Monday, August 29, 2016

Reading with Little Miss Muffet & Little Bo Peep: August 2016

It doesn't seem possible that September should start this week, but in fact, today is the first day of school for the county, and the end of summer is not far behind. We are finishing out the summer not having completed a single public library summer reading program, but having read dozens and dozens of picture books, nursery rhymes, and poems. Today's post highlights some observations I've made of both girls as they interacted with books during the month of August. 
  • Little Bo Peep has started having very specific preferences, not just for particular books, but for certain pages within those books. Her current favorites are the moment where the bear wakes up in Bear Snores On, the "brown" page in Little Owl's Colors, and the "yellow" page in the Alphaprints colors book, which shows a snake made from a Slinky. When she sees a page she likes, she leans over the book, almost as though she's going to climb in, and babbles at it very earnestly. If she is especially excited, she also slaps the pages repeatedly. 
  • Because Little Bo Peep is so enamored of books, it has become virtually impossible to read aloud to Miss Muffet with her nearby, as she immediately wants to either hold, rip, or slam the book shut. Miss Muffet is horrified by this every time it happens, and can often be heard shouting, "She has a paper book! Don't let her rip the paper book!" I try to distract her with board books she can abuse, but I have found it is easier to read our more fragile books to Miss Muffet during Bo Peep's naptime and stick to board books when we all read together. It also sometimes helps to read to Miss Muffet on the couch, with Bo Peep safely in her Pack n Play, where she can hear and see, but not touch. 
  • Little Miss Muffet has discovered her first real villain: Miss Viola Swamp, from Miss Nelson is Missing. She talks a lot about how mean Viola Swamp is, and how long her fingernails are, and whether she will ever show up at our house. ("Mama, Miss Swamp will never come here because you're going to teach me at home. Right?") She has not yet figured out the true identity of Miss Swamp despite multiple re-readings of the book, and a thorough discussion of the clues shown on the last page. I am not going to tell her, and I'm really looking forward to that future date when she finally realizes Miss Nelson's little secret. 
  • Thanks to a brief window of time during which a decent recording of Reading Rainbow's production of Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain was available on YouTube, Miss Muffet has discovered that story as well. This has prompted many questions about grass, and why it dies without rain, as well as speculation over whether the cows in the story are dead as well. (I see what she means; they look a bit frightening in the illustrations.) We have the book out of the library right now, but I'm hoping to come across a used copy on one of our many bookstore visits.
  • Finally, we received two new picture books for review this summer, which I'll briefly discuss: 
    • 123 Dream by Kim Krans (September 27th 2016; Random House Books for Young Readers; ISBN 0553539345) is a counting book with a bit of an I Spy twist. Each page shows a number and an accompanying illustration showing one owl, two turtles, three thistles, etc. At the end of the book, there is a list of further items to be hunted down in its pages. The illustrations are beautiful to look at, but still this book didn't really make a strong impression on me or Miss Muffet.  I think we have just seen so many counting books that it's hard for a new one to feel special. I do like that it goes up to 20, however, as Miss Muffet hits thirteen and then gets stuck on repeat ("twelve, thirteen, thirteen, thirteen") but I'm not sure we're going to add it to our permanent home library. 
    • Hey, Coach! by Linda Ashman and Kim Smith (August 9th 2016; Sterling Children's Books; ISBN 1454916079) is a rhyming story showing the highs and lows of a beginning soccer team's season. The lines of Ashman's text are written in different voices of players on the team, and Smith's illustrations faithfully bring out the personalities of these unnamed kids. Each two-page spread shows a score board in the upper corner which tells which game of the season was played, and what the score was, and the text and illustration tell the story of an important moment from the game. To my knowledge, there are no picture books that cover soccer in quite this way, so it is appealing for that reason alone, but even Miss Muffet who knew nothing about soccer found it highly interesting and asked many, many follow-up questions when the story was done. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

#BoutofBooks 17 - Day Seven

Bout of Books
Today was the last day of Bout of Books, and I only read one more title: Marian-Martha by Lucile F. Fargo. This brings my grand total for the entire week to 23. I'm pretty happy with that, even if it's not as many as I originally planned. I will definitely be back for Bout of Books 18 in January! 

Old School Sunday: Winona's Pony Cart by Maud Hart Lovelace (1953)

Winona's Pony Cart
by Maud Hart Lovelace
1953. HarperCollins.
9780064408608
Winona's Pony Cart is the third of the three Betsy-Tacy spin-offs, but the second one I have read, due to it and Carney's House Party being published together in the same volume. The novel was published prior to Betsy's Wedding, but is set much earlier, when Winona is about to turn eight years old. What Winona wants more than anything is a pony, and despite the fact that her father has said she can't have one, she has developed a strong belief that she will receive a pony for her birthday. So certain is she in fact that she brags to Betsy, Tacy, and Tib about it, and then invites several additional children to her party without telling her mother. When the day of the party arrives, there is a pony at the party, but this does not mean Winona's dream has been totally fulfilled.

Every child can relate to the desire for that one special birthday present, and Lovelace captures it well in this quick read. Though Winona is clearly very spoiled, she is not especially bratty. She, like many kids, just gets caught up in the excitement of possibly having the one thing she wants more than anything else. Any child who has ever had to limit the guest list at a party also understands her desire to invite extra guests, and her complete disregard for the fact that her mother would need to be told of the additions. Winona is just a very real character, and everyone has either been in her shoes, or knows someone very much like her.

This book really drives home Lovelace's talent for turning everyday experiences into engaging stories. The writing in this book is so effortless, and girls who are the same age as Winona will love it, even today, because it touches on a universal experience and turns into a very satisfying story with a well-earned happy ending.

I own Carney's House Party and Winona's Pony Cart together in a single volume.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

#BoutofBooks 17 - Day Six

Bout of Books

I started out this read-a-thon too fast and furious and now I'm burned out. I read a bit here and there today, but only finished one very short book, just so I'd have something to report. That was Belling the Tiger by Mary Stolz (the original edition). I am hoping to read a book or two tomorrow to finish out the week. Then I'll tally up the total for this bout!
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