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Read Aloud Thursday

This week our library basket contained some interesting and very quirky books.  Among them was One Potato, Two Potato, written by Cynthia DeFelice and illustrated by Andrea U’Ren.  This is the story of Mr. and Mrs. O’Grady, who are poor both physically and materially.  The discovery of a magic pot, however, changes all of that.  The pot can multiply anything placed within it, and the O’Gradys take advantage of this with humorous results.  The illustrations in this book struck me as a little odd at first, but after I read the book the first time, I grew fond of their quirkiness.  This book ends with a delightful play on words.

Another book we enjoyed this week was The Real Story of Stone Soup, written by Ying Chang Compestine and illustrated by Stephane Forisch.  This is, of course, a retelling of the Stone Soup legend, this time from southeast China. In this story, the Chang brothers work as fishermen for a lazy man they respectfully call Uncle.  The Chang brothers, of course, trick Uncle into doing most of the work in making the stone soup.  There are subtleties in this story (for example, Uncle’s laziness) that make it a good story for reading between the lines and interpreting illustrations.

Our favorites of the week, however, are two history books written in the form of poetry.  Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails, written by Verla Kay and illustrated by S. D. Schindler and Homespun Sarah, written by Verla Kay and illustrated by Ted Rand, are wonderful introductions to the westward movement and colonial life, respectively.  In Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails, we follow Father, Mother, and Baby John as they trek along the California Trail from Independence, Missouri, to the Sacramento Valley.  The obstacles and triumphs of the pioneers wagon train are described in rhyming couplets and in warm and expressive illustrations.  It is especially fun to “watch” as Baby John grows into a toddler on the journey.  Homespun Sarah, on the other hand, details the daily life of  a girl in colonial Pennsylvania.  Sarah does many chores including fetching water, filling the wood box with branches, tending the garden, cooking, doing laundry, making candles, gathering berries, spinning wool, and finally, making her own dress since she has outgrown the one she wore throughout the whole story.  Again, rhyming couplets and warm illustrations make this book engaging for little ones, all the while giving a good sense of life in the 1700s.  My four year old daughter requested to have this book read as a bedtime story even as I had it in a stack to review here on my blog.  Of course, my girls do have a predilection for pioneer stories, but because of its fun rhymes and interesting subject matter, I think this book would make a great read aloud for almost any audience.

What have you and yours been enjoying together as read alouds?  Leave me a comment or a link to your blog where you tell about it!

Next week’s Read Aloud Thursday will be a special A.A. Milne edition.  If you have read Milne’s Pooh stories or his poetry (or even some of his lesser-known adult books and articles), please be sure to come back next Thursday and link your blog or leave a comment!

Book Review–Too Many Frogs!

Title:  Too Many Frogs!

Author:  Sandy Asher

Illustrator:  Keith Graves

Publisher:  Philomel

Pages:  [31]

ISBN:  0399239782

This is such a fun book for a read-aloud!  Rabbit enjoys his nice, quiet life:  he cooks his supper, cleans up his mess, and reads himself a story every night.  One night, however, his life is turned upside down by the friendly and eager Froggie who shows up at his door ready to listen to the story.  Night after night, the same thing happens, only each time the mess and disturbance to Rabbit’s formerly placid life intensifies.  Rabbit finally draws the line, only to realize (of course) that he misses Froggie’s company.  The story is repetitive enough to delight preschoolers but interesting enough to delight adults.  Or maybe I enjoyed the story so much because I identify greatly with Rabbit.  Either way, this is a fun easy book that is sure to please!

Book Review–The Seven Silly Eaters

The Seven Silly Eaters

The Seven Silly Eaters

Title:  The Seven Silly Eaters

Author:  Mary Ann Hoberman

Illustrator:  Marla Frazee

Publisher:  Browndeer Press

Pages:  [37]

ISBN:  0152000968

This is one of the best read-alouds we’ve enjoyed in a while.  Written primarily in rhyming couplets, this is the story of the Peters family and the beleagured Mrs. Peters who has seven of the silliest eaters around.  Each one of her children has only one thing he or she will eat, so poor Mrs. Peters works herself into a tizzy keeping up with their demands.  Of course, the problem is solved in the end, and I must say that it is a solution that most children would enjoy.  As the reader of this read-aloud, I enjoy the rollicking rhyme and the terrific illustrations.  I also identify on a small scale with Mrs. Peters and her never-ending work.  Maybe that’s why I like this book so much!

Book Review–Rufus and Friends: Rhyme Time

Rhyme Time

Rufus and Friends: Rhyme Time

Title:  Rufus and Friends:  Rhyme Time

Author and Illustrator:  Iza Trapani

Publisher:  Charlesbridge

Pages:  35

ISBN:  9781580892070

 Iza Trapani has written and illustrated a delightful book of nursery rhymes in Rufus and Friends: Rhyme Time.  Actually, I should be more precise and say that she, to use the terminology from the title page, has “extended” some “traditional poems” in this book.    The premise of the book is that Rufus and friends, all dogs, are performing a series of short skits in which they act out nursery rhymes.  The illustrations are complete with a play program which serves as the table of contents and a curtained stage on the first and last pages of the book.  Delightfully funny illustrations accompany such rhymes as “Hickety, Pickety,” “Doctor Foster Went to Gloucester,” and “Wee Willie WInkie.”  The author’s note at the end of the book gives insight into the author’s love of nursery rhymes.  My girls, ages four and two, have requested this book numerous times.  So has their mother!  Be forewarned:  this book contains several serious tongue twisters!

Book Review–Loud Emily by Alexis O’Neill

Loud Emily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title:  Loud Emily

Author:  Alexis O’Neill

Illustrator:  Nancy Carpenter

Publisher:  Aladdin

ISBN:  0689810784

Poor Emily.  Born with an abnormally loud voice, Emily irritates almost everyone in her household, except her family’s cook.  The cook finds Emily’s loud voice useful for calling in the servants, and when Cook takes Emily to the harbor to buy fresh fish for dinner, Emily finds a real occupation for her voice:  working on a whaling ship calling out the captain’s orders “from the fo’c’sle to quarter-deck above gale force wind.”  What follows is an adventure filled full of mariner’s vocabulary, averted disasters, and a chance for Emily to shine.  Set in what appears to be New England in the 1800s, this is a fun book for all ages.  The illustrations are beautiful and reminiscent of era artwork, only with a whimsical element.  The endpapers are in the style of scrimshaw carvings and are illustrated with illustrations from boats and chanteys that were sung on whaling vessels. My girls, ages 4 and 2 1/2, loved this book.

Book Review–Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum by Lisa Wheeler

Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title:  Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum

Author:  Lisa Wheeler

Illustrator:  Laura Huliska-Beith

Publisher:  Little, Brown

ISBN:  0316988944

This fun, rhyming picture book recounts the unlucky episode of several animals (a toad, a shrew, a goose, a crow, etc.) who all get stuck in a wad of bubblegum in the middle of the road.  Unfortunately for them, a truck comes down the road, but due to their own pragmatism, they save themselves.  However, following closely on the heels (wheels?) of the truck is a “big-bottomed bear” who is intent on eating them all for his next meal.  This time, it’s the bubble gum that saves them.  This book is best read in a sing-song voice, and it’s guaranteed to please all listeners (and readers), ages two to ninety-two.