Archive for November, 2007

book review

Mommy Hugs by Karen Katz

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A counting book filled with hugs, this sweet book will be a fun read for mommy and child.  Mommy gives all kinds of hugs, from 2 yummy hugs at dinner time to 4 sliding hugs at the park to 10 good night hugs.  The bright pastel colors are perfect for the gentle sentiment of the book, and will keep the attention of the youngest readers.  The mommy and baby (and their dog!) have round faces and bodies perfect for their loving expressions.  Readers will count and hug their way through this one.

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book review

The Unexpectedly Bad Hair of Barcelona Smith by Keith Graves

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Barcelona Smith is having a bad hair day, indeed.  Before his bad hair day, Barcelona was a model child–in fact, he was a bit of bore.  He never stopped to smell the roses, or play on the playground, or pet an animal, because they could be dangerous, after all.  He never even smiled.  Then, comes a humid Wednesday, and “Barcelona’s hair ran amuck”.  In fact, his blue playdoh-like hair was such a mess that “every follicle fooped”.  Immediately, his hair takes over and forces Barcelona to go wild outside (without an umbrella), skating and jumping, and even forces Barcelona to ride a bike.  Of course, Barcelona finds that all this crazy activity is actually fun–and then, it begins to rain.  Kids will love the wacky humor that drives this story, and will love the cartoonish illustrations, done in muted acrylics (except for all that blue hair), even more.   Be sure to read this one out loud together, especially on a humid bad-hair day.

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book review

Cats and Kittens by Katherine Starke

Cats and Kittens (First Pets)

This non-fiction title is published by Usborne, a company that does a great job with kids non-fiction.  The reader will find out a great deal about cats and kittens, from how to choose a cat for a pet to cat language to all about a cat’s feeding and playing, all in terms and language that a young will be able to read and understand.  While this book is by no means exhaustive, all the information that a cat-loving child needs to know is here.  The book is illustrated with both cute kitty cartoons and photographs of adorable cats and kittens.  No feline loving child should miss this book.

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book review

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert

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This simple yet fun and refreshing story will interest even those who shiver at the slightest mention of snow.  As the flakes begin to fall on a “perfect snowball day”, the unseen narrator and friends make not just one snowman, but a whole snow family, all the way down to a snow cat and dog, the latter decorated with lots of buttons for spots.  The reader has to turn the book vertically to fully enjoy each member of the snow family, all of whom are dressed with “good stuff” the narrator has been saving in a sack.  Kids will enjoy the simple story, even when the sun comes out and the snow family meets its inevitable end, and can learn some basic information about snow from the factual information presented at the end of the story, as well.  But the illustrations are what make this book truly unique.  Readers of all ages will immediately be drawn into the story by the collage illustrations.  Kids will love to point out the realia–a scarf, popcorn, seeds, a jingle bell.  The two layouts at the end of the book, with the brightly colored realia used in the illustrations laid out on a white background, will be simply irresistable to young readers, who will love to point out that they themselves own similar objects.   Hopefully this book will inspire you and your family to collect a bag of “stuff” this winter and make your own snow families.  At least check out the popcorn balls recipe on the back flap!  And have fun with this book!

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Book some fun–alphabet letters

Let’s book some fun with the letters of the alphabet.

First, read the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr (Lane Library info here), and find out just how much fun the alphabet can be.   Don’t forget to skit skat skoodle doot!  And check out the audio version of the story (Lane Library info here)–Ray Charles reads the story, the authors discuss the writing of the book, and there’s a fun song by author John Archambault.

After you have read the book, get ready to make a boom boom letter bottle.  Start with a clean, empty water or other small bottle.  Help your child put alphabet pasta or cereal, letter beads, glitter, beans, uncooked rice, and other similar items inside the
bottle.  Use Elmer’s glue or a hot glue gun to securely attach the lid back on to the bottle.  Have your child use markers and stickers to decorate the outside of the bottle.  Permanent markers like Sharpie’s work the best.  For cheap alphabet stickers, check the discount section of a hobby or teacher supply store, or you can even make your own.  Purchase some blank file folder coding labels at an office supply store, and write letters on them.  You could even let your child practice writing his or her own letters on the stickers.  Once you have made your own boom boom bottles, reread Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  Each time that you say the refrain chicka chicka boom boom, your child should shake their boom boom bottle.  Have fun making noise and reading about the alphabet!

For lots more alphabet activities, click here.

–Miss Tracey

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web review

Starfall is a highly rated website designed by educators to help children learn to read.  The materials on the site are modelled on the five focus areas recommended by the National Institue of Child Health and Human Develpment: phonemic awareness, systematic phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

The first section, “ABC’s” (let’s get ready to read), features each letter of the alphabet on colorful blocks.  When a viewer clicks on a letter, they see the ‘big’ and ‘small’ versions of the letter, hear the pronunciation of that letter, and see objects that begin with that letter.  For example, when a child clicks on the letter ‘C’, they see both versions of a written C and then see a picture of an actual cat.  This is followed by sections called “Learn to Read”, “It’s Fun to Read” and “I’m Reading”.  You can also reinforce your child’s online experience by printing the free practice pages that accompany each section.

Thanks to a clear and simple organizational structure, kids will even be able to manipulate the site on their own.  Be sure to check out Starfall.

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book review

Collecting Things by Kate Needham

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Many kids are collectors and don’t even realize it, from the shells from that trip to the beach littering their dresser to the cool rocks from the yard on their desks.  This book not only gives kids ideas on what to collect, but what to do with the collection once they have one.  For example, the section on shells describes how and when to look for shells, and how to sort them.  This is followed by a section on how to varnish a shell, and information on using shells to decorate boxes, picture frames, and more.  Other kinds of collections featured in the book are stamps, marbles, souvenirs, and coins, among others.  If you have a young collector in your house, check this book out!

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