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"Rejoice and be merry, in songs and in mirth!", begins the old carol. It is the season for merry making, including dancing. Here for the Fourth day of Advent is part of a vignette of the Bears of Woodland Nutcracker dancing a Round Reel of Eight.
Free kindle ebook on amazon.com! Check out the first in the series of the three books in the Growly trilogy by Philip Ulrich. There is a preview sample below. The actual kindle ebook is free today (15th November 2016) in the Kindle store on Amazon.com
Imagine a world where kindness is the order of the day. Where cynicism is put to one side and a simple innocence is instead allowed to blossom into imaginative storytelling. This is the world of Celestine and the Hare, a place full of gentle adventure, generosity and respect for each other and the world around us.
Three uplifting tales of a band of furry friends form the first books from felt artist and début author Karin Celestine. In Small Finds a Home an act of selflessness is the starting point for a lasting friendship. In Paper Boat for Panda, a friend goes the extra mile to make a dream come true, and in Honey for Tea, the friends find an creative way to show their gratitude for something they love.
A spread from ‘Honey for Tea’
A spread from ‘Paper Boat for Panda’
The delicate, finespun storytelling avoids cloying sentiment (helped by a hint or two of mischief occasionally alluded to). The felted friends exude an enormous amount of charm and – if I can coin a word- cuddlability. Echoes of Bagpuss mingle with reminders off the small world play beloved by many children; the use of favourite toys (whether playmobil, lego or plastic animals) and found objects to set up scenes and scenarios is where many children first and most freely experience themselves as storytellers, and Karin Celestine’s wonderful, life-affirming books encourage us all to keep in touch with and to nurture the playfulness, exploration and hope of childhood. These are books that make the world a better place.
The second part of each Celestine and the Hare book features well-explained and amusingly illustrated instructions for a least one craft project related to the story at hand. These invitations to take the story out of the pages of the book and into the living-breathing lives of readers and listeners naturally appealed enormously to all at Playing by the Book Towers. Thus a happy and relaxed day was spent making, sailing and flying boats and bees – a delightful day, the sort I wish all children (and their grown ups) could share.
A spread from the craft activity pages in ‘Paper Boat for Panda’.
Inspired by Paper Boat for Panda we made a flotilla of paper boats and sailed them down a nearby stream.
On some of our boats we wrote poems for the fish and ducks to enjoy!
We didn’t manage to keep our socks dry, but felt all the more like intrepid explorers for that!
As well as setting our boats on the high seas, we made bees out of alder cones and ash keys, inspired by the craft project in Honey for Tea.
A spread from the craft activity pages of ‘Honey for Tea’
My kids are always happy to have an excuse to climb trees, especially if it’s a means to spreading a bit of joy; the sight of these bees amongst the first blossom of spring certainly made us smile.
Whilst we folder our paper boats and made our bees in preparation for launching them all out into the wide world we listened to:
Other activities which might work well alongside reading these heart-warming stories include:
Capturing your kids’ stories which they tell with their toys – use your camera or phone to take photos, print them off and write the text together. You could even try creating comics together with your kids’ favourite toys, using this helpful how-to guide from Neill Cameron
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear Written by Lindsay Mattick Illustrated by Sophie Blackall Little, Brown and Company 10/20/2015 978-0-316-32490-8 32 pages Ages 4—8 . . “Before Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear named Winnie. In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian on his way to tend horses in World …
Yesterday, was National Hug Day (and Squirrel Appreciation Day, so I hope you hugged a squirrel). Yesterday was also The Big Book of Hugs release day, which could not have been a better choice. I am pleased to bring you a bear occupation I had known little about. Okay, I knew nothing about it, but …
Kohara, Kazuno. 2014. The Midnight Library. New York: Roaring Brook.
By the time this month is over, I will have visited thirteen kindergarten and four preschool classrooms to promote Library Card Sign-Up Month.
It doesn't matter what other books I have in my bag. When kids see The Midnight Library, it's the one they want to hear! Apart from Kazuno Kohara's eye-catching linocut illustrations in three colors, here's why I like it:
It features a library that's open all night long. I wouldn't want to work there, but it makes for a really good story!
It highlights the fact that libraries are adaptable. The squirrel band needs to practice some new songs for an upcoming concert? No problem! The library has an activity room they can use.
It features one of a librarian's favorite activities - reading stories. Wolf is crying because her book is sad? No worries! The librarian reads it with her. It has a happy ending!
It's absolutely perfect for Library Card Sign-Up Month! Tortoise can't finish that 500-page book before the library closes at sunrise? A library card is what he needs!
Becker, Bonny. 2014. A Library Book for Bear. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
I've loved the Bear and Mouse series ever since it came out, and while this one is not my favorite (I still love A Visitor for Bear best!), it's a good addition to your collection of library-themed books. You really can't go wrong with Bear and Mouse.
I've stretched out the summer to the last warm beach day but alas...its Fall. I do actually enjoy the season and had a chance to indulge my love for this time of year in New England a few years ago while illustrating Oliver Finds his Way by Phyllis Root. The board book is still available at your favorite independent bookstore. Visit my site, http://www.christopherdenise.com, for quick links to purchase past titles.
In January I had the opportunity to work on a rather unusual project. This new editions of Goldielocks and the Tree Bears, published by Editions Fleurus, has a simple but lovely paper engineering. Each page is made by two rotating disks so the scene inside changes. I'm very pleased with the print quality and how well the book was put together. One of my favourite projects this year!
I have to admit that there have been one or two occasions in my lifetime when I’ve lost a library book.
I’ve never had a reasonable excuse (the overflowing levels of books in my home may be what has swallowed them up, but I cannot use this an acceptable defence). I’ve certainly never been able to claim that any loss was on account of a wild bear hungry for words.
To make good the loss of a missing manuscript, Brother Hugo is ordered by his Abbot to prepare a fresh copy. Having borrowed the neighbouring monastery’s version of the lost text, we follow Hugo as he carefully recreates the book that has disappeared.
All goes well until his journey to return the loaned copy, when he is stalked by a hungry bear…
A historical note at the end of the book quotes from an extant letter written by Peter the Venerable (c. 1092 – 1156, a real-life abbot who published the first Latin edition of the Koran amongst other things):
“And send to us, if it pleases you, the great volume of letters by the holy father Augustine, which contains his letters to Saint Jerome, and Saint Jerome’s to him. For it happens that the greater part of our volume was eaten by a bear.“
Beebe has used this historical fact to build a captivating and funny story. We learn a lot about how books were at one time made including where parchment comes from and how some inks were made. But this is no dry non-fiction text.
Historical figures and settings come to life in ways which make them real and relevant; “The dog ate my homework” is an excuse I’ve yet to hear in real life – a bit like seeing someone slip on an actual banana skin – but it’s an excuse we are all familiar with, and which resonates clearly with poor Hugo and his encounter with the bear. Beebe’s text is perfectly peppered with slightly archaic language, giving a lovely flavour seasoned just right for using this book with slightly older children.
Schindler’s illustration are a delight, drawing heavily on many styles and motifs used in mediaeval manuscripts. Illuminated letters start each paragraph and the finely executed, detailed ink and water colour illustrations contain much humour. As befits a book about hand-created manuscripts, Schindler’s illustrations are completely executed by hand (you can learn more on Schindler’s blog), without computer manipulation, a relatively rare thing these days in picture books.
Text and illustration are both splendid but what truly completes this book is the inclusion not only of a historical note and glossary but also a commentary from both author and illustrator on the inspiration and process of their work. This adds real depth to an already interesting and beautiful book.
Inspired by Brother Hugo we wanted to make our own illuminated manuscripts. Using some colouring-in pages printed from the web as our inspiration we drew outlines for illuminated letters using pencils before going over them with ink.
The inked letters were then filled in with watercolour and a little bit of gold guache before being leather bound.
Completely at their own instigation the girls used a Latin dictionary to find words they liked to write in their manuscripts.
Whilst making our manuscripts we listened to various 12th century music such as this, this and this.
Watching the super, award winning, family-friendly feature length animation The Secret of Kells, which as you might guess from its title is about creating an illuminated manuscript.
This year sees the 10th anniversary of another of my favourite books about books: Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be reviewing a few new book-themed book discoveries – but do let me know your favourite picture books which celebrate books and the joy of reading.
Title: I Know a Bear Written and illustrated by: Mariana Ruiz Johnson Published by: Schwarz & Wade Books, 2014 (originally published in France as J’ai un Ours by Editions Gallimard Jeunesse, Paris, 2011) Themes/Topics: zoo animals, bears, listening Suitable for ages: 3-7 Opening: I know a bear … Continue reading →
At the start of World War I, a young lieutenant named Harry Colebourn, who also happened to be a veterinarian, is on his way with his regiment to a military training camp in Quebec, when he sees a baby bear on a station platform. He discovers that the baby bear is for sale, for only $20.00, and Harry decides he has to have it.
The little cub, whose mother had been inadvertently shot, is named after the regiment's hometown of Winnipeg, but immediately shortened to Winnie. Winnie quickly becomes Harry's constant companion and his company's mascot. Walker depicts Harry and Winnie playing their own version of hide and seek, Winnie sleeping directly under Harry's cot, and exchanging big bear hugs.
Even when the war worsens and Harry's regiment is sent overseas, Winnie goes, too. And proves to be a good sailor all the way across the ocean, while Harry lies in bed seasick. But when it is time to go to the battle front in France, Harry realizes he can't bring Winnie along, after all, she could get seriously hurt on the battlefield. So Harry makes a tough decision - to place Winnie in the London Zoo for safekeeping.
Winnie and Harry playing
Winnie proves to be such a gentle bear, that children are allowed to play with her and ride on her back. The war lasts four years, and at the end of it, Harry has another tough decision to make - to take Winnie home with him or let her stay at the zoo, where she has so many friends. He decides to let her stay at the zoo. Winnie has one very frequent visitor named Christopher Robin, loves Winnie so much that he renames his teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh, after which his father begins to make up bedtime stories about the adventures of Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh that eventually grow into a book.
The real events surrounding the relationship of Harry and Winnie are remarkable enough, but Sally Walker has told it in language the is simply and straightforward for even the youngest of readers to understand. Jonathan Voss's soft watercolor and pen and ink illustrations done in a palette of browns and greens reminiscent of nature and the military compliment and provide a visual extension of the story.
Walker includes an Author's Note about Harry and Winnie, as well are sources and websites for further exploration. Be sure to look at the photo's of the real Harry and Winnie on the endpapers.
This is a story the will delight young readers some of whom are already fans of the Winnie-the-Pooh books and perhaps make a few new ones.
This book is recommended for readers age 5+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL
It's that time of year again -- hopefully-- and the turn of seasons is finally under way. From all of us fine and furry critters here at Harts Pass comics, bring on the snow (and nighty night to the Ursus americanus and others of their ilk)!
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It's bedtime but young Cole still wants a story, a true story before going to sleep. And so Cole's mother begins to tell him a story about Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian from Winnipeg who lived long before Cole was born. When war begins far from Canada, Harry's veterinary services are needed to care for the army's war horses and so he joins the army.
When Harry's troop train makes a stop in White River, Canada, he sees a man with a baby bear and next thing he knows, Harry has bought the bear for $20.00 and names it Winnipeg - nickname Winnie. Winnie is quite a hit among all the soldiers and proves herself to be a gentle, but rambunctious bear cub. Eventually, Winnie travels with Harry all the way to England, where Harry and his fellow soldiers will train for war.
When Harry gets his orders and is about to be sent to the front lines in France, he realizes that a battlefield would be too dangerous for Winnie and decides to leave him at the London Zoo for the duration of the war. It is, indeed, a sad parting between man and bear.
However, Winnie adjusts to life in the zoo and ever the gentle bear, he is popular with the kids who visit, and in particular, one boy named Christopher Robin Milne, who frequently comes to see Winnie with his father. Christopher even names his teddy bear after Winnie, calling it Winnie- the-Pooh, and out of his love for the real bear comes the books by his dad about Winnie-the-Pooh's adventures with a young boy named Christopher Robin.
As for young Cole, well, he was named after his great-great grandfather - Harry Colebourn.
Finding Winnie is a nice all-in-the-family true story since Linsay Mattick is actually the great-granddaughter of Harry Colebourn. Son Cole's request for a bedtime story, one he has clearly asked for and heard many times before, cleverly frames the real story about how the tales about Winnie-the-Pooh evolved and it is nicely connected to the present for young readers by Cole's relationship to Harry. Mattick has even included a family tree so kids can trace the family's relationship.
In addition, Mattick has included photos and artifacts from the time that Harry and Winnie spent together, as well as a photo of herself and Cole at the back of the book.
Sophie Blackall's beautifully rendered watercolor and ink illustrations are bright, detailed and gently soothing, makinf for an excellent merger of story and picture that is sure to please even the youngest Winnie-the-Pooh fan. She really has captured the affection between Harry and Winnie and Blackall's illustrations will elicit more than a few "ahhhs" for readers. In fact, she has even made the illustration of the soldiers marching in the rain look not as dreadful as it probably was.
And I really liked that the story is always focused on Winnie and never strays into Harry's time on the western front, so there are no combat illustrations, even though this is technically a WWI story.
Finding Winnie is a lovely addition to any library, a terrific read-aloud (at bedtime, perhaps?), and the perfect introduction to the Winnie-the-Pooh stories for young readers.
And, yes, I know that Finding Winnie is the second book to come out this year about the true story of Winnie-the-Pooh. Both are equally delightful, each one tells the story equally well, and the illustrations in each are every bit as good as the other. What to do? Read them both. That what I did and even though they tell the same story, they are wonderfully different and I enjoyed both for different reasons.
This book is recommended for readers age 4+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL
Here are two fiction picture books that feature days gone by. Both books should tickle your fancy and make fun read-alouds for school-aged children, K-2.
Kulling, Monica. 2014. The Tweedles Go Electric. Ontario, Canada: Groundwood. Ill. by Marie Lafrance.
The year is 1903, and the Tweedles are "a bunch of fuddy-duddies," according to their neighbors. Even when they finally decide to purchase a car, neighbors still tease them,
"People don't want that. They want noise. They want smoke." ... "They want a car to sound and smell like a car."
But rather than the latest in gas-powered autos, the Tweedles purchase a smart, green, electric car.
With a wink and a nod to the future of "green" transportation and women's empowerment, it is the youngest of the Tweedles, Frances, and the "green" car that save the day when an emergency arises. Marie Lafrance's illustrations accurately evoke the era and are reminiscent of the style of Hergés Tin Tin.
With an illuminated capital I and leafy, gold flourishes, Brother Hugo and the Bear begins firmly planted in the monastical world of the Middle Ages,
It befell that on the first day of Lent, Brother Hugo could not return his library book.
As the reader soon discovers, a bear has eaten the monastery's beautifully illuminated copy of St. Augustine's letters. It becomes Brother Hugo's job to painstakingly recreate the massive, illustrated tome —a job that "would have been full easy to endure if it had not been for the snuffling." The source of the snuffling, we soon discover, is the bear, who has not yet had his fill of letters. Written and illustrated with great reverence for the early art of book-making, Brother Hugo is humorous as well. Both the monk and the bear are earnest and joyful.
Based loosely upon a true story, Brother Hugo, in combination with its included Historical Note, Glossary, Author's Note, and Illustrator's Note is illuminating for both children and adults.
Title: Wild About Bears By Jeannie Brett Published by Charlesbridge, March 2014 Ages: 6-9 Themes: Bears Nonfiction Opening Lines: Eight bear species live on earth today: the polar bear, brown bear, North American black bear, spectacled bear, Asiatic black bear, sloth … Continue reading →
The sentimentalization of bears began with “Teddy’s Bear,” that cute and cuddly version of the powerful predator that was first manufactured following President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot a malnourished and frightened she-bear who had been tied to a tree for him to “hunt” at his leisure. It’s a fascinating story, one that I […]
By Michael Foreman
Andersen Press U. S. A. 3/01/2014
Age 4 to 8 32 pages .
“Little Bear doesn’t want to go to sleep, so he tries everything he can think of to distract his father, and in the end it’s an exhausted dad who falls asleep!”
“Dad finished the bedtime story and gently closed the book.”
Dad Bear tucks his son into bed, reads him a story, and tells his son he loves him. Little Bear has no intentions of going to sleep and so he starts up a back-and-forth he and his dad have done many times: “I love you, I love you more.” It starts out simply and Dad just wants his son to go to sleep.
“I love you three,” said Little Bear, laughing.
“I love you four. Now go to sleep.” said Dad.
“I love you five,” said little Bear.
“I love you even more than that. Now it’s time to sleep,” said Dad.
No, Dad, it is not quite time for bed. Little Bear continues, bringing in his toys, which he loves his dad more than. Dad replies with a simple I love you more, but it will not suffice his son. The boy loves his father more than leaves and birds, all the snowflakes of winter, flowers of summer, colors of the rainbow, and the stars in the sky. To each of his son’s “I love you more than,” Dad replies, “I love you more,” or some variation of this reply. Finally, Dad says,
“You’re only saying that because you don’t want me to go down stairs.”
“No, Dad. It’s because I love you.”
“I love you, too,” said Dad.
“I love you three . . . “
I Love You, Too is a sweet story between a father and son. Picture books need a few more stories involving Dad, who does not get the representation Mom gets in picture books. Poor Dad is usually off to work and, if he is in the book, it is breakfast time and Dad is leaving for work. “Bye kids,” said Dad.
Little Bear uses his imagination to tell his dad all the ways in which he loves him more than. When Little Bear tells dad he loves him more than all his toys, which are in a corner overflowing out of a toy box, the toys look dejected. The stuffed tiger looks downcast, the donkey appears to have shed a tear, and the others—cat, elephant, panda bear, and bunny,—all look unhappy. Little Bear takes dad up into a tree, into the snow, (where there is a snowbear), into a field of flowers, into the ocean, and onto a sandy beach (where dad is buried under the sand sans his head). In every adventure, Dad smiles and replies that he loves his son and it is time for sleep. Stubborn, but happy, Little Bear ignores his father’s admonitions.
The illustrations, all beautifully done in rich watercolors, welcome the two bears, alone for Little Bear’s love-you-more-than-these adventures. Little Bear’s imagination has these two anthropomorphic brown bears perfectly outfitted in each place Little Bear takes them. As Little Bear finds new ways to love his father more than, the two transport into Little Bear’s imagination to that place, be it a field of flowers, a rainy day with puddles to play in, or a starry sky to float through, Dad is as happy as Little Bear, wherever Little Bear’s imagination has taken them. I love how Foreman puts the circle of love in motion once more when Dad said, “I love you, too” and Little Bear takes off with his I love you three, but we never find out what those three things he loves dad more than. Dad has fallen asleep on Little Bear’s bed. Little Bear has gotten his wish. Dad is not going back downstairs. Little Bear picks up the picture book Dad had read him: I Love You, Too!
I Love You, Too makes a wonderful bedtime story, though you may find yourself trapped in the “I love you more” merry-go-round, not this is a bad place to be stuck. The story and the illustrations will evoke laughter, smiles, and many “I love you’s” which one can never hear enough. Children will love this story and will soon be using their own imaginations when deciding how much they love a parent more than. I Love You, Too will send many children off to dream land happy and content. If Da Bear is any indication, parents will quickly dose off to their own happy dreamland, maybe even before the last “I love you more than . . . “is said.
Worlds collide! Ongoing wildfire stories and wolverine research/recovery/protection efforts find common ground in this week's strip. Heartbreaking -- but uplifting in its thus far positive progress -- is the rescue effort involving Cinder, a 35lb female black bear who was badly burned in the Carleton Complex fire. She looks pretty good in the photo below, and clearly shows a little spunk in the strip.
In other news, the Fed has reversed its earlier track and decided that the wolverines and their demonstrable (but supposedly hypothetical) reliance on late season snowpack for denning and rearing of kits do not warrant endangered species protection. I'm with Cinder on this one. Uncertainty my butt!
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Title: Three Bears in a Boat Written and illustrated By: David Soman Published By: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014, Fiction Themes/Topics: boating, bears, adventure Suitable for ages: 3-7 Opening: Once there were three bears, Dash, Charlie and Theo, who lived by the … Continue reading →