Thursday, March 28, 2013

Short Story Review: Medusa


Adapted by:  Rob M. Worley
Illustrated by:  Mike Dubisch
Published by: Magic Wagon, 2008

* This book is one in a series of Greek Myths that I found while wandering around the children's floor of the library.  I'm always looking for new and interesting books to read with the kids.  I thought that my daughter might be ready and interested in reading Greek Myths.  It's part of the Short Tales series  by Magic Wagon which also has a series on Norse Myths, Fairy Tales, and Classics. 

In the beginning of the book there is a page of The Greek Gods that includes a portrait, his or her name, and what they are the God of.  This book does a great job of telling the tale of Medusa in a simply written and easy to understand way.  My daughter ended up grabbing this book and reading it on her own.  While I was sitting and reading it on my own my son came over and asked to hear it.  I thought that the illustrations might be a bit scary for him since he's only 4 1/2.  But he enjoyed the story.  This was the first book of the series that we have read but I think it's a great intro to the Greek Gods.  We will definitely be checking out more in this series.

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Non-fiction Beginning Reader Book Review: Gross Out! Animals That Do Disgusting Things

Gross Out!: Animals That Do Disgusting Things

Gross Out!  Animals That Do Disgusting Things
Written by:  Ginger L. Clarke
Illustrated by:  Pete Mueller
Published by: Grosset & Dunlap, 2006

* My daughter got her own library card during a Kindergarten field trip to the library last year. I usually make a weekly trip to the library with my 4 1/2 year old son after preschool.  My husband will usually take my daughter on the weekend.  My daughter has a lot of reading interests and would probably spend all day perusing the books if my husband let her!  On her last trip to the library she picked out this book.  Normally, she'll read her books and put them in the "to return" bag when she's ready.  The other night I was getting ready to blow-dry her hair after her shower when she went running to get this book.  She excitedly told me, "I have a book that I want to read to you!"  While I was blow-drying her hair she very loudly read this book to me. 

This book is part of the All Aboard Science Reader Series and is a Station Stop Level 2 book.  Level 2 books are geared towards children who are reading with help.  They contain short sentences and simple plots and dialogue. 

This book is broken up into five short chapters.  Each chapter focuses on a different set of creatures (Underwater, Creepy Crawlies, etc.).  Each set of pages describes a creature and the disgusting things it does.  As much as I was grossed out by the facts my daughter was really into this book.  I think this book would be great for reluctant readers who like gross things!  It's non-fiction, so there's learning going on.  But the book is fun and the reader will learn a bunch of interesting facts.  The book contains illustrations, but I think it would be even more interesting and fun if there were actual photographs of the creatures described.

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Picture Book Review: Bridget's Beret

Bridget's Beret

Bridget's Beret
Written and illustrated by:  Tom Lichtenheld
Published by: Henry Holt and Company, 2010

* My almost 7 year old daughter is very creative and likes to create all kinds of art.  So I've been on a little bit of an art book streak to help feed her interest and help her get to know some famous artists.  In this book, Bridget loves to draw so much, she prefers drawing to ice cream!  But before she can begin any masterpiece she has to put on her big, black, beret....because all great artists needed to wear one to make art, right? But one day while she was sitting outside drawing (her favorite place to draw), the wind blew her beret away.  She tried to find the beret, including filling out a "missing beret" report with the police and trying to find a replacement hat.  But without her beloved beret Bridget discovers she has artist block.  Eventually, Bridget's little sister helps her get over her artistic block and there's a happy ending. 

The book has portraits of some famous artists and some of Bridget's artwork is inspired by famous paintings (Andy Warhol's soup can, Van Gogh's "Starry Night").  At the end of the book Lichtenheld includes some inspirational tips on "How to Start Your Art." 

This was a book that the whole family enjoyed together.  I can see this book finding a permanent spot on our bookshelves since I know my daughter would go back to the "How to Start Your Art" section and create projects based on the ideas given!

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Beginning Reader Book Review: Poppleton Has Fun

Poppleton Has Fun

Poppleton Has Fun
Written by:  Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by:  Mark Teague
Published by:  Scholastic Inc., 2000
Grade Level Equivalent:  2.2
DRA: 18-20
Guided Reading: J

* Although this was my son's first Poppleton the Pig book, Poppleton has starred in several books written by Cynthia Rylant.  Poppleton Has Fun is number 7 in the series.  As the title of this book suggests, in each of the three stories Poppleton has some kind of fun.  His friends Cherry Sue (a llama), Hudson (a mouse), and Fillmore (a goat) also make appearances in the various stories.  In the first story Poppleton goes to the movies alone...which doesn't sound like much fun!  In the second story Poppleton makes a quilt with his friends and in the third story he enjoys taking a bath. 

We are fans of Cynthia Rylant's Henry and Mudge series and weren't disappointed with this book.  The series doesn't have to be read in order, as we discovered, reading book number 7!  The stories are fun and  focus on friendship.  My son was able to read these on his own to me....which surprised me to discover he's reading at a second grade reading level!  We will definitely be reading more Poppleton books!

We own this book.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Picture Book Review: My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks

My Dog Is As Smelly As Dirty Socks: And Other Funny Family Portraits

My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks and Other Funny Family Portraits
Text and Portraits by:  Hanoch Piven
Published by: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2007

* I happened to find this book perusing the library shelves.  The title definitely caught my interest.  The young girl narrating the story is asked by her teacher to draw a picture of her family.  But she doesn't like her drawing, because as she states, "there are so many things about  him (dad) that you don't see in this picture."  She then proceeds to describe her father comparing him to everyday objects.  For example, "My daddy is as jumpy as a SPRING" with a picture of an actual spring.  After each family member's object comparisons the girl creates a portrait using those objects.  As a teacher, my mind was thinking, what a great book to teach similes and comparisons.  As a parent my mind was thinking, what a creative and fun book!  The author's note in the beginning of the book is very inspiring.  He conducted a workshop at the Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel called "Drawing with Objects" for children and teens with cancer.  The kids created self-portraits using everyday household objects. It is  photos of these self-portraits that appear on the front and back inside covers of the book.  Creating self-portraits inspired by this book sounds like a great rainy day activity that I may have the kids do over the summer! 

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Non-fiction Picture Book Review: First Garden

First Garden: The White House Garden and How It Grew

First Garden:  The White House Garden and How it Grew
Written and illustrated by:  Robbin Gourley
Published by: Clarion Books, 2011

* I wish I could garden but I can't.  Not just for lack of space, which is true.  My backyard is very small and shady, so not very conducive for growing a garden.  But I think I have a black thumb.  Every year I attempt to grow vegetables in containers and every year I'm lucky if I get a handful of green beans and a couple of tomatoes.  Last year I even started with tomato plants, given to me from my parents, rather than starting from seeds.  But I keep trying and hoping!  To help us start thinking about our container gardens (the kids always help me plant the seeds) I got us this book.  We had recently read The House that George Built which described the building of the White House.  This book goes a step further and describes the development of the First Garden.  Beginning with First Lady Michelle Obama's concern about the health of the American people, Gourley then goes into detail about the designing and planting of the garden.  I found it interesting that there's a beehive for about 60,000 bees that produces about eleven gallons of honey in the garden.  I learned that some of the seedlings planted in the garden are passed down from plants grown over 200 years ago by Thomas Jefferson! I can only imagine (and drool) over a 1,100-square-foot garden with over 55 varieties of herbs, fruits, and vegetables.....although my garden would have beets!  My daughter and I enjoyed this book but it did not hold my son's interest at all!  He was crawling around the bed and fooling around while we were reading.  At the end of the book Gourley includes "Good Reasons to Garden" and "Recipes from the White House."  My daughter is excited to try out some of the recipes.  This book is definitely not for everyone, but if you have a child who's interested in gardening, he or she may enjoy this book.

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Picture Book Review: Only One You

Only One You

Only One You
Written and illustrated by:  Linda Kranz
Published by: Rising Moon, 2006

* What first caught my eye with this book was the cover.  It's an ocean blue cover with bright, colorful "fish" swimming.  As you begin reading and take a closer look you realize that these "fish" are actually painted rocks.  Although the illustrations are detailed and enjoyable to look at, I found the text of this book to be even more enjoyable.  Mama and Papa fish feel it's time to share some wisdom with their child, Adri.  The advice they give to their child, including, "Know when to speak; know when to listen" and "Set aside some quiet time to relax and reflect.  Every day."  are things that I as an adult can be reminded of!  The front and back inside covers feature lots  more bits of wisdom.  This is a book that can be read over and over and should be read over and over as a gentle reminder to your kids and to yourself about how to make one's self and the world a better place.  The kids really enjoyed looking at the pictures, but I'm not sure how much they appreciated this book, being 4 and 6.  However, this is a book that I can see finding a place on our permanent bookshelf so we can revisit it again and again.

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.