29 May 2009

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You

An interesting Meme is taking shape over at The Well-Read Child; starting next Thursday, bloggers from across the kidlitosphere will link up to list what they have been reading over the course of the week. The parameters are pretty broad: a personal reading list, a child's reading list, recommended favorites. The only stipulation is that the meme must relate to kids reading. Well, never wanting to Miss out on something cool, I've signed on! So this coming Thursday I will link up with the books that my daughter and I have read to each other over the week. You can see the current week's running tally in the right-hand sidebar. As unapologetic picture book fans you can expect a lot of PB titles. But you never know--there may be a random chapter or Doctor Who comic making an appearance.

28 May 2009

Rave Review: Orangutan Tongs by Jon Agee

If you are going to make your 8 year old turn off the TV against her will, you better have something fantastic to replace it. When I pulled the sublime Jon Agee's latest book out of my bag last night I learned two things: 1. that my daughter "loves poetry"; and 2. that tongue twisters are surely the most under appreciated literary format available to modern readers. Peter Piper's pickled peppers have nothing on annoyed oysters, purple-paper people, Walter Witter and the water waiter, and "This Zither" (which elicited a cry of "Are you trying to torture me?!" from my laughing, lisping daughter.) Supported by Agee's characteristically droll illustrations, this is one of his most accessible word play books. Having recently read a New York Times editorial on the lost art of reading aloud, visiting this book now seemed particularly fortuitous. There is something competitive in the nature of tongue twisters--a challenge to master them. Even my husband, who is a reluctant reader of the highest order, wanted to try his hand at some of these, as if he could solidify his position as Clever Dad by getting through "Two Tree Toads" without slipping up. As I watched my family circle engage in a tongue twister dual, I couldn't help but think of the scene from Jane Austen's Emma where Emma, Harriet, and Mr. Elton are constructing riddles to pass the time. In the greater context of the book Austen was using riddle-writing as a courting motif, but it is also a scene which highlights the joy and fun to be had with words and language. Orangutan Tongs does exactly the same and as such will be a hit with anyone who gets their hands on it.

26 May 2009

Snowy Day Stamp--yes please!

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is actively trying to convince the United States Postal Service to create a domestic stamp based on The Snowy Day (recently listed at #4 on the Fuse 8 Top 100 Picture Book Poll.) With his own stamp, protagonist Peter would join Fredrick, Wilbur, and a Wild Thing as children's literature celebrities now in the service of the Postmaster General and the millions of customers who still require snail mail for one reason or another. A thoroughly worthy cause!

24 May 2009

Memorial Day 2009

To all who have died so that I can live free--thank you.

20 May 2009

Click, Clack, Moo--Cows that sing

Hee! This perennially popular story is still funny. But how to deal with the issue that kids today are already young enough to ask, "What is a typewriter?"

(photo taken from Oregon Children's Theatre blog.)

18 May 2009

My personal Top Ten Picture Books

Way back in March, librarian and School Library Journal blogger Elizabeth Bird put out a call for nominations for a list of the 100 best picture books. On 2 April she started listing the results in order from 100, with the number one selection announced last week. Between her well-researched, informative poll results and the Battle of the Kids Books, which was taking place at the same time, SLJ has been compulsory reading (which it generally is. But in this case I'm talking first-thing-in-the-morning-right-after-checking-your-email viewing.) I guess my guru status could be called into question, because only two of my top ten made the list, and I'm not even a fan of the book that was chosen as numero uno. And I'm distinctly underwhelmed by the Top Ten in general (can you say canon?) However, it was a highly entertaining and thought-provoking exercise, and I sincerely hope she at some point undertakes to organize a Top 100 Easy Reader poll (easy readers were not eligible for inclusion in this poll.)

Here is my personal Top Ten, with links to the only selections that made the ultimate list:

1) Hey Al By Arthur Yorinks My all-time favorite picture book and I never read it until I was an adult. Infinite wisdom at under 500 words.

2) Grandfather's Journey by Alan Say. I have been an ex-pat myself and then returned home. I have never read anything which expresses the desire for two homes as well as this book does.

3) Jenny's Birthday Book by Esther Averill. Here by default, because The Fire Cat wasn't eligible!

4) Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion. One of the few picture books I remember reading as a child. I think one thing that attracted me was the cover with the two dogs, black and white opposites of each other.

5) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Voirst. I first had this book read to me when I was in the sixth grade, and I was convinced that it had been written for me.

6) Mr. Gumpy's Outing by John Burningham. Another adult discovery and one of my favorite storytime books.

7) Terrific by Jon Agee. Because it gives me a chance to do my parrot impression!

8) Mole Music by David McPhail. Yet another adult discovery--I don't have many memories of picture books, mainly early readers (so I am eagerly looking forward to THAT poll.) I love the gentle wisdom of this book.

9) Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes
by Dubose Heyward. I loved the pink cover, the gorgeous illustrations, and it was a gift one Easter, when I got chicken pox, so it was the only nice thing that happened to me that Easter!

10) The Tooth Fairy by Peter Collington. I love the idea of the industrious tooth fairy collecting teeth and actually putting them to good use.

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