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1. Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O'Connell George - Origami Baby Chick Poem Printable

As I child, I understood the poetic magic of origami even before I knew the name of the art. One of my great-great aunt's many skills was paper-folding. She could swiftly make an origami bow tie appear out of a paper scrap. That fascinating talent was as magical ability as anything I'd ever witnessed, and it was always an honor to receive one of her tidy, crisp bow ties.

Since it's National Poetry Month, the kids and I picked up a few new poetry books at the library.  One picture book we particularly like has an origami theme  -- Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O'Connell George, illustrated by Lauren Stinger.

The summary on the copyright page states that the book is "a collection of poems about origami animals."  In reality, the Fold Me a Poem is much more than a collection.  The poems, read together in succession, collectively tell a story about an imaginative boy who plays with his origami creations all day long, from the moment he wakes up in the morning until he falls asleep in his bed at night. The short poems are rather like private thoughts as he brings the origami animals to life, folding them into splendid creatures and playing with them afterward: "Forty bright sheets / of colored paper, / a world of animals. / Who will be next?" The animals race each other, hide, and get into trouble. Even the boy's cat joins in the fun, by attacking and injuring a poor pink ostrich during a "wind storm" produced by a fan.  The cleverly designed square book  has end papers that look like origami paper. In total, the book contains 32 original poems; it does not include instructions for creating origami animals -- however, the illustrator in her end note mentions various book resources.

This poetry book provides wonderful inspiration for showing children how to capture their own thoughts in poetry form on paper! All children need to do to write their own poems is describe their own play.  O'Connell's poems are written in many different forms including haiku, apostrophe (poems of address), mask or persona poems, and process poems, making the book a useful springboard for teaching these styles.  Lauren Stringer's painted illustrations beautifully accompany the poems and are instrumental in helping the reader visualize the poems.  Stringer skillfully captures the origami creatures -- folding origami is hard enough, but painting all the shadows, showing the folds through illustration takes real talent indeed!

As for favorite poems, I adore "Night," a poem that tells how the boy adds his own star to the night sky.  My son likes the poem "Tub" mostly because the illustrations for the poem show many of the origami creations waiting for a ride on an origami boat, including a bandaged ostrich. My daughter especially likes "Mystery" because it fully captures the wonder and joy of creating your own origami. Anything, yes, anything is possible with a little imagination.
Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O'Connell George, illustrated by Lauren Stringer. Harcourt (April 2005); ISBN 9780152025014; 32 pages
Book Source: Borrowed from our local library
I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.) 

Related Links:
Kristine O'Connell George - Author Website
Lauren Stringer - Illustrator Website
Teacher's Guide - Fold Me A Poem

Baby Chick in Egg - Origami and Poem


Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day!  When thinking about combining origami and poetry, we chanced upon a verse by the brilliant children's poet, Aileen Fisher. The poem "Baby Chick" questions how a chick knows its way out of the egg.  We've created a neat origami project to go along with the poem (plus the paper egg shell makes a neat, handy pocket to tuck the poem into!)

The directions to fold the chick and egg origami can be found at http://www.kutchuk.com.  The design is made from a single piece of paper. This is an easy, beginner origami project for kids.  I created a pdf template with folding guides to make it even easier to fold your own origami if you'd prefer to use that instead.  One is full color and the other can be colored-in by a child.  Make sure to print with page scaling set to "none" or unclick "fit to page" so that it doesn't resize the document. Click on the google doc links below to print your own copy (clicking on the image won't work).

Chick in Egg Origami pdf (color) - (download to print properly)
Chick in Egg Origami pdf (black and white) - (download to print properly)

To extend the poetry in a pocket idea and fold a poem, you could have your child write the poem on the paper before folding it into the chick/egg shape!  Or, if your child can't write, print out the poem and tuck it into the pocket formed by the folded egg shell.



1 Comments on Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O'Connell George - Origami Baby Chick Poem Printable, last added: 4/24/2013
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2. BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman Book Review - Make Your own LEGO Bot Character

I've traipsed through many a wood and have collected my share of pinecones, but never, never on any of my adventures have I come across a friendly, mechanized, working robot.  I must be walking through the wrong kind of woods, because in Ame Dyckman's picture book world this scenario is entirely possible.

Simply and perfectly told with bold, eye-pleasing illustrations by robot-lover Dan Yaccarino, BOY + BOT is quite possibly the best robot picture book we've ever read (and believe me, we've read several).  The story-line goes like this: Boy walks through the woods.  Boy meets a big, red robot.  Boy and robot problem-solve. Robot and boy become BFF.  Now obviously there's more to it than that, like for instance both boy and bot have similar "misunderstood malfunctions" and need fixing, but to say any more would spoil the fun.  Read the robot parts aloud in your best robot voice. Remark on all the fun things the robot and boy do together like swimming, apple-picking and rock-skipping.  And remember, little boys do not need oiling, and never, ever feed your robot applesauce.

This book deservedly received starred review from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly. Take our word for it (and theirs), if you have a young, robot-loving child, BOY + BOT is for them and worth purchasing.

Fun fact: If you look closely at the illustrations in BOY + BOT you'll discover one of Yaccarino's creative additions to the story -- a light-bulb shaped, one-eyed robot that Ame Dyckman calls "Watt."  Not surprisingly, illustrator Dan Yaccarino has a self-described "slight penchant for robots."  He is also the author/illustrator of another robot picture book, If I Had a Robot, a story about a boy who dreams about all the things he could or wouldn't have to do if he had a robot.  His robot illustrations have a retro, vintage look reminiscent of those tin wind-up robot toys from the past. 

Related links: 
Ame Dyckman - Author Website 
Dan Yaccarino - Illustrator Website
BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino.  Alfred A. Knopf / Random House (April 2012); ISBN 9780375867569; 32 pages
Book Source: copy from our personal library

Sadly we have not discovered our own robot friend in the woods, so my son and I did the next best thing ... made our own robot out of LEGOs. Our LEGO collection is large and diverse enough to provide ample parts for robot building.   We have eyes, connecting parts to make arms that swing and plenty of multi-sized, red blocks.



My son insisted that our BOT robot have a power switch in the back. Pair the LEGO bot with a boy mini-figure and let the book play-acting begin!  



'"What's wrong?" the boy asked.  The robot did not answer. 
"Are you sick?" the boy asked.  The robot still did not answer.  
"I must help him," the boy said."'

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

4 Comments on BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman Book Review - Make Your own LEGO Bot Character, last added: 10/25/2012
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3. Happy Halloween from Brimful Curiosities!



Halloween leaf message inspired by leaf invitation on page 4 of Mary Pope Osborne's Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve (Magic Tree House #30).


Bats on our ceiling. Idea from Pinterest and Reading Confetti's Handprint Bats post.
Bat [pdf] templates available from: Martha Stewart or Country Living


Our halloween snack: Chocolate Pudding Cup Ghosts


And presenting -- Buzz Lightyear (from Toy Story) and Lady Lilac (from Elsa Beskow's The Flowers' Festival). Trick or Treat!

5 Comments on Happy Halloween from Brimful Curiosities!, last added: 11/2/2011
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4. Red Sled by Lita Judge - Popsicle Stick Sled Craft

Children beware -- you may not want to leave your sled outside at night. Or maybe you should. A forest creature might snatch the sled up one winter evening, take it for a joy ride and return it with a thanks, leaving only a few tracks outside to tell of the adventure. One can hope!

Lita Judge is one of our newest favorite author/illustrators. She grew up enjoying wintery weather and, according to her latest book, Red Sled, as a child she often wondered about the tracks left behind by the woodland animals. Judging from the animals' expressions in the book it appears she also knows a thing or two of the joys (and perils) of sledding downhill.

Red Sled is a nearly wordless picture book that shows the events that occur when a child leaves a red sled propped against the side of a home. A bear wanders by, notices the sled and sneaks away with it, scrunch, scrinching through the snow. The bear invites a rabbit friend for a fun, moonlight ride. As the sled flies downhill, other animals pile on one-by-one, gadung, gadunging on the snowy surface together while making gleeful noises. The impromptu sledding party results in smiles shared by all.

The illustrations in this endearing book are truly remarkable, from the animals' exuberant expressions to the little boy's wonderment at the tracks found near his sled. My kids giggle with delight at all the silly sledding antics and the faces the animals make. The adorable, bundled-up, red-hatted child reminds us of the classic character in Keats' The Snowy Day. The text consists only of a few joyful utterances and onomatopoeias like "sssssffft" for the sound the sled makes as it glides across the snow. The wordless silence punctuated by random sounds is a perfect textual interpretation of a sledding experience. Judge's Red Sled so beautifully captures the exhilaration of a sledding adventure that you'll want to immediately head to your favorite sledding hill!

Red Sled by Lita Judge. Atheneum Books for Young Readers (November 2011); ISBN 9781442420076; 40 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library
Lita Judge spent part of her childhood living with her grandparents in Wisconsin. In an interview with Jules at Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast she tells how this experience helped partly inspire her to write Red Sled. There's also an adorable photograph of a grizzly bear she grew up watching (apparently her parents are wildlife photographers).

Related Links:
Lita Judge - Website




❄ ❄ ❄ ❄ Popsicle Stick Sled Craft ❄ ❄ ❄ ❄


My kids, like many nowadays, think that all sleds are mad

6 Comments on Red Sled by Lita Judge - Popsicle Stick Sled Craft, last added: 1/31/2012
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5. The Three Trees by Elena Pasquali - Book Review and Stand Up Cross Craft

I know that many people read the story of the three trees at Christmas, but for me the story is one that evokes especially poignant emotions at Easter. While several retellings of this story exist, I really like this new, beautifully illustrated picture book version by Elena Pasquali and illustrated by Sophie Windham.

"Long ago, on a hillside, stood three trees ... Under the cold night sky that glittered with stars, they dreamed their dreams."

The Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale by Elena Pasquali, illustrated by Sophie Windham. Lion UK / Kregel (September 2011); ISBN 9780745962894
Book Source: Copy from our personal library
The Three Trees folktale is one with a Christian message that tells of Jesus' life journey from cradle to cross from the perspective of three forest trees. Each of the three trees stand together on a hill and dream of greatness: the first wants to be made into a chest and hold a fine treasure, the second yearns to be a proud ship and carry a king and the third tree hopes to remain forever on the hillside pointing to heaven. One day, woodcutters climb the hill and chop down the trees. The three trees lament over their situations as the forms they eventually take are not as they had dreamed. However, overtime the trees each realize they play a greater role than they could ever imagine. They are each part of God's plan and play a part in Jesus's life.

I like several things about this version of the familiar tale. First of all it provides a wonderful example of how God's will may not always be the same as our will, but God does have wonderful plan, a purpose in mind for each and every one of us. Also, in Windham's illustrations each of the trees is different, just like each of God's children. The text is not overly long and slightly simplified when compared to alternate retellings, and Pasquali retains the heart and emotion of the story. For this reason, this retelling is particularly suited for younger children. Windham's folksy artistic style definitely is a good fit for this story. My kids remarked at all the extra details in Windham's colorful illustrations, and we especially like the elaborate borders and different sized panels.

"The tree that had borne his death was now a symbol of his life. And the third tree knew that it would stand for ever, pointing to heaven."

Because of the way the final sentences are worded, the book can be used as a useful tool in talking about the symbolism of the cross in Christianity -- the cross is not only a symbol of the suffering and death of Jesus but, as it stands empty pointing toward heaven, it also serves a reminder of the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ. Windham's final illustration shows a cross superimposed over a tree full of life, a lovely image showing the Easter blessing of new life through Jesus Christ.

✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ Stand Up Cross Craft ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞

My kids made 3D crosses th

5 Comments on The Three Trees by Elena Pasquali - Book Review and Stand Up Cross Craft, last added: 4/14/2012
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6. Cheerios Spoonful of Stories Book Giveaway - Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer Review

Mornings would be so much brighter if every box of cereal contained a book to read! That's why I always look forward to the Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories® program every year. The Spoonful of Stories program recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary with the distribution of more than six million children books! This year's books could be found free inside specially marked Cheerios boxes starting in March 2012. However, if your area is anything like ours, the boxes flew off the shelves! But don't worry if you missed all the new stories this year -- read on for a giveaway you won't want to miss.

Several great Simon & Schuster small-sized paperback books were offered this year in the Cheerios boxes. The selection featured six picture book titles, written in both English and Spanish and appropriate for ages three to eight: 

Noodle & Lou by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Arthur Howard
Hello Baby! by Mem Fox and illustrated by Steve Jenkins
If I Were a Jungle Animal by Amanda Ellery and illustrated by Tom Ellery
Peeny Butter Fudge by Toni and Slade Morrison and illustrated by Joe Cepeda
Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Scott Magoon
Can I Just Take a Nap? by Ron Rauss and illustrated by Rob Shepperson

In addition to providing books in the cereal boxes, Cheerios made a $300,000 donation to First Book, a literacy focused non-profit, and also gave 5000 children's books to 10 First Book local volunteer chapters nationwide.

I applaud Cheerios for promoting literacy through this wonderful book distribution program. If only they could continue the program year round, and work together with other publishers, to get more free books in the hands of children!

One of the best things about the books is that they are bilingual! (And, due to the small paperback size (7" x 5-1/4"), they are also very portable and easy to stash inside a bag for trips.) My kids and I have been reading a few of the Spoonful of Stories titles this week to brush up on our Spanish just in time for Cinco de Mayo.

Both my kids really enjoy reading Tammi Sauer's Mostly Monsterly (Mayormente Monstruosa). The book stars a mostly monsterly little girl monster named Bernadette (though for a monster she's not really all that

10 Comments on Cheerios Spoonful of Stories Book Giveaway - Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer Review, last added: 5/6/2012
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7. Perfect Square by Michael Hall - Book Review and Transformed Square Art

What is a square? A square is a shape with four equal sides and four right angles. But what happens when a square is forced to break out of its boxy, confining shape? Though it starts out as a perfect square it can transform into something else entirely, something perfectly amazing.

Perfect Square by Michael Hall. Greenwillow Books (March 2011); ISBN 9780061915130; 40 pages
Book Source: F&G provided by publisher

"It was a perfect square. It had four matching corners and four equal sides. And it was perfectly happy."

One square. Unlimited possibilities. One bright red square starts out perfectly happy. But then something happens. On Monday, the square gets cut up and punched with holes. Though no longer a perfect square, it transforms into something just as wonderful...a babbling, giggling, clapping fountain. On Tuesday, the square (now yellow), gets torn into pieces and turns into a garden. Each day of the week something different and extraordinary happens to the square. All the square's colorful adventures cleverly tie together into a perfect and inspiring story.

Colors, shapes, days of the week, but with a sophisticated theme that appeals to all ages, I can honestly say that this is one of the best books out this spring. With every page turn my kids wanted to know what was next for the ever changing square. And, inspired by the story, they wanted to have a try at transforming their own square. The book screams for an art project. I love how the story sort of comes around full circle, or rather, in this case, full square with a twist. The "rise to the occasion when forced to break out of your mold" message is probably, for the most part, lost on the youngest crowd but if you know a recent graduate, Hall's book with an adventurous, out of the box message, would make a thoughtful gift for all those ready to embark on a new path in life.

❖ ❖ ❖ ❖ Story + Art Craft: Transformed Square Art Project ❖ ❖ ❖ ❖

I love projects that allow my children to think for themselves and create something new. Hall's book provides the perfect art challenge. What can you make out of a perfect square? I provided both kids with a square in the color of their choice, cut to the same size as the square in the book. They set to the task, cutting up their perfect squares with scissors and pasting the pieces together to make something different.

Here are the results. My son originally wanted to make a lamp but in the end decided the pieces made a better lighthouse (all his own ideas, I might add)! My daughter wishes she could add her hat to the book. Maybe her hat could land on the head of someone standing by the fountain?


8 Comments on Perfect Square by Michael Hall - Book Review and Transformed Square Art, last added: 5/20/2011
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8. Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld - Review and Using Rainwater to Paint a Cloud Craft

I always glance at the copyright page when reading a book -- you know, the part that contains all information like the Library of Congress Cataloging Data, edition and publication date. That part usually is not all that thrilling, but sometimes, SOMETIMES when the author feels particularly creative, the page will contain special little hidden messages. Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld is a perfect example. Here's the illustration description on the copyright page:

"The illustrations are rendered in ink, pastel, colored pencil, and watercolor. The water part of the watercolor was collected in a bucket during a rainstorm, so this book is partially made of clouds. Thank you, clouds."
A cloud book made partially of clouds? A must read!

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld. Henry Holt / Christy Ottaviano Books (March 2011); ISBN 9780805087765; 40 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library

"Cloudette was a cloud. A very small cloud. Usually, Cloudette didn't mind being smaller than the average cloud. In fact, being small had lots of advantages."

Though Cloudette is content with her small size, she still wishes she could do "big and important" things like the other clouds -- cloud things like watering crops and making rivers flow. She is so small that she fits comfortably in the crook of the crescent-shaped moon and she's especially good at hide and seek, but what she wants most of all is to be able to help out in a big way. She finds out she just needs a little push!

It seems Cloudette isn't the only one that can productively brainstorm and create perfection and happiness. Clever books seem to pour of out Lichtenheld's mind, and we love each one. His books entertain both adult and child alike with witty dialog that accompanies the text, thoughtful word play and neatly drawn illustrations packed with tiny, often humorous details. After the first read, we went back just to make sure we didn't miss anything, like the cow perched on the moon or the "higher-up" that uses alliteration.

Lichtenheld's book got its start in a little way, kind of like Cloudette, with just two little scraps of paper. Cloudette provides a great example for kids and shows how something small can produce big results with the appropriate impetus.

P.S. Don't miss the UPC Code on the back and the rocket reference on the copyright page...the book is full of little surprises (Cloudette included)!

Related Links:
Tom Lichtenheld Website
Where'd That Little Cloud Come From? - MacKids blog
Happy Birthday Author
8 Comments on Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld - Review and Using Rainwater to Paint a Cloud Craft, last added: 6/18/2011
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9. 4th of July Pasta Fireworks Craft for Kids

You can't celebrate Independence Day without fireworks! We're enjoying a spectacular 4th of July fireworks show a little early thanks to the homemade pasta noodle fireworks hanging from our dining room chandelier. The pasta fireworks sparkle as much as the real deal, and they are a whole lot quieter and safer.

Fireworks Craft Materials:
variety of pasta shapes
Glue (we used Elmer's School Glue)
Waxed Paper
Glitter
Glitter Glue

Squirt a large circle of glue on a piece of wax paper. Create an exploding fireworks shape by positioning the pasta partially in the glue to make a pattern radiating outward from the center. Use different lengths and types of pasta to add dimension.



Sprinkle glitter on the fireworks and/or use a little glitter glue to add some sparkle.



Allow the pasta fireworks shape to dry fully before peeling off the waxed paper. (Ours took about two days to dry.) If you want to hang the fireworks decoration, tie a piece of string to one of the noodles.



For a little nighttime fun, try photographing the pasta fireworks against the dark evening sky. Capturing the pasta fireworks on camera is a lot easier than trying to photograph actual fireworks!



★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Last year we featured our favorite children's picture book containing fireworks ... Olivia Forms a Band by Ian Falconer. Since then we've discovered several other boo

9 Comments on 4th of July Pasta Fireworks Craft for Kids, last added: 7/4/2011
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10. I'm a Shark by Bob Shea - Review and Shark Craft for Kids

A shark has the power to strike fear into the hearts of many. But what do sharks fear? Bob Shea presents a very silly scenario in his very humorous book, I'm a Shark, about the most awesome, self-assured shark ever.

I'm a Shark by Bob Shea. Balzer + Bray (April 2011); ISBN 9780061998461; 40 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library

"Well, I guess everyone is scared of something. I'm not."
"What about spiders?"


Shark has an ego the size of a whale and doesn't mind boasting a little to his two ocean friends, fish and crab. He's not afraid of anything -- not shots, not bears, not dinos. Not even the dark, as evidenced by his remark, "the dark is afraid of me. Dark heard I was coming and ran." But shark isn't as brave as he lets on. There's something itsy bitsy that does frighten him just a tad. In fact, Little Miss Muffet just might be able to offer that shark some helpful advice, though he's so full of himself that he probably wouldn't listen. From the unexpected picture of the author and son on the dustcover flap to the hilarious tongue-in-cheek text -- everything in this book works swimmingly.

After seeing the bold, enticing cover of I'm a Shark, my shark fanatic son couldn't wait to read this one with me. Neither of us was disappointed. The book contains all the elements of a fun read-aloud: lively dialog, sharp illustrations, and plenty of humor. Add in the snappy shark with an attitude and my son has a newest favorite book. Plus, like many kids, my son understands the shark's fear of spiders. He hates them, probably even more than shark. Pick this book up before Shark Week ends!


Related Links:
Bob Shea - Website
Bob Shea - Facebook & Twitter



▪ ▪ ▪ Story + Art craft - Paper Plate Shark Craft ▪ ▪ ▪


Earlier this year, Almost Unschoolers posted one of the neatest shark crafts I've ever seen. I knew someday my son would enjoy making one, so I saved the link. Visit her blog for the complete directions.

We didn't alter the craft much. My son wanted the inside of the mouth to look red so he colored the interior of the mouth with a marker. What's a shark without a little blood? He tried to cut some of the teeth out of the paper plate himself, but that task proved a little too challenging for his preschool skills. And as a tie-in to Shea's I'm a Shark book, we attached a construction paper spider to the shark's fin. My daughter said it looks like the shark has a spider yo-yo. Maybe that's just what the shark needs to help him get over his arachnophobia?

11 Comments on I'm a Shark by Bob Shea - Review and Shark Craft for Kids, last added: 8/6/2011
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11. Press Here by Herve Tullet - Make Your Own "Interactive" Book

I'm late to the ballgame with this one, my friends (or yellow dot game, in this case). Press Here has been on my list to review since its release this spring. In fact, I donated money to our public library so that they could purchase a copy. We like the book that much. Now, pressing on to the review...

Press Here by Hervé Tullet. Chronicle Books (March 2011); ISBN 9780811879545; 56 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library

Starting with a yellow dot and some basic instructions, Hervé Tullet immediately pulls readers into his "interactive" book, giving them the illusion that they have control over what happens. Kids love to think they have power and control -- every parent knows that. Press the yellow dot, make something new happen. With every direction, every page turn, the book seems to respond to touch, clapping, shaking. It's just a book, just paper pages, no electronics, yet it engages and entertains in the same way as the most technologically advanced gadget. So simple, so delightful, so brilliant. A good read-aloud choice for both one-on-one and groups, believe me, if you want a book kids will excitedly swarm around, this one is it.

Thankfully, Press Here is a sturdily designed book, ready to withstand repeated readings. Not only does this book offer wonderful read-aloud potential, with the minimal text it's also great for beginning readers. The book's creative, innovative design is no accident. Hervé Tullet has design experience as an art director for ad agencies and a magazine illustrator. Press Here was originally published as Un Livre in France, and it seems Hervé Tullet is a very popular children's author there, earning the title of "The Prince of Preschool." I can't wait to locate copies of his books from Phaidon. (They offer translated book versions of a few more Tullet titles.) J'aime!



Want more Tullet brilliance? Hervé Tullet's website is a fantastic resource. Lots of colorful, interactive online activities. Take some time to explore around, learn a little French. My kids like scribbling in À toi de gribouiller (For You to Scribble) and coloring in The Colouring Book.

● ● ● ● "Sunflower Grow" Homemade Interactive Book ● ● ● ●

6 Comments on Press Here by Herve Tullet - Make Your Own "Interactive" Book, last added: 9/13/2011
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12. Llama Llama Home With Mama by Anna Dewdney: Giveaway and Review - Llama Clothespin Craft

"Llama" is a rather strange word, isn't it? It is one of the only English words that begins with a double "l." According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word is Spanish in origin, from Quechua, the language spoken by the Incas. Two l's are typically pronounced as a y in the Spanish language so technically the word should read "yama" (or "lyama" in Quechua).

Several poets and authors have used the fun double "l" word in their works. Ogden Nash wrote an animal verse titled, "The Lama." Mary Ann Hoberman writes of "The Llama Who Had No Pajama" in her poetry book of the same title.

More familiar to kids nowadays is Anna Dewdney's New York Times bestselling Llama Llama picture book series. Part of the reason the books are so popular is that parents and kids can easily identify with the various childhood dramas that little Llama Llama character experiences. In the books, Llama Mama helps him cope with his emotions and reassures her little llama. Dewdney's books are a joy to read and the rhythmic verses roll of your tongue with repetitive "llama llama ... mama" and other rhymes. The newest and fifth book in the series is Llama Llama Home with Mama.

Llama Llama Home with Mama by Anna Dewdney. Viking / Penguin Books for Young Readers (August 2011); ISBN 9780670012329; 40 pages

"Llama Llama, red pajama, sick and bored, at home with Mama."


Llama Llama wakes up feeling yucky and ends up spending his day sick at home accompanied by his mama. Mama Llama does all she can to help her little llama recover but, go figure, ends up sick with the same illness. Luckily, Llama Llama follows his mama's example and knows just what to do to help his mama feel better. In her painted illustrations, Dewdney perfectly captures the trials of spending a day sick at home...expressions of exhaustion, red noses (somehow she makes a sore, red nose look cute) and mounds of handkerchiefs. She also includes plenty of expressive words revolving around the sickness theme (yes, shnorltes is a word in her book!)

Out of all the books in the series this is my favorite. For once Dewdney doesn't really address a behavioral issue, but writes of sickness and colds, something that all children and parents suffer with at some point. The premise is so sweet and tender -- Llama L

49 Comments on Llama Llama Home With Mama by Anna Dewdney: Giveaway and Review - Llama Clothespin Craft, last added: 9/22/2011
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13. Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic by Robert Burleigh - Book Review

"She shifts in her seat. She cranes her neck. She squints.
She carries on, flying blind.

1:00 a.m. The friendly night becomes a graph of fear:
a jagged line between where-I-am and not-quite-sure."


In May of 1932, Amelia Earhart boarded her red Lockheed Vega plane and set off on a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland. Her flight wasn't without challenges and despite inclement weather, a broken altimeter and other mechanical problems, she endeavored on to become the first woman to fly alone non-stop across the Atlantic. The talented Robert Burleigh takes readers along on this incredible journey by describing the flight in dramatic verses. His emotion-filled version of the harrowing, forever famous fifteen hour trip is an exceptional biographical work about Amelia Earhart, the bold and courageous aviatrix and her amazing trip.

Robert Burleigh on his website describes his book writing goals stating, "I like the book to convey the feeling of immediacy." Truly, while reading Night Flight it does seem as though you are right there, accompanying Earhart every step of the way. Wendell Minor's illustrations add to the drama and suspense, skillfully showing the white-knuckle, heart pounding moments flying over a churning ocean in darkness and finally the beauty and relief after a successful flight. Minor carefully researched the specifics of Earhart's plane before making the illustrations so that he could provide historically accurate paintings. The endpapers show a schematic of the plane and a map illustrating Earhart's flight path across the ocean. An afterward and other notes and quotes provide background information pertaining to Amelia Earhart's life.

Powerful, brilliant, fascinating, beautiful -- both my children sat quietly listening and hung onto every word as we read the story and took in the pictures together. What an incredible way to experience a moment of history, a remarkable night flight, and learn about the woman who at one time declared, "Everyone has his own Atlantics to fly. Whatever you want very much to do, against the opposition of tradition, neighborhood opinion, and so-called common sense -- that is an Atlantic."

Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic by Robert Burleigh, paintings by Wendell Minor. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
(February 2011); ISBN 9781416967330; 40 pages
B

4 Comments on Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic by Robert Burleigh - Book Review, last added: 10/21/2011
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14. Everything Goes On Land by Brian Biggs - Book Review and an Even/Odd Street Activity

Perusing the library with my son never fails to entertain. He has very specific criteria in mind when it comes to choosing books. Basically anything with a train, car, airplane or other vehicle on the cover will garner his approval. Does this selection method hold true for all preschool-age boys? I don't know, but judging from the ragged condition of the transportation themed books in our library, I'd say this subject is very popular with little boys and quite possibly with little girls as well.

Since we've devoured nearly every transportation book in the library, we're always on the lookout for the latest and greatest zooming, zipping, chugging, or digging book. Enter Brian Biggs and his new Everything Goes picture book. My son's reaction? Love at first sight!

Everything Goes: On Land by Brian Biggs. Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins (September 2011); ISBN 9780061958090; 56 pages

From cover to cover, Everything Goes: On Land is chuck full of cars, trucks, bikes, trains -- tons of land-going city vehicles. Eye-catching and completely riveting for all transportation book aficionados, Biggs doesn't leave anything out in his jam-packed, cartoony illustrations. Even the odd, not oft seen vehicles make an appearance. Double Decker Bus. ✔ Elevated Train. ✔ Penny-farthing. ✔ Bird with a hat. ✔ (No, that's not a typo. There really are birds with hats. What's that got to do with vehicles? I have no idea, but the birds are pretty silly and appear in all the city pictures along with a lot other out-of-place things! Channeling Richard Scarry and Goldbug, perhaps?)

This is the kind of seek-and-find book one could easily stare at for hours, days, and not see everything, and there's also an interesting storyline weaving through the book about a little boy to consider. Henry drives into the city with his dad to a surprise location and the two talk [via speech balloons] about all the vehicles they see along the way, discussing some in great detail. Through a number of simple vehicle diagrams, the reader learns along with Henry about the interworkings of a car, tractor-trailer rig, RV, bicycle, and motorcycle. To add to the educational experience, Everything Goes: On Land also works as a challenging counting book. Readers can count one-by-one to 100, searching for each number in order.

The side-stories are quite amusing

7 Comments on Everything Goes On Land by Brian Biggs - Book Review and an Even/Odd Street Activity, last added: 10/24/2011
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15. Christmas is Here by Lauren Castillo - Book Review & Transfer Printing Craft

The Christmas season comes to customary end on January 6th with the celebration of Epiphany or Three Kings Day. Epiphany commemorates the manifestation of Jesus and the visit of the Magi (Wise Men). They traveled to Bethlehem to worship Jesus after viewing the star, a shining light that revealed Jesus' birth (Matthew 2:1-12).

In telling the Christmas story, many children's books show three wise men visiting the stable shortly after Jesus' birth. Interestingly enough, the Biblical passages are rather vague and never specifically state the actual number of wise men or their date of arrival. The verses only tell that the Magi brought three gifts to Jesus: gold, frankincense and myrrh. The stable also is not mentioned. They entered the "house" and saw the child with his mother.

Are there any children's books that show the Magi visiting Jesus at a house and not a stable? Or with a different number of wise men? Bookie Woogie recently reviewed The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats, a book that, according to them, shows more than three wise men. As for a house instead of a stable, I'm not sure, so I'll have to refer to my readers for further book suggestions.

Christmas Is Here by Lauren Castillo. Simon & Schuster (October 2010); ISBN 9781442408227; 32 pages
Book Source: Copy from personal library

This Christmas my family discovered a newly published Christmas picture book by Lauren Castillo. In Christmas is Here, the wise men do not make an appearance at the stable. I want to make mention of it now because I think the book deserves a lot more attention that it received over the holidays. It is a book worth owning if you celebrate Christmas and makes a splendid read-aloud on Christmas Eve, especially if you already read the story from the Bible.

What makes Christmas is Here truly special is that Castillo merges past with present. She tells the Christmas story starting in the present time with a family that goes to see a live Nativity. As the little child in the story peers over the crib and looks down on baby Jesus the focus changes and the following pages powerfully depict the Biblical text taken directly from the King James Bible about the shepherds and angels and the birth of Jesus, the passages of Luke 2:8-14. In the end, as the text tells of the armies of heaven praising God, Castillo takes readers back to the present day with a gorgeous illustration showing the family and others gathered around the live Nativity as they join in the chorus of praise.

12 Comments on Christmas is Here by Lauren Castillo - Book Review & Transfer Printing Craft, last added: 1/7/2011
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16. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead - Book Review & Modified Woodblock Printmaking for Kids Activity

Next time I'm sick I sure hope that a menagerie from the local zoo won't come knocking at my door. The last thing I want in bed with me is a tortoise, and I seriously doubt an elephant would fit in my bedroom. The thing is though, this whole scenario makes for a delightful picture book. Heard of A Sick Day for Amos McGee? Well, you should have, considering it was just chosen this week as the 2011 Caldecott Medal winner.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead. A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Book Press (May 2010); ISBN 9781596434028; 32 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library

The humble Amos McGee lives in a simple, muted world and provides a welcoming contrast to the vibrant, glossy, eye-catching pages and bold characters so popular in today's children's literature. Amos, a faithful, elderly zookeeper, lovingly cares for his zoo animal friends day after day. He knows each and every animal personally, provides encouragement and helps them all with their problems. Then, one day, Amos spends a sick day at home. The elephant, tortoise, penguin, rhinoceros and owl immediately notice his absence and board the bus to cheer up their faithful friend. The book is illustrated by Erin E. Stead and written by her husband, Philip C. Stead.

It's such a lovely story -- so very heartwarming with a quiet humor. You can't help but smile while reading about Amos and his friends. And the illustrations are full of so many little details that, at first, we didn't even notice the little bird that tags along. And, do we ever adore the red and blue sock-footed, shy penguin and his bright red balloon! Erin Stead uses an interesting woodblock printing process for making her pictures. Even Amos' pajama stripes are lovingly printed in this manner. After she prints the shapes she draws in extra details with a pencil.

Really, I could go on and on about the illustrations, but for me, what really makes this book a winner is the main character, Amos. It's not always easy to find books for children that show elderly individuals in a positive light. Even though my daughter loves her great-grandparents and sees them often, she is still a little cautious and wary when around the elderly. Partly, I blame books and TV. Those mean, scary witches almost always are depicted as elderly, humped over women. But, here we have an amiable and tender man, Amos, who loves animals and wears bunny slippers. I've never seen a more lovable, elderly character in my life.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee deserves all the attention it has recently garnered. If you haven't picked up a copy yet, please do. You won't regret it.

Related links:
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24 Comments on A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead - Book Review & Modified Woodblock Printmaking for Kids Activity, last added: 1/15/2011
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17. Soup Day by Melissa Iwai - Book Review and Soup Collage

The weather forecast for our area tomorrow includes the words "bitterly cold." UGH! I'm not looking forward to wind chills of -15 to -30. All this cold weather calls for some hot soup. Nothing hits the spot on a cold day like a steaming bowl of soup. No wonder January is National Soup Month -- it seems every day lately is a great day for a soup day!

Soup Day by Melissa Iwai. Henry Holt and Company (September 2010); ISBN 9780805090048; 32 pages
Book Source: Advance Reader's Edition provided by publisher

On a cold, snowy winter day, a little girl and her mother visit the market to buy ingredients for a batch of vegetable soup. When they return home they make the soup together. The little girl helps out by cutting some of the vegetables with a plastic knife, and she decides to add some alphabet pasta to the soup. After a little playtime fun, the little girl happily eats her yummy soup along with her mom and dad.

Where's your soup pot? Kids will want to help make their own batch of soup after reading this book. The colorful, collage illustrations and cute story perfectly depict the steps involved in preparing a batch of soup. Tailor made for little kids, the steps even involve a little counting, color and shape recognition, and pasta identification. Do you know what Pastina and Farfalle look like? -- You will! Plus, there's a recipe in the back of the book for the very same "Snowy Day Vegetable Soup" made by the mother and daughter. It's packed full of healthy veggies. There's no better way to get kids to eat their vegetables than having them help with the preparations, and it's fun to create memories in the kitchen by cooking together. All in all, it's a great cooking together book, a perfect read for a cold day. Even if you don't plan to cook a pot of soup on the stove, the heartwarming illustrations of the little girl with her steamy bowl of soup will warm you up on the inside.



Of course, we had to try out the soup recipe. Just like in the book, my kids counted and then cut the mushrooms and zucchini with a plastic knife. We even found some alphabet pasta to add to our batch. I like Iwai's suggestion to make the pasta separately. That way the kids can add as much alphabet pasta to their bowls as they want! The recipe is quite tasty (our photo does not do it justice), and we definitely plan to make more soon. Mmmmm ... we love soup day, too!




Related links:
Melissa Iwai - Author/Illustrator Website
The Hungry Artist - Melissa's cooking blog


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9 Comments on Soup Day by Melissa Iwai - Book Review and Soup Collage, last added: 1/22/2011
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18. Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara & Epson Salt Frost Paintings Craft

There's something magical about the crystal patterns on a frosted windowpane. The fern-like, random artwork by nature is one of the miracles of winter. Some say the art is the work of the legendary Jack Frost. We recently purchased and read a cute winter book about a boy who meets and plays outside with Jack Frost. (It's currently available as a bargain book on Amazon.)

Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara. Roaring Brook Press (October 2009); ISBN: 9781596434424; 32 pages
Book Source: Our personal library

'"Who are you?" asked the boy.
"I'm Jack Frost!" replied the figure, and he ran into the woods.'

A lonely little boy sulks about inside his house during a cold, gray winter until one morning he notices patterns on the window. When he looks outside he sees a pointy white, elfish figure, the character responsible for the patterns. The boy befriends the figure, Jack Frost, and they play together all winter long, sledding, throwing snowballs and building snowmen against a brilliant blue sky.

Kazuno Kohara's stark white linocut images dance against the blue backgrounds, beautifully conveying the the wondrous bluish hues of winter. Even though she uses limited colors, Kohara still manages to add a special vivacity to her pictures. Kohara uses a similar illustration style in her Halloween themed book, Ghosts in the House! While the newer book, Here Comes Jack Frost isn't as humorous as the ghost book, it is a lovely, playful and fun winter read and a good, simple introduction to the character of Jack Frost.



❖❖❖❖❖❖ stArt Craft - Epson Salt Frost Paintings ❖❖❖❖❖❖

Obviously some sort of printmaking craft would be the perfect activity to accompany this Here Comes Jack Frost. But we've already tried two different printmaking techniques in January so we thought instead we'd pretend to be Jack Frost by making frost paintings using a special Epson salt solution.

I first saw instructions for the Epson salt paint on Homemade Mamas. The recipe is simple - you combine 1/4 cup boiling water with 1/4 cup Epson salt. Then you stir until the crystals dissolve and let the solution cool slightly (a few minutes). The kids dip their paintbrush in the solution and cover the page with the liquid. As the paint dries, it crystallizes and forms interesting, sparkly patterns. Unplug Your Kids also offers a detailed and interesting post about Salt Crystal Paint.

In our experience, Epson salt paint is a rather unpredictable product. Sometimes it dries and lovely crystalline patterns form and

14 Comments on Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara & Epson Salt Frost Paintings Craft, last added: 1/29/2011
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19. Candy Airplane Valentine Craft - "Love, Ruby Valentine" by Laurie Friedman

While looking for cute Valentine's Day ideas I came across directions for a candy airplane valentine on the Family Fun website. I remember making similar airplanes when I was a kid and, if my memory serves me correctly, I believe that I first learned to make them in Girl Scouts.


The candy airplanes are made out of a roll of Smarties, a couple sticks of gum, and two Life-Saver candies for the wheels. A rubber band holds all the pieces of candy together to form an airplane. (Visit Family Fun for instructions on how to assemble.)

I created and printed a special heart Valentine themed gum wrapper cover like the one shown on the Family Fun site to add to our airplanes (click on the image to see the jpg and print). I think the decorated wrapper helps the airplane look prettier for Valentine's Day. The airplane is a little tricky to assemble and is probably a project suited more for older kids, but my kids enjoyed watching me make them and they really, really had a blast playing with them! I think I'll make a few more so my son can give them to his friends for Valentine's Day.

Some of the variations of this craft show it with a little message on a banner attached to the back of the plane. Here are a few cute Valentine airplane themed sayings:

It's plane to see - I want you for my Valentine.
Up, up and away! Happy Valentine's Day!
Above all, I want you for My Valentine.
You're just plane cool!
Have a high flying Valentine's Day!
Love is in the air!
Valentine, my heart soars for you!
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

We started reading several Valentine's Day books last week. One of my daughter's favorite books from library included an illustration of the main character in an airplane spreading Valentine cheer. How fun is that?

Love, Ruby Valentine
5 Comments on Candy Airplane Valentine Craft - "Love, Ruby Valentine" by Laurie Friedman, last added: 2/2/2011
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20. Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes - Book Review & Folded Bunny Craft

If Mary Poppins measured author Kevin Henkes, her ruler would likely say "practically perfect children's author in every way." Time after time again, Henkes releases wonderful, thought-provoking books for kids. His latest string of picture books speak of gentle, seasonal days outdoors, with beautiful illustrations set in square or circular borders alternating with full page bleeds. First there was Old Bear, the story of hibernating bear that has vivid dreams and awakens to a gorgeous spring day. Then, last year came My Garden, a magical book about all the things a little girl would love to plant in her garden. Just last week, he released another lush, imaginative springtime book, Little White Rabbit.

Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow Books (January 2011); ISBN 9780062006424; 40 pages
Book Source: F & G provided by publisher

Hippity-hoppity! An inquisitive little white rabbit hops around the forest one gorgeous spring day and wonders about all sorts of things. What would it be like to be green, or tall, or not be able to move at all? The rabbit imagines all sorts of scenarios until he hops past a cat. Scared, he heads straight home. Back safe and sound, he knows there's one thing he never has to wonder about. LOVE! ♥ He knows without question that he is loved!

With so many books about bunnies already in print, it's hard to believe that Henkes' new book could stand out. But it does. His simple story stirs the imagination, and the adorable little bunny practically bounces off the page with a fluffy cuteness kids will adore. The colorful springtime illustrations of flowers, green grass, lush trees and colorful butterflies exude happiness and help melt away the winter blues. I wonder if it is a coincidence that Henkes chose to illustrate his rabbit under a green Willow tree for the cover picture? A tribute to his publisher, perhaps?

The text along with the vivid illustrations provide food for thought and help facilitate discussion. What do you wonder about? My daughter said she wonders what it would be like to be a cat. She also loves when the rabbit "wondered what it would be like to flutter through the air" and thinks it would be fun to fly with the butterflies like the rabbit. The book is short enough to keep a toddler's attention and beginning readers will find plenty to love about the story, too, including a repetitive, easy to read text.

Little White Rabbit is such a sweet story for both kids and parents. The image of parent and little bunny touching noses is so very heartwarming, it makes me want to give both my kids a great big hug and let them know how much they are loved as well! (Note to Easter Bunny - This book belongs in all Easter bas

12 Comments on Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes - Book Review & Folded Bunny Craft, last added: 2/5/2011
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21. Lamb of God Lenten Craft & The Ultimate DVD Read and Share Bible: Volume 2

At church, before communion, we often sing The Agnus Dei. "Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us." I often wonder what my kids are thinking when they hear the verses of the Agnus Dei. During Lent many of us teach our children that Jesus died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. The imagery of Jesus as the Lamb of God is a natural extension of this teaching and the symbolism is worth discussing during the Lenten season with your kids.

John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as the Lamb of God: "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29 NIV)

God offered up the perfect sacrifice, his Son, the “Sacrificial Lamb." Through Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection, we can have eternal life if we believe in Him. "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV)

When we sing about the Lamb of God, we remember Christ's death on the cross and the sacrifice, and we praise God and offer our thanks and devotion to the Lamb, our Redeemer. "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (Revelation 5:12 NIV)



Lamb of God Crayon Resist Lenten Craft

In art, the Agnus Dei symbol is often depicted as a lamb bearing a cross or banner. We made our own Agnus Dei artwork today for our stArt project. Starting with a white piece of paper, we cut out the lamb's body in a cloud shape.

While the kids were busy cutting out a head and legs out of black paper, I took a white crayon and wrote "Jesus" on each of the white body pieces. I also added some white swirls to look like wool. Using watercolor paint, the kids covered the lamb's body with paint and, through this wax resist artwork, it was revealed to them that Jesus is the "Lamb of God." Our sins are represented by the paint and Jesus, written in white crayon, takes away the sins of the world. I cut out a cross shape out of brown construction paper while the kids painted.

After the paint dried the kids assembled their own Agnus Dei artwork. The artwork indeed reminds us that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.





Other Lamb of God Crafts:
Lamb of God Washcloth
Lam

5 Comments on Lamb of God Lenten Craft & The Ultimate DVD Read and Share Bible: Volume 2, last added: 3/25/2011
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22. Fan Peacock Craft - Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester Laminack Book Review

They say you should never judge a book by its cover. Maybe so, but kids do anyway and so do adults, especially when it comes to picture books! Three Hens and a Peacock is one of those books that has spectacular and very funny cover art. On the front? -- A dismayed but fabulous looking peacock with three hens sticking their heads through his fan. On the back? -- The posteriors (a.k.a bottoms) of all four characters. Hilarious!


Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester L. Laminack, illustrated by Henry Cole. Peachtree Publishers (March 2011); ISBN 9781561455645; 32 pages
Book Source: Review copy from publisher

The cover sets the tone perfectly for the book. A peacock arrives on the Tucker family's farm and the once quiet farm becomes a bustling, noisy place. The shrieking, strutting peacock catches the attention of those passing by. Many visitors stop to admire the peacock and purchase produce from the farmer's stand. With ruffled, jealous feathers, the hens complain, "that lazy peacock gets all the attention and we do all the work." Hoping to smooth things over, the farm's wise old hound suggests that the hens switch places with the peacock. The hens get all gussied up in bangles and beads while the peacock tries his hardest to lay an egg and fails miserably. Eventually, they all learn that taking another's place is harder than it looks, and they gain an appreciation for each other's unique talents.

Full of plenty of humor and a subtle lesson in character, Three Hens and a Peacock is a frolicsome farmyard tale. Cole's eye-catching watercolor, ink and colored pencil illustrations play a huge part in advancing the storyline. Even the endpapers serve a purpose. The peacock feathers in the front announce the upcoming arrival of the peacock, and the back endpapers foretell the next surprising events on the farm -- hmm...what kind of animal lays a very big egg?

There are plenty of ways to use the book as a teaching tool. Besides discussing the problems of trying to be someone you're not, I took the opportunity to also discuss with my kids why a peacock with a fancy feather train cannot lay an egg. I opened our DK Encyclopedia of Animals (seriously, every home library should contain at least one animal encyclopedia) and found the page about peacocks. It shows a nice picture of a peahen next to a peacock. We learned that peahens, the female birds, do not have colorful fans. Male birds sport the fancy feathers and use them to attract the females. Thus, the bird pictured in Laminack's book is a male, and male peacocks cannot lay eggs. :) We also learned that a peacock's train can reach up to 5 ft.-3 in. high! Wow, that's only a few inches shorter than Mommy!
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14 Comments on Fan Peacock Craft - Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester Laminack Book Review, last added: 4/2/2011
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23. Rocket Town by Bob Logan - Book Review & Straw Flying Rockets Craft

My son's grandparents bought him an Imaginext Space Shuttle for Christmas. Ever since then he has been rocket crazy! He pretends his paper airplanes are rockets. He wanted a rocket cake for his birthday. He followed the Space Shuttle Discovery's last flight and watched the landing live on NASA TV. Someday he wants to fly up to the moon in a rocket. So, when I heard about the newly released board book by Bob Logan called Rocket Town, I just knew that my toddler would love it.

Rocket Town by Bob Logan. Sourcebooks (April 2011); ISBN 9781402241864; 24 pages
Book Source: Review copy provided by publisher

Bob Logan, in his new rocket-themed book, welcomes readers to Rocket Town, an unusual community where most residents ride in rockets -- big rockets, small rockets, school bus rockets, ice-cream truck rockets, scooter rockets, and so on. It's a place where, "everyone has a favorite rocket." The area kids carry rocket-shaped balloons and go on rocket carnival rides. One man, dressed in an astronaut suit, seems a little out-of-place in Rocket Town. He drives an old, yellow pick-up truck through town, accompanied by his loyal Beagle dog. They wizz by all sorts of different rockets, finally arriving at "Rocket Ray's Rockets," a rocket sales lot. After a brief search, astronaut man finds a special rocket suited perfectly to his taste and blasts off into space.

Logan's board book belongs in a book galaxy all its own. With enthralling art and simple text it's very appealing to toddlers (especially rocket-crazed toddlers like my own), but due to the complexity of the illustrations and flashy rocket theme, older kids will find themselves drawn into the details. My daughter pointed out that all the baby strollers in the book are rockets, and she loves the "just married" rocket carriage that blows heart shaped exhaust. My son thinks the green "stinky onion" rocket is hilarious. The unique, digitally rendered illustrations are done in retro-pop style. The illustrations also look slightly futuristic with a rockets and space art theme (think Hanna Barbera's Jetsons crossed with the latest in animation technology). Logan primarily works as a story artist for DreamWorks and his animation talent is apparent in the pages of this book.


Now typically I'm not a huge fan of board books because most are versions of picture books formatted in a downsized design to fit babies and toddlers. However, Rocket Town was never released in picture book form and is specifically designed with the toddler/preschool audience in mind. Rocket Town is a counting book (it has an awesome countdown to blast off), and the book also teaches opposites by compa

11 Comments on Rocket Town by Bob Logan - Book Review & Straw Flying Rockets Craft, last added: 4/10/2011
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24. My Poetry Book Kids' Poetry Challenge - Week 4 - "A Fairy Went A-Marketing" --- Miniature Book Craft

Welcome to the fourth of five "My Poetry Book" Kids' Poetry Challenge post link-ups! In celebration of National Poetry month, we're challenging other parents and kids to explore the world of poetry together. More details at the end of this post.

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Within the fantasy world fairies are often depicted as caretakers of nature and they also watch over all the creatures in the animal kingdom. Earth Day is a day of environmental awareness and we're celebrating by reading "A Fairy Went A-Marketing," a poem by Rose Fyleman about a very caring and beneficent fairy.

We found an incredibly beautiful picture book version titled A Fairy Went A-Marketing with illustrations by Jamichael Henterly at our library. Henterly's breathtaking pictures depict an amazing fairy-tale world full of the wonders of nature. The fairy, with her beautiful, long brown hair and spectacular butterfly-like wings, goes to market and ends up helping out various animals including a fish, bird, frog and mouse. My daughter loves to slowly page through the illustrations and point out all the interesting fairy world details.

"A Fairy Went A-Marketing" originally appeared in Fyleman's book of verse, Fairies and Chimneys (c1920). The entire book can be viewed online at the Internet Archive. (By the way, if you've never visited the Internet Archive, you must! It is a virtual treasure trove.) Fairies and Chimneys includes several fairy-themed poems, and I especially like the short "Bird Lore" poems. Fyleman dedicated the book to her mother, "To the realest fairy of my childhood, my mother." Also, one of the poems in the book is titled, "Mother." Isn't that wonderfully sweet?

A FAIRY WENT A-MARKETING
by Rose Fyleman

A Fairy went a-marketing —
She bought a little fish;
She put it in a crystal bowl
Upon a golden dish.
An hour she sat in wonderment
And watched its silver gleam,
And then she gently took it up
And slipped it in a stream. ..."


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Make Your Own Miniature Fairy Book Craft




Rather than illustrate just one part of the poem, my daughter decided to draw pictures for all the verses. Inspired by the creative make-your-own miniature books at DYI Dollhouse Miniatures, I designed a miniature "A Fairy Went A-Marketing" book for her to illustrate. She's still not entirely finished coloring her artwork but you can see her progres

8 Comments on My Poetry Book Kids' Poetry Challenge - Week 4 - "A Fairy Went A-Marketing" --- Miniature Book Craft, last added: 4/25/2011
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25. The Princess Gown by Linda Leopold Strauss - Princess Kate Paper Doll Wedding Dress Craft

The upcoming Royal Wedding is getting a lot of media hype right now. For the most part I haven't paid much attention to the details, but I have discussed the event to some extent with my kids. I was about the same age as my daughter when Prince Charles and Princess Diana married. According to my mother, we watched the wedding on TV and followed the news reports. While I don't have any specific memories of watching the wedding as a child, I do know that I loved pretending to be a princess, and I enjoyed and still enjoy reading fairy tales. A couple weeks back I discovered the perfect picture book for a royal wedding themed story + art craft post.

The Princess Gown by Linda Leopold Strauss, illustrated by Malene Reynolds Laugesen. Houghton Mifflin (September 2008); ISBN 9780618862597; 32 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library

"So what do you think, my Hanna?" asked Papa as he sewed a pearl to the bodice of the wedding dress. "Will the princess like it?"

Much work goes into designing and sewing a wedding dress, especially a wedding dress fit for a princess. As Princess Annabel's wedding approaches all the tailors in the kingdom design elaborate wedding dresses in hopes of becoming the official Embroiderer to the Princess. A little girl named Hanna excitedly watches as her papa lovingly pieces together a beautiful and elaborate dress. All the members of the Abraham family, including each of the children, put a stitch into the dress. When it's Hanna's turn to stitch she notices a small smudge on the skirt. Shaken, the family frets about how to fix the small flaw. Little Hanna offers a very creative solution involving an embroidered squirrel, but will the princess approve?

This book has all the markings of a lovely, old-fashioned fairy tale, but surprisingly it is partially based on fact. According to a statement on the author's website, "This picture book, with lavish illustrations by Malene Laugesen, got its start in the author’s family history, where in Victorian England, her husband’s great great great grandfather was Embroiderer to the Queen." The Princess Gown is a fascinating read, especially as rumors swirl as to the identity of Kate Middleton's own wedding dress designer. The Victorian styled hoop dresses portrayed in the book are truly exquisite! My daughter studied Laugesen's oil crayon and linseed oil illustrations with intensity. The dresses on the last pages remind me of Tiffany lamps with their intricate, nature inspired designs. I so want one of those owl tree dresses! If there's a princess or fashion lover in your family, I highly recommend this book.

Related Links:
Linda Leopold Strauss Website


❖ ❖ ❖ ❖ Princess Kate Paper Doll / Design a Wedding Dress Craft ❖ ❖ ❖ ❖


Disney Family.com offers a handy and free Princess Kate Paper Doll printable[pdf]. It includes a few dresses, but I thought my daughter would have

10 Comments on The Princess Gown by Linda Leopold Strauss - Princess Kate Paper Doll Wedding Dress Craft, last added: 4/29/2011
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