away,
this love I have will stay
and wrap itself around you
every minute of the day.

You can sense that Oh My Baby, Little One (c. 2000) connects best with the pre-kinder ages.  Be sure to look for that elusive heart on each page spread . . . further illuminating the text.  Oh, and grab a tissue for yourself before you settle in to read.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Kissing Hand

If you anticipate that you or your child will have a difficult time saying goodbye that first day back-to-school, then I highly recommend The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (c. 1993).  Here's a book beloved by children and parents alike because it presents a wonderful word picture, illustrating how children can carry their parents' love with them throughout the day (or night, in the case of these nocturnal mammals).  I especially love the wisdom and consolation Chester's mother weaves together as she encourages her son.  The perfect book for back to school apprehension, this story might cause even the most practiced of us to tear up.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wemberly Worried

Hi, readers!  Well, it's just around the corner.  That's right, school starts next week.  So if your child is overcome with the jitters, I have a few books to ease the nerves.

Today we'll start with Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes (c. 2000):

"You worry too much," said her mother.
"When you worry, I worry," said her father.
"Worry, worry, worry," said her grandmother.
"Too much worry."

And the start of school issues a whole new mound of worries for Wemberly.  Discover how this reserved mouse copes with that first day.  Once again, Henkes illustrations deliver charm as well as comfort.