Posts Tagged ‘Reading’

  71PGYYS2GNLDuring one of those long summers filled with trips to the library, picnics on the floor, afternoons in the park, MOPS outings…..loved those trips to the fire stations….the handsome firemen…..hmmm…..ooops…..pardon me!  Back to my point, we found another treasure at the library in the form of a picture book during one of those summers. 

Fall Is Not Easy, written and illustrated by Marty Kelley, is a charming book for young children as well as elementary school students.  Sam loved this book.  This was a book that we checked out the maximum allowed…three times, then I ordered it through Borders Book store. 

Fall Is Not Easy was a favorite read aloud of mine during story time for Kinder through sixth graders.  This picture book talks about seasons, but focuses on the fall.  I found that there were not many ‘Fall’ books in elementary school libraries; I would often bring my own books to school.  It seems like there is always a “budget crisis” and spending money on books for children is a low priority for “administration.” 

Sam loved the simple, but colorful illustrations in the book.  Every child who has ever sat in a circle in front of me has laughed at the ‘story of the tree that doesn’t quite know what color to turn, come those cool days of fall.’  It is a quick read, but very interactive for kids of all ages.  I once read this to a small group of children with very special needs.  They loved it!

There are two more fun fall books for children that we’ve found over the years that I want to share with you.  I think they are unique and fabulous because of their illustration styles. 


The first book is called It’s Fall! written by Linda Glaser, the cut-paper illustrations by Susan Swan.  It was the was the three dimensional cut-paper artwork that really grabbed my attention.  Being a scrapbooker, I was fascinated by her designs.  The illustrator layered hand painted papers.  When she hand painted the paper, she was able to give the effect of depth and dimension, not to mention the gorgeous colors of autumn. 

Paper layering is a scrapbooking technique that I have used several times on my pages, but not with the fabulous results that the illustrator had here.  She featured Canadian geese, Monarch butterflies, and squirrels, all fabulously detailed with layered paper.  My favorites were the tiny nesting owls.


The author and illustrator have also teamed up to produce books for the other three seasons.  I plan to purchase them just for the amazing illustrations alone. 







The third book I want to mention is Dappled Apples written by Jan Carr and illustrated by Dorothy Donohue.  Along with the rhyming text, there are intricate illustrations created by using handmade paper, that was cut, layered and crumpled.  This technique gives the pages texture and dimension.  The first double page spread of the book are trees with leaves in vibrant autumn colors.  I can’t wait to try and duplicate this on a double page scrapbook spread in an album I am working on.  As with Glaser & Swan, Carr and Donohue have also produced “Splish, Splash, Spring” that incorporates the same unique style of illustration.


 Even though we are drawing to a close on our elementary school days….that doesn’t stop me from enjoying picture books.  The next time you are in a book store, walk around the children’s section.  I guarantee you that you will find several books to take home.  Treat the child in your life with a new book.

Update Fall 2009

Our elementary days are over, yet that has not decreased my love of children’s picture books.  Just today, I had a lovely comment from the illustrator of It’s Fall, (along with Spring, Summer and Winter too) on my blog.  I hope you will click on comments and stop read her kind words.  Be sure you check out Susan Swan’s website, either listed below or on my Blog Honor Roll to the right. 



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When the boys were little, I learned that every summer, starting in mid June and running through the end of August, the public library has a reading contest for children.  Children would get a special map or book log, depending on the theme, to note which books they had read.  Each week they would get to move their name tag along in the “reading race.”  There were great little incentive prizes each week.  A free ice cream cone, free book marks, (my kids love book marks) a coupon for free french fries at McDonald’s…etc.  To a stay-at-home Mom, free is the magic word. 

At the end of the contest there were grand prizes awarded like a trip to the zoo, or an amusement park.  That was fun, and my sons won a few, but nothing could compare to the wealth of memories that we had reading books together.  Usually, we would leave the library and take our “new” books home.  Each boy would have a bagful.  I would make a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and fruit. The boys would lay down beach towels, even Sam would help by meticulously arranging his favorite blanket just right.  Then, we would have a picnic on the living room floor. 

The library would usually have several read a-loud story times during the contest.  Sometimes it was a contest to see if the boys could sit still that long.  They always did well though.  Sometimes the older librarian would comment on how well behaved they were.  I would thank her, thinking silently to myself, “just be grateful that I keep Sam on my hip, lady!” 

She was a cute little old lady, the picture of the typical librarian, simple proper dress, granny glasses and her stone gray hair piled on her head in a bun.  The boys thought she was ancient.  Come to find out that she had gone to the same elementary school that they did….whoa!  Guess that’s why there’s a measure on the ballot to improve the elementary schools in our area….Are the schools that old?!

While the older boys had long since left the picture book section, Sam loved that area.  When he was about 3 years old, he discovered “Mean Soup.”  Whether it was the bright colors and graphics or the fact that he could nearly read it himself, he was hooked.  We renewed it three times, the library’s limit.  I special ordered it from Borders and sometimes we still read it just for fun. 

Sam was very impressed that the book’s introduction lists three boys names…the same as his brothers.  He somehow managed to get a marker and add his own name to the dedication page.  It’s okay, it was our copy. 

“Mean Soup” was written and illustrated by Betsy Everitt.  It is a wonderful book.  We give it two thumbs up!  As I read through it again, I could almost hear Sam’s little voice reading it along with me.  The hero of the story has had a very bad day.  His mother knows just what to do, and they make Mean Soup together.  It seems to me that the author must have had a little boy who frequently had bad days.  I can relate to a woman like this, Sam often had VERY bad days, once school started.

I remember an afternoon after a day very much like Horace’s when I took out the huge spaghetti pot and filled it with water.  It had been a bad day for Sam; it was going to take stirring the spaghetti water to the boiling point for him to ‘cool’ down.  While he stirred and yelled into the pot, he was finally able to tell me about his bad day.  (The child psychologists I talked to, never thought up anything this ingenious…thank you Betsy Everitt for your wisdom.)

I read a review of this book.  It said the following:  (Paraphrased)  “In the last illustration, Horace and his mother “stir away the bad day'” while having their backs to the reader…too bad, it lessens the emotional impact.” 

I don’t know about that; I can almost feel the warmth in the kitchen as the water boils, heating the room.  I can sense the love the mother has for her child, as she stands close to him as he calms with each circle of the spoon.  She exhales a deep breath, thankful, that while she knows that she can not make all the bad days go away, she has eased the upset of her young son on this day.

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     We’ve always read to our kids.  When the boys were little, Dr. Seuss was the author of choice.  When Tim, Matt & Pete were little, there were many books we loved.  But when Sam came along, it was as though there had been an “explosion” in children’s literature.   Maybe it was because the older boys had long since left the picture book section. 

     When Sam was a tiny baby, a good friend of ours (we called her “The Book Fairy”) started bringing Sam books.  She never came over without bringing gifts; we finally had to forbid her from bringing presents except on special occasions.  Being who she is, she came up with her ‘own special occasions.”  She introduced us to so many great children’s books.


     One of mine and Sam’s favorites, was “Good Night Moon” written by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd.  I remember sitting in the glider in Sam’s room at night, him in his yellow blanket sleeper, his little head nuzzled in my neck while I read to him.  Afterwards, I rocked him to sleep.

     “Goodnight Moon” is a delightful little book.  It was first published in 1947.  Our copy was a ‘board book,’ a book with hard cardboard pages just in case a certain someone might nibble on a page or two.  We received several books for young children by Brown.  “The Runaway Bunny” & “The Big Red Barn” became another two of our favorites.

     One Christmas when Sam was about 5, I found  a copy of “A Pussycat’s Christmas” in a book store.  Brown wrote the text in 1949.  Anne Mortimer provides the reader with the illustrations, and they are fabulous.  Being a ‘cat people” we especially love this book.  For our family, it is a must read every holiday season.

This was said about Margaret Wise Brown on the Internet…..

Can you finish this sentence?  “In the great green room…..” To those who could complete the opening line of Goodnight Moon, chances are you’re a parent. It is the rare mom or dad who makes it through their child’s toddler years without memorizing at least a portion of this classic bedtime book. It’s no accident this story has lulled millions of children to sleep for over fifty years, since its author was one of the pioneers of children’s literature.

     “Goodnight Moon” now has a cute parody.  It’s called “Goodnight Goon – A petrifying parody.”  Written and illustrated by Michael Rex.  It’s a perfect book for Halloween time for young children.  Rex kept one of the adorable themes of the original book and added the tiny white mouse in his edition.  In Brown’s version, young children can look to see where the tiny mouse is going to be on the pages.  Watch what happens to the mush by the end of the book.


     When Sam was born there was a “parenting philosophy” that was considered “gospel” by many of our friends.  We did not hold to these beliefs.  Sam was fed when he was hungry, we held him when he needed comforting, we did not let him scream himself to sleep.  I picked him up when he wasn’t crying, we adapted our schedules to fit his newborn rhythms and (gasp!) sometimes, no, he was nearly always rocked to sleep.  We were determined that we weren’t going to follow some rigid routine thought up by some *$%+!*#* author who wanted to pass along his or her “whacked out style” of child rearing.

     So – We were rebels.  I’m glad & I still think about that when I check on my sleeping child in the middle of the night….I’d do it again in a heart beat.

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