Friday, February 28, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Pouch!

by David Ezra Stein
(Nancy Poulsen Books, 2012, Fiction)
Perfect for 1-2 year olds

Opening: "When he was a brand-new kangaroo, Joey lived in the pouch.  Until one day...he peeked out and saw the world, and his mama smiling down at him"

Brief Synopsis:  Joey is a young kangaroo who decides he wants to get down and hop.  He takes a couple of hops and meets a bee.  Joey is so frightened that he yells, "POUCH!" and hops back to his pouch.  He soon wants to hop again and hops three times before he meets rabbit.  He again yells "POUCH" and hops back into his mother's pouch, only to want to hop again.  The story continues in the same fashion until he meets another joey kangaroo.  "POUCH!" they both yell, but laugh together at the thought that they were afraid of each other.  They've each found a new friend. 

Why I Like It:  I love the simplicity of the book.  There are few words, but the illustrations carry the story.  The repetitive nature and the theme of the story are perfect for the littlest of readers.  The crayon and watercolor illustrations are very soft and give a youthful feel to the book.  Absolutely adorable in text and picture. 

Resources:  Check out the making of the book here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Board Book Roundup

Board books have a special place in my heart because they are the books that start it all.  They are among the first books that I read to my little sweethearts, the first books that they hold (and try to eat!), and the first books that they fall in love with.  I've compiled a list of a few of our favorites.  I have them memorized, I have a spot reserved for them in the diaper bag, and I've had to replace a few because they have been loved to pieces.

I do have one slight issue with board books.  I refuse to check them out from the library due to their hands-on nature.  Kind of grosses me out.  That being said, I am always looking for recommendations before I buy a new one, so please share your favorites in the comment section!

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear

Written by Audrey Wood and Illustrated by Don Wood
  In this story, the reader playfully interacts with the mouse to warn him of the hungry bear and the bear's love for freshly picked strawberries.  The little mouse will win your heart over as he tries to keep his strawberry hidden from the big hungry bear.  He tries locking it up, burying it, and disguising it, but the only thing that will keep the bear from finding the strawberry is to cut it up and share it. 

From Head to Toe

 by Eric Carle
 I have many favorites written by Eric Carle, but this one may take the cake.  Children are asked to do movements that mimic animals.  The movements start with the head and go all the way to their toes.  Fun and interactive.

The Very Busy Spider

by Eric Carle

 The busy spider starts spinning her web bright and early in the morning.  Throughout the day, she is invited by other barn animals to participate in activities with them.  She always replies that she is very busy and keeps on spinning her web.  Towards the end, Rooster asks the spider if she would like to help her catch the pesty fly, and at that moment the spider catches the fly in her web.  My little ones love to feel the spider web, which is raised on the pages and continues to develop as the spider works on it throughout the book.  This is also one of my favorite books to dramatize and add voices to as I read aloud.

*As a side note, I loved this book so much that I ordered some to give as baby shower gifts.  When they arrived, they were miniature sized and I had to return them.  Check the dimensions before you buy!

Barnyard Dance

by Sandra Boynton


Full of rhythm and cadence, one can't help but read this in the form of a hoedown song.  I dare you to try not to.  The barnyard animals swing and twirl and bow, and my little ones can't resist it.

The Belly Button Book

by Sandra Boynton

This was the very first board book that I bought.  I bought it when I was in a children's literature class in college.  My professor had book orders available, and I couldn't resist buying it after seeing a highlighted page from this book in the book order.  I am so glad that I bought it because the rest of it is just as cute.  Thanks to this book, our family doesn't refer to our belly buttons as belly buttons.  They are, and forever will be, referred to as "bee bos".

Dear Zoo

by Rod Campbell
 Dear Zoo is a lift-the-flap book that has provided us hours of quiet time during church.  The premise of the story is that a child writes to the zoo to send him a pet, and the zoo sends him an animal.  Each of the zoo animals has a quality that would make them unqualified for a home pet.  The child sends each animal back and the zoo sends him a new one in return, until they finally send a pet that is perfect.  Each animal is sent in a crate.  The child can pull on the flap to see what animal is inside the crate.

Goodnight Gorilla

by Peggy Rathman

One can't help but adore the naughty little gorilla who unlocks all of the cages at the zoo as the zookeeper is saying goodnight to the animals.  All of the animals follow the zookeeper back to his house.  The poor zookeeper's wife wakes up to find a bedroom full of animals, and sets out to return them.  She is ALMOST successful.  Peggy Rathmann does a fabulous job with the illustrations.  My little ones love looking for the balloon and the moon, which are included in the illustrations on almost every page.

Bear Wants More

by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
 Bear just came out of hibernation and is starving!  Thank goodness he has sweet friends who help him find food and throw him a party.  Unfortunately, he eats too much and creates the problem of getting stuck in his front door.  My kids adore Bear.

Alright, I want to hear your favorites!  Do share!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mr. Putter and Tabby Paint the Porch

Mr. Putter and Tabby Paint the Porch

Written by Cynthia Rylant and Illustrated by Arthur Howard


My preschooler recently took off with reading, and I have Mr. Putter to thank.  He is the kind of old man that uses slingshots to knock his pears out of a tree because his old cranky legs won't let him climb a ladder.  He is also the kind of old man that stays up all night on Christmas Eve baking a cake for his neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry, because he knows she loves fruitcake.  He is very sweet and often silly.  I don't know how many times we have laughed out loud with some of the antics that occur with Mr. Putter and his cat, Tabby.  

Mr. Putter & Tabby Paint the Porch is my favorite in the series.  Mr. Putter decides it is time to paint the porch, and pulls out the pink paint.  Disaster strikes when a squirrel enters the scene and Tabby's cat instincts kick in.  It only goes downhill from there.

Likeable illustrations and characters, interesting story lines, and text that provides the perfect amount of challenge for beginning readers.  We always walk out of the library with at least one Mr. Putter book in our bag.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Plant a Kiss

Plant a Kiss
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
(Harper, 2012, Fiction)
Perfect for 4-8 years old

Opening: "It goes like this.  Little Miss planted a kiss.  Planted a kiss?  Planted a kiss."

Brief Synopsis:  Little Miss plants a kiss.  She nurtures it with all of her heart, and after much waiting and anticipation, sees a sprout.  It grows into something beautiful, and when asked what she is going to do with it, she replies that she is going to share it.  Little Miss takes a large bowl and fills it with what grew from her kiss.  She then proceeds to share it with everyone.  After she has shared all of the contents of the bowl, she returns to where she planted the kiss only to find that there is an endless supply to share.

Why I Like It: Amy Rosenthal and Peter Reynold work together perfectly to tell this sweet story of a little girl who performs an act of love that multiplies and is shared with all around her.  It is a cute take on the phrase "plant a kiss" and shows how a child might interpret it. 

Resources:  Peter Reynolds has created a printable seed packet to put together and fill with seeds to plant and eventually share with someone.  Head here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ed Emberley's FunPrint Drawing Book

Ed Emberley's Complete FunPrint Drawing Book
Perfect for Ages: 4 on up

Have you ever heard of Ed Emberley?  Well, he kind of has a corner on the market when it comes to children's drawing books.  His drawings are simple and his steps are easy to follow, making it a perfect combination for all ages wanting to learn how to draw.  That is why I was excited to find this book at our library.  You make a fingerprint with either an ink pad or watercolors, and then add details with a pen to make a large variety of pictures.

We pulled it out and spent the entire afternoon making fingerprints and adding the details to make Ed's fun creatures.  I had fun, my preschooler had fun, and my toddler had fun fingerpainting.

My preschooler's dog, duck, and bunnies.
My toddler's interpretation.  :)

Simple lines, fun pictures, and inexpensive materials.  Perfect.  I can't wait for our copy of the book to come in the mail!

Friday, February 7, 2014

20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street

20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street
Written by Mark Lee and Illustrated by Kurt Cyrus
(Candlewick, 2013, Fiction)
Suitable for ages: 3-7

Opening:  "One ice-cream truck selling everything sweet breaks down and blocks the middle of our street."

Brief Synopsis:  An ice cream truck breaks down and causes a pile-up of twenty trucks, ranging from a crane truck to a delivery truck to a mail truck.  None of them are going to go anywhere until the ice cream truck is taken care of.  While onlookers try to think of a way to fix the problem, a little boy on a bike speaks up and offers the solution that works and breaks up the traffic jam.

Why I Like This Book:  This book is written in perfect rhyme that flows incredibly well.  It is a counting book that presents 20 trucks in detailed and bright illustrations.  At the end of the story, the crane picks up the broken-down ice cream truck and places it on the grass by the side of the road where serves ice cream to the neighborhood.  This book is fun to read, provides great counting practice, and is beautifully illustrated, making it one that is read over and over again.

It is necessary to eat some ice cream after reading a book about an ice cream truck, so we made homemade ice cream in a bag.

Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag
(Recipe Source:
Find the original recipe here.
1/2 cup half-and-half 
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 sandwich Ziploc bag
1 gallon freezer Ziploc bag
3 cups crushed ice
1/3 cup rock salt

Put half-and-half (or cream or milk in a pinch), sugar, and vanilla in the smaller Ziploc bag and mix well.   Seal tightly.  Put ice and rock salt in the larger bag, making sure the salt is evenly distributed.  Add the small bag of ingredients to the large bag and surround it with ice.  Seal the large bag and wrap with a dish towel (the bag will get very cold and hard to hold!).  Shake the bag for 10-15 minutes.  Pull out the small bag, and enjoy!

*Please note that this recipe is pretty basic and you can experiment with different flavors.  The best part about this recipe is the magic of making ice cream.  Kids love it!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

by Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger lives in a town of proper animals who never smile and always dress and act as proper can be.  Until Mr. Tiger decides to go wild.  Mr. Tiger is sick of living a proper life, and against the approval of his friends, takes drastic measures to live a much happier life.  He is asked to head into the wilderness after he takes off his stiff suit and is without clothes.  Mr. Tiger loves the freedom of the wilderness, but misses his friends.  When he comes back to town, he finds a little bit more color and life than he did when he left.

For an activity packet full of activities, head here.  You'll find a mask, stick puppets (along with scenery), and a matching game.  All activities are perfect for having children retell the story in their own words or act it out.