Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Rainbabies by Laura Krauss Melmed

The RainbabiesThe Rainbabies written by Laura Krauss Melmed and illustrated by Jim LaMarche tells the story of a couple who have a wonderful life together, but still wish they could have a baby.  One night the woman hears rain falling at night and insists they go outside in the rain since she has heard that a moonshower is good luck.  As the rain ends, they see twelve drops of water each containing a tiny baby.  The couple take the infants inside and begin to raise them.  Soon they experience several trying circumstances, such as a sudden storm while in a boat, a wildfire encircling the babies, and a weasel stealing one of the infants.  One dark, rainy night the family is visited by a youg man who asks to trade the babies for a valuable stone.  When the couple refuses, the man turns into a beautiful woman.  This Mother Moonshower insists that, even though the man and woman have been wonderful for the babies, it is time for her to take them back since they cannot grow without her.  As she is leaving she shows the couple that she has brought them an adorable infant of normal size to be their own child.  This daughter, Rayna, grows up and makes the couple truly happy.

Pros:  My girls loved this book because it provided plenty of room for imagination.  I was surprised when, hours after we read together, my oldest daughter mentioned this book,specifically reminding me that she really liked the story.

Cons:  While I didn’t have anything specific against this book I did not particularly enjoy reading this fanciful story.  It was just a bit much of a stretch for me.  My girls did not like the way the story ended.  They wanted the couple to be able to keep the Rainbabies!

Age Range: 3-9 years

3 of 5 stars

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The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell

Recently I received a suggestion to read The Three Little Javelinas, so we checked it out.  This hilarious retelling by Susan Lowell of “The Three Little Pigs” uses the southwestern wild pigs as the main characters and a coyote as their wolf-like counterpart.  Instead of straw, sticks, and bricks, these animals build homes of tumbleweeds, cactus sticks, and adobe materials.  My oldest daughter told me that she really liked that one of the javelinas was a girl.  I think my favorite part of this story was hearing my husband read it to our children using a Tex-Mex accent!  

Pros: A very funny book that can be used to introduce children to animals and plants of a desert setting.

Cons:  You will probably have a belly ache from laughing so hard after reading this book.

Age Range: 2-7

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Mother Goose illustrated by Tasha Tudor

Mother Goose illustrated by Tasha Tudor, a 1945 Caldecott Honor Book, sweetly retells 87 pages of well-loved nursery rhymes.  Several times I have read Mother Goose compilations with many unfamiliar poems, but I was pleasantly surprised that I knew most of the verses in this book and that my children were saying many of them along with me as I read to them.

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – Vibrant watercolors superimposed on beautiful, old-fashioned line drawings on every other page.  That this artist was also well-known for her work on Christmas cards, calendars, and Valentines is no surprise, judging by her charming and heart-warming art work in this book.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – These children-friendly pictures make each rhyme easily understood.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  These pictures do seem to fit well with the typical image seen of Mother Goose and her characters.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – As this is a compilation of individual verses no ongoing plot, theme, or setting is evident.  The mood is generally light-hearted, which fits these rhymes for children.  The visual information does help children to understand some of the less-used vocabulary as well as to remember the poems. 

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – Even though this book was longer than we usually read in one sitting, my children begged for me to keep reading while they enjoyed the pictures until we had completed the entire book.

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The Thanksgiving Story – 1955 Caldecott Honor Book

The Thanksgiving Story written by Alice Dalgliesh and illustrated by Helen Sewell is certainly one of the better children’s books with which I am familiar that recount the story of the Pilgrims’ and Indians’ first day of giving thanks together, along with the events leading up to that famous occasion.  Historical fiction, this 1955 Caldecott Honor book follows a family with four children through this time in history.  While I love that the emphasis is on giving thanks to God, I was disappointed with an incorrect definition of “Pilgrims” early in the book.  I believe the author could have applied her definition more correctly  to the term “Puritans” and called all of the travelers, regardless of their reason for pursuing a life in America, “Pilgrims.”

 

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – Every other page is illustrated with vibrantly colorful, simple depictions of the story.  The alternating pages are outlined with interesting, rust-colored block figures and drawings.

 2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – I appreciate that the illustrator chose to accurately picture the story, including the clothing and food.

 3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  These pictures are stylistically appropriate for the era of the story.

 4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – All of these characteristics are clear through the pictures except for mood.  From what I understand of Puritan culture, though, this lack of emotional display would have been typical.

 5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children enjoyed this book and asked lots of questions about the story.  I would recommend this book to remind families of the true reason for our nation’s Thanksgiving holiday.

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I Spy Colors in Art by Lucy Micklethwait

In reviewing a kindergarten reading list that I am following for my daughter I realized that we had not read any books on art.  Not feeling confident in my knowledge of art appreciation, I decided I should try out the books suggested in that subject area.  I Spy Colors in Art, devised and selected by Lucy Micklethwait, fabulously utilizes famous works of art from all eras in an “I Spy” game format to encourage children to become familiar with looking at art and noticing details within each picture.  While most of the items to be found are easily spotted even by my children with visual impairments, some pictures were more complex.  I really liked that there is only one item to look for on each page, allowing preschoolers to find the item and then move on rather than becoming bored from staring at the same page for too long a time.

Pros:  I Spy Colors in Art is an excellent preschool/early elementary book useful for introducing art appreciation, as well as for reinforcing color identification.e format to encourage children to become familiar with looking at art and noticing details within each picture.  While most of the items to be found are easily spotted even by my children with visual impairments, some pictures were more complex.  I really liked that there is only one item to look for on each page, allowing preschoolers to find the item and then move on rather than becoming bored from staring at the same page for too long a time.

Cons: None.

Age Range: 2-7

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What Should I Put on My Feet to Go Run by John McClung

Do you love to run?  Do you love shoes?  Are you, like me, a Southern girl who believes no one should wear shoes until December?  What Should I Put on My Feet to Go Run? written by John McClung and illustrated by Laura Hollingsworth tells the story of a bear cub who awakens beside his mother in their cave and immediately wants to go out to play.  When the little bear asks his mother about appropriate foot wear for the day he is told that he should go barefoot.  He asks his mother about a myriad of shoe variations, but is still his mother reminds him that he does not need shoes.  In the end they go outside together to play in their “barefoot bear feet.”  Whether you want to encourage your children to exercise or love an adorable story about cute bears, this is a great book for you.  Available for purchase this week on both Kindle  (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A45ATEI) and in paperback (https://www.createspace.com/3946420.)  Order a copy today and enjoy reading this new release to the children in your life!  Also, check out the author’s blog at http://bfinaz.blogspot.com/.

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