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And the winner is. . .

Well, folks, I hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day.  After a weekend of Mother’s Day and birthday festivities, I’m pooped.  It’s going to be a day of digging out from under a weekend of home neglect and my almost-five-year-old’s birthday goodies (which incidentally does include a few books 🙂 ).  I’m not “taking the phone off the hook,” though, until I announce the winner of the Read Aloud Week book giveaway. . . .


With my elementary aged daughter, we are nearly finished with “Meet Kirsten” from the American Girls series. These books make great bedtime read-alouds, as they stretch over one week just about perfectly.

We also finished “The Shakespeare Stealer” this week. A little tough for the young ones to follow, but the older ones (middle school) enjoyed it.

Shelly, I’ll be emailing you directly, and meanwhile, I hope you all have a marvelous Monday!


Read Aloud Thursday and a Book Giveaway!

square-read-aloud-imageI hope you all have had a happy Read Aloud Week!  I’ve enjoyed sharing some of our old and new favorite read-alouds this week.  For this week’s Read Aloud Thursday, I thought I’d break with my normal routine of sharing our library finds and share what I hope will be a helpful bookish hint.

9780060080945Some time before Lulu was born I purchase the HarperCollins Treasury of Picture Book Classics: A Child’s First Collection at Sam’s or some such place.  I have been a collector of children’s books since long before I’ve had children of my own.  I used to blame it on having nephews, but the truth is (if you haven’t figured it out by now), I just love children’s literature, plain and simple.  This anthology really is a treasury in the truest sense of the word.  It is a compilation of some of the best in children’s picture books.  It includes

  • Goodnight Moon
  • Caps for Sale (my thoughts here)
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon
  • Crictor
  • A Baby Sister for Frances
  • Leo the Late Bloomer
  • William’s Doll
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
  • George Shrinks
  • Baby Says
  • From Head to Toe
  • Pete’s a Pizza

This book has turned into our default take-along for trips to the doctor’s office.  We started doing this when Lulu was just a toddler.  We are rather germaphobic here at the House of Hope (Steady Eddie has had just enough microbiology to make him this way for the rest of his life, and it has rubbed off on me), so I liked the idea of having something that would keep the girls’ attention and something that would not be dropped in the floor, etc.  The book is really heavy, which encourages them to sit in our laps contently while being read to.  It helps, of course, that we actually sort of forget about the book most of the time until an occasion to go to the doctor arises, and then we pull it off the shelf.  Actually, that very thing happened just this week when Louise’s allergies finally morphed into something that required a physician’s care.  Once she got over the initial angst of going to the doctor, Louise then asked for the “big blue book.”  We made it through three of the stories and were working on the fourth when Louise’s name was called.  As if reading a great story like Harold and the Purple Crayon (my favorite!) isn’t enough, the fact that we only pull this book out infrequently adds to the excitement and interest.


Well, folks, this is the final post for the Read Aloud Week book giveaway.  I’ve had a great time sharing some of our favorite read alouds with you all week long, and I hope this has at least been an inspiration to you in your own family reading.  The book I’m giving away is The Animal Hedge by Paul Fleischman, and you can read my review of it here.

So how do you get in on the action for a chance to win this great book?  Here’s how:

  1. Leave a comment (even if you don’t blog) telling me you family’s favorite read-aloud or what you’re reading aloud currently
  2. Leave another comment with a link to your Read Aloud Thursday blog post
  3. Put the Read Aloud Thursday button in your side bar and come back and tell me you did in another comment
  4. Create a blog entry alerting your readers to this Read Aloud Thursday giveaway, or mention the giveaway in your Read Aloud Thursday post (either will do) and leave me a comment telling you did so

Be sure that each comment includes your contact information (email address or blog link).

This giveaway will end on Sunday night at midnight, CST.  I will post the winner on Monday morning. Happy Mother’s Day!

The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County

chicken-chasing-queenI wanted to highlight this fun book alone because I didn’t want it to get buried in a regular Read Aloud Thursday post.  That’s how much we loved it!

Janice N. Harrington‘s voice for the main character, the self-named “Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County,” is perfect!  She loves to chase her Big Mama’s chickens, but she has her eye on the prize:  Miss Hen.  However, she has a change of heart once she learns what Miss Hen’s been up to one day when she goes into hiding.

Two things make this story such a great read-aloud.  First, Harrington’s use of  language is gorgeous:

I don’t want just any chicken.  I want my favorite.  Her feathers are shiny as a rained-on roof.  She has high yellow stockings and long-fingered feet, and when she talks–“Pruck!  Pruck!  Pruck!”–it sounds like pennies falling on a diner plate.  I call her Miss Hen, and she’s plump as a Sunday purse–just waiting for me to pick her up.

What child wouldn’t love the words “Pruck!  Pruck!”  or “Pah-quawkkkkk!” read in just the right voice?

Second are Shelley Jackson‘s illustrations.  Her chickens look like they are paper-pieced (scrapbooking, anyone?) with very interesting patterned paper.  The chickens’ and hen’s “words” are done in ransom-note style, with lots of different type fonts and backgrounds.  It’s gorgeous.

I really think this book is one of the best we’ve read all year, and my girls agree if the number of times we’ve read it are any indication.
(This is the Amazon link for The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County.)

It’s Read Aloud Week here at Hope Is the Word, so I’m posting something about a favorite read-aloud every day until Thursday.  Have you signed up for my Read Aloud Week book giveaway?

If You Were Born a Kitten by Marion Dane Bauer

bk_bornAre your children interested in babies and where they come from?  If they’re anything like my girls, they are!  Although they haven’t asked us any specifics (yet!), I try to remain aware of their natural curiosity and offer very gentle nuggets of information so that when that fateful day comes, they will have some prior knowledge to which to “hook” the new knowledge.  If You Were Born a Kitten by Marion Dane Bauer is the perfect book to do just that.  Each two-page spread begins with the phrase “If you were born a ______” or something similar and then goes on to describe the birth processes (gently!  gently!) or newborn characteristics of a variety of animals, from seahorses to elephants.  The last several pages, though, are dedicated to the most amazing story of all, the story of a human baby, very different from the animals just described but similar in that he is also born.  With no specific details beyond “So you squeezed out, wailing,” the miracle of human birth is celebrated.  JoEllen McAllister Stammen’s soft pastel drawings are the perfect accompaniment to this sweet and well-received book.  Louise, at 3 1/2, is enamored of the idea of babies (‘though she is quite jealous around the reality of babies), so this book is a real hit with her.  In fact, our copy is falling apart!

Marion Dane Bauer has a website.  Check it out!

(Once again, I’ve had difficulties with downloading an Amazon image for this book.  However, here is a link should you need one.)

Be sure to check out the other Read Aloud Week posts.  We’re celebrating twenty weeks of Read Aloud Thursdays here at Hope Is the Word with an upcoming book giveaway.  Have you commented yet?

Friday’s Vintage Find::Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

It’s Read Aloud Week here at Hope Is the Word, and today I thought I’d share one of our favorite read alouds of all time.  Esphyr Slobodkina‘s Caps for Sale is one of those books that will always hold fond, fond memories for me.  It is one of the first real story books that I read to Lulu when she really still a baby.   We owned it in board book format, and I can remember reading it to her while sitting in the rocking chair by the window in her nursery.  We still enjoy this story of the clever peddlar who outsmarts some crafty monkeys.  I think my favorite part is acting out the monkey’s lines, especially saying “Tsz, tsz, tsz!”  (How does one pronounce that, by the way?  I usually make a slight buzzing sound.)  This is one of those books that has so much potential–colors, counting, patterns, thinking skills–they’re all here.  Or, you could just enjoy the experience of reading this folktale first copyrighted in 1940.

Have you signed up for a chance to win a free book?  Be sure to check yesterday’s Read Aloud Thursday post to find out how!

Read Aloud Thursday and Read Aloud Week Book Giveaway!

square-read-aloud-imageWe have a full-to-overflowing book basket this week with many great titles!  Be sure to read to the end of the post because we have other exciting things to discuss, too!

Sky Tree:  Seeing Science Through Art by Thomas Locker and Candace Christiansen is a beautiful book that chronicles the changes in a lone tree through one year’s worth of seasons.  This book marries art and science beautifully; the text by Christiansen perfectly–and unobtrusively–complements the artwork by Locker.  (Incidentally, the title page actually reads “Thomas Locker with Candace Christiansen,” which is a testimony to the importance of the art in this book.)  This would be a great book to use as a part of a nature study because it is all about observation.  The interplay between the sky and the tree branches is amazing.  This is one to study over and over again.  (If this sounds interesting to you, check out my review of another of Locker’s books here.)
Pat Hutchins really needs no introduction, but aside from (possibly) reading Rosie’s Walk to my girls in my pre-blogging days, I don’t think we’d ever read anything by her here at the House of Hope.  Titch and Daisy was a real hit with my girls.  It’s the fun story of Titch, who doesn’t want to attend a party without his best friend, Daisy.  Despite the other children’s best efforts to involve him, Titch stays on the periphery of the party until he is met with a big surprise.  Hutchins’ bright and colorful illustrations are very kid-friendly, and my girls really liked the surprise element (which is really no surprise to the reader).  Knowing something that the hapless Titch doesn’t know throughout the story really tickled my girls.

If you’ve been reading Hope Is the Word for very long, you already know that I like poetry.  Well, when I checked out A Weed Is a Seed, I had no idea that it was written in verse form.  However, it’s not the genre of literature that really makes this book special; it’s the concept behind it.  Ferida Wolff introduces things found in nature in this book and points out the good and the bad about them.  For example,

A weed is a seed

that just doesn’t belong

in the place where it happens to grow.

But a weed can be feed

for a cold country mouse

digging out of the wintery snow.

Nice, huh?  Janet Pederson‘s watercolor and ink illustrations are a nice accompaniment for this unique nature book.

I’ve already highlighted Lois Ehlert here before, but I was excited to pick up Oodles of Animals this week at the library.  And I got bonus points because it’s another picture book written in verse form! 🙂  This one is just delightful!  The artwork is Ehlert’s trademark collagey (is that a word?) style, only this time the illustrations are just paper cut with scissors, pinking shears, and a hole punch.  I think that one of the great things about this is that it’s something children could easily copy!  Back to the poetry, though–it’s so much fun!  This one was our favorite:


If her tail’s raised,

give a skunk room,

unless you like

pee-yoo perfume.

I ask you, what child (or adult) wouldn’t like that?


And now,  for the announcement you’ve been waiting for:  in honor of finally having a blog button suitable for sidebar use, I am hosting my own little bloggy giveaway.  We are also nearing our twentieth Read Aloud Thursday (this is number nineteen), and it’s almost Mother’s Day.  What other reasons do I need?

I happened upon one of my favorite read alouds we’ve done this year while I was shopping one day at Tuesday Morning (great book bargains here, by the way), so I grabbed a copy to pass along to one of you, my loyal readers.  Paul Fleischman’s The Animal Hedge is a beautiful and old-fashioned story that is perfect for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.  You can read all about it here.

Wouldn’t you like a copy for your own home library or for a gift for your favorite parental figure?  🙂 Here’s how to be entered into a drawing to win a copy:

  1. Leave a comment (even if you don’t blog) telling me your favorite children’s author
  2. Leave another comment with a link to your Read Aloud Thursday blog post
  3. Put the Read Aloud Thursday button in your side bar and come back and tell me you did in another comment
  4. Create a blog entry alerting your readers to this Read Aloud Thursday giveaway, or mention the giveaway in your Read Aloud Thursday post (either will do) and leave me a comment telling you did so

Be sure that each comment includes your contact information (email address or blog link).

That give you up to four chances to win this week alone!!  We will do this again on next week’s Read Aloud Thursday post, and the giveaway will close after next Thursday’s post (more details to come next week).  That means that you essentially have until next Thursday to complete this assignment, and we’ll open it up again next Thursday with a new post.  Clear as mud? 🙂

Come back every weekday between now and the next Read Aloud Thursday–I plan to highlight a different favorite read aloud every day!

Happy Read Aloud Week from Hope Is the Word!