Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Awards (two for one)

Learning With Mouse has given us an award... but not just one award.  She gave us a twofer!  Thank you!  

First, there's this one...

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I am required to pass the "One Lovely Blog Award" on to 15 blogs I have newly discovered and enjoy reading.  In the past, I've taken the time to figure out whether blogs have received these awards in the past, and it takes forever.  This time, I'm just picking the 15 that seem to fit (my most recently discovered favorites), and not worrying about whether they've received the award before or are likely to pass it on.
  1. A Year of Slowcooking (just ordered my first crock pot because of this site!)
  2. Young House Love (formerly This Young House)
  3. Brimful Curiosities
  4. Crunchy Domestic Goddess
  5. Mamatrue: parenting in practice (she's posting a series of posts to answer my night weaning question -- how cool is that?)
  6. Pancakes and French Fries (her posts always make me laugh)
  7. The Masked Mommy (these posts make me laugh too, and nod in understanding)
  8. Spewd Free (allergy friendly cooking)
  9. My Friend Amy (organizer of Book Blogger Appreciation Week)
  10. I write in books
  11. Progressive Pioneer
  12. I ran out of steam.  (No, that's not a blog.  I really did.  If I forgot you, consider yourself "awarded").

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The "Honest Scrap" (teehee) award requires me to tell my readers 10 things about me that they may or may not know, but are true and then pass it on to 10 more blogs. 

Here are my 10 tidbits about me:
  1. I am a quilter.
  2. And a former lawyer.
  3. I'm incorrigibly messy at home.  I blame it on motherhood, but I was messy before that too and blamed it on working.
  4. I'm addicted to my iphone. I can't even sleep if it isn't near me.
  5. For my son's sake, I don't eat any wheat, nuts, eggs, milk, or sesame.
  6. I love coffee (decaffeinated at the moment).
  7. I haven't owned a TV in 6 months, but when I did, I loved reality television, like Big Brother, the Bachelor/ette, and Top Model.  Now I watch 1 minute youtube segments from Sesame Street.  I think the latter is probably more cerebral than the former.
  8. I used to say I wanted to marry the nicest man I ever met, and I did.
  9. I wish I had more time.
  10. and sleep.

And here are the 10 more blogs I'm sharing this with:


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sticker time

We have a couple of sticker books lying around our house that are twice as thick as they were when we bought them.  Stickers have been stuck upon stickers upon stickers.  They peek out the edges from their cock-eyed placement or from the stickiness gradually wearing off.  Occasionally they hide beneath blankets or behind couches, because, as loving as we are as parents, sometimes we just can't bear to do one more sticker.  Our most popular sticker book for a few months has been a pirate themed one found at the local supermarket.  I hadn't been able to find others with that many stickers.  I also wasn't able to locate any other copies or similar styles (except a princess theme).  That is, until Nana was visiting, and we set her on the task.  She raided Babies R Us and showed up with an armload.  We picked one to give to the little guy right away (Things that go), and left the rest hidden away for when we need them.  I broke another out today, since he's sick (AGAIN, ugh), and he's been loving it all night.  

Things That Go (Dk Sticker Encyclopedia) (Paperback), by DK Publishing. Our little one loves trucks, cars, buses, and trains. He also loves stickers. So it doesn't get much better than this book, in his eyes. In addition to more than 600 colorful photograph stickers of all manner of transportation vehicles, the book contains two main types of activities. Pages of categories (Trucks, Buses, Steam trains, etc.) contain information about the vehicles and outlines that the reader matches up with stickers found elsewhere in the book (the stickers appear next to their proper names, making matching easier). Separate pages labeled generally, "Road," "Air," "Ocean," etc. allow for placement of the remaining stickers which don't match the outlines. These provide nice flexibility, especially for younger readers, who won't be able to match specific boats to their outlines, but know that boats go in the water, airplanes in the air, etc.

Excerpt:

"Canal and riverboats. For centures, barges and riverboats were the easiest way to take people and goods along inland waterways, and they are still in use today. Some barges have sails, which allow them to travel out into the open sea."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: Love, bordering on obsession. This week we've left it up on his booster seat, and we bribe him to eat by doing the sticker book with him. He can remove stickers himself by scrunching up the page, but he really only wants to do it with one of us sitting with him, commentating on each sticker he selects, and helping to choose where it should be stuck down. We don't generally read the informational text, as he's far too interested in the stickers to pause for it.




Farm Animal Friends: A Mega Sticker Book (Paperback), by Siobhan Ciminera. This is possibly my favorite sticker book so far, for a few reasons. It contains more than 750 stickers, mostly of farm animals (but also flowers and Easter egg decorating designs). What I prefer in this book over other, similar, books is that the pages with the stickers instruct you to the set of pages that the stickers should be placed upon (like, "use these stickers on pages 28-29"). It saves a lot of useless flipping. Also, the variety of activities are great. Some pages just include a scene (like an open field and barn) on which the stickers should be placed, but others focus on color placement (bright flowers to be placed on a rainbow by color), numbers, matching stickers to outlines, matching pairs of animals, and identifying animal sounds. I think this would make the book appealing to a wide range of ages. There is, however, far less informational text (none really) than the "Things That Go" sticker book, for instance.

Excerpt:

"Clip! Clop! Clip! Clop! The horses are on the move. Add the horse stickers to the pasture scene."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He has really been enjoying this. We sat outside in the shade on a glider and used it for 1/2 hour straight this evening (stopping only because Daddy came home), and then he brought it to me a few more times later before bed. At first, he was interested in the cats, horses, and cows - just placing them on there appropriate pages. Then he started the counting activities, with a lot of help (he can count to 3). Tonight, he enjoyed the rainbow color pages.




Do your kids like sticker books? Have any favorite titles to share? Did you have sticker books when you were younger? I loved to collect stickers when younger, but I don't remember this type of activity book. When I tried to find sticker collecting books last year, it didn't seem they existed anymore. I considered making our own, but now that I see how much he loves this activity style version anyway, I feel less motivated.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Spy a Great Book

When I was expecting our son, I made him a baby quilt... I scratched the pastels and typical baby patterns in favor of a large, fun "I Spy" style quilt, with two of each novelty square.  We used it to cover him on cold winter walks in his first few months, then for "tummy time," picnics, and, recently, as a matching game.  So when I was lucky enough to win an I Spy book from a give away at Crazy For Kids Books recently, I was thrilled.  It arrived this week and was an instant hit.

I Spy A To Z (Hardcover), by Jean Marzollo. Real photographs of objects, from toy cars and trains to paperclips and crayons, fill the pages of this book. Text at the bottom of each page highlights four items for the reader to locate, in the typical "I Spy" language. There is a loose alphabetical order to the items, with every page or two focusing on a new letter, which is highlighted in red in the text. This is our first I Spy book, and we had a great time with it. For the most part, I ignored the text at the bottom and just asked our little guy to find whatever items I thought he would recognize, or new words I wanted to teach him.

Excerpt:

"I spy a baseball, a marble that's blue, a bucket of sand, and a block with a 2."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He has a blast with it! He always loves being "quizzed," so I knew this book would be a big hit. I'm thinking we'll have to hunt down other I Spy books for him. I know he'll love them.


Do you read I Spy books?  What are your favorite titles?  We'd love some recommendations on which ones to read next.

It IS a Summery Saturday Morning here

I'm scheduling this post to publish next weekend, on an appropriate day of the week.  We love this latest addition to our home library, sent from the grans in New Zealand!

A Summery Saturday Morning (Picture Puffin) (Paperback), by Margaret Mahy. A family's expedition to the beach on a "summery Saturday morning" ends in some unexpected excitement when their dogs chase a gaggle of geese ("chasing things is what dogs like on a summery Saturday morning"). Much of the text is repeated three times (see excerpt), which makes for a sing-songy read. In fact, I sing it when I read it (and the made up song keeps getting stuck in my head all day!).

Excerpt:

"If you want to walk in peace, walk in peace, walk in peace, don't let your dogs upset the geese on a summery Saturday morning."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He really likes this one. I find myself singing a line of the text aloud now and then when it's stuck in my head, and he always races out of the room to get the book for me to read it to him. He sits in rapt attention as I read it, and points to various things in the playful illustrations (boats, lighthouses, cats, etc.).


Am I the only one who gets children's book text stuck in my head like songs? I find this happens to me often with rhyming books.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Making our way through some "classics"

We posted awhile back about the results of a top picture books poll, and the two books below were items on the list that we had not yet read.  Thank you to those who recommended them to us in the comments to that post!

Bark, George (Library Binding), by Jules Feiffer. A humorous tale about a dog that refuses to bark, much to his mother's chagrin, has earned this book a spot in many people's "favorites" list. I can see why. An explorative veterinarian gets to the root of the problem, much to the amusement of young (and old) readers.

Excerpt:

"'Bark, George.' / George went: 'Meow.' / 'No, George,' said George's mother. 'Cats go meow. Dogs go arf. Now, bark, George.' / George went: 'Quack-quack.'"

Bookworm's interest at 19 months: So-so. I don't think he understands the humor, but he enjoys seeing the animals.



Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business (Hardcover), by Esphyr Slobodkina. I remembered seeing this title in a list of favorite children's books that was circulated recently, so when I saw it displayed atop a library bookshelf, I swiped it up. The story involves a cap salesman who comically walks around with all of his caps piled on his head (with no customers to be had). When he naps under a tree, some mischievous monkeys rob him on his hats, until he accidentally manages to outwit them and get his caps back.

Excerpt:

"Once there was a peddler who sold caps. But he was not like an ordinary peddler carrying his wares on his back. He carried them on top of his head. First, he had on his own checked cap, then a bunch of gray caps, then a bunch of brown caps, then a bunch of blue caps, and on the very top a bunch of red caps."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He didn't want to sit through this one. We'll try again when he is a little older.



Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Blogger Appreciation Week - nominations

After a long, tiring series of attempts, the bibliophile is finally down for his nap.  Will I nap too?  Catch up on housework?  Wade through the 500 posts in my google reader?  Maybe.  But first, I'm cozying up with my laptop and this call for nominations for Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  I'm looking forward to experiencing this event for the first time (September 14-18, online).  If you want in on the action too, sign up to be included in the site's directory, subscribe to the feeds, and nominate your favorite sites.  


All Mixed Up

All Mixed Up: A Mix-and-Match Book (Spiral-bound), by Carin Berger. Author Carin Berger was incredibly kind in sending this as a gift for our little guy after her recent giveaway of "Ok, Go!" on our site (which he loves). The book's layout is cleverly unique. The back cover explains: "Kids, moms, dads, cousins, friends, neighbors, explorers, acrobats . . . EVERYONE will have hours of fun mixing and matching Carin Berger's colorful collages to make more than 13,000 crazy characters all their own. Go Ahead, Get Mixed Up!" Three separate flip sections contain heads, torsos, and legs on the right hand side, and quirky, relevant words on the left hand side. For instance, I just flipped the book open, and my figure on the right shows a tropical sun hat, a thin torso with the top of an animal print skirt, and a grass skirt. The text on the left reads: "Tourist slips tropically." My next flip leads to a youthful pony-tailed girl head, red and wipe striped cylindrical body, and a little pair of legs held up by robots; the text reads: "Sis Jumps Remotely." Flipping just the torso again leads me to "Sis lugs remotely" with a big pile of books being carried. It's wacky, but good fun.

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He likes flipping through it. He also likes when I quiz him about what he sees. There is something about Carin Berger's collage style that really appeals to him.



Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's sleepy time

Shhhhh! Everybody's Sleeping (Hardcover), by Julie Markes. I love it when I grab a random library book on my way out the door in a rush and it turns out to be a hit. (There Are Cats In This Book was another recent example of that). The text in this bright, beautifully illustrated picture book is simple and sweet; each page features a different adult sleeping peacefully in bed, surrounded by items unique to their professions. A teacher, a baker, a policeman, a fireman, and many more ... all tucked in. The book concludes: "And you know who SHOULD be sleeping, just like the sun? Good night, sleep tight, my sweet little one." The illustrations of the different adults are all quite detailed and fun, and I love the illustration of the boy sleeping (similar to the cover photo, but instead of the stuffed bunny, the boys hands are resting by his face); something about the pose looks just like the way my son would be sleeping.
Excerpt:
"The postman is sleeping. Delivered the mail. / The farmer is sleeping. Hay's in a bale."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He particularly enjoys the two-page spread with the policeman, because he's surrounded by toy cars. Also, the very last page contains a drawing of a couple of monkeys sleeping, and he loves that image.



You can read reviews of other sleep-related children's books here. I can't say that these "sleepy" books really help to put our son to sleep. Do you have any books that are yawn-inducing? That doesn't sound complementary, I suppose ... unless you are the parent of a young toddler, in which case, it is high praise.

We haven't been posting as many reviews this summer (although I've just scheduled a few for this week), but in the meantime, you can access a list with links to all of our previous reviews of children's books here. If you have a favorite that you'd like to see included, let me know and I'll add it to our "to be read" pile.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our summer reading: Spotlight on Richard Scarry

We haven't been posting reviews as often lately, but the "infant bibliophile" has been reading as much as ever.  I'm hoping to post reviews this week of some of the  books he's been particularly enjoying lately.  I'll start today with two new (to us) Richard Scarry books:

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go (Giant Little Golden Book) (Hardcover), by Richard Scarry. 69 pages full of Richard Scarry's trademark illustrations and madcap adventures involving all sorts of vehicles piloted by pigs, bunny rabbits, foxes, dogs, cats, and turtles (among others). Those who love Richard Scarry's other books won't be disappointed, and those just discovering his work will quickly come to appreciate his silly, busy style.

Excerpt:

"The baggage compartment on the bus has come open. Someone's things are flying out! Duck, Pa! Duck, Ma! Oh dear, Ma didn't duck soon enough."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He loves all of Scarry's books, and this one is no exception. He likes to have the text read to him, or to be quizzed on finding particular objects. A little "goldbug" is hiding on every page, and he delights in that challenge. The illustrations are so full of detail that he is constantly learning new vocabulary from perusing the book with me.



Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever / El mejor libro de palabras de Richard Scarry (Richard Scarry's Best Books Ever) (Hardcover), by Luna Rising Editors. We enjoyed the English version of this one so much that I decided that we had to add it to our home library (which I don't do all that often). I had trouble finding a copy, though, and could only find the bilingual edition. I'm glad, really, because it has everything the English version does, in addition to italicized Spanish translations beneath every word. It's a fantastic resource for learning Spanish, or just enjoying it in English. What I really liked about this book was the breadth of topics covered. Each two-page spread focuses on a different category, like farm life, the playground, the dentist's office, a drive in the country, the circus, etc. About 15 words are identified per page, with over 64 full pages.

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: After getting it from the library, we bought it, so that shows how much he loved it. Particularly cute things he does with this book: when he sees the Merry-Go-Round, he stands up wherever he is and spins around. When he sees the "upside down car," he insists on turning the book upside down to show that he can fix it. When he sees the toy robot, he does his own talking like a robot thing (think: "I am a robot" in a monotone voice, only he doesn't talk yet, so it's a monotone "abadaba." Totally worth buying the book for!).



I had no idea that Richard Scarry was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Wikipedia has an interesting article about him. To see other Richard Scarry books, we love, you can read our review of Richard Scarry's Biggest Word Book Ever, our review of Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks from A to Z, and our review of Richard Scarry's Colors. We're also huge fans of Rotraut Susanne Berner's In The Town All Year 'Round, which is often compared to Richard Scarry's style.


The little guy and I are excited to be participating in a children's book "show and tell" at a moms group next week. I think one or two of the above books will definitely be coming along. I don't know how we'll ever decide what books to bring (or rather, what books to leave home!). What would you bring? I'm thinking one Scarry book, In the Town All Year 'Round, Bubblebath Pirates, Counting Colors, maybe a Llama Llama book...that's probably already too many, but there are so many choices!




Friday, July 10, 2009

Review: "Slide and Find" Trucks

Slide and Find - Trucks (Board book), by Roger Priddy. A gift from Nana, this wonderful board book has a fun "slide and find" feature; pages on the lefthand side quiz the reader (on colors, identification of close-up photos, vehicle names, and "who drives what"), while the righthand pages contain windows with sliding tabs to reveal the answers. The slides are fairly easily worked by young hands, and the questions are neither too simple nor ridiculously difficult. I wasn't surprised to see "Priddy Books" on the back of this book. We always seem to love Roger Priddy's books.

Excerpt:

"Which color truck? Match each truck to the colors on the opposite page. Slide the doors to find the answers."

Bookworm's interest at 19 months: He loved this from the first read (and the second, third, fourth, fifth...). He could do the color ones right away, gets most of the close-ups right, needs help identifying the words signifying a matching vehicle, and is iffy on who drives what (though he will probably learn it quickly with the aid of the book).



Click here to read reviews of the many other car, truck, train, and bus-related children's books that our transportation-loving bibliophile has read.

Sponsorship opportunity for blogs

Commercial interruption...

A few weeks back, I was contacted by Uprinting.com about joining their sponsorship program.  It sounded almost too good to be true.  I signed up, though, and am glad I did.  They have such a fun relationship with their sponsors; they offer frequent contests and opportunities to participate.  Check them out if you're looking to add sponsors to your blog.

Why UPrinting.com isn't your average printing company:


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We now return to our regularly scheduled programming...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Rediscovering a Classic: the Poky Little Puppy

Let's see if I can remember how this book review thing goes... I've been on a bit of a hiatus as life has gotten busy (and truth be told, I got a little frightened by my "to be reviewed" pile), but I'm jumping back in with a classic:

The Poky Little Puppy (A Little Golden Book Classic) (Hardcover), by Janette Sebring Lowrey.  Many will remember this book, first published in 1942, fondly from their youth.   In fact, according to Wikipedia, as of 2001 it is apparently the best-selling English-language hardcover children's book of all time!  The story involves 5 explorative puppies that dig a hole under the fence and escape out each day.  One puppy, the "Poky Little Puppy" has a knack for sensing when dessert is about to be served, and the puppies rush home to get it.  They don't always receive it, though, as their owner withholds dessert to punish their hole-digging.  Ultimately, four puppies fill the hole, are rewarded with strawberry shortcake, and leave the Poky Little Puppy, who arrives late, to go to bed without any cake, "and he felt very sorry for himself."

Excerpt:

'What is he doing?' the four little puppies asked one another.  And down they went to see, roly-poly, pell-mell, tumble-bumble, till they came to the green grass; and there they stopped short. 'What in the world are you doing?; they asked. / 'I smell something!' said the poky little puppy.  Then the four little puppies began to sniff, and they smelled it, too.  'Rice pudding!' they said.  And home they went, as fast as they could go, over the bridge, up the road, through the meadow, and under the fence.  And there, sure enough, was dinner waiting for them, with rice pudding for dessert."

Bookworm's interest at 19 months: When I opened this up, I thought there was far too much text for his age.  To my surprise, though, he sat through the whole book, and keeps bringing it to me to reread.  He most enjoys the idea of counting the puppies, and shakes his head whenever the text says where the Poky Little Puppy isn't.

Parent's Peeve: Poor Poky Little Puppy, with no strawberry shortcake.



Do you have fond memories of this book?  Leave a comment and share them with us!

Want more canine classics?  See all of our previous reviews of children's books about dogs here.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Winner

The winner of our Ok, Go! give away is:

Blogger Rebecca said...

I follow your blog :)

I'll send you a message by email momentarily.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  If you're sad that you didn't win, consider picking up your own copy of Ok, Go!.  You can also learn more about Ok, Go! and the author's other books on author Carin Berger's website.