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Viewing Blog: LITTLE KID LIT, Most Recent at Top
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(from NPR)
A winter favourite turns 50, but the spirirt of enchanted childhood discovery remains as alive in this book today as it did when Ezra Jack Keats first imagined it.

A story from NPR  ...

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2. Please Mrs. Butler

It's Poetry Friday in the Kidlitosphere. Book Aunt is hosting this week's round-up of poetry themed blogging.

I'm in with a link to one of my favourite children's authors reading one of my favourite kidlit poems.

As I was obsessively google-ing the Ahlbergs  (PeepoEach, Peach, Pear, PlumThe Baby's Catlalogue etc.) I turned up these fantastic recordings of Allan  reading a selection of his poems for the Children's Poetry Archive. His reading of Please Mrs Butler 0 Comments on Please Mrs. Butler as of 1/1/1900
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3. Fall Kid Lit Wish List

Check out Publishers Weekly Fall 2010 Children's Announcements. I feel like Christmas is coming early this year. Here is our top-ten fall reading wish list:

Little Black CrowLittle Black Crow
From extraordinary children's book illustrator / writer Chris Raschka (Charlie Parker Played Be Bop). A chance meeting between a boy and a crow inspires a rush of childhood questions

Caldecott medalist Chris Raschka,  himself the boy perhaps,has created a book in the sparest language against the simplest setting, to inspire in any young listener the wonder of wondering. (Publisher's description)

Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, August 2010

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4. On Hiatus

Little Kid Lit is going on hiatus for a couple of weeks. My family and I are moving house - with lots of cleaning, painting etc to do. Needless to say - reading still trumps moving. Even though I won't be writing about it, Oona and I will make sure to read together everyday.

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5. Poems Every Child Should Know

Its Poetry Friday in the kidlitosphere. This week the round-up is being hosted at my juicy little universe. Hop on over to to see whose blogging about poetry today. I'm sharing a poem from the anthology Poems Every Child Should Know edited by Mary E. Burt and first published in 1904. The poem is by Robert Browning, the introductory text was written by the editor.


"Spring's at the Morn," from "Pippa Passes," by Robert Browning (1812-89), has become a very popular stanza with little folks. "All's right with the world" is a cheerful motto for the nursery and schoolroom.
The year's at the spring,The day's at the morn;Morning's at seven;The hillside's dew pearled;
The lark's on the wing;The snail's on the thorn;God's in His heaven—All's right with the world!
Robert Browning.

Ms.Burt's believe in the necessity of teaching poetry to children is so passionately articulated in the preface to the book that I thought I'd include it here as wel

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6. The Great Dr.Seuss Read Aloud Competition

The Cat in the HatHarperCollins has launched The Great Dr.Seuss Read Aloud Competition. Readers of all ages are invited to upload a video of themselves reading one of five Dr.Seuss stories. Besides the opportunity to become a YouTube darling there are some fabulous prizes up for grabs, including a trip to Orlando for the first place winner. Videos will put to a public vote and the Dr.Seuss Grand Judging panel will pick the winners.

According to the competition website "extra points will be awarded for imagination, innovation and cat-participation". If your looking for some inspiration the kind folks at HarperCollins have included tips and downloadable props. Click here for more info.

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7. Sir Charlie Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World

Sir Charlie: Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World

See him? That little tramp twitching a postage stamp of a mustache, politely lifting his bowler hat, and leaning on a bamboo cane with the confidence of a gentleman? A slapstick comedian, he blazed forth as the brightest movie star in the Hollywood heavens.
Everyone knew Charlie—Charlie Chaplin.

Thanks to the late Sid Fleischman and his book Sir Charlie Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World a whole new generation will know Charlie as well.

I was thrilled to find this book. I love Charlie Chaplin. So much so that I named my daughter Oona after Charlie's beloved wife. At 19-months, it will be awhile before Oona and I can enjoy this book together (recommended reader age for this bio is 9 - 12 years) but what can a film programmer / mom do? Its a must have for our library.

Fleischman has rich material in Charlie's life; a classic rags to riches story Hollywood-style. Young Charles spent a Dickensian childhood in the slums of London (including a stint in the poor house). He started his career in Victorian music halls before making his way to America and the movies. Once in Hollywood Charlie gave birth to his Little Tramp character and together they charmed movie goers around the world. Sadly Charlie's off-screen life wasn't without troubles and during the McCarthy era Charlie was forced to leave America because of his left wing political leanings.

It is a testament to the respect Fleischman held for his young readers that he doesn't shy away from the more troublesome aspects of Chaplin's life while keeping the focus on the art. The author's obvious love for the subject matter is infectious and sure to engage young readers.

Besides the sheer brilliance of his work there is much to be celebrated in the life of Chaplin. He championed freedom of expression, equality amongst people and basic human decency. For all of these reasons, and many more, this biography is worth the read.

Here's Oona at 4 months old hanging out with Charlie

And here is an old rhyme we sometimes sing:
Charlie Chaplin went to France
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8. Good Sports: Rhymes about Running, Jumping, Throwing and More

Inspired by the sheer joy 19-month-old Oona derives from physical activity I recently picked up a copy of Good Sports: Rhymes about Running, Jumping, Throwing, and More. Written by former Children's Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky this collection of poems celebrates the highs, lows and in-betweens of participating in athletics. Most of the major sports are here (football, soccer, skating, gymnastics, baseball etc.) and everything that goes along with them (winning, losing, practicing and good old fashioned just goofing around).

Using simple language and a light tone befitting the audience and subject matter, Prelutsky captures the boundless enthusiasm of kids. More impressively he manages to encourage good sportsmanship without moralising or unrealistic expectations about the emotions of. After all, it really does feel awesome to win and it really is kind of a bummer to lose. But you'll find the full range of  in these rhymes: the thrill of winning, the drag of loosing, and the fun of doing something even if you're not very good. 

Illustrator's Chris Raschka's whimsical watercolors add an additional layer of fun and depth to the collection. Using exaggerated angles and skewed perspectives these abstract-y pictures evoke movement and speed from a kid's point of view.

With sports central to the lives of many children this is a great book for introducing poetry to those who snicker at the mere mention of the word "poem". Parents take note, sport-rhyme may be gateway poetry to harder verse.

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9. Introducing Oona's Picks

This is Oona my 19-month-old bundle of joy / bookworm. Oona and I are introducing a new feature to Little Kid Lit. Its called Oona's Picks and its a bi-weekly top-five list of whats currently in heavy rotation on our bookshelves.

I'm not sure if a toddler can compile a "bestseller" list but we're going to try. Here's how it works: Mommy (that's me) will attempt to track which books Oona picks and how many times she picks them within a two-week period. After careful observation and tabulation we'll publish the results. Please note: this is a 100% unscientific toddler experiment. Click here
to see Oona's first list.

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10. Oona's Picks

 Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales
1. Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales  Lucy Cousins at her very best, but be warned: fairy tales are never for the faint of heart.

Truck2. Truck. A nearly wordless wonder from the incomparable Donald Crews. Follow a truck as it carries very important cargo across the country.

The Carrot Seed 60th Anniversary Edition
11. C is For Canada Day, M is For Moose

Happy 143rd Birthday Canada! Oona and I will be celebrating today book-style by reviewing M Is For Moose: A Charles Pachter Alphabet.

In case you're wondering this isn't one of those place-specific alphabet books that are sold at tourist trap shops. Charles Pachter is one of Canada's preeminent visual artists. The full span of his work (from landscapes to contemporary pop-art type collages) is all here including new artwork and images from some of Pachter's most well-known pieces. My personal favourite is Joy Ride (Queen Elizabeth II riding a moose side-saddle) from the playful QUEEN AND MOOSE series.

Back to the alphabet bit. The usual suspects of Canadiana here: B is for Beaver, H is for Hockey, M is for Mountie etc., but Pachter ups the cool quotient by mixing in some less pedestrian references. W is for Writer  (Margaret Lawrence); P is for Poet (Margaret Atwood) and T is for Trudeau and his (bright red) tie.

If you are feeling very Canadian or especially ambitious the book includes a recipe for that most Canadian of delicacies, the butter tart. Mmmmmmm butter tarts.

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Today is the 110th birthday of Antoine de Saint-Exupery and Google is celebrating with a Google doodle featuring The Little Prince. For some reason it is not being included on Google.com but english-speaking Saint-Exupery fans can hop over to Google UK where the charming little doodle can be seen all day.

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13. Why not knit one?

When I was pregnant with Oona my partner and I had all sorts of plans to make handmade picture books for our budding bookworm. Alas, the best laid plans were soon put to rest once our sleepless wonder arrived. Time passed and the plans were forgotten. Until last week when the folks at Cool Mom Picks wrote about some very cool handmade wooden baby books (check out their post here). 

I can't work wood, but I can knit and long ago I ordered the yarn to make a little picture book I found in Kat Coyle's book of baby patterns,  Boho Baby Knits: Groovy Patterns for Cool Tots. This book is probably a bit young for Oona (19-months) but what the heck, I'm going to make it. If it works out (i.e. I actually finish a project) I'm going to design a knitted alphabet book that will serve Oona for the next few years.  For those of you who have the time or inclination you could design your very own knitted books using some simple math skills and graph paper for knitters.

Below: Kat Coyle's most excellent book as pictured in Boho Baby Knits (cute baby not included with pattern).

Bite this Book

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14. Puffin Handbook

To celebrate its 70th birthday Puffin has put together the "Puffin Handbook". Its a free booklet that includes articles about child literacy, essays by writers including Eric Carle, and a list of the 70 best children's books from Puffin's extensive catalogue. This handy-dandy reference list is divided into categories by age and has recommendations for babies through to teens. My favourite from their books for baby list: Janet and Allan Ahlberg's  Each Peach Pear Plum. You can download the Puffin Handbook here.

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15. More, Fewer, Less (learning to sort-of count)

Last week my 18-month-old's new word was two. I'm pretty sure she doesn't know what it means but it got me thinking that maybe it was time to introduce her to that mainstay of little kid lit: the counting book.

Off we we went to library to look for a suitable one for an 18-month-old. It was confusing. For one thing, what is a suitable counting book for a toddler? For another, there must be at least 1000 counting books at the library. Maybe I am exaggerating a wee bit, but no-one can deny that an awful lot of ink and paper has been put to use in an attempt to teach kids how to count.

As Oona was frantically pulling half the books in the library off the shelves I managed to find an at least close to age-appropriate book,  More, Fewer, Less by Tana Hoban. In case you are not familiar with Hoban, she was the author of numerous children's books in which she used her photographs to introduce basic concepts to kids. The popular Black on White and White on Black books are considered must haves amongst many parents of young babes..

Strictly speaking More, Fewer, Less is not a counting book it is a comparison book, but I think it works well for the "pre-counter''.  It is a collection of brightly coloured photographs grouping various types of every day items in smaller and larger amounts. The book itself is text-less, but the note on the inside of the jacket flap encourages readers to  make the comparisons suggested in the title: more, fewer and less. Its a really versatile book that lends itself equally well to making other comparisons - differences in colour, size and shape are just a few of the possibilities.

Its so much fun to watch Oona's little eyes scanning the photos while she points out details and differences. I don't expect she'll be learning her numbers anytime soon but she sure is happy to sit on my lap, look at the beautiful photographs and happily babble two-two-two.........

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16. Margaret Wise Brown collection ends book buying moratorium

I was trying to place a moratorium on the buying of books until my family and I move house at the end of the month. I absolutely hate moving and the less things to take the better. Don't ask me why I decided to pop into our local children's book shop today - I think I actually believed I could just take a peek and leave without a new book in hand.

Alas, there will be one more book making the move with us. But what a book! Friendly Tales (Little Golden Book Treasury). Twenty stories and poems by my beloved Margaret Wise Brown including Sailor Dog (who doesn't love a sailor dog?), The Colour Kittens, and Home For a Bunny. Best find in a long while. If you have small children buy this book, your family will enjoy exploring the stories of the incomparable MWB for years to come.

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17. Richard Scarry's Biggest Word Book Ever - Big, Busy and Full of Words

written and illustrated by Richard Scarry
publisher Random House Books for Young Readers

Wow, this really is the biggest word book ever. Every inch of its two-foot tall pages is covered with
scenes from life in Busytown , each object labelled with words or a short sentence.

For those of you (if there are any) who aren't familiar with Busytown -  its a very busy place populated by an assortment of eccentric characters. The citizenry is made up exclusively of anthropomorphic animals: butcher pigs, sailor cats, policeman dogs, handyman foxes, mice that drive pencil cars and one Lowly Worm.

The sheer number of things to look at keeps my 18-month-old happily occupied for 1/2 an hour at a time (that's at least 5 hours in toddler time). Meanwhile, my husband and I are endlessly entertained by Scarry's slap-stick style humour (kind of like a print version of a sketch comedy).

This book is big, busy and brilliant.

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18. One For Father's Day

written by Margaret Wise Brown
pictures by Stephen Savage

Forgive me if I gush, but I just really love the books of Margaret Wise Brown. When Simon and Schuster recently released the previously unpublished The Fathers Are Coming Home, I felt like a Beatles fanatic finding a lost recording. I pre-ordered the book months before my husband's birthday and counted down the days.

Originally written as a welcome home to the fathers returning from World War II the book shows various types of animal fathers returning to their children at the end of the day. Typical of Wise Brown (who was never typical) the animals featured in the book aren't limited to the cute and cuddly (though they are there too).This book celebrates animal dads of all kinds, even the Bug whose family lives under a log and the kind-of creepy looking Daddy Long Legs who, I am sure, loves his children too.

The book is illustrated by Stephen Savage whose retro-looking linocut illustrations are perfectly suited to Wise Brown's trademark sparse and quirky prose. I don't think they could have found a more suitable artist for this one. Check out Stephen Savage discussing his work on the book here.

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19. And we grew up okay....

Check out Jacob Lambert's darkly comic musings about the picture books he loved as a child,


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20. Guggenheim Children's Book Reissued

Guggenheim Children's Book Reissued
Goo-Goo Goo-gen-heim! First published in 1970, the Guggenheim Museum had reissued the long out of print children's book, I'd Like the Goo-gen-heim. Small kids might not be able to say Kandinsky but that won't stop them from loving the pictures. Can't make it to the Guggenheim Gift Shop? No problem, buy a copy from their online store.

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21. International Children's Digital Library

A few months ago I was scouring the Internet looking for websites about kid's books from around the world. As a film programmer much of my exposure to other cultures comes from the foreign films I watch. Since my daughter is too young to watch films (btw there are a lot of really great foreign kids films out there) I had the idea that the she could get similar exposure to the wider world by reading (or looking at) foreign kid's books.

My Internet search resulted in a fantastic find, The International Children's Digital Library, a free on-line library of the best of children's literature from around the world.

According to the ICDL website, their goal is
"...... to build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world. Ultimately, the Foundation aspires to have every culture and language represented so that every child can know and appreciate the riches of children's literature from the world community."

To view the books in the collection simply go to ICDL website and select a book. You can flip through the pages as they appear on your computer screen. The site also features tips on using the library as a teaching tool; virtual exhibitions that feature books from around the world with similar themes; and it allows you to create a personal library account where you can keep track of your favourites.

With over 4447 books in 54 languages, the ICDL provides a unique opportunity to expose children to art and literature from cultures other than their own. And the advantage of picture books is that even if you can't understand the language you can still appreciate the illustrations.

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22. The Little Blue Truck

by Alice Schertle
illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (2008)

A friendly blue truck drives down a country lane happily greeting his animal friends along the way. As the rain clouds roll in, a self-important dump truck comes speeding along with nary a nod for anyone, let alone a kind hello. When Dump's carelessness gets him stuck in the muck none of the animals are interested in helping him out. Along comes Little Blue to take on the improbable task of freeing the enormous Dump. Instead poor Little Blue gets himself stuck right along with Dump. All the animals come rushing to answer Little Blues beep beep beep for help, and together they teach Dump an important lesson about friendship and being a good neighbour.

McElmurry's folksy illustrations are what sets this book apart. I grabbed it off the book shelf and bought it before reading a single line. An odd thing for me to do since I'm usually more interested in prose (yes, even in children's books). But this book is all about the rustic charm of the pictures, with rich colours and homespun details reminiscent of decorative folk art.

Luckily, the writing is nearly as charming as the illustrations. The light hearted cadence keeps what could have been an overly preachy tale well-grounded; while a cacophony of beeps, quacks, moos and maas provide plenty of opportunity for a lively and interactive reading. Its inviting rhythms make it a pleasure to read out loud and easy for small to children to follow along

All in all, a most delightful find.

23. Why this blog?

Welcome to my first blog post otherwise called 'why this blog?'.

Since becoming a stay-at-home mom to a cheeky toddler I've developed a bit of an obsession with picture books. I've seen a lot of them - the good, the bad and the ugly. Make no mistake about it - all picture books are not created equally. I'm not into books that are just another marketing tool for some movie or tv show and I'm not into books that are written to mindlessly entertain.  I'm into books that treat little kids like the intelligent (though slightly unrefined) people they are. This blog is dedicated to those books.

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