Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Wrinkle in Time

Last night for book group we read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. First off, don't you just love the name, A Wrinkle in Time?  I do.  The visual imagery of time wrinkling is perfect.  Second, if you buy this book, I highly recommend trying to find one with the cover illustration by Peter Sis.   Peter Sis is great in his own right and his cover is very fun.  Some of the other covers I saw last night were not so great.  I know they say not to judge a book by its cover - and this book is great no matter the cover - but artwork by Peter Sis is an added bonus to a great book.

A Wrinkle in Time is a science fiction story about a young girl named Meg, her 5-year-old little brother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin's journey through time.  Meg's parents are both brilliant scientists  and her father has been off working on a project for a few years and has not been in contact with their family for some time.  School is hard for Meg.  Everyone teases her that her dad has run off with a mistress; her performance is poor in school; and she is awkward looking with glasses and braces.  Needless to say she is an easy teasing target.  

Everything changes when Charles Wallace meets Mrs. Who, Whatsit and Which when walking in the woods with their dog.  Charles Wallace, Meg and Calvin set off on an adventure through time and space to find her father and to fight off the ominous IT.

This is a classic children's literature novel - published in 1962 - and winner of the Newbery Medal.  The book group I attended is all adult women, and they all loved this book.  It is the kind of timeless book that appeals to both children as young as 10 or 11 and adults.  Ironically, several of the women from book  group remembered not liking the book as a child, but they all loved it this time around.

I love this book.  Read or re-read it soon.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Owen & Mzee: The true story of a remarkable friendship

My children and I have fallen in love with the non-fiction section of our local library.  Our visits usually begin with my 5-year old daughter asking the librarian where she can find a book about dogs.  She loves dogs.   While she is looking for dog books, I peruse the shelves for anything that may interest my children.  My 3-year-old son loves turtles. So when I saw Owen and Mzee - written by father and daughter Craig and Isabella Hatkoff and Dr. Paula Kahumbu -  a true story about an unlikely friendship between a turtle and a hippo, I added it to our pile.  

In December 26, 2004, a tsunami in the Indian Ocean crashed onto the shore near Malindi, in the African country of Kenya.  Owen, a baby hippo, was found stranded alone on the sandbar of a nearby sandy coral reef.  The local villagers worked hard to rescue the hippo and took him to live at Haller Park, as he would not survive in the wild.  Owen was placed in an enclosure that also housed a 130-year-old giant Aldabra tortoise - Mzee.  The story follows the unlikeliest of friendships that develops between Mzee and Owen.  

The pictures are taken by Peter Greste, whose photos of the friends have appeared in newspapers all over the world and have led visitors from across the globe to make pilgrimages to see one of the world's oddest friendships. The story gives general information about turtles and hippos and provides fun insights into Owen and Mzee's unusual friendship.  At the end of the book, there is also interesting information about the people, places, and animals that appear in the book and background information about the tsunami of 2004.

This is a fun book and a great introduction to non-fiction.  The beautiful pictures and funny and endearing story draw children in while teaching them about animials, Africa and history.  Needless to say, my children loved it.  In fact, when their friends came over, my kids told them how funny the book was and insisted that I read it to the whole group.  

A true measure of success.  

Monday, in the children's literature blogging world, is non-fiction Monday.  Over at Telling Kids the Truth: Writing Non-Fiction for Children there is a list of all blogs highlighting non-fiction children's literature today.  Check it out - there are some great books!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Welcome to the Bed and Biscuit

Back in February, the Love Bug brought Welcome to the Bed and Biscuit by Joan Carris to our house.  It is a book that says it is for 6 to 10 year olds.  I read it out loud to my 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son - but I have to say that my 3-year-old's interest level in it was minimal.  He mostly jumped around on the bed while we read.  My five-year-old, however, loved it.  

Grampa Bender runs an animal boarding house with the help of Ernest, the pig, Gabby, a mynah bird and a kitten named Millie.  Everything is great at the boardinghouse/farm until Grampa is called away to help with a fire at a neighboring house.  He comes home tired, smoky and with a mysterious bundle.  This mysterious bundle seems to be taking up all of Grampa's time and Ernest, Gabby and Millie are not happy.  The story follows the animals as the mystery unfolds and they learn to deal with the arrival of something new and different on their farm. 

This is a fun book about friendships and expanding those friendships beyond our current ones.  I don't know that this is a "new favorite" but I think it is a fun series (we have only read the first one) and is something that my daughter really enjoyed reading with me.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Little Mouse's BIG Secret

On Saturday night, at the end of our date, my husband and I got a big frozen yogurt and headed to the bookstore to peruse.  We are nerds, what can I say.  While my husband read up on dogs (and reconfirmed to himself that labs are indeed a great breed) I looked through the children's section.  I came upon this really fun book - Little Mouse's BIG Secret by Eric Battut.   First, I was excited because Eric Battut is French and lives in France.  And we love all things French in our house.

The story is extremely simple.  The same line is repeated over and over throughout the story.  All of Little Mouse's friends want to know what the Big secret is, but Mouse answers over and over again "It's my secret, and I'll never tell."  It is the illustrations that tell the story in this book and if young readers watch carefully they will know mouse's big secret early on.  It is then humorous to watch as the animals question mouse about his secret - not knowing - and he answers - thinking he is hiding his BIG secret.  This is a story that younger kids will love.  It is always fun to be in on a good secret.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Chocolate Chicken for Max

Well, with my baby sister now married and my bathroom renovation (partially) done, I am (almost) back to normal life.  Only 5 more loads of laundry to go . . . .

Since it is Easter this week I thought I would highlight one of our favorite Easter books - Max's Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells.  Really all of the Max and Ruby stories are great but this one has a visit from the Easter Bunny.  The story begins with Max and Ruby searching for Easter eggs.  Ruby declares that whoever finds the most eggs gets the chocolate chicken at the end.  While Ruby finds striped eggs and colored eggs and eggs with stars on them - Max finds ants and mud and no eggs.  When Ruby declares herself the winner, Max, and the chocolate chicken, both disappear.

This is a classic Max and Ruby tale of a bossy older sister and a mischievous younger brother.  A perfect story to get excited for the Easter Bunny.

Check out Rosemary Wells' website.  It has information on her creative process, a printable DIY Max and Ruby Bunny Party, games and more.