Friday, January 24, 2014

Homer Price

Homer Price

by Robert McCloskey

Homer Price is just your average boy living right outside of a small town, but excitement is always just around the corner.  From robbers to superheros and doughnuts, McCloskey tells tales that had my little ones asking for more.  McCloskey's storytelling abilities mixed with his hilarious pictures appearing every few pages create a novel that delights both young and old.

Homer Price is comprised of six different short stories.  In one of the short stories, Homer is keeping watch of his Uncle Ulysses' diner when the automated doughnut machine in the diner produces more doughnuts than anyone knows what to do with and won't stop.  It is impossible to read this section of the book without having a craving for doughnuts.  I promise.  For this reason, you might want to have this recipe from Pioneer Woman on hand.  These are not your ordinary doughnuts.  They are guaranteed to bring smiles and memories throughout the baking and eating process.

Homemade Glazed Doughnuts

From Pioneer Woman
(I have made slight adaptations---for the complete tutorial, go here.)

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/8 cups whole milk, warmed
3 tsp. instant yeast
2 large eggs
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups vegetable shortening, for frying

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup water

Add the granulated sugar to the warm milk in a medium bowl, and then add the yeast.  Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes (until it starts to bubble).

Beat the eggs and pour them into a bowl with the melted butter.  Pour in the milk, sugar, and yeast mixture.  Mix on low.  Mix the flour and the salt in a bowl, and add gradually to the liquid mixture.  Mix for 5 minutes.  Place the dough in a warm spot and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  

Turn out the dough on to a floured surface and roll it out to about 1/4-inch thick.  Use a doughnut cutter (or two different sizes of cutters) to cut out the doughnuts.  Transfer the doughnuts to a lightly floured baking sheet.  Cover the doughnuts and let rise for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 

Heat the shortening or oil until it reaches 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer, or until a doughnut hole sizzles and rises to the surface.  Place the doughnuts in the oil and use a metal spoon to carefully flip them over to cook the other side.  Remove them from the oil as soon as they are golden brown on both sides. Place the doughnuts on paper towels to drain.

To make the glaze, mix together the powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, and water in a bowl.  Drop the doughnuts in one at a time.  Turn over and then remove. Eat and enjoy.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tap the Magic Tree

Tap the Magic Tree
by Christie Matheson

All you have to do to start the magic of this story is tap the picture of the tree on the first page.  When you turn the page, a leaf has appeared.  Tap four more times and you'll find four more leaves on the next page.  Each page comes with new interactive actions to keep the magic happening.  The author cleverly shows the seasonal progression of a tree by making it an interactive experience.  From budding leaves to blooms to falling apples and leaves, the magic tree is always changing.

Fun, scientific, and magical all at once.

For an activity guide, go here.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
Written by Eric Litwin
Illustrated by James Dean
All of my favorite children's books have one thing in common: a very unique and lovable character.  This is so true of Pete the Cat.  I am not a cat lover by any stretch of the means, but I love Pete.  Pete is undoubtedly the coolest cat around.  He is the only one that I am aware of that drives a minibus and rocks out.

I love all of the books in the Pete the Cat series, but Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons is the favorite of every member of our family.  Pete's favorite shirt has four buttons that he loves, and one by one, he loses them all.  Pete is always good at rolling with the punches and never gets upset about anything because he is such a cool cat.  "It's all good," Pete says.  At the end of the story, he has lost every one of his buttons, but he still doesn't get upset because his button-less shirt reveals a button that he hasn't lost.  

To listen to or download the accompanying song for free, go here.  You won't be sorry.  :)

Puff the Magic Dragon

Puff the Magic Dragon
Written by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton
Illustrated by Eric Puybaret

When I taught school, I had a fellow teacher that invited my class in to her classroom to sing songs while she accompanied them on the piano.  Puff the Magic Dragon was one that everyone looked forward to singing.  I heard the song many times, and I thought I knew and understood the story behind it pretty well.  But, as soon as I checked this book out from the library and read it with my little ones, it came alive.  Since then, I have read/sung this book to my children many times.

The illustrations in this book are very soft and almost dreamlike, which fit the lyrics so well.  My favorite part of the illustrations is that they bring a happy ending to the very sad song.  Dragons, pirates, noble kings, and boats make up the very best of imagination and bedtime adventures.  A perfect way to get ready for bedtime.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?
by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

This book makes me smile.  Seriously.  It is full of fun rhythm and adorable artwork.  The author has clearly put children to bed during her lifetime and understands some of the antics that can occur.

The beginning of the book presents different scenarios about how dinosaurs could be naughty at bedtime, but finishes by saying that dinosaurs don't do those things and shows the good things that little dinosaurs do when getting ready for bed.  Mark Teague does an amazing job of portraying the naughtiest of dinosaurs, along with the sweetest of dinosaurs in his artwork.  The book includes ten different dinosaurs with their names hidden within the illustrations.