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We are delighted to feature Andrea Scher’s Five Family Favorites. Andrea is an artist, photographer and life coach. Through her award-winning blog Superhero Journal and e-courses, Mondo Beyondo and Superhero Photo, she inspires us to find our passions and dream big. A supermom (no capes, just courage) to two adorable boys named Ben and Nico, you can often find her on her kitchen floor trying to get them to do superhero leaps for the camera. Andrea is also the co-author of wonderful book called Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters Guide to Shooting from the Heart.Registration is open for the fall session of Mondo Beyondo now!
I am big fan of all things Amy Krouse Rosenthal, but this book is one of my favorites of her creations. My son Ben has always been a picky eater, so this tale of a little pea who didn’t want to eat her candy (the equivalent of vegetables in the pea world) made Ben hysterical with laughter. We even filmed one of these giggly episodes to remember it forever. Such a sweet book.
Ages 4-5 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | April 28, 2005
Every morning, the first thing my toddler says is, “Mama llama? Boop? Mama Llama?” We have read this book so many times that we have all committed it to memory. Even my 5-year-old can “read” it to Nico and he doesn’t know how to read! It is an endearing book about a llama that asks each of his animal friends who their mama is.
It’s a special treat to have Elizabeth Bard contribute her family’s top five favorites to The Children’s Book Review. An American journalist and author based in France, her first book, Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes has been a New York Times and international bestseller, a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” pick, and the recipient of the 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best First Cookbook (USA). Bard’s writing on food, art, travel and digital culture has appeared in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Wired, Harper’s Bazaar and The Huffington Post. Thanks to Elizabeth for sharing her thoughtful personal reflections on raising her son abroad with us.
Story time at our house is fun time, bed time, but it is also the site of a good-natured – but genuine – culture war. From the moment I moved to Paris to be with my French husband, I knew our children would be bilingual. As our lives have unfolded here, it’s become clear that most of my son’s childhood will be spent in France, worlds away from Sesame Street, Twinkies and other staples of my American childhood.
Augustin is almost three now. In addition to speaking English with me, and on vacations with his grandparents, books are the most effective tool I have to make sure he becomes – and stays – fluent in English, and is introduced to the different world view that creeps into the stories we choose to tell. There’s a part of all this that is inherently selfish: I want him to love these books because I love them. If he couldn’t – or didn’t want to – read in English, it would be like sewing up half my soul. A piece of his mother, and one of his cultures, would become unknowable to him.
Here are a few of our early and current favorites:
One of Augustin’s very first words was “Poon” – shorthand for his favorite book. Spoon is a wonderful “the grass is always greener” story of a little spoon who thinks his friends, knife, fork and chopsticks have it so much better than him. He never gets to twirl spaghetti. He never gets to cut bread. His mother thoughtfully reminds him that knife can’t swim around in a bowl with the Cheerios, and chopsticks never get to dive into bowl of vanilla ice-cream.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children | April 7, 2009
This year, Chinese New Year falls on February 3, 2011. It is the Year of the Rabbit—the fourth animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. The rabbit represents hope, and it is widely shared that “People born under the sign of the rabbit are gentle, sensitive, modest, and merciful and have strong memory. They like to communicate with others in a humorous manner. They cannot bear dull life, so they are good at creating romantic or interesting spice…”
The picture books listed below, offer solid introductions into the Chinese New Year and are then followed by some good-old bunny tales to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit.
Bringing in the New Year
by Grace Lin
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 34 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (January 8, 2008)
Publisher’s synopsis: This exuberant story follows a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Each member of the family lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it’s time to put on new clothes and celebrate with family and friends. There will be fireworks and lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade to help bring in the Lunar New Year. And the dragon parade in our book is extra long–on a surprise fold-out page at the end of the story. Grace Lin’s artwork is a bright and gloriously patterned celebration in itself! And her story is tailor-made for reading aloud.
Don’t listen to us gab about the newest picture book from Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace…check out the three starred reviews for THIS PLUS THAT!
“Teachers could use the book, perhaps paired with Betsy Franco’s picture book Mathematickles! (2003), to introduce math equations or to inspire students to create their own verbal equations. But first, just read this unusual book aloud and let it work its magic.” ~ Booklist (starred review)
“Corace’s tidy figures echo with prim grace the gentle theme of the book, that life can be parsed into the simplest terms that recombine to create something joyous.” ~ Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
Chocolate chip…white chocolate macadamia nut…peanut butter…oatmeal raisin…sugar… Yep, we’re getting hungry too, given that laundry list of fabulous cookies! What’s your favorite kind of cookie?
I love making a storytime theme out of things that I personally enjoy – it keeps things fresh after your 100th storytime, not to mention I think that your enthusiasm really shines through for a topic in which you’re personally invested. So, if you’re like me, you can try a cookie-themed storytime:
Autographed Shirt Benefits First Book
Check out the cool t-shirt that Amy Krouse Rosenthal and other New York Times bestselling authors created to benefit First Book at our second annual Book Bash celebration.
Six-Word Memoir Book Trailer
Stop over to the Olive Reader blog to watch and enjoy the latest “book trailer” (like a movie trailer, but for books!) for It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, edited by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser.
Bookstore Night in Buenos Aires Encourages Reading
Check out NPR’s story about Buenos Aires’ annual Noche de las Librerias — Bookstore Night. The city closes a main avenue, and replaces cars and trucks with sofas and chairs for people to lounge in with books from nearby bookstores.
Okay, it's Friday. You've been working hard all week. Your brain is fried. Here's a little brainteaser pick-me-up to get you through the day. What I like about this book is how unbelievably simple it is in concept and so darn cute! A marketer's dream, it even comes with it's own website. "Duck!Rabbit!" came out last Spring, so maybe you are already familiar with it. It won tons of awards and was on the New York Times bestseller list. But hey, that makes it even more fun to revisit, especially since Easter is right around the corner. Written and illustrated by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld, this book asks the BIG QUESTION...are you a DuckPerson or a RabbitPerson?
Although this book is just one simple line drawing, Tom Lichtenheld's illustrations are quite colorful and fun. He was trained as an art director, but fell into the picture book world purely by accident. Inspired by a letter from his nephew asking him to draw him a picture of a pirate, Tom ended up drawing 20 pages of pirates which eventually became the book "Everything I Know About Pirates."
His latest book is out this Spring and is called "Bridget's Beret." A story about a little girl who is an artist, this one was inspired by his neice. When Bridget accidently loses her beloved beret, she gets a serious case of artist's block. You can see the adorable sketches for the first half of the book here. His website is also worth a look. Full of information on his process.
By Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Paul Schmid
$17.99, 9-12, 80 pages
Funny, irreverent and hopelessly cute, Rosenthal's book is a gem from start to finish.
Matched with the whimsical line drawings of Schmid, her poems capture all the charm and naivety of being little, and, in tone, remind me of sketches in Maurice Sendak and Ruth Krauss 1952 classic "A Hole is to Dig."
Every poem in the collection is a delight to read aloud, but most you won't want to recite without sharing the pictures, as there are lots of little details that add to the fun.
Take this funny twist on Shakespeare's line, "A Rose by Any Other Name," a little poem about intestinal gas.
Beside the poem, a girl stands pigeon-toed with a look of dread on her face for what just happened, as a skunk looks on at her from the next page, smitten by her malodorous mistake.
It begins, "In Spain it's called a pedo / In Hungary you'd pass a fing / In Dutch you'd say en wind lateen / When your bottom sings," and ends, "No matter where you come from / Or what language that you speak / It's just really really funny / To hear a tushy squeak."
Throughout the book, there are clever little plays on words, and smart collaborations between verse and pictures.
On one two-page spread, a scientist in oversized glasses points to a Periodic Table of how to behave. Above him the title reads, "For Those Who Periodically Need Reminding About Table Manners,'" and to his right, a chart of atomic numbers list the manners 1-13, each with its own symbol, such as "Bu" for "Refrain from burping at the table."
Some poems play out in short comic strips and one even comes with a funny warning.
Leading into a poem about spoiled children, a two-page spread shows a path
Every morning I walk my dog Pinot on the trails around my town. I do a lot of thinking during these walks, and often write book reviews or stories in my head while Pinot eyes squirrels and sniffs things. This morning I was thinking about how things look different, depending on your point of view. So many of our problems exist because we refuse to consider the fact that there is another point of view. Here is a little video of a story that beautifully shows us that what might be a duck for one person is clearly a rabbit for another. The video is from the book Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. I loved this book and am delighted that Chronicle books made this video for those of us who don't have a copy of the book. My review of the book is below the video. Enjoy!
Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrations by Tom Litchtenheld
Ages 4 to 8
Chronicle Books, 2009, 978-08118-6865-5
Have you ever been looking up the clouds when you saw a cloud that looked like a cat? And did your best friend tell you that the cloud looked like a car and not a cat? If this scenario sounds familiar to you, then this is a title for you. On the pages of this book you are going to meet – in a manner of speaking – two people who look at the same object and who see two very different things. When one person looks at the illustration on the page, they see a duck, and when the other person looks at the same illustration, they see a rabbit. Hmmm. What an interesting situation.
With splendid humor and creativity May Krouse Rosenthal, who brought us Little Pea and Little Hoot, explores the idea that there are times when there is no right answer. Sometimes we just have to accept that someone else sees things in a different way, and that is perfectly all right.
With wonderful artwork and a memorable text, this is a picture book that readers of all ages will enjoy.
Hm, how do I describe this fabulous book to you all and serve it justice? I'm going to let author Amy KrouseRosenthal tell you because it's just plain cute and sums it up perfectly. This is on the front flap of the book:
Inside you will find stories, short poems, lists, palindromes, word games and random observations. Some parts are happy, some sad-ish, some silly, some serious, some crunchy, some soft in the center.
This book is full of stuff I've always wondered about...
- Did Miss Mary Mack have friends who liked other colors?
- Who hid something under the tooth fairy's pillow when she was a little girl.
- How do moms always know when you're about to sneak a cookie?
- Could everything important about the world be summarized in a poem that rhymes?
You can open the book anywhere and read. So the beginning could be the end, and the end could be the beginning. But I guess the middle is always the middle.
signed- Amy K. R
PS. Aren't Paul's drawings the best?!
Yes they are!! Paul Schmid's loose child like ink drawings are just screaming out to be colored. I can tell you if I had this book as a child I would be pulling out the colored pencils for sure. But as an adult I will just pour over the images over and over because they have so much life and movement in them. Sometimes I'm convinced they are actually moving- they are that animated.
I enjoyed this book so much that it's going as my sidebar pick for May as soon as I get off my "duff" and change it out. =o)
Oddica has released a new issue of their free, online magazine featuring the above illustration of Otto, along with new work by Malota,Ray Frenden, and an awesome cover by Erik Abel. If that wasn't enough, Oddica is also having a big Holiday sale allowing you to stockup on fresh t-shirts for yourself or loved ones.
The other day I came across an article about a woman named Amy Krouse Rosenthal who had the bright idea of leaving money for people to find and asking them to send a postcard to say how they'd spent it.
I’d like to say that I set out to do this for purely altruistic reasons. But, more accurately, I did it because I’m easily bored/easily amused, and experiments such as this inject a morsel of suspense into the week.
That, and I really like getting mail.
Genius, I thought. But could this be the same Amy Krouse Rosenthal who wrote Little Hoot and Little Pea and that Cookie book I keep meaning to look for? Maybe America is full of Amy Krouse Rosenthals - all of them doing interesting things. Yet somehow, I suspect there there is only one Amy Krouse Rosenthal and by clicking that link you can find out about her children's books, her books for adults - including Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and The Book of Eleven: An Itemized Collection of Brain Lint. You can read articles about parenting and find out about her radio show and her gift collection. You can even listen to her kids slurping cereal!
This time, we are treated to 23 more delectable cookie-centric definitions to inspire, enlighten and delight readers of all ages. Have you ever tried to explain such abstract terms as "Prosperity," "Charitable," or "Perseverance" to a child? Pretty tricky, huh? That's where these cookies come in. "Prosperity means, My goodness, just look at all those cookies!" "Charitable means setting a big batch aside to give to people who maybe don't have any cookies at all." And "Preseverance means, We tried and tried and tried, and finally we made the perfect not-burned batch."
"GRACIOUS means putting out a plate for our special guest."
With cookies, everything becomes clear. Especially when the definitions feature charming, curly haired, multiethnic kids and their gentle animal friends working together in the kitchen.
''FRUSTRATED means, I can't believe we burned them again!"
If ever there was a perfect pairing of author and illustrator, these cookie books are it. Jane Dyer's winsome watercolors perfectly capture the candy-striped, multicolor-frosted, sugar-sprinkled celebration that is Christmas without being cloying or overly cute. Kids will love how humans and animals, equally enthusiastic about cookies, inhabit the same world. Since these crunchy chunks of wisdom can be nibbled on one tasty morsel at a time, or gobbled up in one fell swoop, it is suitable for picky eaters as well as established gastronomes. No holding back here. Open the book to any page, cozy up to the table, and help yourself to pure yummy-ness.
"SHARING means, Thanks for giving me a taste. Would you like a bite of mine?"
I am a huge fan of both Rosenthal's and Dyer's work, and highly recommend both of these Cookie books. Created from what seems like the perfect recipe, these gems satisfy to the very last crumb.
**This book inspired me to write my own Bite-Size Writing Lessons here! Special thanks to R. Michelson Galleries for permission to post interior spreads from Christmas Cookies. All images included here are available for sale (watercolor on paper, 8.5" x 8.5"). Click here for more information on these and other illustrations from Jane Dyer's books.
Back in September, crcook posted a truly lovely and cooler than cool 7-minute video called, "The Beckoning of Lovely." It totally caught me by surprise, chased my evil, cynical tendencies out the window, and made my heart flutter with hope.
Making things. Creativity. Coming together. Sharing. Good vibes all around.
The woman in the video arrived on the scene with her yellow umbrella, and in a few hours, changed the lives of everyone there. Strangers worked together to "make an 18th lovely thing." I admired the young woman's ingenuity and spontaneous, free-spirited social experiment.
But did I know? Did I know then, who this woman really was? The video said her name was Amy, but there are lots of Amys in the world, right?
The universe, it turns out, is a small place. But hugely generous and serendipitous, if you choose to interact with it in good faith and with honest intentions.
Awhile later, I was searching for a picture book author to interview for this blog. I wanted someone whose work had tickled me, excited me, made me stop and take note for its singular brilliance. Interviews are hard work, and I won't invest precious time working with someone unless I really really love what they do.
Then I remembered Little Pea, Little Hoot, and Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons. Of course -- Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She's way cool, and I'd been seeing her name all over the internet -- always associated with something innovative and life affirming, albeit quirky.
And I simply cannot resist quirky.
So I googled her and discovered that Amy Krouse Rosenthal and the yellow umbrella woman in the video are one and the same! Duh. Well, of course! Friends, Amy is someone who embraces the universe whole heartedly, resulting in creative efforts that boggle the mind -- children's books, memoirs, book reviews, humor columns, public radio talk show host, gift books, parenting books, and, of course, videos.
Now, "The Beckoning of Lovely" is moving into its next phase -- a feature length film! Amy has extended an Invitation to the Universe. If you have made a lovely thing, she wants you to submit it. It doesn't matter what you do, where you live, or how old you are. If it's lovely, it qualifies. She's also looking for a creative team consisting of 14 Key Positions, to help her implement the project.
No, this isn't a paying gig, not yet. But it's a chance to be part of something awesome, something larger than yourself, something that has never been done before. Things are tough all over the planet. This seems to be an earnest effort to celebrate the myriad talents of our fellow human beings -- a project of inclusion, a "making" of something positive. We need that, right?
Read more about the film on Amy's blog, whoisamy. Deadline for submissions is January 20, 2009, and the deadline to apply for the 14 Key Positions is January 16, 2009.
Submission categories include: Music of all kinds / Bands/ Singer-Songwriters / Videos / Short films / Animation / Paintings / Drawings / Art / Illustration / True stories / Made-up stories / Poems/ Lists / Monologues / Plays / Dance / Inventions / Crafts / Photographs / Cell phone snapshots / Architecture / Design / Culinary creations / Journal pages / Collage / Sand castles / Everything
If you don't already know Amy Krouse Rosenthal, let me introduce her to you. She's the author of surprising, unexpected books (Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, for example, which comes equipped with its own theme song and two-minute short, as well as the children's classics-as-soon-as-they-were-released Little Pea, Cookies, The OK Book). She's a New York Times Book Review critic, the host of a Chicago Public Radio show called "Writers' Block Party," a greeting card creator, and the inventor, always, of radically delightful ways of seeing.
A while ago Amy produced a short film called "17 things i made," which was followed by an experiment—a call to viewers to meet her in Millennium Park on 8/8/08. Something special would happen, she promised. Those who came simply had to trust.
What happened that night was crystallized in a short film titled "The Beckoning of Lovely," which did a funny little thing to my heart when I first saw it. I'm not going to try to explain it. I'm simply going to say that, in a very difficult time, Amy asked the world to make lovely things—any lovely thing—and to send those things to her so that they might be considered for inclusion in a feature film. Amy gathered around her some of the best in every business and waited to see what might happen.
Today I'm joining Amy's Next Phase Team as, in her words, a Supremely Excellent Judge (International Panel). I've judged many things in my life—chaired the National Book Awards panel for Young People's Literature, chaired the PEN First Nonfiction Prize jury, sifted applications for the National Endowment for the Arts, took on a Family Circle poetry competition, judged the feature stories of the nation's university magazines, selected the winner of a University of Pennsylvania student essay contest. But I've never been involved in a project like this—never been asked to go to the very heart of lovely—and I find the challenge exhilarating.
Recently I read and reviewed two books by Amy Couse Rosenthal. One was Little Oink, and one was Duck! Rabbit! I liked both books very much indeed, particularly the latter, which is deliciously funny and quite unique. I decided there and then that Amy must be an unusal person, and I asked her publisher if I could interview her for this blog. Here is what she had to say about her work:
1. You are an incredibly busy person doing radio shows, writing books for adults, and so much more. How did you get involved in writing books for children? I was always writing them, have always loved children's books. It just took me longer to break into this field. My first grown-up book was published in 1998. My first children's bookwas published 7 years later. Still have a sizable bump on my head from all the brick walls I kept running into on my path to get into the children's book arena.
2. Where do you get the ideas for your very unique books? Why, the Idea Store of course! :) OK, two serious answers to that question. a) I don't really know where I get the ideas to be honest. b) I have started to realize that maybe it's like this: I simply am a collector of ideas. And when you collect something-- whether it's baseball cards or antiques or coins or ideas-- you are always on the lookout for them; you train yourself to always sort of be on high alert for them. And that's how it is with me. Because I love and collect ideas, I'm always keeping an eye out for them.
3. Have your experiences with your own children greatly influenced your children’s book writing? To some degree, sure. Hard to say where the line is drawn. I mean, would I have written these same exact children's books if I didn't have kids, or if I had different kids? Probably. But who knows! I will say that my kids, all three of them, have helped me with my manuscripts, improving, suggesting, adding, tweaking. They all have really good observations and insights. I've credited each of them in different books...and more of that to come.
4. Which of your books is your favorite? Yes, that one. :)
5. Do you have a regular writing schedule, or do you just write when the muse hits you? I would accomplish nothing if I waited for the muse to arrive. She is one elusive little creature! I have a regular writing schedule; I write in the afternoons. And then additionally I do a lot of critical thinking when I'm driving, showering, practicing yoga, falling asleep at night, you know, in the quiet in-between spaces of life.
6. Do you think that you are going to write another “Little” book to join “Little Pea,” “Little Hoot,” and “Little Oink?” Nope.
7. What kinds of books did you like to read when you were a child? Fortunately, by Remy Charlip. Put Me In the Zoo Madeline and lots of nonfiction... I loved reading biographies when I was a kid, the junior editions sort. couldn't get enough of those. still the same way.
You might enjoy visiting Amy's website and her blogand do please try to get a hold of a copy of Duck! Rabbit! You will love it.