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Posts Tagged ‘Childrens book reviews’

Summer is arriving–at least on the East Coast it has arrived with a vengeance.  Our strawberry harvest is nearly over but what a great opportunity to take advantage of fun books about fruits and vegetables…and more, of course! (I admit that I stole a couple of these pictures right off my son’s blog, psoutowood.wordpress.com)

The young guys love to help organize and plant the gardens and, of course, harvest the fruits and veggies when they are ripe!  These are great opportunities to make charts together and label all the fruits and veggies and then talk about what letter each one begins with. Maybe you can draw veggies and sort by the letters they begin with.   Start gathering all the books you can about gardens, fruits and veggies.  I’m including a  few of my favorites below.

     

         The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood/ illustrated                   by Don Wood

This is just the cutest story with adorable illustrations—did that sound too sweet??? Well, it is, darn it!  It’s a great story to teach kids about the value of sharing—never mind it saves the little mouse’s life!  Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it’s a great story anyway.  A must read—get it! Ages 2-5

   

     

     Rah, Rah, Radishes!  A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre

Your kids may not be great vegetable eaters but maybe this book will help motivate them to at least learn the names and identify all kinds of different vegetables.  The photographs are colorful and the rhymes with the veggies are fun.  Good luck getting them to eat their vegetables.  You’re on your own for that, but this might be a fun game to play when you go to the local market or grocery store to look for different vegetables.  Ages 1-6

   

 The Gardener by Sarah Stewart/ illustrated by David Small

Notice how I keep presenting and reviewing a lot of the Caldecott Honor and Medal Winners?  There is a reason for that.  They are selected by a group of qualified children’s librarians and authors as the best illustrated and written children’s books each year.  Check them out if you haven’t already.  They are all wonderful.  This book is no exception.  The Gardener is written about a young girl who loves to garden and plant flowers.  She is sent to the city to live with a cantankerous older uncle whom she tries to win over.  The illustrations are fabulous showing all the subtleties of the characters and the story is very dear.  Read it together then go and plant something together!  Ages 4-8.


     June 29,1999 by David Wiesner

Here’s another great David Wiesner book—just as creative as all of his other ones!  Let’s tie this in with the vegetable theme books.  It’s not only a fun and imaginative story but a great way to learn the names of more vegetables.  The ending is a surprise.  Now let’s all create a science project like the one in this book!  Ages 4-9

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I’ve been asked to include some books that can be read to the very young children to help get them interested in books.  Here’s what I say…start them early, start them young!  They are NEVER to early to be read to.  Don’t forget my mantra…the more children are read to, the earlier they will learn to read for themselves, the better readers and writers they will be become and the stronger students they will be in school.  You don’t believe me?  Give it a try, then get back to me in about 12 years and let me know how well my statement holds up.  Notice that I didn’t say “theory”.  It’s not a theory, it’s fact!

My son-in-law is sitting down with our granddaughter here and reading one of her favorites.  Actually, I think she’s getting ready to chew on it before he reads it to her.  Make a visit to your public library and check out some of these books for your young guys.  They’ll thank you for it in about 12 years!

         

     

     Mama Cat has Three Kittens by Denise Fleming

Now this really is a great book to show how all children in families are different and how that is not only OK, it’s a good thing.  Cute book with vivid illustrations that the youngest listeners will love looking at.  A great book for the littlest guys.  Ages 0-2

 

 

 

 

       

   

      Counting Kisses by Karen Katz

What a warm and snuggly counting book for infants and toddlers.  These bright, graphic pictures will draw in the youngest of listeners and the story can help toddlers learn to count to ten while, by the way, perhaps even falling asleep at night while you read it out loud.  It’s even more fun if you do all the things it says for each number!  Have fun!  Ages 0-4

 

 

 

   

     

     Snoozers by Sandra Boynton

Here’s another bedtime book to help those youngest guys get into bed at night.  They can select the story they want, but you know you’ll end up reading all of them.  They can help pick out the rhyming words—especially after you’ve read each story 300 times and they know them all by heart!  Ages 1-3

 

 

 


   

     Tiger Can’t Sleep by S. J. Fore/illustrated by R.W. Alley

     We all know that many 2 and 3 year olds are afraid of things lurking in their closets or under their beds.  You will both  love the illustrations and story to help those little guys get over being afraid of things in their closets.  Of course, many of us still believe it’s simply a ruse to not have to go to bed.  First, however, check under your bed and in the closet…just in case.  Fun read aloud.  Ages 2-6

 

 

 

     

     

     My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann

This delightful, wordless picture book won the Caldecott Medal.  The illustrations will be great fun to follow and help predict what will happen next.  It’s a great problem-solving book for the youngest readers and they’ll enjoy finding different animals on the pages—especially the little mouse.  Ages 1-4.

 

 

     

     Bark George by Jules Feiffer

This is a fun and colorful book to read to the young guys.  The youngest listeners will enjoy the story, the sound effects you make reading it aloud and the big, colorful pictures.  The slightly older preschoolers can help predict what will happen and make the sounds themselves.  I didn’t much care for the idea that the dog was expected to behave in a certain way that was expected of dogs—could send a message that conformism is important, but I suppose the youngsters won’t really see it that way.  Ages 1-4

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I don’t know why I’m drawn to books about sheep.  I’m not particularly fond of sheep.  I’ve been told that sheep don’t really make such great pets, although, no one can deny that lambs are pretty cute.  I’ve heard that sheep aren’t all that smart and they make lemmings behavior look like Einstein.  They stand in clusters on the roads in Scotland and England and won’t move no matter what you might shout–or perhaps suggest to them.  All that being said, I love sheep books but I think it’s just the clever illustrations that draws me to them.

 So here are a couple of books I think you’ll enjoy reading together…about sheep, of course!

 

  Where is the Green Sheep? By Mem Fox/ illustrated by Judy Horacek

Well isn’t this just the cutest book for those little ones?  You’ll love the fun animated pictures and the kids will love learning and saying all the different kinds of sheep in the story.  They will like hearing this one over and over.  Great opportunity to talk about vocabulary.  Maybe they can even imagine different kinds of sheep to talk about.  Ages 1-5

 

Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton

I don’t know what my attraction to stories about sheep is but this book is just great fun!  You know it’s written by someone who lives in England and is most likely surrounded by a lot of sheep.  The illustrations are a hoot.  It’s about a sheep who can’t fall asleep at night and all the gyrations he goes through to help fall asleep.  You’ll get a good chuckle out of it—and so will the kids too!  Ages 2-5

 

  Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw/illustrated by Margot Apple

Here I go again with another sheep book.  This isn’t the world’s best literature, by any means, but fun rhyming for the youngest guys with funny illustrations.  I even think it’s a great book for emerging readers to enjoy—much better than many of those publisher’s reading program books.  Everybody will like it. Ages 1-6

Now, if you have any other really clever and irresistible sheep books, please share!

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I’ll admit right up front that these are my two sons reading to their cousin when they were young .  So, as you see, “Books for Boys” can also be appropriate for girls.  While I’m pretty sure that the book they are reading is not a Dungeons and Dragons or an Avengers-type book, this young girl is still pretty engrossed in it.  The other thing I like about this picture is it’s verification that reading together and reading aloud is not just restricted to parents reading to their own children.  Summer is quickly arriving, so grab armfuls of books from the public libraries, borrow from a Little Free Library (see littlefreelibraries.org), or pull from your own collections and sit down and read books together!

I’m sharing some more interesting books that I’ve read that I’m just sure boys will love but feel free to let the girls take a peek too.  You’ll notice a certain theme with a few.  Let me know what your little guys –or big guys –think of my selection.  While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out a couple of other good websites with book reviews, like the Nerdy Book Club at nerdybookclub.wordpress.com or picturebooklog.blogspot.com.  It’s all about finding great books for kids.

   

   

 Into the Unknown by Stewart Ross/illustrated by Stephen Biesty

     Wow!  What a fabulous discovery this was.  This is one of those books that 3 yr. olds and adults will  love.  I am having a hard time selecting an age  group for this creative book.  I’m not a huge history fan but was riveted to this book.  It presents great discoveries and exploration from the Greeks to landing on the Moon in a way that draws you in.  The partnering with the illustrator and the creative fold-outs with elaborate details will hold the attention and interest of everyone who looks at them.  I can’t write enough kudos about this book.  Check it out!  Ages 4+.

   

      A Street Through Time by Anne Millard/illustrated by Steve Noon

Notice a theme here??  I’ve been looking at a number of these cross-section books and up-close books much like many of the wonderful David MacCauley books.  This colorful book is fascinating because it identifies a particular location—in England, I presume—and follows it’s growth, development, demise and strife through the ages from pre-historic times until today.  The fun thing is to locate the character in each illustration who is the Time Traveler.  By the way, not that you care, but I found all but one picture of the Time Traveler—maybe two.  Kids will love the details and have fun looking for different objects the writer asks for.  Talk about the good as well as the  bad things that happen in civilizations and how events are often repeated.  How could we avoid some of the problems with the progress of our country?  Great fun for kids and parents!  Age 8+

Egypt in Spectacular Cross-Section by Stewart Ross/illustrated by Stephen Biesty

Here’s another one!  Children love learning about the pyramids and the building of that sophisticated empire.  Let’s not forget that that empire and most of the awe-inspiring structures were built by slaves—another matter. A young boy, his father, one of the engineers for one of the many buildings, and his family are at the center of this story.  The reader follows them along their lives to discover all about how that huge empire was built.  Another fabulous cross-section book to find minute figures and details.  Fun way to learn about that period.  Ages 8+

 

 

  Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

It is hard to believe that this wonderful series of books was initially written in 1929.  Its stories of adventure, imagination and resourcefulness are fun for children to read today.  Young adults and older children as well will love how this family relies on each other and their cleverness to get them through exciting adventures involving boats, islands, pirates and more!  Anyone who loves the sea and boats will definitely love it.  Hard to put down and is still popular.  Get all the books in the series.  This follows the lives of the family members as they grow up.  I couldn’t resist showing a picture of the boat they used in the series.  Don’t you just want to hop in?  Ages 8+

   

 

   

       The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

     This fantasy series has been around a long time but still stands out as one of the best.  It is pre-Harry Potter but has many similar elements of that famous series.  Susan Cooper is a good writer that will hold the reader for this entire series.  Best to start from the beginning of the series with Over Sea, Under Stone so as not to get too confused.  It might be fun to have kids compare Harry Potter with this series and discuss similarities and differences and what they like about each.  Ages 10 +

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I’m reluctant to title this blog as “Great Books for Boys” when, in fact, I know that it’s not reasonable to assume that there are books that are really only geared for boys or girls.  I do know, however, that this post won’t include any of the Fancy Nancy books or the story of Cinderella or the Angelina Ballerina  stories — which, by the way, is one of my very favorite series.  I’ve selected books that I do feel, however, are sure fire hits with most boys who love the idea of adventure and exploration.  Watch out boys!  The girls will be stealing these books out from under your noses to read when you’re not looking!

My own sons while growing up, couldn’t put the books down.  My oldest son is standing here in front of the Atlantic Ocean on the OuterBanks of North Carolina, totally oblivious to the dancing dolphins and parading pelicans as he’s absorbed in some wild adventure.  He was too engrossed in the story to even sit down to read!  This is as it should be!

Now let’s talk about some of these books and tell me what you think.

                                             

 

                                           Spy Cat by Peg Kehret

This Newbery Award winning book is a fun read.  The story is written from two perspectives—a cat and a young boy who loves to spy.  While the story isn’t riveting, it does have a contemporary theme about burglars and kidnapping.  It demonstrates the bravery of a young boy along with the intelligence and creativity of a pet cat.  Good read for those young readers. Ask kids to talk about what were smart things the young spy did and maybe some things that might not have been such a good idea.  Ages 8-11.

                             

                                  The Indian in the Cupboard – by Lynne Reid Banks

Now here’s a winner.  My boys absolutely loved this series when they were young.  And while I heard them talking about it, I never read it.  What a clever idea for a story,,,magical.  This even makes a dandy read-aloud to all ages.  What could be more exciting than following the ad ventures of a plastic miniature cowboy and Indian as they magically become alive?  It’s a great opportunity to talk about friendship and the responsibilities that are an important part of friendship.  You know…always a lesson to be learned and talked about.  Ages 7-10

   

                           Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

Even though the U.S. space program may be on a temporary (we hope) hiatus, kids still love learning all about the original astronauts and going to the moon.  The illustrations and story here about the Apollo 11 flight to the moon will have even the die-hard fiction readers intrigued.  Kids who love learning about space flight will love it the best.  It’s a winner. Ages 4-10

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

             Looking for good books for young adult boys?  Well—look no further.  This book really surprised me—nothing like anything I’ve read before.  It’s sort of autobiographical of the Native American author, Alexie.  It’s written from a young 14 yr. old Indian’s view and talks about living on a reservation “rez” in Washington.  He’s bound and determined to fight against the odds thrown at him—a disability at birth, poverty and alcoholism on the rez and in his family, dysfunctional school and bullies all around.  Pick it up and read it together.  The cartoon illustrations are great fun.  A must read for boys, especially boys who live on a reservation.  Highly motivational.  A note…there are some references to “boy stuff” and some language some may shrink at, but it’s real and heart wrenching yet said with humor.  See—I can’t stop talking about it!  Ages 13-16+

 

 

 

 

             

 

                                    Incredible Explosions by Stephen Biesty( illustrator) and Richard Platt (text)

Stephen Biesty, who illustrated the book Egypt in Spectacular Cross-Section  and Into the Unknown , creates a fascinating close up look at a variety of things from windmills, a base station in the Antarctic and even the human body.  We’re supposed to provide more non-fiction sources for our children these days and this is a great place to look.  You can spend hours—OK, maybe not hours—but a good long time, looking closely and learning the minute details about how things are built and work.  Guaranteed hit with the older guys.  Ages 9+

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Start Reading to them Early

Infants, babies toddlers.  They are all ready to be read to.  They love the bright colors, graphics and certainly love listening to your voice as you read aloud to them.  This is how young children learn language and ultimately helps them learn how to read. Another great plus–it helps soothe them and provides you, as a parent, guardian, babysitter or grandparent, some much needed quiet time together.  Be sure to look at the cover, tell them about the story and point to special objects, colors, numbers and pictures in the story.  As they learn to talk, they’ll enjoy filling in the words too–especially where rhyming is involved.  Always—have fun, have fun, have fun together!  Here are some picture books I’ve enjoyed that are especially good for those very young guys.

                                         

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka

It’s easy to see how this is a Caldecott Medalist.  I must have said, “Awwww” out loud at least 20 times while “reading” this book.  While it is a wordless picture book, it is by no means one that doesn’t have a powerful and endearing story about loss, comfort, and friendship.  Adults and children alike will love this one!  Ages 1-3

                                                                      

                                Mice Squeak, We Speak by Tomie dePaola

This book is written for the younger kiddos.  It’s a good read-aloud.  Not my favorite of Tomie dePaola’s books but a change from his usual format and a fun book to read with the younger guys.  Read it over and over aloud and let the young guys fill in what each animal says.  Ages 1-3

                         


                          

                The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle

You just can never go wrong with an Eric Carle book and this is no exception.  He won the Caldecott award for this book.  The illustrations are bright and fun—great read aloud with the young ones.  They will love guessing what animal comes next and turning the pages.  Ages 1-3


Mrs. Moon – Lullabies for Bedtime  by Clare Beaton

Looking for a nice bedtime book to help quiet down the little ones?  Pick a few of these poems as lullabies to read aloud.  The rhyming will always help them fall asleep.  If not, just enjoy the beautiful appliqué art with the pictures.  Who wouldn’t want those quilts?  Ages 1-4


                            

                     Tumble Me Tumbily by Karen Baicker

Very young children will love the rhyming and rhythm of this book.  The fun illustrations are a real boost too.  Be sure to read this aloud together.  Let the little ones help complete the rhymes as you read it over and over—until you can’t read it one more time!  Have fun.  Ages 1-3

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I will admit right now that picture books are my favorites.  While I enjoy reading beginning reading and young adult books too, it’s those picture books that make me laugh right out loud.  Perhaps it comes from pretending to be the old Italian Grandmother “witch” in the Strega Nona books and acting like the doofus Big Anthony or pretending to be little Sal in Blueberries for Sal as she picks and drops her blueberries in her tin bucket–kaplink-kaplank-kaplunk.  You can never have too many voices or too much enthusiasm while you read out loud.  I found that high school students also enjoy the anticipation, enthusiasm and occasional voice changes while listening to a novel, essay, or poem out loud.  Yep—even high school students enjoy being read aloud to.  So here are more of some of my favorite picture books.  Check them out from the library, borrow them, or buy them but…READ!

Now Hedgehog.  Listen to this funny part.

More of my favorite picture books.

                                           

                                                Tanka Tanka Skunk! by Steve Webb

This is a wonderful book to read aloud with the rhythm band.  Bring in the pots and pans, drums and anything else to pound on while you read it out loud with your kids.  You absolutely must raise and lower your voices when you read it over and over and over.  Better find a place where the neighbors won’t call the police for the noise, however.  Fun book! Ages 1-4

 

                                                Chicken Sunday  by Patricia Polacco

     This just might be one of Patricia Polacco’s best books.  It’s a sensitive story about kids from different ethnic backgrounds pulling together for their grandmother.  It’s a good story for talking about the values of caring for someone else and working together as a team.  Sounds “smarmy” but it’s not.  It’s a great story to kick off some interesting discussions.  Ages 4-7

                                       

 

                                    I Went Walking by Sue Williams

 Now here’s a great book for those pre-schoolers and little ones.  Let them guess what is coming next.  You have to love the hairdo on the little boy/girl?  My granddaughter has hair like that.  Come to think of it, so do I.  Great for language development and repetition.  Fun illustrations too.  Ages 0-3

                                  Bad Boys by Margie Palatini

     Here’s a real book about wolves in sheep clothing.  You know that old saying, right?  Hilarious illustrations and a great story for kids to talk about prediction and the moral of the story—even though we all really know that sheep aren’t all that smart.  Ages 3-6

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