Friday, March 26, 2010

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost illus Susan Jeffers

Today is the birthday of the great poet Robert Frost. I love when children's books take one poem by an author and make it into a beautiful picture book. This was done with my favorite Robert Frost poem using illustrations from one of my favorite illustrators.

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost and illus by Susan Jeffers is really wonderful to read and look at. Susan Jeffers captures with perfection what a snowy night would be out in the woods. When I first came across this book and read it I felt transported to a time and place that was calm and reassuring. Robert Frosts words give way to images that we have all felt at one time or another. It is probably one of the best examples of author and illustrator coming together seamlessly. This is a great introduction to poetry for any child.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin illus James Dean

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and illus by James Dean is one of those books I would love to read at story time. I have never had such a fun time reading a book that teaches colors. It literally made me want to sing along. Kids will love this book~I can hear them singing this song all day long.
The illustrations truly match the words and are just as much fun. It even comes with a gift card with a link to download the song. I love how it makes me smile!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Green Start Book Towers: Little Learning Books:

I love these Green Start Books from Innovative Kids. They are the perfect size for little hands and they are made with 98% recycled material plus the price is good. Since they aren't too expensive they make a perfect new baby gift for any new baby. I especially love these book towers. Toddlers love to stack things---this tower of books with 10 little board books will not only be fun for them to "read" but fun to stack!

Little Learning Books are 10 board books that deal with concepts such as colors, shapes, opposites etc.
Little Animal Books is the same concept and packaging only it has 10 books with mini stories about animals like koalas, monkeys, elephants, giraffes and more.
These are the perfect carry along for the Toddler in your life!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The 13th Floor: A Ghost Story by Sid Fleischman illus Peter Sis

Last week Newbery Winner Sid Fleischman, who won for the Whipping Boy, died at the age of 90. What an incredible man he was. Everyone always talks about his winning title but he was so much more than that one book. I personally loved the Carnival of Animals but sadly that does not seem to be readily available anymore. I loved it because they were tall tales that made me laugh. Great illustrations too.

The 13th Floor: A Ghost Story by Sid Fleischman & illus by Peter Sis is my next favorite book of his. I loved this book because it combines so many of my favorite elements: Ghosts, intrigue, adventure and pirates. Well I am not so much a pirate fan as I like ghosts but pirates can be fun too. I always liked the main character and he seemed like a real kid. Mr Fleischman was very good at writing real characters. This was part of his gift. The wonderful thing about great authors is that they are never truly forgotten. This is a perfect book for children who like adventure with a little mystery and fantasy thrown in. Mr Fleischman will be missed but his legacy lives on.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bella The Birthday Party by Mandy Stanley

Bella the Birthday Party by Mandy Stanley was such a great find. It is also perfect to write about today as Spring begins. It is also perfect because today is my little friend Grace's 7th birthday. This book has Grace written all over it, she loves bunnies (her Mom had a cute one for awhile) and tutu's too. This is the story of a little bunny, Bella, who comes across a birthday party and not only joins the fun but saves the day too.

This is the perfect book for any little girl in your life. It is such fun to read aloud and talk about. It also makes a great gift because it has a grand look but at a great price.

Happy Birthday Grace!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bag in the Wind by Ted Kooser Illus Barry Root

I came across this beautiful book that has been recently published and was immediately drawn to its illustrations. I also loved the title.

Bag in the Wind by Ted Kooser (former poet laureate) & illus by Barry Root is the story of a plastic bag that flies away from a landfill and the places it lands.

Barry Root's soft illustrations perfectly match the beautiful words of Ted Kooser. They illustrations enhance the words and make this a very visual book. For example the line that says: A perfectly good bag, the color of the skin of a yellow onion, with two holes with handles ~ is such a wonderfully descriptive line, simple but vivid.

Haven't we all seen plastic or paper bags floating through the air. I know I have always wondered where it is going and where it has been. Now I know.

This is a great book that talks about reusing and recycling with out being too heavy handed. It is a soft sell that makes us think. I think it is perfect for young children as well as older to help them understand how everything in the world eventually connects together.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tim O'Toole and the Wee Folk by Gerald McDermott

Normally I would have been writing about St. Patrick's Day books all week. Since I wasn't able to that this year I thought I would just write about my favorite book to read on St. Patrick's Day. Now it has nothing to do with St. Patrick or why we celebrate this holiday but it is a great story that takes place in Ireland and a really fun read.

Tim O'Toole & the Wee Folk by Gerald McDermott is fun to read because of the way it is written. I am not one to do accents well but Mr. McDermott has written this book in such a way that the reader can't help but have a "wee" accent. I love how the Wee Folk help Tim O'Toole get the upper hand on his evil neighbors. This is a great tall tale and great read aloud!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Flashback Tuesday: The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

I thought the perfect book to really start this blog up again would be one of my Mom's favorites. I mentioned the other day that she loved this book, what I didn't know then but found out today is that it was first published in 1922, the year of her birth. Now I know it is the right book to write about on Flashback Tuesday.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams & illus by William Nicholson is the classic story of a toy that becomes so loved it finally becomes real. There are many different editions but this is the one that we had and that reminds me of my mother.

When I was in the stores it always bothered me that we got numerous copies of this book for our Easter displays. I mean really just because it has a rabbit on it should not automatically mean Easter. Besides the book opens on Christmas morning when the boy gets the Velveteen Rabbit in his stocking. I have come to feel that it doesn't matter when this book is read, it is a must have title for any child or adult. How many of us had a toy that was our favorite and that through the years has become so worn that it really should be thrown away. My oldest nephew Michael had his "Cholly" and my little Nephew Alex has his Paddington. They both no longer need to have it at their side constantly but I know they are somewhere nearby for comfort. I myself had my Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls that had seen better days.
My Mother loved this book, I loved this book too because there should always be a little magic in our lives.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Aida told by Leontyne Price Illus Leo & Diane Dillon

Today is March 15th, the Ides of March. It is also my father's birthday. I always loved how his birth date was memorable.

Yesterday I talked about my she and my Dad loved opera. My father loved classical music. He was always pretending to conduct the music using a pen or pencil. Sometimes he would just wave his hands. If he really loved a piece of music he would show you his arm filled with would just transform him.

When I was little we would sit on the couch and listen to Aida sung by Leontyne price( I think I still have the albums somewhere)....if I close my eyes I can still feel his arms around me as we sat there....I can still feel his heart.

This beautifully illustrated version of Aida told by Leontyne Price and the wonderful Leo & Diane Dillon is the perfect book to introduce opera to children. It is one of those companion pieces that transcends time. The fact that it has one the best opera singers attached to it is a plus. This is a great gift and must have for any bookshelf. My father would have loved it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Mother: Helen G. Marotta 1922-2010

Three weeks ago the most beautiful person I have ever known died. My Mother was a wonderful person who had endured much sadness and heartbreak in her life. The funny thing is only those closest to her ever knew that. She also knew joy! The day of my last post was probably one of her best days. She looked beautiful as we went to a bridal shower for my cousin's daughter. It was a wonderful day, she felt good and laughed alot. After the shower we went back to my brother's house and spent a few hours talking and laughing. It was so joyous~ a true gift!

I once wrote, in the early days of this blog, that other than my sister my Mom was a great influence on me becoming a reader. When I was a little girl the summers were lonely. All the neighborhood kids went away but we never did. One summer I sat all day long inside watching television. In those days there was no Oprah on in the afternoon....but there were movies. My Mother got tired of me just sitting in front of the "boob tube" all day. I can still see her standing at the sink telling me I needed to go outside. I told her it was boring outside....she said "read a book".....and so it began.

My Mother also loved to read....when I was young she read alot of Agatha Christie but as we got older she liked to read history. She loved to read about Lincoln or the American Revolution. She had two favorite books of her childhood....Ivanhoe and Hans Brinker & the Silver Skates. She also used to talk about a very obscure book called Mystery At High Hedges by Edith Bishop Sherman written in 1937. A few years ago I found it on Albris and bought it for her. She was so thrilled to see it again. When I was in school she discovered the story of the Velveteen Rabbit~she loved it so much that when she finally got a copy of it she treasured it. When I see that book I think of her.

My Mother was also a bit of a writer---which is probably where my sister got her talent from. Since my Mother was a woman of great faith most of her poems had a religious bent. As a Catholic she had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. She liked to wear blue "for Our Lady" ~which is what I think of when I wear blue too.
My Mother was also a gifted singer. She never sang professionally but she probably could have if given the opportunity and the ego to do it. She used to sing at weddings~she told me that she even sat on a piano once to sing "ala the movies". She was always singing in the kitchen or anywhere in the house. My love of music stems from both my parents but my love of Gershwin et al is due to my Mom! She was always singing show tunes or old classics. She and my father also loved opera~they used to sing aria's together. My Mom's favorite opera was La Boheme and my Dad's was La I will miss her voice which, while it couldn't hit a high note anymore, was still quite beautiful.
My Mom was my most ardent supporter. She is the only person I can truly say was always in my corner. No matter what I did she was there for me. The pain I feel now she is gone is incredible~the only comfort I have is that I know she wants me to be happy. I will try very hard to fulfill her wish~Mom I love you!