Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

March 30, 2015

National Humor Month

By Angela Verges

Guess what? April is National Humor Month. This is an ideal time to read a humorous book. I recently had the opportunity to meet author/illustrator Peter Brown at a book signing. He was funny and so are some of his picture books.

Peter Brown demonstrating how he illustrated the tiger In Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Peter Brown demonstrating how he illustrated the tiger In Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

During his presentation, Peter Brown showed the audience how he drew the tiger from his book, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. As he read the story, the kids in the audience roared and laughed along with the story. Add this to your reading list for April to see what adventures arise.

Title: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild Author/Illustrator: Peter Brown Genre: Picture Book Ages: 3-6

Title: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild
Author/Illustrator: Peter Brown
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 3-6

 

Add a bit of hilarity to your reading with another one of Peter Brown’s books, Flight of The DoDo. Mr. Brown’s humor begins on the first page when Penguin is pooped on by a goose flying overhead. What will happen next? Open this delightful book to find out what happens with Penguin and some of his bird friends.

Title: Flight of The DoDo Author/Illustrator: Peter Brown Genre: Picture Book Ages: 3-6

Title: Flight of The DoDo
Author/Illustrator: Peter Brown
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 3-6

One more book to add to your list of humorous reading is, Children Make Terrible Pets, again by Peter Brown. Has your child ever asked to have a pet? In this story, the author has cleverly woven together a story about a bear who wants to keep a boy as a pet.

 

Title: Children Make Terrible Pets Author/Illustrator: Peter Brown Genre: Picture Book Ages: 3-6

Title: Children Make Terrible Pets
Author/Illustrator: Peter Brown
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 3-6

In addition to reading humorous stories this month, you can also schedule a few fun family activities. Here are three to get you started?
1. Read a joke book.
2. Gather the family and have each person tell their favorite joke or make one up.
3. Do a silly dance, then laugh at yourself.

What are some of your favorite humorous books or family activities that add humor to your life?

March 8, 2015

Cooking is a science? Who knew!

By Angela Verges

Did you know cooking could be a science? Phineas MacGuire found this to be a fact when he had to start cooking dinner every night. Phineas is a fourth grader and the main character in the book Phineas L. MacGuire…Gets Cooking! By Frances O’Roark Dowell and Preston McDaniels. Phineas loves science, but cooking is unfamiliar territory.

When I read Phineas L. MacGuire Gets Cooking! I was reminded of times when my boys worked on science projects. Sometimes their experiments involved cooking up creations in the kitchen. Phineas’ journey began when he complained about eating pizza all the time (even though it was his favorite food).

Title: Phineas L. MacGuire...Gets Cooking! Author: Frances O'Roark Dowell Illustrator: Preston McDaniels Ages: 8-12

Title: Phineas L. MacGuire…Gets Cooking!
Author: Frances O’Roark Dowell
Illustrator: Preston McDaniels
Ages: 8-12

Humor is used throughout the book to develop the character of Phineas and his friends. When Phineas is told that the babysitter, Sarah, will help him cook, he is less than excited. He doesn’t believe it will be time well spent. Phineas tells us that Sarah is “into” Purple and he is allergic to it.

In the story it is Phineas’ friend who opens his eyes to the fact that cooking is science. She tells him that in fact, “It’s chemistry.” As Phineas warms up to the idea of cooking, he actually wants to prepare a dinner that will blow up.

The reader is easily drawn in to this story through quirky characters, vivid images and amusing scientific facts. No protective goggles are needed to join the wacky scientific journey of this book. After spending time with Phineas and his friends, you are sure to discover a new way of combining science and cooking.

Would you let your child incorporate science and cooking in your kitchen?

February 4, 2015

Can I hear it for the series?

by Wendy Lawrence

Early readers like their series. Actually, intermediate, advanced, and adult readers like their series. I’m a fan of No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, personally–do you have a favorite?

But I’m getting off track. We were talking about early readers. Series are great for these kids because the books become familiar. They know the characters and the general plots. They get to know the structure of the book. Kids can read a higher level of books in a series because there is so much about the book that is comfortable and familiar. In this way, series books can both stretch a reader and give them easy reading practice.

The question that I get asked by moms more than any other question is “what kind of series does your son like?” They always ask the question in the same way, which is this “What should my son/daughter read after Magic Tree House?”

So, for sure, Magic Tree House is a good place to start! I also remember my anxiety as a mom when I saw my son getting to the end of the series. What would i do next? I still feel this a little bit each time he gets near the end. But then a trip to the library always straightens me out. Here are some that he loved in his early reading days:

droon1The Secrets of Droon – a great beginning fantasy series that has the advantage of having a lot of books to keep them busy for awhile. The books are short and fairly simple, although they can get a little dark towards the end of the series. But nothing too major.

Beastquest – This is one of those formulaic series, but it was one of the first my son read and because there are so many, it kept him busy for quite awhile. The same author has a Deep Dive series (called SeaQuest in England), and a higher-level but still beginning fantasy series called Chronicles of Avantia.avantia1

Oliver Moon is one of my favorites to recommend. It’s really fun, about a boy in olivermoonmagic school in a world where everyone is magic. This is a great starter series.

Galactic Time Travelers is, I believe, a self-published series. We found it in a Seattle independent bookstore–or rather Great Grandma did–but I’ve also seen it online. I love this series because it’s five books long and each book is slightly longer and more complicated than the previous one. The fifth book is about twice the length of the first one. You can practically watch your kids learning how to read as they go through this series. Plus, it’s one of my son’s favorites. If there’s ever a lull between finishing one series and a trip to the library, he picks this one up to read again.

Hopefully that will keep your reading going for a little while, but I’ve got plenty more ideas where those came from! Happy reading! And if you or your young reader has a favorite series, please let us know in the comments below!

February 1, 2015

Once Upon a time

By Angela Verges

Once upon a time in a two storied house in a small subdivision near a forest, lived Dreadlocks and his Mama Bear. And thus begins my fairy tale of living with a teen bear known as Dreadlocks because of his hair style.

Did you now that February 26 is Tell a Fairy Tale Day? This is an ideal time to pull out your child’s favorite tale and read it over again. There are also fairy tales waiting to be discovered by your child.

While reading an article in the Metro Parent Magazine. I discovered two interesting books – The Sock Fairy and The Knot Fairy. Have you ever begun to put away laundry only to discover mismatched or missing socks? This is the time to call on the sock fairy.

Have you ever wondered why your child wakes up with knotted hair? There may be a magical explanation. The videos below will give you a peek the two fairy tale book mentioned here.

Title: The Knot Fairy Author: Bobbie Hinman Illustrator: Kristi Bridgeman Gener: Picture Book Ages: 3-7

Title: The Knot Fairy
Author: Bobbie Hinman
Illustrator: Kristi Bridgeman
Gener: Picture Book
Ages: 3-7

Title: The Sock Fairy Author: Bobbie Hinman Illustrator: Kristi Bridgeman Genre: Picture Book Ages: 3-7

Title: The Sock Fairy
Author: Bobbie Hinman
Illustrator: Kristi Bridgeman
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 3-7

If you’re looking for an activity to celebrate Tell a Fairy Tale Day, check your local library or bookstore. In Ann Arbor, MI, Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tearoom will hold a “fairy tea” story time on February 19.

Turn your once upon a time into happily ever after on Tell a Fairy Tale Day – choose a fun but or activity to engage your child.

December 31, 2014

I’m Bored

By Angela Verges

Has your child ever spoken the dreadful words, I’m bored? It has happened at my house. No matter how often I respond to my boys by saying, “I can always find something for you to do,” they stick to their phrase. “I’m still bored.”
As a new year rolls in, I continue to encourage my boys to find ways to cure their boredom. One of my suggestions was, “find an interesting book to read.” My teens looked at each other, then at me and said, “We’ll find something to do.”
My teens are not as excited about picture books as I am. I let them select a book of their choice to read before venturing off into other activities to relieve their boredom. As for my selection of reading, there are several books that I found entertaining. They all relate to being bored.

Title: I'm Bored Author: Michael Ian Black Illustrator: Debbie Ridpath Ohi Genre: Picture book Ages: 3-8

Title: I’m Bored
Author: Michael Ian Black
Illustrator: Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Genre: Picture book
Ages: 3-8

I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black was the first book to jump off the library shelf and into my hands. The text is simple and kid friendly. The main character doesn’t think there is anything boring about being a kid. However, she has a hard time explaining that to a potato. She demonstrates all the things kids do for fun, but the potato was still bored.
Through ninja kicks and cartwheels, the main character becomes exasperated trying to convince the potato to not be bored. If your child continues to sing a chorus of “I’m bored” after reading this book, pull out another book. Bored Bill by Liz Pichon may stimulate his creative juices.

Title: Bored Bill Author/Illustrator: Liz Pichon Genre: Picture book Ages: 4 &up

Title: Bored Bill
Author/Illustrator: Liz Pichon
Genre: Picture book
Ages: 4 &up

The main character in Bored Bill is a dog who is really bored, but his owner Mrs. Pickle, is never bored. Mrs. Pickle tries to convince Bill to try the things she loves like, reading, gardening and kung fu. Bill just grumbled and said he was bored.
Something happens when Bill and Mrs. Pickle go for a walk. A gust of wind sweeps them into the air and land Bill into space. You’ll have to read the book to discover what happens on Bill’s adventure.

Title: Bored! Bored! Bored! Author/Illustrator: Jill Newton Genre: Picture book Ages: 4-8

Title: Bored! Bored! Bored!
Author/Illustrator: Jill Newton
Genre: Picture book
Ages: 4-8

A final book in my collection of must reads is Bored! Bored! Bored! By Jill Newton. This book has brilliant colors and features sea animals. Claude is a shark who doesn’t want to do the things his friends are doing. When his friends don’t invite him to a party, Claude has to find the thing he loves to do that will get him back into his circle of friends.
When your child shouts, “I’m bored!” give him a symphony of books to stimulate his imagination.
Happy New Year and happy book reading!

December 7, 2014

Uncles and antlers for the holiday

By Angela Verges

The Holiday season is upon us. It’s the time of year where folks all around the world celebrate in their special way. At our house it is a time where aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents and friends feast together.

My boys look forward to our Holiday gathering because they know something wacky is sure to happen. Although we don’t have antlers, my family members resemble the characters in the picture book Uncles and antlers by Lisa Wheeler. This holiday themed picture book uses rhyme and counting as we are introduced to a family of wacky reindeer.

Title: uncles and antlers Illustrator: Brian Floca Genre: Picture Book Ages: 3-6

Title: uncles and antlers
Illustrator: Brian Floca
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 3-6

Uncle Uno had one hat. Uncle Duce who wore two wigs and bellowed out a tune, reminded me of myself singing at our annual Christmas dinner (off key). My brother could fill the role of Uncle Quint who is long and tall and shoots basketball.

Add uncles and antlers to your reading list and see if you can find any comparisons to your family. Uncle and antlers had their wacky side and so does my family. No matter how silly our family Christmas dinner becomes, it’s always just right.

As I searched for more books to add to my holiday reading list, I came across Just Right for Christmas by Birdie Black. The story begins with the king buying a bright red cloth from the market. The cloth was used to make a gift for the princess. Once the gift was complete, the leftover scraps were placed outside the back door of the castle.

Title: Just Right for Christmas Author: Birdie Black Illustrator: Rosalind Beardshaw Genre: Picture book Age: 3-7

Title: Just Right for Christmas
Author: Birdie Black
Illustrator: Rosalind Beardshaw
Genre: Picture book
Age: 3-7

The story continued with someone finding the scraps and taking them home to make an item for a family member. Each time the scraps were placed outside a door and another person received a gift. By the end of the story, the smallest animal around received a gift from the last piece of red cloth.

Just Right for Christmas was a heartwarming tale of giving during the Christmas season. This book can be used to begin a discussion about the joy of giving or helping, not just during the Holidays, but at other times of the year.

The next time you get together with the uncles and antlers in your family, turn it into a wacky celebration. Make it a joyous, just right occasion.
What’s on your reading list for the upcoming Holiday season?

November 2, 2014

America Recycles Day – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

By Angela Verges

Do you have a child who likes to collect…stuff? Over the years my son has collected football trading cards, Yu-gi-oh cards and a bunch of other things. A couple of times a year I would encourage him give away some of the things he no longer played with. The task was anything but pleasant.

November 15th is America Recycles Day. If you have a child who likes to hold onto things forever, this is a great time to introduce the concept of recycling. This task may require you to use creativity. When I attempted to help my son part with some of his old toys, he responded with, “Don’t throw that away, I still play with that.”

If you have a little pack rat who likes to keep everything, he might enjoy reading Stuff! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This is a story about a little pack rat named Pinch who keeps everything from magazines to toy cars, boats and games. Pinch had so much stuff that it was spilling onto the street.

Author: Steven Kroll Illustrator: Steve Cox Ages: 4-8 years

Author: Steven Kroll
Illustrator: Steve Cox
Ages: 4-8 years

You will have to read the story to find out what Pinch does to reduce, reuse and recycle. Expand your child’s knowledge of recycling by creating green crafts. You can find a variety of projects in the book Cool Crafts with old Wrappers, Cans, and Bottles by Carol Sirrine.

Cool Crafts tells you how to make projects reusing items you already have. Did you know you could make Itty Bitty Frames using metal bottle caps? It’s as simple as gluing a magazine a small picture into the cap and adding a magnet strip.

Author Carol Sirrine Ages 8-14 years

Author: Carol Sirrine
Ages: 8-14 years

Do you have a suggestion of things to do for America Recycles Day or a favorite book related to recycling?

September 12, 2014

play with your books in Photoplay!

by Wendy Lawrence

When I saw this book, I immediately wanted to buy a copy for every kid I knew. I settled for only one and gave it to an artistic niece as I thought its subtleties might be lost on my younger boys, whose art tends to be a bit more on the abstract side. But I love everything about this book and think you will too. It would make a really nice–and unique–gift for your next birthday party or (dare I mention it yet) the holiday season.

photoplayTitle: Photoplay!
Author: M.J. Bronstein
Genre: Picture Book with a twist–you draw some of the pictures!
Ages: 5 and up

This is an interactive picture book with photographic pages that have pieces missing, just asking for your young artist to fill in the spaces. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s the book trailer:

I love the way this book allows kids to interact with their reading and make their art a conversation between the author and themselves. Maybe if you ask nicely, they’ll let you play too, and you can talk to your own kid through the pictures you each add! And after you do, you can check out what others have done in the gallery, or even email in your own work!

http://www.inthisplayground.com/photoplay/fotoplay-page-archive-made-by-you/

 

September 5, 2014

If you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to summer…

A little while ago, I wrote about A Warm Winter Tail, by Carrie A. Pearson. It will be time to read that soon, but wait. Not. Quite. Yet. My tomatoes still aren’t yet red. My grass is still green (and I guess at this point it will remain that way). And the kids just got dropped off at school a few hours ago. So there’s time. And what is there time for? How about Person’s latest book, A Cool Summer Tail.

Like the first one, it starts with the voice of a child:

How do humans stay cool in the summer, Mama?
Do they hang out their tongues,

like a spring that’s been sprung,
breathing fast in and out like this?

Kids will learn how other animals adapt to the warm summer months through the illustrations and the words which tells us what humans don’t do, but what animals clearly do.

coolsummertailTitle: A Cool Summer Tail
Author: Carrie A Pearson
Illustrator: Christina Wald
Genre: Picture Book, Science
Ages: 2 – 6

Check out this book and use it as a great reference for talking about the changing seasons–very apt right now–and how animals adapt differently than humans. I also think it would be fun to talk about which of the adaptations humans CAN do (lay on the cool dirt like a bear, for example, even if we don’t often), and which we definitely CAN’T (spread our wings for shade like a butterfly).

September 2, 2014

Kick off the school year with reading

Title: Dino-Football Author: Lisa Wheeler Illustrator: Barry Gott Genre: Picture book Ages: 5-8yrs

Title: Dino-Football
Author: Lisa Wheeler
Illustrator: Barry Gott
Genre: Picture book
   Ages: 5-8yrs

By Angela Verges

It’s the time of year where parents are kicking into gear for the start of another school year. In addition to back to school season, it is the beginning of football season for my family. My teen son has played football since he was a little tyke.

We decided to welcome the season by selecting some of our favorite football themed books to read. One of my favorite picture books is Dino-Football by Lisa Wheeler and Barry Gott. The author uses rhyme to tell the story of the Greenblade Snackers and the Redscales on the gridiron.

 

The illustrator brings the story to life with colorful, active Dino’s. There’s an interception and even an end zone dance by one of the Dino’s. Did you know that Dino’s tailgate before a game? You have to check out the story to see what I mean.

One of my son’s favorite football books is Kickoff! by Tiki and Ronde Barber. This chapter book was inspired by the childhood of former NFL football players (and twin brothers) Tiki and Ronde Barber. My son has always been a reluctant reader, to find something that he likes to read speaks volumes about that book.

Title: Kickoff! Author: Tiki and Ronde Barber Genre: Chapter book Ages: 8-12yrs

Title: Kickoff!
Author: Tiki and Ronde Barber
Genre: Chapter book
Ages: 8-12yrs

 

I liked reading Kickoff! because of the underlying theme of teamwork and perseverance. My son liked the book because he could relate to the characters.

If your child is feeling like he has the back to school blues, huddle up and select a book to kick off his new season of school.

What book would you select to read to kick off the back to school season?

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