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

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Something Might Happen

Twitchly Fidget trembled all over. No, nothing had happened to him. But it might.

So begins the story of the adorable, yet fearful, little lemur named Twitchly.

He is so fearful, he won't take a bath, he won't get dressed (for fear of putting his shoes on the wrong feet),
he won't eat breakfast, he won't even put a roof on his house for fear of it falling in on him.

Finally his Aunt Bridget Fidget drops in and tells him that he must fix himself up.
She forces him to bathe, eat and get dressed.

He realizes nothing bad will happen to him.

Something Might Happen by Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.

We also love Hooway for Wodney Wat also by Helen Lester.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mystery Mansion

Do you like looking for clues?

If so, this is the book for you.

Each page has a hidden alphabet letter (or two!), hidden animals, foreign language phrases, and a secret message revealed at the end.

The main character, Tommy, is invited to his Aunt Jeanne's mansion. She's a little bit different and is also hiding on each page. She has planned an extravagant hunt for her nephew. He's a brave boy who doesn't seem the least phased by mazes, secret tunnels, and numerous little yellow notes.

Perhaps you'll be inspired to create your own scavenger hunt. Or perhaps you'll be inspired to create art out of the alphabet like we were. Our letters are not camouflaged. No, quite the opposite, we chose to have them jump out at you.

Mystery Mansion by Michael Garland

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird

Take one french poem
Pour faire le portrait d'un oiseau
written by Jacques Prevert in 1949

Translate it
Illustrate it

and voila....

a beautiful beautiful book

translated and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein

The book begins with the first step a young artist must take:
first paint a cage with an open door

It then follows a surprisingly beautiful series of steps to painting a colorful singing bird.

We gobbled up these amazing illustrations
Izie loved the part where you must erase the cage, one bar at a time, being careful of the bird's feathers. He chose to draw the colorful bird on it's branch in the mid-day sun.
JT loved how it might be necessary to wait years if necessary for the bird to land in your cage. He was inspired to draw an eagle.

A perfect book for a bird-filled spring day.

How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird by Jacques Prevert

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tough Cookie

They call me a tough cookie. I guess I am. Come from a good family. Regular batch. Lots of dough. Lived the high life. Top of the jar. They're all gone now. I hit bottom and stayed there. It was rough. Still is. But you get used to it. I'm a tough cookie.

Tough Cookie by David Wisniewski is a classic crime drama set in a cookie jar. Lot of cookie play-on-words. This book gets better and better each time we read it.

One thing we love is the map of the cookie jar (the home of these cookies and the scene of the crime). Areas include the exclusive neighborhood of upjar (home of just-baked and best quality store bought cookies), Crocker Observatory (watches lid activity), and downjar (most shops, services and schools).

Izie drew the processing net that catches the cookies when they first drop into the jar.
The criminal (fingers) is pictures sneaking into the jar to get a cookie.

JT and Izie loved the fight scene (go figure). Fingers tries to grab a cookie but the crumbs attack him and try as he might, he can't get a cookie, he just comes up with crumbs. Crumbs that he doesn't want.

JT drew fingers trying to grab our hero, Tough Cookie

Mom's favorite part: I'm knocking back a cup of java when this classy blond rolls up. Store bought. Easy on the eyes.

And of course, baby sister found this book irresistable to chew on. We had to keep it far from her sticky fingers.

This book is immensely fun to read aloud.

Tough Cookie words and pictures by David Wisniewski

Monday, April 27, 2009

Akimbo and the Snakes

Alexander McCall Smith!

We loved Akimbo and the Snakes.
The boys want you to know that you will be holding your breath in anticipation.
You will learn more than you wanted to know about snakes.
You will be impressed by Akimbo's courage.

Izie drew a picture of the dreaded green mamba

Read more about Akimbo in the four other Akimbo books. We surely plan to.

The Baseball Chronicle

Sometimes you just need a giant book about baseball.
As always, we have been reading and drawing a ton, we just haven't been drawing too much about the books we've been reading.
Baseball fever has struck.
So when I asked JT what book he wanted to review this week, he picked the 695 page Baseball Chronicle his grandmama just gave him.

Hours and hours of re-reading fun.
Non-fiction heaven for an 8 year old baseball player.

The picture he chose to draw is one of Ken Griffey Jr.
If you have a ball player in your house, well.... this is the book for you

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Unexpectedly Bad Hair of Barcelona Smith

Barcelona Smith is properly prudent. He is such a careful person that he won't play with animals (for fear of catching diseases), he won't play in a park (for fear of injury), he won't smell roses (for fear of getting poked), and he never smiles (for fear of a bug getting caught in his teeth).

But one day..... his hair decides to take charge. His hair takes him to pet animals, his hair plays on the monkey bars, his hair smells the roses, and his hair makes him out of control.

He allows himself to smile and learns that the risk in doing things just might be worth it.

We loved the pictures and the story.

Here are some pictures of Barcelona's crazy hair. The boys used oil pastels and then rubbed over the drawings with a paper towel. It is unexpectedly fun to create crazy blue-haired men and then rub away at the pictures. You should give it a try.

JT likes the part when Barcelona's hair goes crazy and rides a bicycle.
Izie likes the part when his hair walks him out the door.

The Unexpectedly Bad Hair of Barcelona Smith by Keith Graves

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Daddy Could I Have an Elephant?

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you had an elephant for a pet?
How would you feed him?
Where would you keep him?

In Jake Wolf's picture book, a little boy desperately wants a pet. He asks his dad for a variety of different animals (a sheep, a gorilla, a python) and envisions how fun they'd be. He tries his best to talk his dad into it... only to learn how hard each one would be to keep as a pet.

JT decided that he'd like to have a team of apes as pets at our house. They'd come in handy catching all the fly balls that go into our fir trees, but they would also tear down the trees.
Izie really wants a bird, so this book hit home with him. He decided that the bird would be fun, but he'd eat all the tuna.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Big Orange Splot

All the houses look the same in Mr. Plumbean's neighborhood, until a seagull flying by drops a can of orange paint on Mr. Plumbean's house.

The neighbors don't like that his house looks different and ask Mr. Plumbean to paint it.

He does, just not like they think.
"My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams."

Everyone in the neighborhood starts to create the house of his or her dreams. Individuality is honored and the houses are a blast.

We've created our own houses of our dreams.

Of course, baby girl's house of her dreams would consist of having everything at floor level, easy to chew on.

Izie drew a house that resembles a sick monster. You have to swim on the red river to get in.
He was also inspired by the flying seagull to draw his own bird flying overhead clutching food instead of a paint can.

JT drew a baseball mansion. Jackson likes this book because first all the houses were the same and because of a seagull, all the houses changed.

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


JT (8 yrs old) : My favorite part of the book is when they climb up the mountain and find the giant rock formation that looks like a thumb. I drew these two pictures because I liked all the facts about yellow spotted lizards and I liked the descriptions of the warden's cabin.

how to be

A monkey...

Imitate someone.

So I did. I found this wonderful website

that inspired me.

The dad in said website reviews one children's book each Monday with his three kids. The kids create accompanying artwork.

Like him, our family has tons and tons of picture books. Enough to do a review each week for years.

Inspired by bookie woogie, my boys and I (and baby girl too!) would like to review one book a week and create some sort of art for the book. Today's book is....

How to Be by Lisa Brown.

How to be a bear.

Catch fish with your hands

Be Brave

Lisa Brown takes 6 animals and shows us how to be like them. In the end, she shows us how to take the best of each animal and be a person. And to be yourself.

It's funny and sweet.

Baby Girl showed us how to be a lion: crawl around the grasslands and roar when you need something.

JT said.....How to be a spider: build a web. How to be a frog: catch flies (fly balls that is!)

Izie said....How to be a gorilla: shake your body (while hula hooping of course!)

What animal can you be like? I hope to be faithful like an elephant and post one children's book review each week. Can you hold me to it?