Oct 28, 2009

Miss Smith and the Haunted Library


Well you all know that I don't have a rating scale per say but if you want an idea of how fun this book is I'll paint you a little picture.
3:40 pm:  I pulled up in front of the library and checked this book out.
3:45 pm:  I pulled into the garage and brought in the above book.  After calming down two of the three crazy kids (the third was glued to Dad's hip and refused to be messed with), I sat down on the couch with these books.
4:00 pm:  I was reading this book for the first time to the oldest two children and thinking to myself that the pictures were amazing.
4:37 pm:  I was begging my husband to go pick up the pizza and I read it again to the littlest one who was finally forced off of Dad's hip.
5:00 pm:  I was reading this very entertaining book for the third time and realizing I was still enjoying it.
7:00 pm:  I read it for the last time today to all three kids who quit fidgeting for the 6.7 minutes it took for me to read the book (some books really need to be longer!).

The good news, I still like it a lot!  Even better news, Ben (aka: Dad, my husband, that guy that lives here) thought it was "fascinating" and he's a much tougher critic than I.  The best news, my kids still wanted to read it even after I said, "No more stories!" (Unlike another story, which shall remain nameless, that I got at the library today as well, after the second reading my five year old proclaimed, "Mom I don't really like that one so much.")

Michael Garland is an amazing artist and author!  At his site you'll find other wonderful books, including two other Miss Smith books, and plenty of fun pictures to view.  Once you've had a look at some of the pictures you'll see why I was so drawn to this book.  The text and story line is very imaginative and fun as well.  Plus at the back of the book you'll find a key to where to find all the best ghosts, ghouls, witches, etc.  Also, it is on the New York Times Children's Book Best Seller List!

Oct 26, 2009

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup is so delightful.  It was released in 1998 so it is not a new book but I'd never seen it before.  Probably because in 1998 I was worried about where my next apartment would be and if I'd pass that semester of college and not What the HECK am I going to read to my kids tonight?

Helen Cooper did an excellent job with this book.  The dialogue in this book reminds me of how my younger brothers and I sounded most of the time we were growing up.  One big mess followed by a lot of silly fighting which resulted in apologies.  Then REPEAT!  Definitely written by someone who knows what family life is like!  Her illustrations are so amazing.  My favorite is the one where Cat and Squirrel imagine how well Duck is doing without them!  It is a whole other story on its own.  Your kids will love you for reading this to them and you will love getting to read this.  The characters are cute and furry with attitude so I love the fact that each of them are their own little oxymoron.  Plus I really like it when children's books have a moral to them.  (You ask, "Don't all books have a point or moral?"  I'd answer, "Sadly, NO!")

 Even though pumpkin soup has never sounded good to me, reading this book again will always sound appealing to me.

ALSO look for: A Pipkin of Pepper and Delicious that are follow up books about Cat, Duck, and Squirrel.

Oct 22, 2009

Only A Witch Can Fly

What a book!  This book was great when I read it for the first time today...and even better when I read it for the second time tonight.  I have confidence that it will continue to get better and better each time I read it!  You all know my fondness for wtiches (BTW I just sent Charlotte off to the publishers-keep your fingers crossed) but even that aside, this is such a creatively written and illustrated book that you're guaranteed to love it.  It has the feel of a classic and I'm sure that it will become a Halloween staple in many people's homes.

The author, Alison McGhee, is incredible!  I believe that most things in life can be achieved with enough hard work and practice.  However, when you read Alison's Blog you will agree that even though I'm sure a lot of hard work is involved she is truly GIFTED!  When you go to her blog look at this post about Only a Witch Can Fly, it will give you even more of an appreciation for this book. 
Perusing her sight I also found that she is the author of one of mine and my kids favorite books, Bye Bye Crib.  After reading that book, when our kids are afraid of something or get hurt we ask to see their "muscle cat" and they flex their arms and say "GRRR!" and start laughing and the world is fine again. (Read the book and you'll understand what I mean.)

Taeeun Yoo did such a fabulous job illustrating this book.  In a way it has the feel of an older book because the colors are simple and it just adds to my overall fondness for this book.  There is so much to see on each page I could spend many hours just looking through this book.  Visit Taeeun's Blog and you'll find lots of fun stuff about Only A Witch Can Fly.

Oct 19, 2009

Halloween Night

 "Twas Halloween Night, 
and all through the house
Every creature was stirring,
including the mouse;"

What an awesome Halloween book!  This is one of those books that you’ll want to own so you can have it for Halloween year after year.  Just a quick warning though, it is a little scary.  There are goblins and witches and bugs galore.  Zombies and graveyards and a creaking door.  (Sorry you know I can't help rhyming sometimes!)

The author, Marjorie Dennis Murray, did an excellent job with this story.  It is set up similar to ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  It has great rhyming and best of all the words create pictures of their own to dance through your head. 

The pictures are so lively and vivid that you’ll find you want to stare at the pictures and have it read to you instead of the other way around.  The illustrator, Brandon Damon, did a magnificent job with capturing the Halloween spirit.  There is a picture of trick-or-treaters dancing down a lane that I love!  If you want you can view his website or his blog and you'll get to view his amazing illustraions.  There is also an entry on his blog about this particular book that is fun to look at.

This book is perfect blend of Tricks and Treats for your Halloween!

Oct 15, 2009

Bats at the Beach

"Scratchy where no sand should be."(Makes me laugh every time!)

I have to admit that I'm a bit of a bat fanatic.  One of my favorite cartoon characters growing up was Batty Coda from Ferngully.  I had all his lines memorized (ask my still annoyed younger brothers).  Plus Batty rhymes with Mattie.  Not to mention, this book is dedicated to a Maddy.  I'm sure she's great since everyone with that name is completely fabulous :).  All joking aside, if you are not a fan of bats now, you will definitely have developed a fondness for them by the time you are done reading this book.

So this makes my Halloween list on account of the fact that it is so cool I couldn't help sharing it right away and what is more Halloween-ish than BATS?  (Okay quit reading me the list of witches, ghouls, goblins.)  Bats are typical Halloween, just take a look at my front door...

This book is just phenomonal.  I read it the other day and thought about it all day until I got to read it again.  (Did you catch that?  GOT to read it again.  Yeah, it's that good!)  I was all excited to have found this totally awesome book with pictures that lure you away to  a moonlit beach bonfire party and words that are both rhyming (my favorite) and fun.  Then, I found the authors website and apparently I'm the last to find out what an awesome book this is.  Not only am I the last to find out what an outstanding book this is but apparently there was a previous one, Bats at the Library and a new one due out next year called Bats at the Ballgame.  Brian Lies is an incredible artist and author.  It baffles me how a person can be so phenomenal in both areas!  

So here's a book you won't want to miss and when you're ready to move on there is Bats at the Library and by the time your ready for a new one Bats at the Ballgame will most likely be out!

Oct 12, 2009

Follow Up...A Very Hairy Scary Story

I received an email from David Clark and he let me know about two great links if you are interested in more...which I'm sure you are :)!

Watch David Clark draw (Click on the link and then look for the link third down on the left side.)

Check out Amazon, where you can get a peak at David's newest book which will also be a great addition to your Bedtime Story Collection.  It's called Bobby Bramble Loses His Brain.  I'm sure you'll see a review for it soon.  After looking at the Amazon preview I can't wait to read it!

Let me remind everyone too that if you have any updates or links that correspond with any of my posts please leave them in the comment box so others can enjoy them too!

A Very Hairy Scary Story

This story is bound to win a spot as one of your favorites!  Fitting for the Halloween season but it works for anytime of the year!  It has a little girl that finds herself walking home in the dark and shadows transform around her to become "Very Hairy Scary" things every which way she turns!
Rick Walton has written more books than you can count on all your fingers and little piggies.(50 or more to be exact!)  This is by no means his most recent book but we checked it out from the library and have checked it out twice since then.  My kids can't seem to get enough of this wonderfully fun story.  It is great because it rhymes and the last word of the rhyme is usually on the next page so they have fun guessing what rhymes with what.  Rick Walton has a particulary funny story that we read not long ago called Bertie Was a Watchdog.  If you need ideas for fun kids books or fun kids activities click on his name and it will take you to a wealth of extra information.

The illustrator of this book, David Clark, did an excellent job of morphing normal objects into scary creatures that any smart child would run from!  My kids are most enthralled with the facial expressions in this book.  There are some fun ones to try to mimic.  His website has some fun pictures and great information about other books that he has illustrated.  One of my favorite books is Bus-a-Saurus Bop (super fun to read) and David Clark did the illustrations for this one also!

Well good news, I'm done yacking so you can go find A Very Hairy Scary Story and enjoy it for yourself.  As a side note:  It is your LUCKY DAY because there are three really great book recommendations in one today!  Have a great Monday!

Oct 9, 2009

Follow Up...Where's My Mummy?

I got an email from John Manders and he gave me some fun stuff to look at.  In case you want to know or see more cool stuff about Where's My Mummy's illustrations, check out John Manders Blog.  This particular entry has some great illustrations pertaining to Where's My Mummy.  You'll love it!  (Not to sound like the bossy first child that I am, but Go On, GO!)  John Manders also did a interview over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast Blog that has some fun pictures also from Where's My Mummy as well as some great pictures from one of my other favorite books, The Perfect Nest, which he also illustrated.  He did warn me though that the interview is meant more for an adult audience since he mentions things like cigars, martinis and Sophia Loren.  If your kids can't read yet though they'll love looking at the pics!  Enjoy!

10/27/09-Here is another fun update at John Manders Blog about Where's My Mummy?.  Enjoy!

Oct 8, 2009

Where's My Mummy?

My favorite time of year is here!

In case your wondering what that is exactly, it is OCTOBER.  My birthday month, when leaves start changing and it becomes okay to eat high carb food and snuggle in a blanket, and best of all...Halloween!  In honor of such a joyous occasion I'll be featuring mostly Spooky, Scary, Spectacular books for the rest of the month!  (I just heard a cheer go out among the masses!)

So what do Elephants and Mummies have in common?  They are both afraid of mice!  At least in this spook-tacular book they are.  I know I say all the books I put on here are fabulous but honestly, this one IS!  And to prove it:      
“Manders's appealingly round mummy child
and the text's rhythmic "clank clink clanks"
will find happy audiences.” Kirkus

I recently found out that Kirkus almost never gives great reviews.  So if you get a great review from them, it means something!

The inspired writer is Carolyn Crimi.  Just by reading this book you can tell it was written by a true Halloween expert!  All the classic monsters are present but in a non-threatening, fun way.I love that she not only tells the story but lays out a whole bedtime routine.  I actually used it on my kids the other night.  (Brush your teeth like Bones.  Now let's clean faces like the swamp monster.  Should we clean ears like Drac?)  It is great!  I had just checked this out from the library but will definitely need to buy it since I don't foresee my kids being too happy about returning it in 14 days!  Plus the truth is, I'm as excited to read it at bedtime as they are!  (Partially due to the fact that it isn't too long so I know bedtime will be done with sooner!) Click on her name for more fun books and info!

Mere words can  NOT describe how cool the monsters and scenes in this book are.  They are done by a very talented man named John Manders who has a great web page that you should check out if you want to find more books that he has done.   The illustrations in this book are hilarious!  My absolute favorite is the Vampire in bat pajamas.  It is so comical and cute that I finish reading the page and pause (this is a rare thing for me to do in my life) and look at the picture because it makes me laugh.  
The other day I asked my daughter (she's 5), "Aren't those jammies Cool?"  
She "uh-huh"-ed me. 
I asked, "Did you see those cute bat slippers?"  
She put her little hands on her waist like a put out teenager and said, "Mo-uhm!  Turn the page already.  Huh!"  (Exactly like that.  I'm not exaggerating, just ask anyone that knows Sydney!)

If you need a book that will get you in the Halloween Spirit, grab this one!

Oct 5, 2009

Enchanted Lions

When fine art and exquisite writing collide beautiful accidents like this book result.  Although, I can guarantee that both the author and illustrator will tell you that there was nothing accidental about this book.  Many sleepless nights and hair pulling days went into the making of this I'm sure. (A little birdy told me!)

The reason I love this book most is because it brings back beloved childhood memories.  Growing up my dad used to take my brothers and I out onto our driveway to watch the stars on summer nights.  We lived in an itty-bitty town called Bellevue, Idaho (Idaho not Washington folks!).  There were no real street lights to distract from our crystal clear view of stars, constellations, and satellites.  When I got older I would take a big, warm, blanket and my discman (for those of you unfamiliar with this term, it is a portable CD player) and watch the stars.  I found this was the best remedy for my fragile little teenage heart when it got broken.  I still can't resist pausing outside on warm evenings and staring at the sky.

Just as I can't resist staring at a brilliant sky I can't resist loving this captivating story of Rose and her lion.  It is truly a dreamy book.  David Greenberg is a magnificent author who has written tons of books (Crocs, Skunks, Don't Forget Your Etiquette, Slugs, Snakes to name a few).  I'm personally very fond of Crocs as well (since it too, is read often around our house).

Kristina Swarner is the magnificent illustrator who is responsible for the breathtaking pictures in this book.  I know why they don't have her do more picture books, people don't want to turn the page because they are so captivated by each picture.  I have an irritable side (hard to believe, I KNOW!) and my son always turns back to the page we were just on before I can even finish reading the page I'm currently on.  He will do this the whole story.  I don't blame him.  Each picture deserves special attention.

So grab this book and try not to drift off to a more enchanting place as you read it.  THEN, let me know what you thought of it!

Oct 1, 2009

Melanie Watt

Tired of reading bedtime stories just so you can fulfill your parental obligations and get your kids to go to bed without a huge fuss?  Then this is your dream book!  I LOVE Chester!    This book is so incredible because no matter what your age it is funny.  My kids like the scribbles and the pictures (with scribbles) and I love all the irony and humorous banter! 

Even my husband will read this more than once to the kids without complaining or explaining why story time is over.  This cat is hilarious and so is his author.  Melanie Watt also has another book series called Scaredy Squirrel that I haven't read yet but I can't wait to read them.  They sound just as fun as Chester.  

Once again I found some extra fun information about the author and her book Scaredy Squirrel.  It is from a blog called,  Cynsations.  This site is rapidly becoming one of my favorites.

Spice up your nighty-nights with Chester!  I will warn you though, you may have more fun reading it than your kids will.