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Read Aloud Thursday

I am super excited about this week’s Read Aloud Thursday!  After several weeks of being unable to spend much time in the library, we’re finally back in the game!  In fact, we currently have books from two libraries, and we are really enjoying the discovery of some new treasures.  Let’s get started!
A Cold Snap!: Frost Poems by Audrey B. Baird is the first poetry collection I’ve shared in a while, but I couldn’t resist this one.  I’ll admit up front that I usually enjoy poetry far more than my girls do, but I keep reading it to them in the hopes (conviction?) that they, too, will love it one day.  It might be that this one is just a wee bit over their heads, with its figurative language and puns, but exposure never hurt anyone, right?  A Cold Snap! is chock full of poems about cold weather, and it’s just a delight.  I don’t want to share any of the poems in their entirety here, but here’s a little teaser, from a poem entitled “Trees and Me”: 

Trees undress

in November,


their clothes

where they stand.

The ending of this short little poem is quite clever and witty, and I think it would really tickle the funny bone of children not too much older than mine.  Patrick O’Brien‘s illustrations match the tone of each poem, which I think is most important in a poetry book for children.   Highly Recommended, especially if you’re studying (or enjoying or enduring) winter weather

Now this one did tickle their funny bones, and mine, too. 
Good Times on Grandfather Mountain by Jacqueline Briggs Martin is a folktale, of sorts, about an old man named Old Washburn who just won’t be beaten by anything.  Old Washburn’s talents are whittling and looking on the bright side, and he can do both with the best of them.  When his cow, Blanche Wisconsin, runs away, he confesses that her milk never did make good cheese, anyway.  When a storm blows down his house, he admits that he’s just at home under the stars as under a roof.  In addition to his optimistic declarations, he literally turns his losses into something to add beauty to the world:  he whittles himself a whole array of mountain musical instruments.  I won’t give away the ending to the story, but it’s very satisfying.  Susan Gaber‘s watercolor illustrations are colorful and folksy; they remind me a little bit of Patricia Polacco‘s.  (This is a huge compliment from me!)  Some of the illustrations are close-ups that take up a whole page, and I really like that.  This one’s good–Louise requested that I read it again immediately after the first go-through.  (Hmm–I just realized that Jacqueline Briggs Martin is the author of Snowflake Bentley!  No wonder we like Good Times on Grandfather Mountain so much!  You can visit Ms. Martin’s website here  for a list of her other titles.)

This last one is pure silliness and fun.  Coriander the Contrary Hen–the title just about says it all, especially if any of the little chicks (or hens or roosters!) at your house have a tendency towards contrariness.  😉  Coriander the hen decides that she will no longer roost in the chicken coop with the other cooperative hens.  Oh, no–she decides to make her nest in the middle of the road.  What ensues is a country traffic jam of gigantic proportions.  Of course, Coriander behaves in the end, but her contrariness spunkiness is evident clear to the last page.  Dori Chaconas incorporates lots of onomatopoeia and rhyme into this story, which is perfect for my blossoming reader.  Marsha Gray Carrington‘s cartoonish illustrations even include some of the text (namely, the onomatopoeic or rhyming words), and this made it even easier for my girl to follow along.  We all got a kick out of this one!

I’m feeling abundantly blessed right now–it’s amazing to me that I can simply visit my local library and come home with this much literary wealth!  🙂

What is your family feasting on this week?  Please share your family read-alouds with us by linking up your blog post on the MckLinky below, or simply by leaving a comment!  Please feel free to use the Read Aloud Thursday button, too!

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Have a terrific Read Aloud Thursday!


Children’s Classics–Poetry

childrensclassicsI love juvenile poetry, so when I saw that June’s Children’s Classics carnival at 5 Minutes for Books was to be all about poetry, I knew just which books I wanted to highlight.

read-aloud rhymes for the very young

Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young is fun anthology compiled by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Marc Brown.  Need I say more?  🙂  Seriously, I figure Prelutsky knows good poetry with kid appeal when he reads it.  This is but a sampling of the many poets whose works appear in this terrific anthology:

  • Margaret Hillert
  • Dorothy Aldis
  • Edward Lear
  • Elise Holmelund Minarik
  • A.A. Milne
  • Jane Yolen
  • Aileen Fisher
  • Ogden Nash
  • Beatrix Potter
  • Charlotte Zolotow
  • Mary Ann Hoberman
  • Joan Walsh Anglund
  • Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
  • Nikki Giovanni
  • Judith Viorst
  • Langston Hughes
  • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Jack Prelutsky (of course)
  • Many, many others

Marc Brown‘s illustrations are lovely and not too Arthur-ish.  Every page is lavishly illustrated, and since most pages contain multiple poems, the illustrations are little cameos for the individual poems.

I believe I first read about this particular anthology in Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook when I first read it many, many years ago (in fact, Jim Trelease wrote the introduction for the anthology), and we added it to our home library before Lulu was really old enough to appreciate it.  In fact, it has been a while since we’ve pulled it off the shelf; I think some poetry reading is in order here in the near future at the House of Hope.

I really can’t say enough good things about this volume.  In my opinion, this is a must-have for any home library intended for children’s use.  I’ll leave it at that and end with a few of my own favorite poems from this collection:


I wake in the morning early

And always, the very first thing,

I poke out my head and I sit up in bed

And I sing and I sing and I sing.

–Rose Fyleman

A Frog and a Flea

A frog and a flea

And a kangaroo

Once jumped for a prize

In a pot of glue;

The kangaroo stuck

And so did the flea,

And the frog limped home

With a fractured knee.

–Cynthia Mitchell

eloise wilkinsI also wanted to mention a board book anthology that is more appropriate, but just as lovely, for younger children.  Eloise Wilkin’s Poems to Read to the Very Young features many of the same poets and poems as Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young, with the notable difference that Eloise Wilkin’s Poems to Read to the Very Young contains several poems by Robert Louise Stevenson, Christina G. Rosetti, and William Blake.  Josette Frank compiled this collection, and Eloise Wilkin illustrated it.  If you want a durable volume through which you can introduce very young children to poetry, this would be a great choice.  It even includes this gem of a poem that I can remember my own mother reading to me when I was a child:

Merry Sunshine

“Good morning, Merry Sunshine,

How did you wake so soon,

You’ve scared the little stars away

And shined away the moon.

I saw you go to sleep last night

Before I ceased my playing;

How did you get ‘way over there?

And where have you been staying?

“I never go to sleep, dear child,

I just go round to see

My little children of the East,

Who rise and watch for me.

I waken all the birds and bees

And flowers on my way,

And now come back to see the child

Who stayed out late to play.”


Be sure to check out 5 Minutes for Books for more poetry posts!

Read Aloud Thursday

read-aloud211Our book basket runneth over with terrific books this week!  In fact, Steady Eddie has commented recently on its fullness.  Not that he would actually complain about it–oh, no.  He knows better than to do that.  😉

This week our read-alouds have been so rich and well-loved, it’s hard to pick the best.  Here goes:
Peter Spit a Seed at Sue by Jackie French Koller is the perfect book to read for the upcoming watermelon season!  It’s the story-told-in-rhyme of four bored kids who banish their boredom with some watermelon seed spitting fun.  (I really don’t like the word bored very much at all, but it is redeemed in a major way in this story.)  They spit seeds everywhere and manage to involve lots of people in their mischief until the end of the story when the mayor of the town steps in to  stop their spitting.  You’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out how she stops it!  John Manders‘ illustrations are very comical and appropriate for this fun, fun story.  My girls love this one!  Warning:  be sure that you have high tolerance for watermelon seed spitting yourself before you read it!
If you’ve never read any of Helen Lester‘s books, you’ve missed out.  A Porcupine Named Fluffy is a great place to start!  The hero of our story is a porcupine with the misfortune of being named Fluffy.  Fluffy suffers all sorts of tribulations as he tries to live up to his name, but he finally comes to terms with his lot when he meets a rhinoceros with an equally inappropriate (and even more hilarious) name.  My girls get the irony of this book, which is one reason I think it’s so amazing.  Another  is the fun illustrations by Lynn Munsinger.  Highly recommended!

As I’ve mentioned before, we obviously like rhyming books here at the House of Hope.  Roger Eschbacher’s Road Trip is a funny book that will be familiar to any parents who have taken their children on road trips over one hour in duration.  (Actually, it’s more like thirty minutes in our car when Louise is along!)  From backseat bickering to road trip games, meals at greasy spoon cafes to overnight motel stays, this book hits all the fun and foibles of the family road trip.  Thor Wickstrom‘s illustrations are a real plus–his truck stop waitress is not to be missed in her beehive hairdo, cat-eye glasses, and semi-truck earrings!
This last one is my favorite.  I LOVE the illustrations in this book.  This Little Chick, written and illustrated by John Lawrence, is so much fun.  It begins in a way similar to many nursery songs–“This little chick from over the way/went to play with the ___[insert different animals] one day/And what do you think they heard him say?”  It turns out that the little chick is quite adaptable, and when he gets back to his mama and the family nest, he has a whole new vocabulary to share.  The illustrations are bright, bold, and whimsical.  Don’t miss this one!

Well, I could go on and on, but I think I’ll save it for another Read Aloud Thursday.  What has your family enjoyed this week?  Leave a link or a comment!

Author Spotlight::Jane Yolen

poe-friSince April is National Poetry Month and there’s a lovely blog carnival called Poetry Friday that I’ve been itching to participate in, what better time to highlight a very prolific and beloved children’s author who is also a poet.  That’s right!  Jane Yolen, who wrote The Devil’s Arithmetic and scores of wonderful picture books, also has many, many books of poetry to her credit.

I happened upon a couple of Yolen’s poetic works in the picture book section of our library and brought them home because I thought one would appeal to my pioneer loving girls and because I like poetry and nature, so the other one appealed to me.  It turns out I was right on both counts!

Harvest Home is a beautiful picture book written entirely in rhyme.  It is the story of Bess, Ned, and their family, working together “bringing the harvest home.”  Each page includes this refrain three times, in an ababcccb scheme which mimics the rhythm of the reapers reaping the grain.  The story begins with a remembrance of planting time  and then methodically recounts this family tale through a description of the family working together; an emphasis on the necessity of having the help of the neighbors; a description of dinner time fun and the ancestral link to the land; a recounting of the toil of working through the afternoon;  and finally, a triumphant telling of the finishing the harvest with the making of a harvest doll out of a twist of wheat, the joy of eating a bountiful harvest meal together and praising God for the harvest through song and dance. Greg Shed’s illustrations are muted, gentle, and lovely–a perfect accompaniment for a beautiful family story told in beautiful verse form.  Highly recommended!

Least Things:  Poems About Small Natures is a collection of poems and photographs.  Yolen’s inspiration for this book was this quotation from Pliny, the Elder:  “Nature excels in the least things.”  The poems in this book are all haiku, a perfect form to capture the essence of “least things” like a butterfly, a lizard, a tree frog, a snail, and a dragonfly.  This book is a collaborative effort between Yolen, and her son, photographer Jason Stemple.  My favorite poems from the book are about the butterfly which can “paint a psalm” and the dragonfly whose “flight is a hymn.”  Yolen’s foreward in which she explains the process by which she wrote this book is very interesting, as well.  This book would be a great introduction to poetry.  Highly recommended!

Jane Yolen has an awesome, interactive website.  It even includes some samples of her poetryCheck it out!

Do you like poetry?  Who is your favorite poet?  Or, are you like many participants in the Poetry Friday carnival–you write poetry?  Do tell!

Click over to ayuddah.net for this week’s Poetry Friday!

Read Aloud Thursday

Is it possible to check out too many books from the library?  Yes, I think it is, and I believe we did that this week.  I have been working on a few author/illustrator spotlight posts for Hope Is the Word, so I checked out all of those I could get my hands on.  In addition to that, we checked out our usual fifteen or twenty.  As a result, we did not get to read all of them this week, but no worries.  They’ll make it back into our basket some time in the future, I’m sure.  Here are a couple of stand outs from the week:
If your preschoolers love silly stories like my girls do, then they will positively love Parents in the Pigpen, Pigs in the Tub by Amy Ehrlich.  In this story, the farm animals decide that life in the farmhouse must be better than life in the barn, so the animals move in.  After the house gets a little too crowded, the people move out to the barn.  Everything goes well for a while, but finally, everyone (people and animals) decide they miss the way things used to be.  What makes this story so great, really, are the illustrations by Steven Kellogg.  In his trademark style, Kellogg creates characters that are both realistic and humorous-looking.  The facial expressions he creates are priceless.  This book is pure fun!
Another book we really enjoyed this week is Shoes from Grandpa, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Patricia Mullins.  This is the story Jessie, whose grandpa declares that he will buy her some new shoes for the winter when he sees how tall she’s grown.  What ensues is a fun rhyme about all of the things other members of her family give her “to go with the shoes from Grandpa.”  Lulu especially liked the fact that Jessie really wanted jeans, and that’s the one thing no one gave her.  Lulu loves a certain pair of faded, too small dungarees, so she can definitely relate.  This is a fun and sweet rhyming story about family life and love.  (On a somewhat related note, has anyone read this book by Mem Fox?  It looks like it might be right down my alley.)

We’ve also been enjoying some vintage finds in the past week or so.  What has your family enjoyed this week?  Leave a comment or a link to your blog post.  Have a terrific Thursday!

Read Aloud Thursday

As usual, our library basket this week contains a hodge-podge of books.  When I’m browsing for books at the library, I usually try to find a mixture of books that I think will appeal to both my girls. Still, my decisions are ultimately based on what looks good to me; after all, if I’m reading it aloud, I tend to do a much better job if it is a book I actually like.  My girls, if left to their own devices, would fill our basket with Dora and Bob, Franklin and Blue each week.  It amazes me that they are so drawn to these characters because they only watch the shows occasionally, and even then they are re-runs on video.  But I digress.  Here are some of the good books in our library basket this week:
Oddhopper Opera:  A Bug’s Garden of Verses, written and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus, is my favorite of the week.  Every page is a feast for the eyes, not only in terms of the illustrations, but also in terms of the text.  Some of the lines of the poems in this book are often a part of the illustrations.  While they are not quite concrete or shape poems, the fact that they are not always linear adds an element of enjoyment and fun.  There is even ongoing commentary from ants that traipse across several of the pages (“Boink!  ‘Here we are–where’s the food?  Is it far?’/Boink!  ‘Oh, my head!  Can’t we shake hands instead?’  Boink!’).  Chock full of rollicking buggy poetry, this book would be great for almost any age, from preschoolers to senior citizens!

Max’s Words, written by Kate Banks and illustrated by Boris Kulikov, comes in a close second this week in my book.  Max is a little boy whose older brothers collect things:  Benjamin collects stamps and Karl collects coins.  Max wants to collect something, too, and when his brothers won’t share even one tiny thing from their collections with him, he decides to collect words.  He cuts words out of newspapers and magazines, and pretty soon his collection begins to take on a life of its own.  This book is probably more appropriate for children who can read, but my pre-readers didn’t complain about it.  Any logophile will love it!
This Is the House That Was Tidy and Neat by Teri Sloat is Lulu’s pick of the week.  It is a fun book in the tradition of “The House That Jack Built.”  Illustrated by R.W. Alley, this book is very visually detailed.  It will only take a few times through for the listener to be able to recite the poem simply by looking at the illustrations.  As a bonus, this book really capitalizes on the idea that mom is a very integral part of family life.   As a mother who sometimes gets a little discouraged, I like this part perhaps the best of all.

Louise has taken great delight in One Monkey Too Many by Jackie French Koller.  Each activity presented in this story is one that is just right for a certain number of monkeys, so when “one monkey too many” shows up, delightfully hilarious chaos ensues.  This story is told in rhyme.  The illustrations, by Lynn Munsinger, are whimsical and very expressive.  This is a great preschool read aloud.

Reading One Small Place by the Sea enables its readers to take a trip to the seashore without leaving their comfy reading nooks.  This book, written by Barbara Brenner and illustrated by Tom Leonard, details the cycle through which a tide pool goes during its existence.  The illustrations are detailed and colorful.  This is a great introduction to marine life and the idea of cycles in nature.

I had picked up and put back The Prairie Train by Antoine O Flatharta at least once before during a picture book hunting-and-gathering expedition, but this time, due to my girls’ ever growing  love affair with all things prairie, I couldn’t resist.  This story was sort of a surprise to me; what I thought was a simple historical fiction story turned out to be a fantasy of sorts.  This book deals with the immigrant experience, but with a twist.  The beautiful illustrations by Eric Rohmann contribute to the dream-like quality (I use this phrase both literally and figuratively) of the story.

What have you been reading this week?  Leave me a comment or link and I’ll be sure to follow up!  I’m always on the hunt for more great read-alouds.

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!