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Two of my favorite things

22 Jan

Unsurprisingly,  two of my favorite past-times are knitting and reading. A perfect stormy day in the Pacific Northwest combines the two – I can knit while listening to an audiobook!

This rainy weekend, I spent a little time not knitting, but reading about fans of my two favorite past-times.

Baabwaa & Wooliamwritten by David Elliott and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, is an amusing tale that shows the power of story.

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Publisher’s Summary: Baabwaa is a sheep who loves to knit. Wooliam is a sheep who loves to read. It sounds a bit boring, but they like it. Then, quite unexpectedly, a third sheep shows up. A funny-looking sheep who wears a tattered wool coat and has long, dreadfully decaying teeth. Wooliam, being well-read, recognizes their new acquaintance: the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing! The wolf is so flattered to discover his literary reputation precedes him that he stops trying to eat Baabwaa and Wooliam. And a discovery by the sheep turns the encounter into an unexpected friendship.

The book is funny, and, in this time of entrenched  beliefs opposite sides of a great chasm, it offers an intelligent way to bridge the gap.

Weird Dream

11 Jan

Last night I had a weird book dream. It was a good dream, just weird.

I dreamed ( or dreamt ) that Mo Willems called me. That alone is weird, but he wanted me to review Kate Di Camillo’s almost wordless picture book La La La.

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In this weird dream, I not only spoke with Mo on the phone, but I also spoke with Kate in person. After this dream, I feel I am on a first name basis with both. It was a good dream and very vivid. I can’t share more than this  brief description of my dream with you, but you can read La La La. Maybe it will fill you heart with hope and a song.

Publisher’s Summary: “La la la . . . la.” A little girl stands alone and sings, but hears no response. Gathering her courage and her curiosity, she skips farther out into the world, singing away to the trees and the pond and the reeds — but no song comes back to her. Day passes into night, and the girl dares to venture into the darkness toward the light of the moon, becoming more insistent in her singing, climbing as high as she can, but still there is silence in return. Dejected, she falls asleep on the ground, only to be awakened by an amazing sound. . . . She has been heard. At last. With the simplest of narratives and the near absence of words, Kate DiCamillo conveys a lonely child’s yearning for someone who understands. With a subtle palette and captivating expressiveness, Jaime Kim brings to life an endearing character and a transcendent landscape that invite readers along on an emotionally satisfying journey.

Merry Christmas

24 Dec

Yesterday, I laughed out loud listening to an NPR episode in which people tell scary stories they were told about kids who tried to catch a peek of Santa.

I laughed, too, reading The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold written by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Cale Atkinson.

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Publisher’s Summary: Santa has a problem. This kid? Harold? Santa doesn’t think he’s real. He WANTS to believe in Harold–after all, Harold is one of the most magical parts of Christmas. Getting Harold’s letters, eating the cookies he leaves out, feeding his carrots to the reindeer… what would Christmas be without that? But Santa’s just not sure. Some of his friends are telling him they think Harold’s not real. And the Harold that sat on his knee last Christmas looked AWFULLY different. Santa comes up with a plan to find out once and for all if Harold really exists… with hilarious consequences.

This was a fun twist on that time in a child’s life when they start questioning Santa’s existence. Maybe it will help prolong childhood a little longer.

I think I’ll go watch Miracle on 34th Street.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

 

The magic of moonlight

17 Dec

I love this time of year – so dark, but lights everywhere and glittering trees in many windows. It all seemed so magical as a kid. As an adult, it warms my heart and makes me nostalgic.

Here is a lovely book that evoked the same feeling.

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Publisher’s Summary:  In this atmospheric story, a group of kids play hockey on a frozen lake by moonlight. At once nostalgic and timely, this is a gorgeous book that will speak to readers young and old.

Très drôle

18 Sep

The rain has finally returned to the Pacific Northwest. The smell of smoke in the air has been replaced by the scent of damp earth and I imagine those fighting fires are celebrating. Those of us who prefer cooler, wetter weather are celebrating, too. It is as though we have crossed a line: life before the rain, life after the rain.

And that gets me thinking about My Pictures After the Storm by Eric Veillé.

More witty than funny, this picture book proves that a picture is worth a thousand words.

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The book, which has a cover that is reminiscent of a board book, is simply a collection of before and after pictures, all of which have a

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We have Back to School Night tonight. The picture of me after BTSN will be more about exhaustion than humor.

 

 

Dogs are people too

6 Jul

Lucy and I are spending a lot of time together these days. There are frequent walks and daily naps. We like it like that.

Ed, of Excellent Ed written by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach, also has an excellent life.

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However, Ed also has a problem. Everyone in the family is good at something. Everyone except ed, that is. And so begins his journey of self-discovery.

Publisher’s Summary: Dog lovers will adore this imperfect yet endearing mutt and his quest for excellence!

Everyone in the Ellis family is excellent–except Ed.

Ed wonders if this is why he isn’t allowed to eat at the table or sit on the couch with the other children. So he’s determined to find his own thing to be excellent at–only to be (inadvertently) outdone by a family member every time.

Now Ed is really nervous–what if he’s not excellent enough to belong in this family?

This funny and endearing story offers a subtle look at sibling rivalry and self esteem, and will reassure kids that everyone is excellent at something, and that your family loves you, just as you are.

It doesn’t spoil the ending to let you know that Ed’s journey ends with the discovery of his special talent.

 

Thinking about home

3 Jul

Because July 1st fell on Saturday, today is a statutory holiday for Canadians, giving most a long weekend, the first of summer.

Since today is an extension of Canada Day, I want to talk about my favorite Canadian picture book of 2017.

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Publisher’s Summary: A young boy wakes up to the sound of the sea, visits his grandfather’s grave after lunch and comes home to a simple family dinner with his family, but all the while his mind strays to his father digging for coal deep down under the sea. Stunning illustrations by Sydney Smith, the award-winning illustrator of Sidewalk Flowers, show the striking contrast between a sparkling seaside day and the darkness underground where the miners dig.

With curriculum connections to communities and the history of mining, this beautifully understated and haunting story brings a piece of Canadian history to life. The ever-present ocean and inevitable pattern of life in a Cape Breton mining town will enthrall children and move adult readers.

Why do I love this book?

*Sydney Smith’s beautiful illustrations.

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Good illustrations add a depth to the text and Smith’s do just that. The simplicity and openness of the young narrator’s life is contrasted beautifully with that of his father, a coal miner.

*Joanne Schwartz’s text is spare but evocative. The repetition of  “it goes like this—” invites the reader along for the journey in the life of this boy, this family, this town.

Although young readers’ lives might be very different from the narrator’s, Town Is By The Sea invites its readers to reflect on the pace, rhythm and events of their daily lives.

The Dynamic Duo

22 Jun

First, they gave us Extra Yarn.

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Then, they gave us Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.

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And now, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have given us Triangle.

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See how the cover ha no title and doesn’t list the author or illustrator? The back cover tells us more.

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Between the covers zaniness of the Laurel and Hardy variety ensues.

Publisher’s Summary: Meet Triangle. He is going to play a sneaky trick on his friend, Square. Or so Triangle thinks. . . . With this first tale in a new trilogy, partners in crime Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen will have readers wondering just who they can trust in a richly imagined world of shapes. Visually stunning and full of wry humor, here is a perfectly paced treat that could come only from the minds of two of today’s most irreverent — and talented — picture book creators.

This is the first book in a picture book trilogy. You can learn more in this video from the publisher.

 

Mini Mentors

14 Jun

Are you a cat person or a dog person?

Either way, these two picture books are sure to touch your heart.

In Elisha Cooper’s Big Cat, Little Cat an older cat mentors another.

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Goodreads Summary:There was a cat
who lived alone.
Until the day
a new cat came . . .

And so a story of friendship begins, following two cats through their days, months, and years until one day, the older cat has to go. And he doesn’t come back.

This is a poignant story, told in measured text and bold black-and-white illustrations about life and the act of moving on.

I really like the simple black and white illustrations. These , plus the simple text, give lots of room for bed time discussions.

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The second book, I Got a New Friend,  is by local author/illustrator Karl Newsom Edwards

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Goodreads Summary: When a little girl gets a new puppy, they have a lot to learn about each other. The new friends can be shy, messy, and sometimes get into trouble. They get lost, but they always get found. Their friendship may be a lot of work–but at the end of the day, they love each other!

Young readers will probably assume the little girl is the narrator, but they are in for a surprise at the end.

This is a great book for anyone who is shy or afraid of tackling new experiences or situations.

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And the expressions on the faces of this lovely pair touched my heart.

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I was that kid. I was very shy around strangers and in new situations. I think that is why I love this book so much. Like me, they learn confidence as their trust for each other blossoms. And it is a beautiful thing.

 

I hab a liddle toad

22 May

I woke up Friday morning in Hood River with a sore throat, the kind you get from post nasal drip. I was a little congested all weekend and felt worst Sunday morning, though I had a bad sleep last night.I medicated myself with decongestants and Emergen-C.

Little Louie, the main character of  Bob, Not Bob,  by Liz Garton Scanlon and Avery Vernick also has a cold, but he needs his Mom’s help. Unfortunately every time he calls her, his dog, Bob comes running.

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This is a great book to read aloud, with the voice of someone with a really bad cold. This could just be a silly book, but it is also a heartwarming read.

 

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