Monday, November 26, 2012

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz By: L. Frank Baum Pictures By: W.W. Denslow

This blog is dedicated to my daughter Isabela turning five on Friday.  She is having a Wizard of Oz theme for her party and she will grace us as Glinda the good witch.  My youngest will be her supporting cast coming as Dorothy, in tow with Toto.

Late this summer we picked up the annotated version with the original drawings and the original text.  We read it from front to back and enjoyed every minute of it.  Everyday we tried to read at least two chapters and discuss the differences between the movie and the book.  Our reward for finishing the book was to have a movie party with the original movie and lots of snacks! We also watched the Disney movie Return to Oz (which was a favorite of mine growing up) based on the third Oz book Ozma of Oz.

There are fourteen books in the series written by Baum.  I read the introduction which gave a great biography on the author and illustrator.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is an imaginative and wonderful book! A map of all the countries of Oz as well as there corresponding colors are in the front of the book for reference as you read your way through the land.  I try to picture a child in the early 1900's receiving this book.  They were probably blown away by the dream like story. I can see why so many children wrote to the author asking for more tales from Oz. I adore the pictures in this book. It is an enchanting tale to share with your children and one they will never forget.

The 1939 movie does not include many of the fun details included in the book.  It is amazing how many things were left out. Some interesting things that were left out of the movie:  Dorothy wore silver shoes not ruby red shoes.  There is a special Golden Cap that Dorothy gets after defeating the wicked witch that allows her to call upon the Monkey's for help.  The Mice help the friends escape from the Poppy fields.  When Dorothy, Toto, Tin Woodman, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion make it to the Emerald City they are made to put on green glasses. 

 Happy Birthday to my precious book worm Isabela!

My daughter Emma called the Lion the Canterby Lion and on our walks liked to pretend she was being chased by the wicked witch!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Money We'll Save By: Brock Cole

The Money We'll Save is a comical tale of a father who is told to go to the market for two eggs and a half a pound of flour and to not spend a penny more because Christmas was coming "and we must save every penny".   Well Pa comes back to their flat with a turkey poult.  He convinces his wife and children that it will fatten up to a nice bird to eat for Christmas dinner.  "Think of the money we'll save!"  He tells the family it will live in a box and all we need to feed it is table scraps.  Ma is skeptical to say the least.  The turkey "Alfred" grows big and ends up being a menace to their small apartment, their kids, and their neighbor Mrs. Schumacher from upstairs. Pa's ideas of how to keep the turkey out of their way turn into amusing messes.  When Christmas finally arrives the children can't bare the idea of eating Alfred.  And they can't imagine keeping him either.  They come up with the perfect solution.  Give the turkey to Mrs. Schumacher. "What with his messes and eating everything in sight, Alfred reminded her not a little of the late Mr. Schumacher."  As for the family they cleaned up their tiny flat, put up a modest tree, and each child received one gift. They ate oatmeal for dinner.  "But it isn't much of a holiday feast, it it? said Pa sadly. Ah, but think of the money we saved, said Ma, and she gave him a kiss because it was Christmas."

My kids always get a kick out of all the messes Alfred makes!  I also like to read this book and explain to the girls the importance of being frugal with money and point out how happy they children are to get that one special gift they really wanted. It really is a wonderful Christmas book that will be a tradition for us for years to come!

 Here is to the beginning of a wonderful holiday season!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Snowflake Bentley By: Jacqueline Briggs Martin Illustrated by: Mary Azarian

Winner of the 1999 Caldecott Medal

 A true and inspiring story of Wilson Bentley a man who loved the beauty of snow.  A man who dedicated his life to sharing the beauty and originality of all snowflakes. Find out how he learned to use a microscope armed with a camera to take photographs of snowflakes that would never been seen again because no two snowflakes are alike.  He did this in a time when people looked down on him and thought it was silly.  He never made much money from his snowflake work but that didn't bother him. He just wanted to share what he had found.  In the summers he would take pictures of dew drops on spiderwebs and flowers, but it never compared to his love for snow.  Scientist who respected Mr. Bentley's work raised money for him to make a book out of his best photographs. He had it published when he was sixty-six years old. Shortly after that he became ill and died from pneumonia after walking six miles in a blizzard.  The town in his honor set up a museum for their "snowflake authority".

This is really a fascinating book that showcases a child who had a dream and a passion and followed it dispite not making any wealth from it.  It is really inspiring and a wonderful message for our children to follow their dreams!

The first time I saw a snowflake for the beautiful thing it really was, I was sitting in a cold car watching them drift down onto the windshield. I watched them for as long as I could.  Up until that point I just thought snowflakes were little puffs and that a snowflakes beauty was fabricated.  My girls are looking forward to catching a snowflake and getting a chance to admire it for as long as it will stay.

To learn more or if you are intersted in visiting the museum in Jericho Vermont here is a link:


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Annie And Snowball and the Wintry Freeze By: Cynthia Rylant Illustrated by: Sucie Stevenson

I can't say enough about the author of this book Cynthia Rylant.  She does many series books that are easy to read, funny, and the characters are very lovable!  Some of her series books are Brownie & Pearl, Mr. Putter & Tabby, Henry and Mudge and of course Annie and Snowball.  We love each of them.  Henry is Annie's cousin and Mudge his Henry's dog.  Henry and Mudge live beside Annie and Snowball and they are usually having an adventure together. 

In this book Annie gets to put on all her pink snow gear and head out into a wintry wonderland that has been frozen over by an ice storm. Annie's dad told her "she looked like a big pink marshmallow."  She goes outside with Henry and Mudge to enjoy the icy adventure while Snowball stayed inside watching from the window.  Henry ice skates and Annie gets slid around by Mudge.  When they come in they are greeted by warm apple cider and cinnamon buns.  "They peeled off their icy mittens and icy hats and icy boots."  Annie ends up sleeping all warmed up with Mudge and Snowball by her side.

I can remember the blizzard we had in the 1990's and walking over fields covered with the slick ice.  How much fun it was to try to walk gingerly to not crack the ice and slide onward.  I can vividly picture my mittens being taken off after coming in from a long day out in the snow.  The ice clinging to the mittens making them almost useless outside but the thought of coming in was not an option until you were frozen solid!  Isabela in her first real snow was all done up in her pink snow suit armed with a wooden spoon and an Elmo cup.  Both of us playing outside together almost disappearing in the snow that was so deep.  She loved it so much and her frozen pink kissed cheeks looked so sweet warming up inside our house waiting for her "warm" cocoa with marshmallows!  Emma for her first snow would get stuck standing in one position or fall and not be able to get up!  She was so little and I would have to swoop her up and take her to another spot so she could eat the snow.  =)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Mitten By: Jan Brett

The Mitten is a Ukrainian folktale.  It is about a boy who asks his Baba (grandmother) to knit him white mittens.  She warns him that if dropped in the snow they will be hard to find. But he still wants them and she makes them for him.  While out playing he drops one of his white mittens.  He continues to play without noticing one of his mittens is gone, but the animals notice and one by one go inside the cozy mitten.  Each animal bigger than the one before goes into the mitten until the biggest of all a bear fits himself in the mitten. By this time the mitten is quite big and very stretched out.  Then a tiny mouse perches herself on the bears nose causing the bear to sneeze and all the animals get shot out of the mitten!  The boy sees the mitten flying up in the air and runs for it. "From the window, Baba watched Nicki catch the mitten.  "See, Baba!" he called to her.  " I have both my mittens." And Baba smiled.

Each page has two mittens drawn on each side that act as a window.  From one you see what the boy is doing and from the other you can see what animal is coming next.  My youngest daughter Emma also likes the flowers and hearts that adorn each page and likes to tell me her favorite one as we read this book together.  This is a fun book that any child will get a good laugh out of!  Share with them the magic of this great folktale and see if they believe that this indeed could happen to one of their mittens!  What a great read for a cold winter day!  Follow the story up by trying to see how many things they can stuff into a mitten or how many stuffed animals they can get to fit.  If they are like my children they have plenty of mini sized stuffed animals just waiting for them to use.

I love the last picture in this book of Baba looking at the stretch out mitten!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Lion and the Little Red Bird Story & Pictures by: Elisa Kleven

In honor of my oldest daughter Isabela's birthday this month I share with you the Lion and the Little Red Bird. I remember pushing Isabela in her stroller from our home to our library one hot summer day.  I can vividly picture Isabela at 7 months old holding onto this book tightly against her chest the whole stroll home. (The book almost half her size)  I should have seen it then that her love of books was real even at this young age.  Isabela turns five on the last day of this month and as I have seen these first five years fly past I really can't wait to see what this amazing girl will do with all the years of her life!

This story is a beautiful tale of an odd friendship forged between a lion and a little red bird.  The bird wonders why the Lion's tale changes every night after he enters his cave.  She tries to ask him but the lion can not understand her but enjoys her chirping.  The lion has busy days filled with chasing butterflies, splashing in the water, and picking red berries.  His days our filled with color and his tale changes each night.  One night a storm comes and the lion runs out to bring the Little Red Bird into his cave to protect her.  She then sees why his tale changes colors.  He paints beautiful scenes every night on the walls with his tale.   

 "The bird sang while the lion painted.  She sang a song without any questions, full of color and joy.  The lion had never heard anything so unusual and so pretty.  Just listening made him happy." 

 This book has beautiful illustrations and a great message.  Teach your children about colors and animals with this book and teach them one of the most important lessons of life; friendships without prejudices.  A lesson worth learning.

Happy Birthday Month Reading!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

First Snow By: Emily Arnold McCully

First Snow is such a delightful read.  The illustrations are adorable and nostalgic.  The text is as simple as it comes with one word sentences adorning most pages.  This allows the illustrations to really speak for themselves and allows parents to become an active participant in the descriptions.

I really love the simplicity of this book and look forward to reading it every year to my little girls. My girls like most children can't wait for the white stuff to start piling up outside and this year they are ready to try out their own sleds!  Like the little character Bitty my girls will have to climb a steep hill and see if they too have the courage to slide down.  Will they be like Bitty and find the nerve to do it?  Will they want to do it over and over and make us drag them home?!  I can't wait to find out!  I will post pictures as a follow up of the girls sledding and I hope like Bitty they have such a magical time that when they get home they end up falling asleep in front of their hot chocolates.

The author of First Snow Emily Arnold McCully is a Caldecott Medal winner.  Here is to a brilliant read and to many snowy days this winter. 

Our first sledding adventure was some of the most fun I have ever had with my girls!  It was a really steep hill and they were both not afraid and went up and down probably 15 times!  Great winter fun just like Bitty had!