What is an encyclopedia?

Is the first question your 7-10 year old will ask you. Once you get past the pain of that question, these books are almost an easy sell to your kiddos. Most of us probably remember Encyclopedia Brown from our youth. The boy whose Dad was a police chief who basically couldn’t solve a case without the help of his nine year old prodigy. The beauty of these stories is that each one is discreet and a few pages long. Each one contains all the information needed to “solve” the mystery, and in the back, the answer is provided (not that THIS parent ever had to peak to get the answer. . eh hem). The only downside is that the books are a little dated. They were re-released recently but not updated it seems. If you have girls who might dig the “you solve the mystery” genre but not go for a male protagonists, the Meg McIntosh series does the same, althought with one story per book. Meg is maybe slightly more current, but has more illustrations, so girls as young as 5 or 6 (kid dependent) may dig them (and their ‘rents!!). Anyway, back to Encyclopedia. Much to my dismay, and wholly in my opinion only, I’ve found that some kids books haven’t aged well. I think Encyclopedia makes the cut though. There have to be a dozen of them, and Donald Sobel is the author. Enjoy!!

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It’s a Two-fer!!!

Been a while since I posted, so I thought I’d post about (drum roll) two totally different and unrelated books! Keeping you on your toes, people.
The first book, appropriately enough, is “Go to Sleep, Groundhog!” by Judy Cox. http://www.amazon.com/Go-Sleep-Groundhog-Judy-Cox/dp/0823416453. It is the tale, you guessed it, of a groundhog that shares a sleeping pattern with my youngest daughter. On the bright side for groundhog, he gets to sample a number of holidays he doesn’t otherwise get to see, which is the part my kids love. My husband and I picked this book up at a bookstore in Chatham on a weekend away when the boys were 18 months old (love that I remember this but have NO idea what I had for breakfast. . . Did I eat breakfast?) and at 7 1/2 they still enjoy looking at the pictures and laughing at the story.

Next up, for the “older” set. Is a series– “Is that a Fact?”. We currently have “Does it Really Take Seven Years to Digest Swallowed Gum?” http://www.amazon.com/Really-Seven-Years-Digest-Swallowed/dp/0822590859/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1296659678&sr=1-6 and it is great. There are a ton of books in this series, like “Did Greek Soldiers really hide inside the Trojan Horse and other questions about the ancient world”, “Can Lightning Strike the Same Place Twice?”. The books answer a bunch of questions that, in all honesty, I had and didn’t know the answer to, such as:
Is it possible to swing 360 degrees around a swingset?
Can it ever be hot enough to fry an egg on a sidewalk?
Is yawning contagious?
The question and answer is presented in attractive two-page spread format with cool graphics/pictures. Not too text heavy, but definitely has substance. So my VR loves it because he loves to just KNOW things, and my RR likes it because it is cool to look at and answers some burning questions, and I like to read it because I really wanted to know the answer to the fried egg thing!! (I’m not telling!!)

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One of my favorites

Next up is my favorite picture book from childhood. (I know we are picture book heavy here, that will change I promise) but this book deserves top billing.  Okay, it doesn’t. In truth, I don’t even think it is that good of a story, but how I loved it. Loved looking at the pictures.  Loved the different rooms, matching the different rooms with the personalities.  (In truth, the rooms are a little er, retro, but hey, retro is in, right?)  Enough suspense. . .

Today’s book is “The Fourteen Bears in Summer and Winter”  http://www.amazon.com/Fourteen-Summer-Winter-Deluxe-Golden/dp/0375832793  Apparently, it has been out of print for several decades and has only just been republished (yup, my copy is an original, as in, old).  It tells the story of fourteen bears, parents and 12 kids, only the youngest a boy, and how they have a good time in summer and winter.  You (or your child) get sneak peaks into each bear’s kitchen, bedroom, and even how they decorate their tree for winter.  There is something about this book (as evidenced by its rave reviews on amazon and the like) that kids just LOVE.  It is pure, happy and simple childhood–and unlike many “old” books, stands the test of time without becoming dated or irrelevant.  Hope you all like it. . .

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Not just another “Day”

Every Christmas, I pick out hardcover books for each of my kids and inscribe them with a message about why we picked that particular book out for them.  As the boys are getting older, finding “good” hardcovers has been more challenging (my past year choices will be their own post!) but this year the pick for my VR was a no-brainer.

Introducing—Lynn Plourde. He has read every one of the “Day” books at least 10 times. No joke.  We got him Science Fair Day for Christmas this year. Lynn Plourde is the author of some fantastic picture books such as “School Picture Day”, “Teacher Appreciation Day”, “Field Trip Day” and so on.  The reason these books stand out are multiple.  First, my VR is well into lengthy chapter books, but time and again he returns to look at/read these.  Second, I love kids books that have illustrations and “repeat characters” (ala Magic School Bus) that the kids start to feel like they know them.  In addition, there are some super cute character names, Ima Kindanosee, Drew Ablank, Mayabelle Jean Wishywashy, and one of my personal faves, Josephina Carolina Whatafina, which parents (okay, me) and kids a like find hilarious.  I feel like picture books that capture the interest and imagination of those “too old” as well as the younger ones (my three year old) have something really special about them.  I will say we read “Grandpappy Snippy Snappies” yesterday and it was good but not as great as the “Day” series, in NaBeSaRo’s opinion anyway. 🙂  We are all hoping Plourde sees fit to product another Day book. . .School Snow Day. . . School Valentine’s Day. . .

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A Selection of the Books of Jon

While the baby is on the floor eating a magnet, I thought I would try to get this post done!  I spent no small amount of time trying to decide who the first kid’s author should be.  I didn’t want to go too obvious (“there’s this great book about a pig and a spider. . . “), yet I also wanted it to be an author of some breadth.  So, the “chosen one” is  (drum roll) Jon Sciezka.

Sciezka’s book “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs”, was one of the first two picture books I received as a first time parent.  A gift from a client who also happens to be a high  school principal.  I love this book.  It is funny, to both kids and adults (a nice feature when you are on your 28th reading) and the illustrations are outstanding (kudos Lane Smith, who is Sciezcka’s partner in crime/illustrator on just about every book), with some nice hidden critter details (get the book and you will see what  I mean).  I once read this great quote from Sciezka (that I will now proceed to butcher), but the crux of it was that humor reading is “thinking reading”, because it requires the reader to not only decode the words and comprehend, but also process the humor in what is being written.

Further, just last week my Voracious Reader (VR) brought home “Squids will be Squids” from the school library. It gives the “story behind the story” (entirely fabricated, I am sure) if things like the game rock, paper, scissors (which as much as I like that game and have played it for decades, I never stopped to think about why rocks, paper and scissors).  The only downside of Squids is that it’s humor is a little over my guy’s head and more at the adult level.  Still a fun and very different read.  Meanwhile, my Reluctant Reader (RR), brought home “Math Curse” from the library a few months ago.  That one is entertaining to those kiddos who do not eh hem, embrace the omnipresence of math in our lives.

Finally, Scieszka hasn’t limited his authorship to picture books. He is the author of the Time Warp Trio series.  TWT was a great series on the now defunct Discovery Kids channel, which is how I first heard about it (more on tv tie-in lit in a later blog).  It is about three, occasionally snarky, boys who get their hands on a book that allows them/forces them to travel through time.  They visit a Neanderthal through the year 2105.  The series probably runs almost a dozen books and online http://www.timewarptrio.com/ is a great website that has related games and info with a history bend.

Now, he also has started a new series, called Spaceheadz, which is about two aliens who become fifth graders and try to recruit human fifth graders to save the world.  Hilarity ensues.  I’d recommend this one for your VR or even a RR that loves aliens (as does mine!).

For other parents with Reluctant Readers, Scieszka has created a great website. www.guysread.com which is a database of books that are virtually guaranteed to whet your little man’s whistle. So, hope this gives you folks something to read during the upcoming snowbound days!!!

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The Inaugural Voyage!

Hello all,

In a world long, long ago. I worked in the Children’s Section of the local library.  I spent a lot of time “shelf-reading”, which meant that I checked book by book, shelf by shelf, that the items were in alphabetical order.  Tedious to say the least, but I got to know alot of the inventory.  The reason I held this job is that I loved books. Really loved them. I did the job as a volunteer starting at age 12 and then got hired as soon as I got my “working papers” at 14 and did it until 16, at which point I deemed myself too cool for the job.

Fast forward to the future, I have four kids, twin boys, age 7.5 and 2 girls age 3.5 and almost 1.  I refer to them collectively as NayBeSaRo.  We do a lot of reading. In fact, we checked out a personal best number of books at the library last week—58.  And yes, we read every last one.

So, obviously, we (my minions and I) are no literary experts, but we’ve gone through lots of books and are known for our strong opinions.  Also, I apologize in advance for my inevitable fragmented and disjointed posts. I will likely be writing this while exhausted or while trying to prevent the baby from eating power cords, so organization of thoughts may go a bit out the window.

As a brief kick off, I introduce some of you to the children’s literary guru, Jim Trelease.  A grade school teacher friend of mine introduced me to him and I was lucky enough to attend a presentation during his last official year of touring on the importance of reading.  I know the whole importance of reading thing generated a collective “no duh” in you, my readers, however, the guy goes far beyond the obvious.  Here’s his site http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/.  Read it and write a report, class.  Okay, don’t, but his book The Read Aloud Handbook is a treasure trove of how to increase literary interest in our technologically oriented youth. Also, he provides an extensive appendix of suggested readings for kids baby to teen by reading level and actual age with a description of the books.

Thanks for checking in with me! I’ll be posting as often as I can!

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