what we're reading this week: library books

October 12, 2009

Good morning! Here are the books we checked out from the library this week.
Beautiful Poetry for your Pre-Schooler
1. Water Voices by Toby Speed, Illustrated by Julie Downing

This is a gorgeous book--both in the text and the illustrations. Let's talk about the writing first--Toby Speed is a poet, and this book definitely reads as poetry. But don't let that keep you from checking it out. (I know some people are scared of poetry, but I find it to be very accessible to children.) It's very readable and Juliet had no trouble focusing and understanding the words. He writes very descriptively and uses the best words in the best way. Here's an excerpt:

When the slide's so hot it burns your legs
and dogs pant
and Popsicles drip,
when carrots nap in the garden
and kittens in the shade
and fans do a slow dance on tabletops,
I whirl like a string of pearls in the yard.

Who am I?

The answer to this riddle appears on the next page: "I am Sprinklerspray--Want to play?"

There are seven different riddles about various forms of water that all children love. The illustrations are watercolor (how fitting) and are as gorgeous as the poetry.

Will Make Your Kid Laugh Out Loud
2. The Adventures of Louey and Frank by Carolyn White, Illustrated by Laura Dronzek

We love Laura Dronzek's illustrations, so I was happy to pick this one up. The story was SO good! Louey and Frank decide to make a boat and float out to see. They find a big rock in the middle of the ocean, but it turns out to be a whale. The two argue about if it is a rock or a whale and all the while, you don't really know until you see its blowhole and then its angry eye after they build a campfire on top of his back. (This is the part where Juliet pointed and burst into laughter.) Later, they find another questionable item--is it a log or a fish? The big eye that peeks out lets the reader figure it out and again resulted in shrieks of laughter from Juliet. Definitely a fun adventure story.

If your child is sensitive, there might be some "scary" parts in it. For example, Louey and Frank's boat floats away while they are on top of the rock/whale and then sharks come and tear it apart as they watch. Later, they fall into the sea during a storm and they cry out, "Save me!" to each other. Of course, they do save each other and it all ends well, but it could be a little intense for a younger child. I tend to offset moments like these with silly, overly dramatic voices for the characters. Like when they are "drowning" in the ocean, I read their words in a very melodramatic tone which made Juliet laugh at me and then at the characters. Also, when the sharks come, I pointed and laughed at the "silly sharks" eating the boat. I ask Juliet questions like, "Who eats boats? That can't taste good."

Other books illustrated by Dronzek that we love are: Oh! by Kevin Henkes, White is For Blueberry by George Shannon, and Birds by Kevin Henkes.

A Daddy Book! (Also a Yard Sale Book!)
3. I Love You Mister Bear by Sylvie Wickstrom

I am always on the lookout for daddy books (books that feature dads and their children) because Juliet and Ben always read together in the evenings. I think it is nice for them to bond over books like that. This is a really cute one about a little girl who goes to a yard sale with her dad. She finds a bear, but her dad says she can't get it because it has a hole in it. They leave the sale, go to the park, but the entire time, the little girl keeps talking about it. Daddy gets the hint and takes her back. They buy the bear, take it home, and fix him up. The little girl takes the bear to the "doctor" (She pretends to be the doctor and gives him a complete imaginary checkup.) Then mama sews him up (stitches, of course.) Later, they make him some clothes and he becomes "Mr. Bear". This is a great book for any child who has a special stuffed animal that she is attached to. I think Juliet could really relate to the girl's special love for her bear.

Perfect for Big Sisters
4. Betsy's Fixing Day by Gunilla Wolde
Continuing in the same vein as I Love You Mister Bear, this book is about a little girl who fixes a few of her broken toys: a doll whose hair has come unglued, a teddy bear with a tear in its leg, and a baby carriage with a missing wheel. As she is fixing her toys, baby brother accidently hits his finger with a hammer. Betsy helps with the first aid kit while Mommy comforts him. She puts the bandaid on his hurt finger and fixes him good as new. The last pages says, "Betsy is glad that broken things can usually be fixed. She and little brother can play with the doll, the teddy ear, and the carriage now. And underneath that bandage, little brother's finger is getting better, too." Juliet was very intrigued by Betsy's advanced fixing skills (she used scissors, a needle and thread, and a hammer!)

Fun to Read Aloud
5. The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood, Illustrated by Don Wood

We first heard this one at story time at the library a few months ago. It's a really fun one to read aloud to a group of kids, but also good for reading together at home. A little mouse finds a strawberry and the narrator keeps mentioning the big hungry bear that can smell strawberries from mile away. It turns out there is no bear and the narrator is just trying to get the mouse to share the berry. It's cute and fun and enjoyable for kids.

"A Joyful Celebration of Self-Awareness"
6. I'm as Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood, Illustrated by Don Wood

The illustrations are bright, bold and engaging. A series of similes such as "I'm as slow as a snail, I'm as small as an ant, I'm as happy as a lark, etc." fill the pages. In the end, the child says, "Put it all together, And you've got me!" This would be a great book to teach older children (maybe 1st or 2nd graders) how to write simple similes. Juliet and I just read the book (no simile lessons yet!) But I might try to see if I can come up with something that would bring it down to her level. I'll let you know if I do.

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