Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Books by Keith Baker

I am starting to see a pattern... when we find a book that we like... we like other books from that author!  Go figure.  This is my ode to Author/Illustrator, Keith Baker.

Mr. Baker wrote and illustrated, Little Green, about a hummingbird flitting among the flowers of a young man's yard.  Some books that rhyme are babyish, and lack longevity once the child is beyond babbling.  Some use words that are too plain, so they are boring.  Some have one or two lines where the rhyme is awkward, and it spoils it.

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It is a magical thing to read a rhythmical, rhyming picture book that is SWEET!  Little Green  is just such a book.  The delicate and joyful way a humming bird moves between flowers and stops to take in its viewer is perfectly captured.

At times, the action and personality of animals in picture books have nothing to do with the actual animal, but rather the animal was randomly chosen for cuteness to tell the story.  Little Green is true to hummingbirds, without being "educational".   The reader delights in following the hummingbird, just as in real life when you catch sight of one.  The hummingbird isn't personified, but rather it has plenty of 'personality' just being itself.  I think this is a must have for little ones or adults who love hummingbirds!

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Mr. Baker also wrote and illustrated Just How Long Can a Long String Be?  I thought a book about a long string would be a bit abstract for Anderson, but alas, he keeps asking to read it.

I've noticed that I often find picture book illustrations to be 'too much' - with too much action, or the art work is too abstract, or the colors are harsh.  In this book, his colors are beautiful, and there is just enough to look at so that you can shift your focus on the different readings.  Anderson enjoys finding the little ant on each page.  Again, this book rhymes, but it doesn't feel like the author is trying too hard for the rhyme.

We're working on being creative with simple toys - such as buckeyes and sticks lately.  This book is about one of the simplest objects, a string - playfully reviewing its many uses.  Again, string, bird, nor ant are personified, and the book succeeds in being sweetly entertaining.

And I just love his illustrations...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

True to Form: Trucks and the Sea

I've spent two weeks with Anderson.  Thank God for Grandma (we've met her at the sandpit a few times).  And we've rewarded her with homemade coffee-substitute cream pops.

With 10 books under our belts, we are off to an ambitious start with our picture book reading.

Although his like pile is mostly tolerable, we are only reviewing those that we both enjoy reading twice in one sitting.  I am clearly the harsher critic. 

Thankfully, we have 2 mentionables!

The Village Garage by: G. Brian Karas, 2010
This is a sweetly tolerable 'truck book'.  As we follow the village work crew through the seasons, and learn about their use of different trucks - it succeeds in being informative without being dull.  The illustrations are colorful, with plenty to observe on each read, yet digestible for a 3 year-old. It's a needed relief from the purely factual, or written purely for young-boy enjoyment, truck books.


Swimmy by: Leo Lionni, 1973
Taking place under the sea, I thought I had a shot at Anderson liking this selection, but I was still surprised it became one of the week's favorites.  The artwork is subtle, colors subdued.  The book is simply appealing and peaceful to read, with just the right amount of affection for Swimmy, tension, and relief at the end.  Nothing is exaggerated, and that makes it just enough so that you can keep reading it.  

Before buying on Amazon, find a local store to buy online from at: http://www.indiebound.org/

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Books we Both Like

Next week will be my first week taking care of my soon-to-be three year-old nephew, Anderson.

Anderson has been going to other folks' childcare since he was 9 months.  I have not been taking care of children during the day for the past 15 years, since I last babysat in College.

One day I asked my soon-to-be-principal-of-her-own-school, sister "Can I watch Anderson during the day?".  I felt nervous to meet her and go over my "proposal" for how Anderson and I would spend our time... I think she imagined us not getting around to changing out of our pajamas, Anderson handling pruners (he knows to use the safety latch), and that he wouldn't learn how to dutifully recognize colors, letters and numbers (the sign of a well-raised 6 year-old of course).  No matter.  She's on board.

One of our activities will be a blog.  (I made this decision for him).  Together, we will review picture books.  If we both like it, it must be pretty good, because our interests differ a little.

Anderson's Motivation:
He likes stories.

My Motivation:
I want to know what makes a children's book enjoyable for both children and adults, and not one or the other.

Anderson's Favorite Genres:
sea life

My Favorite Genres:

How I Know Anderson Likes a Book. He says:
"Read it Again"
"Don't Skip Any Pages"

How I Know He Doesn't Like a Book:
He doesn't pick it from the shelf, and if I happen to, he throws it on the floor.  Or, he shuts it part-way through.

Some of the books we've read that we both like:
1. Library Lion
2. Little Blue Truck
3. Little Green (board book)
4. Moo Moo Brown Cow (board book)
5. Madeline
6. No Dogs Aloud by: Linda Ashman
7. The Stars Will Still Shine by: Cynthia Rylant
8. One by: Kathryn Otoshi
9. If You Give a Moose a Muffin
10. Tickle, Tickle by: Helen Oxbury (board book)
11. Duck in a Truck
12. Snowy Day

*although we no longer read board books, I wanted to include our old favorites.