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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!

Read Aloud Thursday

Boy, I’m just full of new ideas lately, aren’t I?  It’s because I don’t have anything else to do (cue maniacal laughter). 

I’ve been thinking for a while that I would love to keep up with the good read alouds we do each week, but I’ve never gotten around to posting most of them.  My girls and I visit the library weekly, and it never fails that each week we make a few serendipitous choices that are read and re-read until they are exchanged for another title the next week.  I know that there are lots of other reading mommies (and daddies, too) who might like to share their own weekly read alouds, so I decided to create this fun little weekly blog carnival.  I’ve never done anything like this, and I really have no idea if I have a readership (!) that will support it, but I decided to give it a go anyway.   

Here’s how it will work:

On Thursdays, I will host Read Aloud Thursday.  Link to your blog page where you have written about the book(s) that you have read aloud that week.  The books can be picture books, nonfiction, chapter books, or whatever you read aloud to your children.  While my children are preschool age, you may certainly include read alouds that you enjoy with your family, no matter the age of your children (or lack thereof, ‘though the focus here is on children’s literature). 

Since we’re a scant two weeks away from Christmas, last week I tried to pick out as many random Christmas books as I could find.  While this is not necessarily the preferred method for finding the highest of quality literature, it usually works well enough for us.  I did hit up on a few great Christmas titles this week that I’d like to add here:

This is a gorgeous illustrated version of the classic Christmas carol “We Three Kings.” The book is illustrated by Gennady Spirin. The illustrations look like the ornate artwork that one might see in a beautiful cathedral. My girls were amused by the Magi’s choices of transportation: a majestic steed, an elaborately bedecked elephant, and a regal camel. “We Three Kings” has always been one of my favorite carols, but I would challenge anyone to read this book without singing the song!

 

 

Coming Through the Blizzard by Eileen Spinelli (illustrated by Jenny Tylden-Wright) is a fun story about  a Christmas Eve church service that is almost ruined because of a blizzard.  The question posed by the minister who waits at the church is “Who would come to the Christmas Eve service?”  This is a story with lots of repetition, so it is perfect for toddler and preschoolers.  Spinelli is a master at choosing just the right word to paint a picture for the reader.  Witness this:

Moth came.

Silvery, silent,

blown from a pipe in the organ

on a burst of song,

a wordless Hallelujah.

Moth came. 

 This story is page after page of such poetry.  Beautiful!

 

The Donkey’s Christmas Song by Nancy Tafuri is the sweet, sweet story of the little donkey who, timid because of his loud bray, brings joy and warmth to the Baby Jesus.  With only a few short sentences per page, simple illustrations, and lots of animal sounds, this is the perfect Christmas story for toddlers. 

 

Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson (illustrated by Jane Chapman) follows a delightfully predictable pattern for those familiar with the other Bear books.  Written in rhyme, this is the story of Bear who uncharacteristically stays awake for Christmas Eve, but he is so busy with his preparations that he misses a very important visitor:  Santa!

 

Of course, we didn’t only read Christmas stories this week.  Here are a few other noteworthy read-alouds:

 

The Mitten by Alvin Tresselt (illustrated by Yaroslava) is, of course, another retelling of a Ukranian folk tale made famous in the world of children’s book lovers by Jan Brett.  While I would certainly never want to detract from Jan Brett’s gorgeous version of this story, we enjoyed this more simple version.  The illustrations in this story are warm and the tone of this version is very reminiscent, since the narrator is recounting a story told him by his grandfather.  

 

Cook-a-Doodle-Doo! by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel (illustrated by Janet Stevens) is a “spinoff” of the classic Little Red Hen story.  Big Brown Rooster, great-grandson of the famous Little Red Hen, makes a strawberry shortcake with some unlikely helpers:  Pig, Iguana, and Turtle.  With humorous illustrations and comedic suspense, this makes a great read-aloud for preschoolers or gradeschoolers.  Older children might enjoy reading the sidebars which include information and illustrations about baking. 

 

Counting Crocodiles by Judy Sierra (illustrated by Will Hillenbrand) is the entertaining story of a monkey who lives on an island in the middle of the Sillabobble Sea.  The monkey, whose only source of food is a lemon tree, spies a banana tree on an island across the sea. The clever monkey tricks the crocodiles who live in the Sillabobble Sea into helping her get her bananas.  This rhyming story is pure fun for the preschool set.

 

Basket Moon by Mary Lyn Ray (illustrated by Barbara Cooney) is the interesting story of a little boy who lives with his Ma and Pa in the backwoods of  Columbia County, New York, in what is presumably the 1800s.  His father makes baskets for a living, going into the town of Hudson to sell his wares only when there is a Basket Moon (i.e. full moon).  The little boy longs for the day when his father will take him to town, too, but when that day comes, he learns that venturing into society brings with it some pain and disappointment.  His parents and community help him cope with his disappointment by giving him the gift of a calling:  to be basketmaker, too.  I suppose you could say this is a bildungsroman, picture book style.  According to the author’s note at the end of this book, this story is based on an actual community of basketmakers who lived in that same region of New York.  This would be a great story to use as a part of a history or social studies lesson.  I was surprised that my girls, ages four (“and a half,” Lulu would quickly add) and two, enjoyed this, but out of all the books we read, this one was the most requested.  Maybe it’s their penchant for pioneer stories.

Join me, please, in sharing your read aloud picks for the week!