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Tuesday
Aug042015

city cat

Written by Kate Banks and illustrated by Lauren Castillo, City Cat follows a family on a beautiful trip through Europe.  City Cat tags along, traveling by hitchhiking on different modes of transportation, visiting sites and cultural landmarks in each city.  His trip is encapsulated in Banks’ lovely rhyme and Castillo’s warm and amiable sketches.  The language is rich with a sophisticated lexicon, so if you're reading this with a young child, it would be good to read it at least a few times to explain the definitions and nuances of unfamiliar words.

The ending is slightly wistful when you realize that City Cat doesn't have a place he calls home.  He's a roamer.  This book is a great introduction to a handful of major European cities with short descriptions at the end about the landmarks that City Cat visits on his journey.  Click here for a preview of City Cat.

Wednesday
Jul292015

lyle, lyle, crocodile

It's funny—I bought Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile maybe ten years ago and never read through it all the way until I unearthed it from a dusty collection of books in our office downstairs a couple of weekends ago.  It was hidden in between a bunch of dust jackets pulled off of children's books that I had left on the shelf because I wasn't sure what to do with them.

I read Lyle to Avery over the weekend and we both got caught up in the story.  I loved everything about it--how the story was told, the casual broad strokes that were used to depict Lyle in his urban environs and the sprightly palette.  Bernard Waber's style brings animation and buoyancy to the charming cast of 88th Street.  Highly recommend adding Lyle to your library!

Wednesday
Jul222015

a chapter book summer

This is the first lot of chapter books I bought at the beginning of the summer and am reading to Avery (my soon-to-be first grader!).  I’m trying to include both old and new books.  Books written a long time ago offer an older, more rare lexicon--words, phrases and figurative language that have dropped out of current usage.  Language is constantly in flux, so this is what happens!  Anyway, children will encounter these uncommon words in the anthologies they read in school and in other good literature they consume as they get older.  Also, these older words enrich their background knowledge/general knowledge, which is important for reading comprehension, answering inferential questions, grasping various concepts and understanding how the world works.  Also, mystery books like Nate the Great are great for practicing higher level thinking skills—inferencing, predicting, deduction, reasoning, analysis.

We’re also going to try to make our way through a couple Dodsworth titles and some of The Cobble Street Cousins this summer and eventually the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary later in the fall.  Oh, and My Father’s Dragon in there somewhere.  Maybe Ivy + Bean?  Any other recommendations out there from fellow readers for chapter books good for six-year-olds?

Tuesday
Jul212015

star wars epic yarns

This trio of books based on the original Star Wars trilogy is like no other.  Crafted and written by brothers Jack and Holman Wang, each volume of Star Wars Epic Yarns features twelve needle-felted scenes from the three Star Wars films.  Each scene is narrated and summarized in one word.

The sparse narrative gives readers a lot to discuss (e.g., Why did the authors choose that word?  How is that word significant for that part of the film?  How does that word help tell the story?)

According to this post, it took between 20 to 60 hours to complete each Star Wars figure.  For more details on the hours and work that went into producing these extraordinary books, there are some great posts to read on Chronicle Books (top 5 things learned and the process), Apartment Therapy Family and the Wang brothers’ blog.  Be sure to check out their previously published Cozy Classics, such as Pride and Prejudice and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

P.S.  I won these books in a giveaway from Out With The Kids.  All opinions stated are my own.

Monday
Jul132015

creative hour

Thoughts about children and creativity in my post on Honest To Nod today.  Plus how to keep all your creative supplies organized!