It all started with a seemingly innocent remark from a friend of mine. She commented on she was at the library and realized that she could make an entire school year curriculum on just the library. It got me thinking on how little I really know what the library has in terms of literature. I have a list of favorite authors, but how will I learn of new favorites if I don’t explore? And what better way than a free resource! So, our goal is to read through the entire children’s section of our own public library! I am sure my concept is nothing new, but I thought I would share our findings with you as well as our reviews.
Bringing The Rain To Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema
An African folktale talks about the year that no rain came to Kapiti Plain. Rhyming story telling about a man, Ki-pat, “who stands on one leg like a stork” (paraphrased). Ki-pat brings rain to Kapiti Plain. But how? You’ll have to read the story to find out.
We did enjoy this book. It is probably not one I would check out again. But in our quest to find geographical stories, I thought this was a fun Africa centered tale.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema
Known for her books on African folktales. I mentioned above about the plain that had no rain and this one explains why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears. If you love the old song, “there was an old lady who swallowed a fly,” you will certainly enjoy this book about why mosquitoes buzz in peoples ears. I love tales that try to explain things (Rabbit Shoots the Sun, anyone?) The children enjoyed and thought it was funny. Again, I am not sure its one we will check out again but I have certainly been surprised before. Insofar is illustrations, the colors are very vibrant. I kinda felt like I was reading, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?.
Lucky Jake by Sharon Hart Addy
During the Gold Rush era, Jake dreams of owning a dog. His “dog” turns out to be a pig, named “dog” of course, and then starts a chain of events that carry the tribe through the first year. He is considered “lucky” for all the good fortune the father and son receive, but Jake is actually a really smart thinking young man. Great story. My son wanted to know more about the Gold Rush after reading this and that spurred on some more reading adventures. I really like this one and if I find it at a yardsale/thrift store sometime, I will purchase it.
Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff
Ok, we almost didn’t finish this story. I found it a difficult read-aloud just due to the way it is written and the English/grammar in here. For example, “i am mom am mommy mama mamu meeny muh and mom again”; no capitalization, double spaced and all. The whole book is not like that but it was along those lines. The reviews on Amazon show that a lot of readers enjoy the multi-cultural aspect as well as the bi-racial. I just think that there has to be something better written out there. Will not check out again. However, I believe that it should be noted that the author was the 1988 winner of the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Dot.Dot.Dot.
Z Goes Home by Jon Agee
This alphabet centered book goes through Z walking home from work and you walk him through each letter in the alphabet. Each letter is etched in the city, somehow, someway. “E-earthquake” and “L-Lybyrinth,” and all the way to “V-Viper” and “W-Woodpile” until Z gets home. I confess, this is a book that I wouldn’t care if I never read again. It just didn’t grab me. Very simple. Just not a lot of nuggets. However, the children keep “reading” it and finding more and more within the pictures of this book. I don’t think they would search for it among the shelves, but they have been caught reading it more than once.
Peek-A-Boo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
This is a classic example of what I was talking about above. I would have never thought to check this out on my own. The title seems so simple and the front of the book didn’t call to me. But, never judge a book by it’s cover (or title). This was my favorite book for this round. I already have added a second-hand copy to my amazon cart, I love it that much. There are cut outs throughout the book that take you through the world that baby sees. Mommy, Daddy, sisters, and grandma are all intertwined throughout the day and in so many ways. I had the feeling it was taking place in England. It had a very old fashion feel to it, like I stepped into a story-book from “Call the Midwife” or something. It is a very charming story and my three and four-year-old asked me to read it many times because they loved seeing the world through baby’s eyes as well. Fun illustrations.
Treasure Hunt by Allan Ahlberg
Mommy and Daddy play with Tilly by hiding items that she goes and find. You see her throughout the story having fun and finding her morning banana, toy bunny, the cat, five gold chocolate coins, and finally she hides herself for mommy and daddy to find her. Very simple told tale. I didn’t enjoy reading it as much as I did “Peek-A-Boo.” The two youngest children searched the pictures for the items but didn’t really want to read it as much. I did try again at a later date and time but a cry for “Curious George” became apparent that this was not the book for us. Interestingly, it only has three star review on Amazon.
Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Do you enjoy fairy tales? What about Mother Goose? The “I spy” theme runs throughout this book as you run into Tom Thumb, Jack and Jill, The Three Bears, until they all come together at the end. The children LOVED catching the references. This took longer to read just from that stand point alone. We had to say the whole nursery rhyme when the character came on the page or squeal with delight at seeing Robin Hood hiding in a tree. While we just finished this book tonight, I am sure it will be read another time or two before we take it back to the library.
There’s a House inside my Mommy by Giles Andreae
A excited little brother eagerly watches for the arrival of his “little brother…or maybe sister, no one really knows”. This is told from the little boy’s viewpoint of watching mommy “eat some weird things” out of love for his new sibling, among many other sweet tender moments. This reminds me of a book I love so much and have held onto just because we love to read it while waiting for the arrival of the newest member of the family, I’m a Big Brother. Definitely a sweet story.
Chimp and Zee and the Big Storm by Catherine and Laurence Anholt
Two monkeys that fight a lot cause some trouble and papakey takes them outside to take the laundry down during the bad storm, that way the laundry doesn’t fly away. During the process the two mischievous monkeys end up trying to fold a sheet and end up flying up in the storm and over the town until mamakey saves them with her umbrella, on top of the bike papakey rides near the dangerous cliffs. The moral of the story at the end is where mamakey makes the statement that, “families can be stormy sometimes” but in the end they will always “be together”. My husband and I kind of gave each other that “look” when we read this story. Not a favorite. It just felt like it was something to be accepted that families are going to fight and bicker and have issues, rather than focusing on the fact that love needs to grow in a family and cultivated. It would be interesting to know what others take on this would be.
The Young Artist by Thomas Locker
I would love to own all of Thomas Locker books. As it is, I am the proud owner of two. The Young Artist is one of my favorites. I read it as a child and the book still sits on my mother’s shelf today. The artist loves to paint. The story is told from the eyes of the Master; in this case that means the superior craftsman who takes the young artist as an apprentice. The artist’s talent is quickly made known but unfortunately for him, who hates painting portraits, he is summoned to paint the king and his court. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next. The illustrations are BEAUTIFUL. I really just read the books to look at the pictures. The Boy Who Held Back the Sea is kind of a boy and the dike story.
Family Farm by Thomas Locker
My favorite, of course! Through the gorgeous illustrations you get to see the two young children watch a farm struggle to survive. They come up with a way to help save the farm another year. A beautiful story that we love to read over and over again. This might be our dozenth time of borrowing it.
Curious George Joins the Team by H. A. Rey
My four year old, my own little curious monkey, loves Curious George. It should come as no surprise to me when he comes up with a huge grin on his face and this book in his hands. We have read it what seems like a dozen times already. This mischievous monkey is at it again. This time he is on the basketball courts and ends up befriending and helping a young girl in a wheel chair. These books are not only read by my three and four year old but also by the seven, eight and fourty-seven year old!
Canterbury Tales by Barbara Cohen
I picked this book up to read with our history book, Story of the World volume 2. I wanted an easy translation and this has some great illustrations as well as a translation that will be easily understood with the children. Glad I found this at the library! It’s expensive second hand!
And finally, my daughter picked up this book by a well-known author, The End of the Beginning by Avi. We are working on narration, written as well as oral, and I knew that she was loving this book by eager and motivated she was to tell me all about this story, without any prompting from me. I would share what my son has been reading, but he is in the middle of a great outdoor adventure with William Wallace.