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Your part matters

6 Nov

The cold and rain have returned to the Pacific Northwest. I put flannel sheets on my bed and baked cranberry-pumpkin bread this weekend. When Lucy and I went out for a walk, few people were on the street and Lucy turned right around and headed for home as soon as she had done her business.

I was warm and cozy at home when I heard about the latest tragedy.   Fortunately, the characters of Come With Me, written by Holly M. McGhee and illustrated by Pascal Lemaître, reminded me, and younger readers,  that it is important to get out of my cozy comfort zone and be a positive part of the world.

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Publisher’s Summary:

McGhee’s website has a great explanation of the story behind the book. It is worth reading.

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Frog Log Dog

27 Sep

As you might know, I am a sucker for anything basset hound related. So, when I saw the newest book, Dog on a Frog,  by Kes and Clair gray and Jim Field, I was hooked even before I cracked the cover.

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Amazon Summary: “You know the rules,” said cat. “Cats sit on mats, frogs sit on logs, and dogs sit on FROGS!”

“Well, I’m changing the rules,” said the frog.

In this hilarious sequel to Frog on a Log?, frog decides that he does not want to sit on a log, and he definitely does not want a dog to sit on a frog! So he changes the rules. Now, dogs sit on logs, and cats sit on gnats! But what will frog decide to sit on now?

 

Originally published in Britain, the US cover has been translated from the original British.

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It is a sequel, of sorts, to Frog on a Log,  in which the eponymous frog wants to shake up the animal world and sit where he wants. Animal rhymes ensue.

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Amazon Summary: A read-aloud story that will have kids rhyming around the house!

“It’s very simple, really. Cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, mules sit on stools, gophers sit on sofas, and frogs sit on logs.”

Each animal’s designated seat rhymes with that animal’s name. “It’s not about being comfortable,” explains the cat. “It’s about doing the right thing.”

The frog does not want to sit on a log. Doing his best to find an alternative place to sit, the frog asks the cat a litany of questions. For every answer the cat has, the frog has another question–until the frog finds out what dogs sit on!

Peppered with catchy rhymes, FROG ON A LOG? shows young readers that every animal has a special place to sit. With rhymes that are reminiscent of Dr. Seuss’s beginner books, FROG ON A LOG? is a fun, educational read-aloud story that helps teach phonics!

 

 

Getting to know you

20 Aug

Earlier this year, I joined a book club. It might surprise you that I’ve never belonged to one. This group is devoted to children’s & YA literature. Instead of reading, then discussing one book a month, we have a list of 10 or more. One of the books from our July meeting was Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa. and illustrated by Jun Takabatake.

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Publisher’s Summary:It’s hard to imagine someone you’ve never seen. Giraffe is bored, as usual. He’d love a friend to share things with. So he writes a letter and sends it as far as possible across the other side of the horizon. There he finds a pen pal – Penguin. Giraffe knows nothing about penguins and his letters are full of questions. What does a penguin look like? Where is a penguin’s neck? And so the letters begin to fly from horizon to horizon. Yours Sincerely, Giraffe is a funny tale of mistaken assumptions and friendship.

There is a lot to like here, especially when there is so much talk about how we treat people who are other. Misunderstandings and assumptions happen, but the new friends work through the problem to come to a deeper understanding.

On a somewhat related theme, I just saw this video of Grace Lin talking about racism in favorite childhood books. It is worth watching.

What is it with Narwhals?

10 Aug

I feel like a salty sailor when I say narwhal. Try it. Can you say narwhal and NOT want to sound like a pirate? Maybe we should write narghwhal instead. A little narwhal humor for you.

It seems as though narwhals are everywhere! It started last year with Ben Canton’s Narwhal, Unicorn of the Sea.

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Publisher’s Summary: Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together.
A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring three stories. In the first, Jelly learns that Narwhal is a really good friend. Then Narwhal and Jelly form their own pod of awesomeness with their ocean friends. And finally, Narwhal and Jelly read the best book ever — even though it doesn’t have any words…or pictures!
Ben Clanton showcases the joys of friendship, the benefits of working together and the power of imagination in the delightful Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea.

This year already has two narwhal books, a sequel to Narwhal, Unicorn of the Sea  entitled Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt , and a poignant picture book by Jessica Sima called Not Quite Narwhal.

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Happy-go-lucky Narwhal and no-nonsense Jelly find their inner superheroes in three new under-the-sea adventures. In the first story, Narwhal reveals his superhero alter-ego and enlists Jelly to help him figure out what his superpower is. Next, Narwhal uses his superpower to help a friend find his way back home. In the third story, Jelly is feeling blue and Narwhal comes to the rescue. Ben Clanton showcases the joys of friendship and the power of believing in yourself and others through this irresistible duo.

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Publisher’s Summary: Growing up in the ocean, Kelp has always assumed that he was a narwhal like the rest of his family. Sure, he’s always been a little bit different—his tusk isn’t as long, he’s not as good of a swimmer, and he really doesn’t enjoy the cuisine. Then one night, an extra strong current sweeps Kelp to the surface, where he spots a mysterious creature that looks just like him! Kelp discovers that he and the creature are actually unicorns. The revelation leaves him torn: is he a land narwhal or a sea unicorn? But perhaps, if Kelp is clever, he may find a way to have the best of both worlds.

Told with heartwarming illustrations and spare, sweet text, Jessie Sima’s debut picture book is about fitting in, standing out, and the all-encompassing love of family.

It is hard to say why two authors are suddenly thinking narwhal thoughts, but it doesn’t matter; the books are fantastic.

Fans of Narwhal and Jelly can look forward to a third book in April 2018.

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Veni, Vidi, Vomit

25 Jul

Nothing makes me move faster than that URP URP URP sound of a dog about to vomit.

Louie used to find and eat all sorts of nasty things. He vomited often and help speed up my reaction time.

Fiona was less opportunistic.

Lucy, like my first basset Clara, rarely vomits. And yet, it happened yesterday.

There we were, curled up on the sofa on a hot summer afternoon, enjoying the cool of the air-conditioned house. I was engrossed in the book I was reading. Lucy was curled up sleeping deeply – until she wasn’t.

In a flash she was off the sofa and the URP URP URP began.

I threw aside my book (Posted by John David Anderson) and leapt to action. I grabbed the paper towels, a trash can, and the Nature’s Miracle spray. By the time I returned, Lucy had finished, but had not yet begun the canine “ritual” that often follows. I was that quick.

Although I am a gagger, I have mastered the art of cleaning dog vomit without gagging. It mostly involves lots of paper towels and turning my head to one side. And lots of breath holding.

Within a few moments, Lucy was curled up again, none the worse for wear. I washed my hands a few times, changed out the paper towels covering “the spot”, and washed my hands a few more times. Then, I, too, was curled up on the sofa, reading as if nothing had happened.

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Per ardua ad astra

24 Jul

Once a week, Mr. Glaesner, my high school Latin teacher, taught us Latin mottos and phrases. I have forgotten much, but these have stuck.  One such expression is per ardua ad astra…through hardship to the stars. It would be a great motto for the CatStronauts,  the heroes of a graphic novel series by Drew Brockington.

We met the heroes in April, with the release of CatStronauts: Mission Moon.

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Publisher’s Summary: 

CatStronauts, you are needed!

When the world is thrust into darkness due to a global energy shortage, the Worlds Best Scientist comes up with a bold plan to set up a solar power plant on the moon. But someone has to go up there to set it up, and that adventure falls to the CatStronauts, the best space cats on the planet! Meet the fearless commander Major Meowser, brave-but-hungry pilot Waffles, genius technician and inventor Blanket, and quick thinking science officer Pom Pom on their most important mission yet!
In this graphic novel, debut author and illustrator Drew Brockington breathes life into a world populated entirely by cats, brimming with jokes, charm, science, and enough big boxes and tuna sandwiches for everyone!

 

Volume 2, CatStronauts: Race to Mars came out at the same time.

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Publisher’s Summary: 

Fresh off of their heroic mission to save the world, the CatStronauts–Major Meowser, Pom Pom, Blanket and Waffles–are taking a well deserved victory lap. Parades and fancy awards dinners are the new norm!
But around the world, other cat space programs are watching–in particular the CosmoCats, the first cats to go to space! With national pride and scientific research on the line, the world’s space programs rush to be the first cats to Mars, and the CatStronauts are starting months behind! Can they catch up and prove their first mission was no fluke?
In this graphic novel, debut author/illustrator Drew Brockington takes the CatStronauts further than they’ve every gone, adding in mounds of jokes, charm, science, and enough yarn and scratching posts for everyone!

 

 

October will see the release of the third book, CatStronauts: Space Station Situation.

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Publisher’s Summary: 

When chief science officer Pom Pom rejoins the CatStronauts on the International Space Station, she has to get to work right away–the Hubba Bubba Telescope isn’t working, and CATSUP is losing funding by the day!
But as the CatStronauts and Mission Control race to find answers, the unthinkable happens and pilot Waffles is forced to orbit the Earth in nothing but his space suit. Even though he’s no scaredy cat, Waffles has a hard time staying out in space. When disaster on a global scale rears its head, will a fractured CatStronauts team be enough to save the day?
In this full color graphic novel, debut author/illustrator Drew Brockington takes the CatStronauts to the brink, adding in mounds of jokes, charm, asteroid showers, and enough tuna for everyone!
If you have young readers who love to laugh, they might enjoy spending some time with the CatStronauts.

Lovely Louies

15 May

My Louie loved everyone.

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A cat once followed us home from the park. Fiona wanted to attack but Louie didn’t bat an eye. He was just that kind of guy. Needless to say, in the cat’s best interest, I did not invite it into the house.

Just like my Louie did, the eponymous Louie of Tony Fucile’s Poor Louie has a great life.

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Publisher’s Summary:Louie’s life is great! A walk on the leash every morning, ice cream on Sundays, snuggling in bed at night with Mom and Dad. Even the playdates with Mom’s friends — despite their little crawling creatures who pull Louie’s ears — aren’t all that bad. But then things get weird: cold food on the floor, no room in the bed, and lots of new stuff coming into the house in pairs — two small beds, two little sweaters, two seats in the stroller. Does that bode double trouble ahead, or could there be a happier surprise in store for Louie? With perfect visual pacing, Tony Fucile takes a familiar story and gives it a comic spin.

The expressive cartoon artwork takes and comic look at how childless people (like me) anthropomorphize their dogs , and at the the arrival of a new sibling.  This would be a great book to share with children about to be displaced by a new baby, or a childless couple who’s pet is about to be relegated to the floor, just like Poor Louie.

Fortunately, the ending provides an excellent solution to Poor Louie’s dilemma.

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