Tag Archives: children’s books

Read Across America

Happy Read Across America Day – and Dr. Seuss’s Birthday!

Check out Live-Brary’s info on this celebration here.

Also, Seussville has a great online collection of materials for educators to use in their classrooms to celebrate with kids.

 

Book Review: “Waiting for the Magic” by Patricia MacLachlan

Waiting for the MagicWaiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan

This novel, written by Patricia MacLachlan (author of Sarah, Plain & Tall), I recommend highly for children who are beginning chapter book reading, as well as adults. MacLachlan does an excellent job of treating serious family concerns(absentee fatherhood, pregnancy) through children’s [and pets’] eyes. William and Elinor’s father leaves his family (again) and their mother decides to take corrective action by adopting four dogs and a cat. The family readjusts, and the reader sees, through William’s perspective, the conflicted emotions of being a child in a broken family. MacLachlan not only writes with poignancy, but with a sense of whimsy as well, when the children find out that their new pets can speak to them (Elinor hears first, since all four-year-olds can hear magic, according to the littlest dog). “Waiting for the Magic” is a sweet story that grapples with serious issues with a tone that isn’t ominous, and offers an uplifting message about the endurance of the family. Amy June Bates’ occasional black-and-white sketch illustrations support the text and help the reader to visualize each individual member of the family, human and otherwise.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Review: The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Image from Jim Trelease's Website

The Handbook begins with a rationale for the importance of reading aloud to children, and cites statistics and case studies that show the benefits it offers to literacy, family togetherness, child development, and more.  Then, Trelease walks the reader through some practical techniques as well as beginning reading suggestions for every age and interest.

Based on his experience as a father and grandfather, and his familiarity with many anecdotes from other parents, Trelease tells us (p. 4) that there are some major advantages derived from reading aloud to [your] child:

  • Associating reading with pleasure in the child’s brain
  • Establishing background knowledge (ie, what animals live on farms, what a bulldozer looks like, what a fiddle is).
  • Building vocabulary (Children’s picture books are meant to be read to a child not by a child because their vocabulary and structure are too sophisticated.)
  • Provide a positive reading role model (YOU!)

Although I’m only about halfway done reading The Handbook, I’ve skimmed the final sections that contain a plethora of reading recommendations of every sort.  I highly recommend The Read-Aloud Handbook to parents, teachers, librarians, and any other professional that works with children.

Here’s a link to the author Jim Trelease’s home page that contains book lists, lecture downloads, and excerpts/major points from every chapter of his book.

How to Give a Cat a Bath, and other dangerous advice

After decompressing from a semester of MLS studies, I’m finally getting back to Mr. Blog.  I’ve been reading a bit here and there, and have even been putting my VCR to good use.

Bad Kitty series by Nick Bruel

Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I discovered this delightful little series of picture books and illustrated children’s chapter books that center around the life of a very, very bad, bad kitty.

In the original picture book, Bad Kitty, the kitty is loathe to find out that he’s been temporarily restricted to a vegetable diet.  Fortunately, his hazardous protests throughout the house won him back his omnivorous cat food.  The book, and its sequel, Poor Puppy (in which the kitty is introduced to an over-friendly new housemate), incorporate the alphabet and counting, and are devilishly funny and random in their choice of vocabulary.

Additionally, Bruel wrote illustrated chapter books about specific aspects of the kitty’s life, including Bad Kitty Gets a Bath. In this hilarious volume, the kitty’s owner explains the dangers involved in attempting to clean a cat, including injury, death, and pants-wetting.  The book even gives a detailed illustration and explanation of the escalating levels of cat anger as expressed through different hisses.  Any cat-lover (or cat-hater, even) will recognize the high-strung attitude of kitty, something common to many of our feline friends.  I highly recommend these books, to adults and childen.  The picture books are a longer read than most, so keep that in mind when reading with those with shorter attention spans (adults and children included).

Here’s a link to Nick Bruel’s Bad Kitty series: click here.

Bruno and Occupational Awareness for Kids

Bruno is a very busy beaver: he dabbles in carpentry, baking, and tailoring.  In this delightful series of picture books, author Lars Klinting introduces children to the basic tools and ideas of different skilled trades.

In Bruno the Carpenter, Bruno spends an afternoon in his workshop, using all of his hand tools to build a new wooden toolbox.

In Bruno the Tailor, he decides he needs a new apron, and goes about preparing the fabric and sewing together the pieces to make a sturdy apron.

In Bruno the Baker, his little friend Felix helps him to bake a special birthday cake, exploring all the techniques and ingredients in the kitchen.

All of these delightful books explain the creative process for children, and include illustrations of the action as well as pages highlighting the objects that are introduced.  At the end of each book is an explanation for the grown-ups (complete with wood measurements, fabric pattern, and cake recipe, respectively),  so that

they can guide the child through the activity.  I highly recommend these books for parents to introduce their children not only to fun hobbies, but to the possibility of a future career in the skilled trades.

Additionally, Lars Klinting authored at least two books about a similar character named Handy Harvey: Harvey the Painter and Harvey the Gardener.   I haven’t read them yet, but they look promising.

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No Flying, No Tights

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Sorry I’ve been MIA for awhile from my little blog – but I do keep up with my google reader, at least.  I’ve been busy with my first annotated bibliography for my Fundamentals of Library Science summer course, and I’ve let my meager writing fall by the wayside.

My topic of research is graphic novels, and how they can be used in libraries to support literacy.  If you know of any cool websites, please write a comment about it; it would be most welcomed.

A librarian coworker highly recommended this awesome site called No Flying, No Tights, which includes great recommendations of graphic novels, based on age and genre.  I’ve explored it only a little, but so far, it looks like a great readers’ advisory (and personal reading) tool.  Tell me what you think.

Chinese Cinderella – Book Review

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Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter

by Adeline Yen Mah

——————————————–

The original Cinderella story dates back to China’s Tang dynasty (618-906) Ye Xian tale.  The heroine was an unwanted stepdaughter who escaped the clutches of her evil stepmother thanks to her own hard work and perseverance.

Like Ye Xian, Adeline (her Chinese given name is Jun-ling) received no tenderness or compassion from her family; both of “their stories may be perceived as talismans against despair” (p. 197).  This autobiography follows Adeline’s personal history beginning with her birth, through her years of emotional abuse in her family’s home, to her adolescent years living as the lone one of her boarding school classmates who receives neither letters nor visitors.  As a child, she didn’t look for pity, she sought only to live unnoticed by her classmates rather than reveal the sad realities of her home life.  Yen Mah intertwines some of her native China with this retelling of her life story: the significance of the Chinese pictorial written language, how children are given names in Westernized Chinese families, and the internal tension experienced by Adeline as a speaker of both English and Chinese.

Chinese Cinderella was written for young adult readers and uses straightforward language and storytelling techniques, albeit with a somewhat formal vocabulary.  The author’s reminiscences of her unhappy childhood awake sympathy in the reader; young readers are drawn to her story, sharing in her hope of a better life as she grows up.  I highly recommend Chinese Cinderella to pre-teens, teens, and adults alike, for Yen Mah’s inspiring personality that radiates from the pages.  Personally, I enjoyed reading Yen Mah’s story thoroughly and I could hardly put it down.  I’m looking forward to reading her full biography, Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter, found in adult libraries.

For more information about Adeline Yen Mah and her great work, visit her official web page here.  There, you can find links to her books, letters from fans, biography, and more.

References:

Yen Mah, A. (1999). Chinese cinderella: the true story of an unwanted daughter. New York: Dell Laurel-Leaf.

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