Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Releases from Sylvan Dell

We have been slow to post reviews of two great new books we read a couple of weeks ago.  The Bibliophile was super excited when they arrived, and savored them for a long time. 

Habitat SpyHabitat Spy was an instant hit, as I knew it would be.  Beautifully illustrated scenes introduce the reader to a wide array of wildlife, and rhyming text highlights a few specimens for the reader to locate.
Let's spy in the desert . . .
saguaros prick,
scorpions sneak,
cactus wrens poke,
foxes peek.
An educational section in the back discusses habitats, food chains and webs, and classification.  I wish it also included a picture glossary; some of the creatures (like midges) were tricky enough for us to require iphone googling.  I do love teaching the Bibliophile how to find answers to questions, though, and it seemed to only add to his fun.  Highly recommended, especially for I spy fans and animal/nature lovers.

Big Cat, Little KittyWith an inventive style, Big Cat, Little Kitty compares the lives of wild cats and their more domesticated counterparts.  It contains just enough repetition to create a thread between the wild and tame animals, and to engage repetition-loving young readers without driving parents nutty.
"One Wednesday evening in the desert, a big cat stands on a rock and sniffs the air.  His eyes blaze like the sun.  'Who are you?' asks a springbok.  'And whose desert is this?'  The big cat's voice thunders in the dry wind.  'I am Kalahari Lion, and this is MY desert.'  Springbok scampers away. / That same evening in a garden, a little kitty sharpens his claws on a birch tree and sniffs the lilacs.  His eyes are shiny like gold coins.  'Who are you?,' asks a butterfly.  'And whose garden is this?'  The little kitty puffs himself up.  'I am Leonardo, and this is MY garden.'  Butterfly flitters away."
We enjoyed the entire book once through.  The attention span required was probably pushing it for our 3 year old, but he still liked it.  Particularly recommended, obviously, for cat lovers.  As with all Sylvan Dell books, the book is beautifully illustrated and contains an educational section in the back (including a "Cats of the World" map matching activity right up the Bibliophile's alley).

Disclosure: We were provided with publisher copies of these books at no cost in order to write this review.  If you click on any links in the post and purchase anything, we may earn a small commission through our affiliate relationship with

Magic Treehouse

Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House, No. 1) (Book & CD) We read the first magic treehouse book together last week.  I worried he might be a bit young for it, so I tried extra hard to focus on comprehension by retelling the story a few times and even acting it out with toys.

Today at the library booksale, my little 3 year old cornered a librarian and said something like this:
We are looking for magic treehouse books. I read ALL of the first one. It is about a boy named Jack, and Jack has a sister named Annie. Jack and Annie find a treehouse and it has books in it. Jack wishes to go somewhere and the treehouse spins around and then they go ALL different places! Like in the first book - Dinosaurs Before Dark ... and we got three other ones too. One is about mummies and one is about knights and one is about astronauts.
That's my boy.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter egg stamping

Don't forget to use your leftover plastic eggs for some stamping fun before packing them away for next year (we did ours on canvas):

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What does "reduce environmental impact" mean? An ad hoc pre-K Earth Day science lesson

The Bibliophile is fearless when it comes to reading, but I have to watch carefully to see if his comprehension is keeping pace. Last week in Whole Foods, he mumbled through a sign that said that the store works hard to "reduce its environmental impact.". When I asked if there was any part of the sign he didn't understand, he asked me what that phrase meant. I explained it, but not very well. Later that night, I thought of a way to describe the idea better.

The next day, we sat down with a large poster paper together, and I sketched as we talked. At lunchtime we did a few more examples. I quiz him as to which of the following scenarios has a big impact, medium impact or little to no environmental impact.

I don't know how realistic or accurate these scenarios really are, but he is only 3.

Scenario 1: trees (this was my first explanation. We just got another new Whole Foods branch here, so he can relate to this idea)
- Whole Foods decides to build a store where 10 trees currently stand. It just chops those trees down and builds there (big impact)
- Whole Foods chops down only 6 trees, and plants some new ones to make up for it (medium impact).
- Whole Foods builds next to the trees instead (little impact)

Scenario 2: pollution
- Whole Foods dumps all of its garbage into rivers (big impact)
- Whole Foods creates a lot of garbage but throws it away (medium impact)
- Whole Foods doesn't create much garbage at all (small to no impact)

Scenario 3: paper bags
(daddy thought up this one)
- a shopper goes to 4 stores and gets 4 different paper bags (big impact)
- a shopper goes to 4 stores and uses the same paper bag for all 4 stores (little impact)
- a person carries their things without needing any paper bag (no impact)

It's not a fancy craft, but this is how we learn best around here. Child-driven (he asked me what the sign meant) and on the fly. Maybe I'll try to come up with an attractive craft this week, for the fun of it and to reinforce the lesson. Maybe we'll raid my quilt fabric so he can make his own shopping bag.

Looking for earth day books? Here are a few we have reviewed in the past.

I will link this up with Science Sunday.

Comment: What are you doing for Earth Day? Are you impressed that I did this all from my iPhone? Can't figure out how to caption photos this way.

Disclosure: if you click on any links in this post and purchase anything, we may earn a small commission through our affiliate relationship with

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, April 15, 2011

Model Magic Mosaics

Have you seen these?  Lots of fun.

Crayola Model Magic Fusion Mosaics Disney Cars 

Crayola Model Magic Fusion Mosaics - Disney Cars

Disclosure: If you click on any of the links in this post and purchase anything, we may earn a small commission through our affiliate relationship with

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review and Give Away: LaRue Across America

LaRue Across America: Postcards From the Vacation (LaRue Books)
 This give away is now closed, and the winners have been notified.

LaRue Across America

Publisher description:
Ike's plan for a peaceful cruise with Mrs. LaRue are thwarted when their neighbor, Mrs. Hibbins, falls suddenly ill. Mrs. LaRue suggests that she and Ike care for her cats while Mrs. Hibbins is in the hospital, inviting them along on the cruise. But cats aren't allowed, and Mrs. LaRue decides to take them all on a week's vacation of road-tripping. Ike is beside himself and quickly takes up his pen to tell us why!
Join award-winner Mark Teague on this romping road trip across America.
Readers can follow along on the maps of the U.S. that span the endpapers.
Teague drives us to the story's satisfying conclusion, and we are left with
one profound question: Can cats and dogs really be friends?
Here is a book trailer.

Parental reaction: This is quite funny, and enjoyable to read aloud.  Sarcasm abounds.  The geography component makes for fun companion activities, like following along on a large U.S. map with toy cars, or mini state lessons after you read a postcard.  Here are some examples of the book's comedic value:
"I thought I spied the ocean today, but Mrs. LaRue said it is merely a 'great' lake.  I can see nothing great in something so fraudulent."

"The local postmaster claims that it would be illegal for me to send live cats through the mail.  I wonder if that could be true."

"The cats have been stealing my chew toys, shedding on my pillows, and clawing my suitcases.  Their poor manners have forced me to set limits, so I used masking tape to divide the car's passenger area in half."
Bibliophile's reaction: I thought he would love this one, because he's such a fan of geography.  Unfortunately, the sarcasm was all a bit over his head at this point, and the text probably too lengthy (he is only 3 1/2).  He didn't dislike it, though, and I hear that he and Daddy have read it together a bit also.  I'd recommend it for slightly older children, and of course for cat and dog fans.  I might give it another try with him by reading just one postcard at a time, and stopping to explain it to him.

Give Away: Thanks to Scholastic, TWO winners will receive a copy of LaRue Across America!

 To enter:
1) Leave a comment here.
2) Follow or subscribe in some way to Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile and leave a comment letting me know.
3) Tweet, facebook, or blog about this give away and leave a comment letting me know.

That's three possible entries per person. The deadline is April 22, 2011, midnight EST. Prizes ship to U.S. addresses only.  Please remember to leave your email address in your comment if it is not accessible from your profile.

Disclosure: We received a copy of La Rue Across America at no cost in order to write this review.  If you click on links in this post and purchase anything, we may earn a small commission through our affiliate relationship with

Monday, April 11, 2011

Review: You Are a Gift to the World

You Are a Gift to the WorldYou Are a Gift to the World is a sweet story written by New York Times best selling author Laura Duksta. With a "flip-sided" style, the book reads forward and backward, meeting in the middle at a globe with the message "You are a gift to the world and the world is a gift to you.  So as you travel through life, you see all the ways it's true..."

The book is definitely heavy on the saccharin side (maybe a bit too much so for my tastes), but if you like this excerpt, you'll probably love the book:
"Your voice sings a sweet song belonging just to you.  I hear a melody filled with joy, wonder, and a note of laughter too. / Your smile lights up my life like the sun's golden rays. / Its glow brightens up my life in warm and tender ways."
As much as I love the idea of the message, I have to admit to a bit of wincing as I read the excerpt above and others like it.  I think I slightly prefer the reverse side, The World is a Gift to You.  
"You see the world itself is a big gift full of miracles just like you and me.  There is so much to discover, to learn, to do, and to see.  / Flowers, plants, and trees all start from tiny seeds.  As they grow, they help to make the food and air your body needs." 
The illustrations throughout are bright and cheerful.  I especially like the center globe page that unites the two stories.  I do wonder if I might have liked the whole book a bit more if it hadn't rhymed.  Duksta's previous title I Love You More, was a New York Times bestseller, and You Are a Gift to the World is sporting a five star rating on Amazon.  

The Bibliophile didn't care much for the book the first time we read it, but we read it again a couple of weeks later, and this time he said he liked it.  When questioned as to what he liked about it, he said, "I like that you can read it two ways."  

Comment: Have you read this book or I Love You More?  I'm really curious what others thought of it.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book at no cost in order to write this review. If you click on any links in this post and purchase anything, we may earn a small commission through our affiliate relationship with

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: Pre-K Easter Art, Painting Fun, and Some New Workbooks

These should probably be separate blog posts all week, but given how little time I seem to have to blog lately, I'm going to try to just lump them all into a Weekly Wrap-Up.  Here goes!

The Bibliophile has shown a new interest in art projects (and particularly painting).  His Nana bought him a sort of membership (which waives the studio fees, so we pay only for the piece we paint) at a local paint-your-own-pottery shop.  We love going there!  Our kitchen place settings are going to become quite interesting if we keep it up.  I don't have a photo of the pottery, but on the right are some paintings we did today to talk about symmetry.  (Fold paper in half, unfold, paint one side only, close paper, press on it, open up, ooh and ah).

We also made a crafty Easter Egg banner this week.  First we did salad spinner art -- his favorite -- on some egg-shaped paper (from cut up paper plates), then attached them via spring-theme stickered clothespins to a ribbon (the Bibliophile picked the apple print).  We also ad hocked a map for the Easter bunny to find our house, with a bunny footprint stamp made from cut up foam stickers.

And today we made some of these adorable Easter cards from Frugal Family Fun (the kids use their thumbprints to make Easter eggs - simple and fun!).

On an unrelated note, I came across this amusing book by the author of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs: the Marshmallow Incident.  It has so many great ideas in it for fun to be had with marshmallows!  We did a few, but I'm hoping to do a bunch more (like painting with marshmallows - fun!) this coming week.

The Marshmallow Incident

On a headier note, Nana visited last week, and we ended up with a pile of these!  She said she often looks for workbooks, and that these are some of the best she has seen.  I have to agree that they are great!

1st Grade Spelling Games and Activities (Sylvan Workbooks)
2nd Grade Super Math Success (Sylvan Super Workbooks)
1st Grade Math Games & Puzzles (Sylvan Workbooks)
Big Math 1-2 (School Zone)
Big Spelling 1-3 (School Zone)

Some might think a 3 year old doesn't need a 2nd grade math workbook, and you'd be correct.  But he loves them.  We bought them to tear pages out and stick them in his "learning boxes," which he runs to throughout the day to find fun stuff to do.  But so far he has been grabbing the book while he eats.  He's learning things I had no intention of teaching him yet - like differentiating long and short vowel sounds - but he loves it.  He understands it all very well, and can read it all, but his writing will need some time to catch up. 

We probably wouldn't have done quite so much recently if he weren't sick with yet another head cold.  Lots of time at home trying to occupy ourselves!

Comment: What have you been up to this week?

I am linking this post up with Weekly Wrap-Up, Preschool Corner, Sunday Best, and Tot School.

Disclosure: If you click on any of the links in this post and purchase anything, we may earn a small commission through our affiliate relationship with

Monday, April 4, 2011

Easter Basket Book Ideas

Last year, as part of a give away, I polled my readers to suggest their favorite Easter books, and then compiled them into a list.  We ended up with 75 suggestions!  Not all of them are about Easter; some are about bunnies or chicks or sheep.  But they would all make great additions to balance out all of those jelly beans in the kids Easter baskets.  So I thought I would reshare the list this year.  Here it is!

Recommended Children's Easter Books
  1. Biggest Easter Egg (Big Red Reader)
  2. Bunny Money (Max and Ruby)
  3. Bunny My Honey
  4. Bunny Trouble
  5. Bunny's Noisy Book
  6. Busy Bunnies
  7. Busy Chickens
  8. Color Monster
  9. Curious George Four Board Book Set (including Curious George and the Bunny)
  10. Disney's: Winnie the Pooh Easter Mini (Winnie the Pooh)
  11. Easter Bugs : A Springtime Pop-up by David A Carter
  12. First the Egg (Caldecott Honor Book and Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book (Awards)) (wow, 75% off at amazon! We may have to get a copy of this one).
  13. Cloth Book Fluffy Chick (Touch and Feel Cloth Books)
  14. Giggle, Giggle, Quack
  15. Goodnight Moon
  16. Goodnight Moon 123 Lap Edition
  17. Gossie and Gertie
  18. Guess How Much I Love You
  19. Happy Easter Maisy!
  20. Have You Seen My Duckling?
  21. Home for a Bunny (Big Little Golden Book)
  22. Honey Bunny (Baby Booky)
  23. Hoppy's Easter Surprise
  24. I Love You, Little One (Book and Audiocassette Edition)
  25. I Need An Easter Egg (Holiday Lift-The-Flap)
  26. If You Were My Bunny Board Book
  27. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
  28. Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity
  29. Make Way for Ducklings
  30. Minerva Louise and the Colorful Eggs
  31. More Bunny Trouble
  32. Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!
  33. The Best Easter Egg Hunt Ever (Read With Me Paperbacks)
  34. My First Easter
  35. The Night Before Easter
  36. Peanuts: It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown
  37. Pelle's New Suit
  38. Peter Rabbit's Storytime Collection
  39. Rechenka's Eggs (Paperstar)
  40. Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook
  41. Sheep Blast Off!
  42. Sheep in a Jeep
  43. Sheep in a Shop
  44. Sheep on a Ship (Sandpiper Houghton Mifflin Books)
  45. Sheep Out to Eat (Sandpiper paperbacks)
  46. Sheep Take a Hike
  47. Sleepy Bunny (Pat the Bunny Cloth Book)
  48. Spot's Easter Surprise
  49. Spot's First Easter (color)
  50. Spring Is Here (Lois Lenski Books)
  51. Sunny Day Bunny (Happy Day Shape Books)
  52. Tellie the Chicken
  53. Ten Little Bunnies
  54. Ten Little Easter Eggs
  55. Ten Little Rabbits
  56. That's Not My Bunny: Its Tail Is Too Fluffy (Usborne Touchy Feely)
  57. The Bunny Hop (Scholastic)
  58. The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes (Sandpiper Books)
  59. The Easter Beagle Returns! (Peanuts)
  60. The Easter Egg Artists (Aladdin Books)
  61. The Happy Egg
  62. The Runaway Bunny or The Runaway Bunny (Board Book & Bunny Gift Set)
  63. The Story about Ping (Reading Railroad Books)
  64. The Story of Easter
  65. The Story of Easter (Trophy Picture Books)
  66. The Story of Easter
  67. The Sun Egg
  68. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Potter)
  69. The Velveteen Rabbit
  70. Tippy-Toe Chick, Go!
  71. What Is Easter?
  72. What's Up, Duck?
  73. Where Are Baby's Easter Eggs?: A Lift-the-Flap Book
  74. Word Bird's Easter Words
  75. The World of Peter Rabbit (The Original Peter Rabbit, Books 1-23, Presentation Box) (wow!)
  76. Also see the 5 HOP-related books we reviewed here.
Comment: Are any books going in your kids' baskets this year?

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