Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
This small book, Little Tree, written by e.e. cummings and illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray, is so sweet and warm that I actually expect the pages to be warm to the touch like a mug of cocoa or a slice of buttery toast. The text is e. e. cummings' lovely poem in which a child addresses a Christmas tree. It begins, "little tree, little silent Christmas tree, you are so little, you are more like a flower." The boy goes on to wonder if the tree was sorry to leave the green forest, and comforts it with offers of a hug and a kiss and decorations. He says "look the spangles, that sleep all the year in a dark box, dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine." He tells the tree to put up its arms to be dressed and he and his sister will sing Noel.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
(Gingerbread house picture courtesy of the Burt children)
For me, two of the most enjoyable activities in the weeks before Christmas are baking gingerbread cookies and decorating gingerbread houses. The smell of ginger, cloves, and cinnamon in the house and all of that candy to nibble is a little bit of heaven. It's nice to complete such an afternoon with reading some version of the gingerbread man story. There are many to choose from, but they all provide the satisfaction of seeing that impish, trash talking cookie get his comeuppance in the end. Here are three we've had fun reading over the years.
The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett is as beautifully illustrated as all of her other books. There is a twist at the end; the gingerbread baby isn't eaten by a fox, but gets what's coming to him all the same for his mischief and taunting. It's worth noting that Jan Brett has a great website with many fun activities and printable pages at http://www.janbrett.com/.
The Gingerbread Boy by Richard Egielski remains true to the classic storyline, but is set in New York City. He eludes his captors by jumping off a fire escape, riding the E train and so forth, but eventually meets up with a fox in Central Park.
The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth and illustrated by Barbara McClintock is a good retelling which comes with a recipe. I just love a book that comes with a recipe!
These books are a yummy way to get into the holiday spirit and teach a lesson about the dangers of talking smack. Now, run, run, as fast as you can, and read a version of the gingerbread man!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
That same wonderful teacher who allows me to come volunteer and poke around her classroom bookshelves sent home a neat "Thanksgiving Math" assignment last week. It was designed to get the children to see the numbers in any situation, even Thanksgiving dinner. Some questions from the assignment:
*How many people were at your Thanksgiving dinner? Children? Adults? In all? (24, by the way)
*How many turkeys did you have?
*How much did the turkey(s) weigh?
*What was the house number where you ate?
*What time did you eat dinner?
*How many kinds of pies were there?
God bless my family, my sister-in-law's family, and friends who patiently helped Ethan with the homework and allowed themselves to be interviewed about their favorite part of the turkey for the Turkey Graph section of the assignment. Let me say this about them though, it's a good thing the "Thanksgiving Math" sheet didn't ask these questions:
*How many bottles of wine were finished? Red? White? In all?
* How many beer bottles went out to the recycling bin?
*How many sambuca shots were thrown back?
Had those questions been asked and answered honestly, Ethan's counting skills would have gotten a good workout but there might have been a decrease in my appearances on the parent volunteer schedule.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
This memory of mine was inspired by the Tuesday Writing Prompts over at http://sandiegomomma.com/.
Monday, December 1, 2008
1. Lap Desk It ended up in the minivan (everything we own ends up in the minivan), and my daughter used it as a hard surface on which to write out her homework. That's right, homework gets done in the minivan also.
2. Artist's inspiration The same child who used it for homework also used it when looking for a model from which to draw Santa Claus.
3. Weapon The hard cover and substantial weight made it a good choice for my five year old when he chose something to pick up and whack his brother's butt with.
4. Object of delusion I kept telling myself it wound be the linchpin in a cozy evening of hot cocoa and snuggling together for a good book. Didn't happen.
5. Paper flattener It flattened a Thanksgiving drawing that came out of a backpack all wrinkled and "ruined" last Wednesday. After a few hours in this book, the drawing was good as new!
6. Bribe I tried in vain several times to say, "If you'll just ___________ or____________. we can drink hot cocoa and read some good books later. See #4- it didn't happen.
7. Upper arm workout Carrying this book along with other books, hockey equipment, and backpacks in and out of the car and up and down stairs hopefully provided my upper arms with some desperately needed definition.
A Merry December to all and to all a good night!
Check out more lists over at abdpbt.com.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
On Friday, I took my children to visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. As soup was the feature of Foodie Friday, I couldn't resist taking the photo (no flash of course) you see here of them admiring Andy Warhol's cans of soup. My favorite moment in the museum was when they spotted a Jackson Pollack painting and shouted, "It's the painting from Olivia!" Of all the amusing things that happen in all of Ian Falconer's Olivia books, our favorite is when she recreates a Jackson Pollack painting on her wall at home. We all enjoyed the Van Gogh exhibit. How can you not feel good standing in front of that starry night? My daughter lectured us all about Van Gogh's application of paint and choice of subject. Clearly the art program at our local public school is excellent!What fascinated me was that all three kids seemed physically drawn to Jasper Johns' Map. It is an eye catching work, but I'm curious as to what exactly is so attractive about it to my children. Maybe it's that they recognize the subject matter, a map of the United States. Maybe it is the use of bright. primary colors. Who knows? Unbeknownst to them, I recently checked out Bob Raczka's gorgeous picture book The Art of Freedom: How Artists See America and had it in my car. Once home from Manhattan, we looked at the book. They were so excited to see Map on the cover and recognize it from our museum visit. I had gotten the book because of what it says about America in simple text, statements such as "America is sacrifice," "America is immigrants," "America is native peoples," and "America is a work in progress." Each statement is accompanied by a piece of artwork. That last definition, for example, faces Gilbert Stuart's famous unfinished portrait of George Washington. My original intention was to read the book and discuss it with my kids in light of the recent presidential election. It turned out to be a nice book to read after a trip to a museum as well. It is beautiful and would make a great gift for a child or a teacher of art or American history.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
There is so much interesting information and humor in The Big Book of Girl Stuff that my daughter is reading sections that might not usually be of interest to her because she doesn't want to miss out on the laughs. While I cannot figure out a rhyme or reason to the organization of the sections, they all have good information and liveliness in common. A few of these sections are "Babysitting," "Fun Stuff to Do," "Sports," and "Slang." Proof that the book never takes itself too seriously is in the quotes which open each section, such as Gilda Radner's "I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn't itch" at the beginning of the section on fashion. Of course there is gross out humor in the "Ick" section which is good. That should not be reserved only for books marketed to boys.
On a personal note, there are two more things that made me happy I checked this book out for Hayden. First, she recently stopped reading and excitedly ran to ask me,"Do you know the meaning of the word blogging? Do you want to know?" I did know, but pretended I didn't as I was so touched that she was enthusiastic to share something from her book that she thought would interest me. I also like the fact that there is a section on nicknames because the author is not the only person who likes trivia. One of the best bits floating around in my brain is that there was once a Viking warrior nicknamed "Ivan the Boneless." This book gave me the reason to share that with my daughter and now you.
I can't say enough good about this fun book for tween girls. It really is, as I learned from the section on slang, a "sherbitt."
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
I am suffering a serious case of eater's remorse and parental shame. I overindulged on my children's trick or treating loot and on a bag of Heath bars I picked up for 50% off at Target two days after Halloween. In case you did the same, and need food for thought rather than food in thighs, here are some calorie free chocolate indulgences.
1. Max's Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells. This book featuring Max of Max and Ruby fame is not just for Easter time and is fun for 2 to 5 year olds.
2. The M & M Brand Counting Book by Barbara Barbieri McGrath is a fun little board book for 3 to 7 year olds that could work well in a classroom.
3. Also great for classroom use is any one of Jerry Palotta's books which combine chocolate treats and math skills, such as his Hershey's Milk Chocolate Weights and Measures.
4. Curious George Goes to the Chocolate Factory by Margaret and H.A. Rey. You know it's going to be fun from the title.
5. Hot Fudge by James Howe is an easy reader from the Bunnicula and Friends series. This is a cute little whodunit for emerging readers ages 5 to 8.
6. The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling is a retelling of the story of King Midas where everything a boy touches turns to chocolate. This is a good chapter book for 8 to 10 year olds.
7. The granddaddy of all chocolate books is, of course, Roald Dahl's magnificent Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!!!!
(For more list fun, check out anna over at http://www.abdpbt.com/ who got me started with the Monday lists.)
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
While shopping for candy corns in Target two weeks ago, my boys started shouting, "Look! Look at the light-up reindeer!" That made no sense, as it was early October and I was standing next to Halloween costumes, but I followed the sound of their voices (not a difficult task), and what to my wondering eyes should appear but Christmas decorations. There was a story about this phenomena on the news that weekend. It seems the marketing people have pushed the Christmas merchandise out early in an attempt to deal with the situation of the American economy being so deep in the toilet. What's good enough for the people at Target is good enough for me. I'm not even trying to sell anything; I'm just going to tell you about some lovely Christmas books.
As I'm sure you know, there are hundreds of holiday board, picture, and chapter books in print. I kind of love them all because they combine two delicious acts, anticipation with reading, often with good illustrations. Perhaps my favorite Christmas book of recent years is my favorite because of its gorgeous illustrations, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, illustrated by P.J. Lynch and written by Susan Wojciechowski. I read it to my children at Christmas, and they love it, so last year I read it to the fourth grade CCD class I teach, and my students hung on every word and wanted to discuss the plot and pictures long after I was done reading. It tells the story of a widow and her son who come to ask a woodcarver, Jonathan Toomey, to carve a new creche for them. It is the kind of book that you read and immediately think of people to whom you will give it as a gift.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was to learn that P.J. Lynch has illustrated another holiday classic, O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi. We all know the story of the married couple Della and Jim who sell their most prized possessions in order to afford Christmas presents for each other. She sells her hair to buy a chain for his pocket watch, and he sells his pocket watch to buy combs for her hair. This story is taught in so many English and writing classes. I think this version would be particularly nice for high school students to visualize the time and place. Lynch's warm illustrations bring their humble flat and turn of the century New York City to life.
Finally, I'll mention the book I plan to give my eleven year old niece at Christmas. It is not a Christmas book and it's not illustrated by P.J. Lynch, but I'm going to tell you about it anyway as it does relate to my Christmas shopping. It is Patricia Reilly Giff's Nory Ryan's Song about the Great Hunger of 1845-1852 in Ireland. This fictional account of a twelve year old girl and her family's love and suffering is well written and moving. Written for a middle school and young adult audience, the book condenses time a bit and clearly explains the situation of the potato blight and English rule without ever getting pedantic.
Now that I've given you some holiday books to think about, and there will be more in the weeks to come, get back to carving your jack o'lanterns!