Friday, August 5, 2011

Make Art Mistakes

Make Art Mistakes: A creativity sketchbook by MoMA modern Kids

This book is not about teaching you how to draw... it's about teaching you to play with the elements of art.

We gobbled up the exercises about line

"Hold a pencil loosely and draw a line. Now try adding more pressure. What kind of line can you make with the side of your pencil?"

and color

"What would 3 colors at play look like?"and pattern
"Create a pattern using the first letter of your name and flipping the letter in different directions"

and we each made the oath that....

"I will make mistakes, but....
I will not make any more boring art."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Monster Baby

One Saturday morning, Mr. Oliver padded to the door of his farmhouse to fetch the newspaper. But instead of the news, he found a basket covered with a blanket that seemed to be wiggling.

This is no ordinary baby... it is a monster baby. A baby who grows up crazy fast.
A baby who is loved.

A baby who becomes a grown up in a few days.

We loved this book since we have a baby who grew up far too quickly in our house. One day she was an infant... the next a toddler. She doesn't have a hairy body, or horns, or a tail... but she sure has amazed us with her antics.

You will be amazed by Monster Baby's antics and be thrilled to find out who he meets at the end.

Monster Baby by Dian Curtis Regan. Pictures by Doug Cushman

Monday, August 24, 2009

Louis Sachar

We are currently in love with Louis Sachar (again.. of course we loved Holes)

This time it is Marvin Redpost. We can not get enough of this red-haired middle kid. He's sweet, he's funny, and his adventures are just true-enough to have us rooting, laughing, and sighing along with him.

Here are some pictures of Marvin's nail-biting ride down Suicide Hill from the book Super Fast and Out of Control.
What we love is that Louis Sachar does not talk down to kids. He writes about things real kids might feel and he doesn't really sugar-coat it.
I just finished reading his "Dogs Don't Tell Jokes". This is not a Marvin Redpost book and after pre-reading it I think it is a book I'd rather read aloud with my third grader so we can talk about the issues it presents. But it is a terrific book! All about a junior high boy who has no friends and gets picked on.... and your heart just bleeds for the guy.

Next up is "There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom" Also by Mr. Sachar.

(And... now that we've taken a month break from this site (unintentionally), we plan to be back weekly again)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Edwardo the Horriblest Boy in the World

Edwardo was an ordinary boy. He would get up in the morning, get dressed, have his breakfast, go to school, play games, eat his supper, and go to bed. Sometimes Edwardo would kick things.

And so begins the story of Edwardo. A normal boy who sometimes did naughty things- and then became labeled a horrible boy. He starts living up to his label.

Don't we all know boys and girls like this?

But what happens when someone says thank you to him. When someone assumes he is being nice?

Here's Izie's favorite part.

Edwardo threw water on a dog to be mean and live up to his reputation. But someone assumes he is trying to wash the dog and all of a sudden....

the horrible boy starts becoming a nice boy.

A terrific read. Especially when you feel the need to sit back and give someone who is really testing your limits a bit of compassion.

Edwardo the Horriblest Boy in the World by John Burningham

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Stick liked to do things on his own... all by himself.

JT: Stick is a little frog that likes to do things alone. My favorite picture is the picture of the guy riding the motorcycle.

Izie: Stick sticks to a dragon fly and the dragon fly flies away. My favorite part is at the end when Stick turns really light. (Guess what he swallows!)
Stick gets carried away and goes through the forest, a cat tries to get him, he goes through a ladies house, a dog barks at him and he falls from the dragon fly only to continue his adventures on other moving things.

The story is mostly told in pictures - hilarious pictures- with very few words.

Stick, words and pictures by Steve Breen

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Seven Chinese Brothers

Once upon a time, when Ch'in Shih Huang was emperor of all China, seven remarkable brothers lived together on a beautiful hillside.

They walked alike, they talked alike, they even looked so much alike it was hard to tell one brother from the brother next to him.

All the same, each brother had something special about him. Each brother had one amazing power that was all his own.

I have owned this book for quite some time. It sat on my shelf in my classroom when I taught 3rd grade and then 6th grade. I had never read it aloud until recently, when I read it to my boys.

Since then, I've read it aloud to my first grade class each year and they are just enthralled by the story.

Something about a story that starts, "Once upon a time" and that has brothers with magical strengths, just gets them. Always, one or two kids will just shout out while I'm reading, "This is an awesome story"It's a little scary. An emperor is trying to kill each of the brothers (who he thinks is just one person).

He throws one brother in the ocean, but his legs grow so long, he never drowns.

He attempts to burn a brother, but the one who loves fire, puts himself in his brother's place and enjoys the toasty warmth.The youngest brother, the one who was the baby of the family, is the one the other brothers try to keep happy, for if he cries, he creates giant tears that could drown an entire village.

In the end, he does cry, but his tears end up saving everyone.

This is a story my two boys ask for again and again. I know they love how each brother has a special strength of his own.

The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Jean and Mou-sien Tseng

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Boy who was Raised by Librarians

Melvin lived in the Livingston Public Library.
Well....he didn't really live there. He just spent lots and lots of time there.
He wanted to know a lot about everything. He was curious. And the library is a wonderful place to be if a person is curious.

This book is currently on our all time favorites list. Mostly because we love the library and love reading so we can picture ourselves exactly in Melvin's shoes.

He starts visiting the library as soon as he can walk there by himself and he goes every day until he goes away to college.

When he is in first grade, he brings a jar of bugs to show the librarians - he trips and they go everywhere in the library. Izie loves this part because he has tripped carrying his beloved caterpillar and they flew everywhere.

The librarians help Melvin record and catalog his bugs.
Izie catalogued some of his, here's his caterpillar on his finger.

In third grade, Melvin starts a baseball collection that he organizes. The librarians help him store them and show him a price guide on the internet.

JT loves this part because he organizes all his baseball cards just like that.

We love this book and have been re-reading it daily. The library really is one of our favorite places and the boys think it does sometimes seem like they are being raised by librarians (even though mom is a teacher and dad just plain ol' likes being curious.

You'll never guess what Melvin grows up to be......

The Boy who was Raised by Librarians by Carla Morris, illustrated by Brad Sneed