Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bedtime Story: Ten Tiny Toes by Caroline Jayne Church

Welcome to Children's Book Week
Synopsis: "Caroline Jayne Church brings her adorable toddler art and lovely rhymes to this joyful twist on the tried-and-true classic, HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES, AND TOES. From ears that wiggle to bellies that giggle, TEN TINY TOES is sure to inspire little ones as they learn to celebrate their "mouth, ears, eyes, nose, and a love that grows and grows."

My Review: I purchased this one for Munchkin to help learn body parts and because we have come to love Church's books. This book was no different! Munchkin loves pointing to all his parts and his favorite is when you touch your nose and say Achooo. The art is adorable as always and the book has quickly become a favorite (it has been read at least three times a day for a week now).
My Rating: Since getting this book it has come out numerous times. Munchkin now acts out the whole book and giggles the whole time. It is definitely a favorite. I give it a rating of Four Paws and the Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Reading Corner for Kids

Welcome to Children's Book Week
I think Munchkin has finally started outgrowing the need to be rocked each night after his story.  So I thought it was time for me to start creating a nice little reading corner for him to have a quiet spot to curl up with a good book.  Of course Pinterest is full of some great ideas but I have a few of my own already.
First I saw this great bookshelf on Overstock. The one currently in his room now is a really cheap one I had while in college (a long time ago but we don't need to discuss details). I love this one because you can use the bins to hide little books or not use them on the shelf (it also has a smaller matching cubby shelves or even a desk set that matches).
Of course this idea from Pinterest is a great idea too, since there isn't a bookshelf made that can hold all of Munchkin's books and still fit in his room.
Though I wouldn't want them that low because you always need room to lean against the wall.
Of course you need lots of comfy pillows and bean bag chairs too! I plan to try to stick with a color scheme of blue and red since it goes with the current d├ęcor of Dr. Seuss but can easily be switched to Mickey Mouse or Sesame Street (which ever one wins his affection). We already have a little start with his blue chair that he loves!
I hope to have our new little reading corner ready to go by his birthday as a gift for both of us!

Graphic Novel Review of Between Light and Dark

Welcome to Children's Book Week
Synopsis: "The Guardians continue to face uncertainty as Cornelia struggles with loss and Will's life is threatened by a new enemy."

My Review: You definitely need to read the previous volumes even the slightest bit of sense. I was lost through most of it but I found that I continued reading anyway. I started to really like a couple of the characters and I loved the illustrations. There are hints at romance so might be appropriate for teens.
My Rating: I was so confused but I kept reading so I guess that counts for something. I really loved the artwork.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bedtime Story: Bert and Ernie's First Book of Opposites by Heather Au

Synopsis: "Ernie and Bert demonstrate opposites for the reader -- hello and goodbye, slow and fast, day and night."

My Review: This was another one that was more advanced than I expected, so it was unable to keep Munchkin's attention. I did however like the classic Bert & Ernie feel to it and how they are opposites (quiet & loud). I hope that as Munchkin gets a little older he will be able to enjoy the book but still appreciate the simple opposites.
My Rating: I guess I am learning that Sesame Street is definitely not meant for Toddlers.   I give this one a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Review of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Welcome to Children's Book Week

Meet Dwight, a sixth-grade oddball. Dwight does a lot of weird things, like wearing the same T-shirt for a month or telling people to call him "Captain Dwight." This is embarrassing, particularly for Tommy, who sits with him at lunch every day.

But Dwight does one cool thing. He makes origami. One day he makes an origami finger puppet of Yoda. And that's when things get mysterious. Origami Yoda can predict the future and suggest the best way to deal with a tricky situation. His advice actually works, and soon most of the sixth grade is lining up with questions.

Tommy wants to know how Origami Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. Is Yoda tapping into the Force? It's crucial that Tommy figure out the mystery before he takes Yoda's advice about something VERY IMPORTANT that has to do with a girl.

This is Tommy's case file of his investigation into "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda."

My Review: This was a little odd, and I am not really sure how to rate it. I am sure if I was a nearly teen boy this might be a whole lot more enjoyable (we will have to ask Munchkin in another 10 years or so). It is set up as a case file so has several different narrators but Tommy somehow stays the main narrator. The one thing I wasn't a big fan of was all the teasing, mocking and name calling by friends, but I am no stranger to the fact that this goes on all through school. I did however really like how it ended. I also like the fact that there are instructions in the back of the book on how to make your own origami yoda, a fun way to interact with a book.
My Rating: While the book wasn't quite what I expected, I do believe that it is a great book for the target audience.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Early Reader Review of Cooking with the Cat by Bonnie Worth

Welcome to Children's Book Week

Synopsis: "Look! Look! The Cat wants to cook!

Told with simple rhymes and rhythms, this jaunty illustrated tale gives very young readers a taste of the Cat in the Hat’s flamboyant cooking skills as he slaps on a Chef’s hat and whips up purple cupcakes using some truly odd ingredients! A cat-terrific spin-off based on Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat movie."

My Review: I guess I may have been expecting a little too much from this book. I understand that it is a beginning reader book, but I was hoping maybe for a little more Seuss like rhyming and language. I was also hoping that it might have an actually recipe that would be fun for kids to cook and incorporate with their reading. I will have to see what Munchkin thinks of it as he reaches a little more of an appropriate age for this one, but right now there just wasn't anything to capture or hold his interest.
My Rating: I wasn't super impressed with this one, it lacked some of the Dr. Seuss feel that I was expecting and I would have liked to bring some actual activity into the reading. I give it a rating of Two Paws.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bedtime Story: Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons by Jon J. Muth

Welcome to Children's Book Week
Synopsis: "Caldecott Honoree and NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author/artist Jon J Muth takes a fresh and exciting new look at the four seasons!

Eating warm cookies
on a cold day
is easy

water catches
every thrown stone
skip skip splash

With a featherlight touch and disarming charm, Jon J Muth--and his delightful little panda bear, Koo--challenge readers to stretch their minds and imaginations with twenty-six haikus about the four seasons."

My Review: We loved this book and I can't wait for Munchkin to be able to really appreciate all the levels to read it on. I loved how you could read each of the haikus on their own or as a part of the story, not only that but there is also the elements of the season and a nod to the alphabet within the book. The artwork is beautiful as well. I think it will quickly become a favorite in our house.
My Rating: I really love this book and will continue to read it to Munchkin until I have it memorized.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Alphabet of Children's Books

Welcome to Children's Book Week
So in honor of Children's Book Week I decided to put my own alphabet list of Children's books that me and Munchkin have enjoyed or will be enjoying.
A for Armadillo Rodeo
B for Baby Farm Animals
C for Corduroy
D for Dig In
E for Eye Book
F for Frankie Works the Night Shift
G for Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site
H for Hand Hand Fingers Thumb
I for I Love You Through and Through
J for Journey
K for Katy and the Big Snow
L for Little Blue Truck
M for Mommy Hugs
N for Nitter Pitter

O for One Fish Two Fish Three Four Five
P for Put Me in a Zoo
Q for Quick Quack Quick
R For Red Wagon
S for Sneetches on Beaches
T for Ten Tiny Toes
U for Under the Table
V for Velveteen Rabbit
W for Where Ever You are My Love will Find You
X for Xavier and the Letter X
Y for You are My Wish Come True
Z for Zoo Book
So what books would you include in your list? Have you read any of the ones listed?

Early Reader Review of The Legendary Yoda by Catherine Saunders

Welcome to Children's Book Week
Synopsis: "DK's Star Wars Readers help kids learn to read while enjoying the stories and characters from the blockbuster movies. Yoda, the legendary Jedi Master, is the focus of this exciting Level 3 DK Reader. Inside, rich vocabulary and challenging sentence structure, as well as an alphabetical glossary and comprehensive index, will help fans learn more about the most wise and mysterious Jedi Master of them all.

Packed with full-color photographs and engaging, age-appropriate stories, the eBooks introduce young children to a life-long love of reading. These amazing stories are guaranteed to capture children's interest while developing their reading skills. They're also perfect for reading together!"

My Review: I was expecting a little more of a story as opposed to just spouting back at me facts from the movies. I would think as a new reader that kids would rather enjoy a story as opposed to a lengthy encyclopedia entry. I did like that there were pictures from the movies to help engage the readers. It was a little bit of let down for me being such a huge Star Wars fan but maybe Munchkin will like it when he gets older and it will help explain the movies to him. I guess we will just have to wait to see.
My Rating: I was rather disappointed not to have a story, but this maybe appealing to early readers as they don't have to read page after page, they can pick the facts they want to read.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bedtime Story: On The Farm by Susan Ring

Welcome to Children's Book Week
Synopsis: "An extension of the Groovy Tube Book line, this series engages younger kids with a fictional story that explores the book's topic while educating them with age-appropriate facts. With an illustrated storybook, ten toys, fun facts, and interesting photographs, Junior Groovies bring the fun of the Groovy Tube books to a whole new age group! Sturdy, foam-lined pages and chunky toys make these perfect for hours of imaginative play! Woof! Meow! Kids will have a blast reading this funny story of a pet-sitting business that gets a little out of control! Ten toy animals and fun sidebar facts teach kids what it takes to care for all different kinds of pets. It's a tale of too many tails."

My Review: This was a clever little book but the execution was a little poor. Munchkin picked this one out at the bookstore. It has a little tube of animal toys that correlate with the story, it also has animal facts in the margins. The problem is the toy tube is built right into the spine of the book so it makes it difficult to hold open and impossible to lay flat. The problem with the facts is that they take up nearly as much room as the main story on the pages which makes it hard to figure out what you are suppose to be reading the first couple of times. The story itself is cute, the little ones get to follow a farmer on her daily chores with the animals.
My Rating: I really wish this could have been done better, maybe a tube that attaches to the spine with Velcro that can be removed when reading. The story is a good one though and teaches a little about the work that goes into having animals.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Review of Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House #1)

Welcome to Children's Book Week
Synopsis: "Jack and Annie are ready for their next fantasy adventure in the bestselling middle-grade series—the Magic Tree House!

Where did the tree house come from?

Before Jack and Annie can find out, the mysterious tree house whisks them to the prehistoric past. Now they have to figure out how to get home. Can they do it before dark . . . or will they become a dinosaur's dinner?"

My Review: I cannot wait until Munchkin is old enough to read this book and the series (because I will be purchasing the entire series for his library). A great book for beginning chapter readers. Great for boys and girls and full of imagination and adventure. It also can spark interest in other books. I really love the concept and the writing was simple yet is enough to push new readers to expand their vocabulary. Kids won't even know they are learning.
My Rating: This is such a perfect series for a early chapter book reader. I am definitely investing in this whole series for Munchkin and am giving this book a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag.

Early Reader Review of Biscuit Loves the Library by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Welcome to Children's Book Week
Synopsis: "It's Read to a Pet Day at the library! There are so many fun things to see and do! Biscuit plays with story-time puppets, visits with friends, and listens to recorded books. Before he goes, a librarian helps him find the activity that he loves most of all.

Biscuit Loves the Library is a My First I Can Read book, which means it's perfect for shared reading with a child. The easy-to-read, joyful tale of Biscuit—everyone's favorite little yellow puppy—will help cultivate a love of books and libraries in children who are learning to read."

My Review: A cute beginning reader book. Munchkin actually was able to sit through the book and enjoy it. He loved making the woof, woof sounds on each page and finding Biscuit. I really hope that I can cultivate Munchkin's love for books, though our library is sadly lacking and we have more books that our library does.
My Rating: This is a good early reader book and it would be great if your library is a well stocked one that has events for your little ones to encourage reading past this book.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Review of The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick

Welcome to Children's Book Week
Synopsis: "When three friends link a girl's disappearance to unusual activity at their local zoo, they discover that each exhibit holds a hidden passage to a secret zoo kingdom. To rescue their friend, the children must band with the animals, enter this mysterious world, and embark on an exciting adventure in the first book of an epic series for middle-grade readers."

My Review: What a fantastic middle grade book! I absolutely loved it and couldn't put it down. There is something that taps into the fantasy of everyone, animals, magic, science, great friendships, I could go on and on. Boys and girls a like with enjoy the story. I honestly can't find anything to fault this book and can't wait to gather the rest of the series for myself or for when Munchkin can read them.
My Rating: Quite the fantastic adventure for even the most reluctant of readers. I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag.

Bedtime Story: Big Cat the Proud by Molly Pearce

Welcome to Children's Book Week
Synopsis: "For youngsters who can't seem to get enough of trucks, tractors and other heavy duty vehicles. Each of the three stories is told from the perspective of the vehicles who manage to impart important lessons while they entertain."

My Review: Another book that Munchkin picked out for himself. A cute story, though it is short even for a kids book. He loved the trucks though and hopefully will get the message when he is a little older. What I really enjoyed about this book is that it is pocket sized and while it is paper they are thick pages that are hard to tear so it is perfect to throw in the purse or pocket for a quick distraction.
My Rating: I rather enjoyed this one and so did Munchkin, in fact he keeps going into his diaper bag to pull it out and read again.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Early Reader Review of B is for Books by Annie Cobb

Welcome to Children's Book Week
Synopsis: "In this full color illustrated book, Slimey, Oscar the Grouch's pet worm, plays the bookworm in this delightful ode to reading. "B is for books. All kinds of books! Books about counting. Books about cooks..."

My Review: A good book for a beginning reader, full of simple words and the pictures hint towards the words so that there is some association for new readers. It is also a great introduction to a variety of books and will possibly help spark their interest and help in choosing a type of book that will encourage this newly learned skill. Currently Munchkin just likes pointing out his favorite Sesame Street characters but I think he will really like to read this book as he gets older.
My Rating: This is a great early reader book and I think the addition of favorite Sesame Street characters draws interest of non readers.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bedtime Story: The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

Welcome to Children's Book Week
Synopsis: "This is a rhyming story of a mouse and a monster. Little mouse goes for a walk in a dangerous forest. To scare off his enemies he invents tales of a fantastical creature called the Gruffalo. So imagine his surprise when he meets the real Gruffalo."

My Review: A classic story that thrives on the silliness. However the message is not one I want my Munchkin to fully grasp. Lying is definitely rewarded in this story with the mouse getting away with it all. The illustrations though are fun and Munchkin really did enjoy the rhyming and sound of the story.
My Rating: This is such a favorite of so many people but I have a hard time supporting the message of the story.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

What's for Dinner this Week? (6)

What's for Dinner This Week is a little insight into my life for you every Monday night. I carefully plan out meals for the week ahead of time and do my shopping over the weekend.  So I wanted to start sharing with you one of the recipes or dinners I am most looking forward to each week.
Munchkin has been getting really pesky while I am trying to cook, I try to give him a bowl and a spoon to fake stir with but that just isn't cutting it for him anymore. I guess it is time to start getting him involved with cooking dinner. He is still a little young to do too much and even with a step stool can't see over the counter but we are finding things for him to do.
When better to get him involved in the kitchen than Children's Book Week?!
So we made these Ham It Up Crescent Rolls last night so we could have them for lunch today.
We didn't roll them in sesame seeds because I figured that might turn him off. I let him put the slices of ham down and sprinkle the cheese, and he was a lot happier to be allowed to join in. One thing to note, make sure you cook before the little one is too hungry, Munchkin ate about half the cheese instead of sprinkling it!
Tonight we are going to read Blueberries for Sal
and Munchkin is going to help me stir the ingredients together (granted we just use the box mix but he doesn't care).
I don't remember when I started helping in the kitchen, but I do remember being under 5 when I started helping to harvest the garden.
How about you? When did you start cooking or when did you teach your little ones to start helping in the kitchen?

Children's Book Week Activities

Welcome to Children's Book Week
So in honor of Children's Book Week, I thought it would be fun to add book inspired activities for the little ones.  Most kids, especially Munchkin, can't just sit in read all day like several of us book lovers.  Sometimes they don't even like to read and you need some way to get them interested.  Pinterest has an absolute wealth of ideas and I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you. (Munchkin and I will also be doing some of these together but he is still pretty young for most of them).
Make the Oobleck - I think boys in particular will enjoy this gooey mess
Turn the Three Little Pigs into an Activity and science experiment
Make your own animals and zoo
Head outside with the sidewalk chalk and spare your walls
This book has loads of possibilities and a lot are listed on Nurture Store
I love the idea of the Kissing Hand Keys
So there are activities, one for each day of this Children's Book Week.  I hope you are able to do some with your little ones, but if you have ideas for other ones please share them!