Sunday, November 28, 2004


early reader books by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Pat Schories

The Biscuit books are wonderful stories for young children learning to read. The books follow an adorable puppy named Biscuit.

Biscuit takes readers on many adventures, like going to school, and helping a lost duckling find its way home.

I enjoy the Biscuit books because they are fun to read. Louisa loves them because she could read them all by herself in kindergarten! She was so proud to read them out loud to me.

The sweet, kid-friendly illustrations help young readers figure out what is going on in the story.

The Biscuit books are perfect for kids who are ready to start reading on their own.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


a Caldecott Honor picture book by Kevin Henkes
"Owen had a fuzzy yellow blanket.
He'd had it since he was a baby.
He loved it with all his heart."
Fuzzy is Owen's best friend. They do everything together.
"Fuzzy goes where I go."
The neighbor, Mrs. Tweezers, does not approve of Owen's attatchment to his blanket. It's Mrs. Tweezers' opinion that Owen is far too old to be "carrying that thing around." Mrs. Tweezers advises Owen's parents on how to stop Owen from carrying Fuzzy all the time. Owen's parents try everything - from the Blanket Fairy, to soaking Owen's favorite corner of Fuzzy in vinegar. But nothing stops Owen from bringing Fuzzy with him everywhere.

Owen's parents explain that he cannot bring Fuzzy to school. Owen does not take this news well. But, by the end of the story, Owen is still able to carry Fuzzy with him - even at school! But, not the way he thought he would.

Owen is one of my all time favorite books. I love the cute, colorful illustrations. When I was little, I remember being able to relate to Owen so much. At the time, I was very attached to my first (crib) pillow, which I'd named Blue Pillow. Owen made me realize that lots of kids have a hard time letting something go. It wasn't just me! To this day, I still have Blue Pillow. It's barely holding together now, it's so old and worn. But, my mom does the occasional patch job on it, and it has a special place on my bed - and in my heart.

Owen would make an excellent companion book to Wemberly Worried, also by Kevin Henkes. You can find my review for that book here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


by Don Freeman

Corduroy is, and always will be, one of my all-time favorite children's books.

The story follows a little stuffed toy bear, Corduroy, as he searches a department store for his lost button. His adventure includes climbing a "mountain" (an escalator):
"I think I've always wanted to climb a mountain."
While exploring the "palace" (the department store's furniture department), Corduroy searches for his button with hope that a little girl, who admired him earlier, will return and buy him.

But, Corduroy does not realize something: He is not the only one awake in the store. A night watchman is fast on Corduroy's tracks. He finds Corduroy (before he's managed to yank off a mattress button to replace his missing button). Corduroy's adventure is over. The night watchman brings the little bear back to the toy department.

The next morning, Corduroy wakes up to find the little girl from the previous day peering at him. And so begins a whole new adventure, and this one is truly magical.
"You must be a friend," said Corduroy. "I've always wanted a friend."
Corduroy is one of those books that gives you the warm fuzzy feeling inside when you read it. So, grab your favorite teddy bear, open up this classic picture book, and snuggle!

Oliver: A Story About Adoption

a picture book by Lois Wickstrom, illustrated by Priscilla Marden

Oliver is a story about a little adopted alligator named Oliver.

Angry with his parents for sending him to his room, Oliver wonders about his birth parents. What were they like? Oliver fantasizes that they might be astronauts, or maybe trapeze artists, or even scientists. But, Oliver realizes that he loves his parents just as much as he would have loved them had they been his birth parents instead of adoptive parents.

Oliver is a book that children (not just adopted) can easily relate to. Why? Oliver finds out in this book that it doesn't matter if you're adopted or not: Sometimes, kids just wish for different parents. In this book, Oliver learns that the fantasy is not unique to adopted kids.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Katy and the Big Snow

a picture book by Virginia Lee Burton

A blizzard has buried the City of Geoppolis with snow. When the smaller snow plows break down, it's up to Katy to save the day.

The book follows Katy's heroic deeds as she helps people get to where they need to be. Because of Katy:
"The Fire Department had put out the fire."

"The doctor had saved his patient."

"The Water Department had repaired the main."

"The telephone and electricity were on."

"The mail could go through."

"And the Police could protect the city."

"Thanks to what Katy did...."
Katy accomplishes a lot more on that snowy day in Geoppolis. Seek out a copy of this action-packed picture book and read about her other heroic acts. Katy and the Big Snow teaches kids the importance of being persistent and doing your best.

Thank goodness Katy didn't give up!

Old Henry

a picture book by Joan W. Blos, illustrated by Stephen Gammell
"No one thought he meant to stay;
the house was drafty, dark and gray...."
So it was said about Henry.

Neighbors grew annoyed when Henry did nothing to fix up his house. They tried talking to him. No luck.
"Then they fined him fines. They threatened jail. They wrote him long letters and sent them by mail."
But still, "the gatepost stayed crooked, the walk stayed unswept."

Henry, too, had had enough. He decided to pack his things and leave. But in Henry's absence, old grudges and bitter resentments softened. Everyone discovered, even Henry, that no one was happy with Henry's decision to leave. Oddly enough, the misfit neighbors found themselves missing Henry as they passed his now dark and empty house. And Henry missed his home - and the neighbors, too.

In the end, Henry comes up with an idea that just might soothe everyone's hurt feelings.

I love Old Henry because it shows that everyone, no matter how different or pecular, can get along. This is a great book about accepting people's eccentricities, and learning to make compromises when it makes sense to do so.

As Old Henry's neighbors conclude by the end of the story:
"And we don't have to make such a terrible fuss because everyone isn't exactly like us."
Isn't that the truth?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Wemberly Worried

a picture book by Kevin Henkes
"Wemberly worried about everything. Big things, little things, and things in between."
Wemberly is a little mouse who constantly worries. She worries about shrinking in the bathtub. She worries about not having enough cake at her party. And, especially, she worries about her doll, Petal.

When Wemberly worries, she looks to Petal for comfort; she rubs Petal's ears.
"Wemberly worried that if she didn't stop worrying, Petal would have no ears left at all."
Poor Wemberly is told by her parents and grandmother:
"You worry too much."
"When you worry, I worry."
"Worry, worry, worry."
Then, a new worry comes her way - a very big worry... school. The big first day she has dreaded finally arrives, along with an almost endless list of new worries.

How does Wemberly handle her first day of school? Don't worry. Everything works out fine in the end.

Wemberly Worried is a perfect story for anyone who worries. The bright, colorful, detailed illustrations add to the fun of this terrific read-aloud.

When I was little, one of my favorite books was Owen, another excellent picture book by Kevin Henkes. I will always be a fan of this gifted author/illustrator's wonderful stories and artwork. My sister says, "Me, too!"

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I Am NOT Sleepy and I Will NOT Go to Bed

a picture book by Lauren Child
"Lola says she never gets tired."
This makes it very hard for Charlie, Lola's older brother, when he has to "get her off to bed." Lola is "not slightly sleepy at 6." She's "still wide awake at 9." She's "not at all tired at 10." Lola predicts that she "will probably still be perky at even 13 o'clock in the morning."

Every time Charlie suggests getting ready for bed, Lola comes up with an inventive reason not to:
"But Charlie, I can't have a bath because of the whales... The whales swimming in the bathtub. They're taking up all the room."

"But Charlie, I can't brush my teeth... I saw a lion with my toothbrush and now he's brushing his teeth with it."

"Those are not my pajamas... Oh, no. Those pajamas belong to two dancing dogs."
I Am NOT Sleepy and I will NOT Go to Bed is hilarious. My little sister, Louisa, loves this book because, "Lola's just like me!" And I can certainly relate to Charlie, who is very patient and kind towards his little sister.

Louisa is a huge fan of Lauren Child's books. She especially loves the Clarice Bean books, and frequently chooses them when her first grade class visits the school library. I enjoy reading Lauren Child's picture books with her, and watching her reactions to the fun and nutty adventures the characters have. The illustrations (which often combine photographs with drawn art) are as entertaining and witty as the texts!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Simple Pictures Are Best

a picture book by Nancy Willard, illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Simple Pictures Are Best is a funny story about a shoemaker and his wife who want to get their picture taken for their wedding anniversary.

When the photographer arrives, the couple can't seem to agree on anything! One wants the picture taken in front of the house. The other wants to show off their squash in the garden. One likes the blue hat. The other prefers the red.

During this process, the photographer constantly stresses, "Simple pictures are best!" But the couple don't listen.

When they're finally ready for the picture, they look... well, bizarre. Feathery hats, fiddles, carrots, shoes - on ears. In the end, they do discover that the photographer was right all along: "Simple pictures are best."

This was one of my favorite books when I was little. I found the illustrations hilarious, and I love the story. This book helped me to learn to accept good advice when given. And, of course, that simple pictures are best.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Just Not the Same

a picture book by Addie Lacoe, illustrated by Pau Estrada

Cleo, Mirabelle, and Gertrude are sisters who can't seem to agree on anything. They are very stubborn and refuse to share with one another.

Whether it's the biggest apple slice, sitting on the front seat of the car, or sleeping on the top bunk, there's always something to argue about. The parents end up having to make compromises that leave the girls feeling that it's "just not the same."

However, with the consideration of a new addition to the family - a puppy - the girls learn that sharing can indeed be enjoyed by all if they put aside their greedy ways.

Just Not the Same is a book that siblings can easily relate to. I have to admit, there are times when my little sister and I disagree on things. But, this book helps you realize that sharing and getting along can make life more fun.