Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review Round-Up: Books for Beginning Readers, March 2016

Easy Readers

First up in this month's easy reader list is Tomie dePaola's new series about Andy and Sandy. The Cath in the Hat has a review of When Andy Met Sandy, and Kids Book a Day reviewed both When Andy Met Sandy and Andy and Sandy's Anything Adventure. Kids Book a Day also reviewed The Almost Terrible Playdate.

Emma Virjan's What This Story Needs is a Hush and a Shush continued to get attention from bloggers this month. There were reviews at Waking Brain Cells, Books 4 Your Kids, and Step Up Readers. Step Up Readers also had three other easy reader reviews: Zach and Lucy and the Museum of Natural Wonders, Wild Kratts Wild Animal Babies!, and Moo Bird.

Here at Story Time Secrets, I helped to promote some new characters from Mrs. Wishy-Washy creator Joy Cowley as part of the 2016 Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway. I reviewed three titles each in the Sloppy Tiger and Oscar series. Other participants include Laugh Eat Learn and Reading Toward the Stars, with reviews of the Hairy Bear and Miniboy books, and Busy in Kindergarten, with a post about books starring Smarty Pants and Mr. Tang.

Finally, Becky's Book Reviews featured three easy readers this month: A Pig, a Fox, and a Box, Moo Bird, and Dance Dance Underpants and Flying Off My Bookshelf had one: Berkley the Terrible Sleeper.

Chapter Books

Among the chapter books this month were several titles in graphic format. Books 4 Your KidsJean Little Library, and Kids Book a Day all reviewed The Great Pet Escape, the newest book from Newbery Honor author Victoria Jamieson. Jean Little Library also featured Worm by Elise Gravel, while Mom Read It reviewed Hippopotamister and Geo Librarian posted about Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog, as well as two other titles at this level which were identified as graphic novels.

Some specific titles emerged as the most popular this month. The Princess in Black has been receiving heavy review coverage with each new book published. This month, there were reviews of the second book of the series from The Book ChookMySF ReviewsSonderbooks, and One Great Book and reviews of book three from A Library of ReviewsGeo Librarian, and Jean Little Library.

Mo Willems's new chapter book collaboration with Tony diTerlizzi, The Story of Diva and Flea, was featured on three blogs: Sal's Fiction Addiction, One Great Book, and Jump Into a Book. There were also two reviews this month of Linda Urban's forthcoming chapter book, Weekends with Max and his Dad, which will be out on April 5th. Both Jen Robinson's Book Page and Sal's Fiction Addiction had in-depth posts about this title.

Other chapter reviews from March included:

Poetry Picnic: March 23, 2016

Last week, I took Little Miss Muffet (age 2) and Little Bo Peep (nearly 6 months) to the park for a poetry picnic. It was a pretty last-minute idea. I was reading randomly selected poems to Bo Peep the night before while she had her bottle, and Miss Muffet said she also wanted to hear some poems. I asked her if she would like to read poems over lunch outside and thus, the idea for the poetry picnic was born.

In retrospect, I think it would have been more useful to leave myself a few days for planning. As it turned out, I had to spend over an hour on the morning of the picnic figuring out which poems to read, and which books we needed to take with us. In the ensuing chaos, a sippy cup was packed upside down in the bag containing the books, and as a result, Come Hither by Walter de la Mare will never be the same. Next month - since I plan to do this at least monthly throughout the warm weather months - I will get the poems picked ahead of time, and possibly even print them out in a single disposable booklet so as to avoid further book-related disasters.

In the end I chose 12 poems, and we ended up reading 13. Some of the original twelve selections were based on subjects Miss Muffet said she wanted to read about - lambs, spiders, grasshoppers, grass, bathtubs, and birds - and all of the others were poems on a Spring theme. All of the poems I read are listed below in the order in which we read them. All poems that are available online are linked.

From Come Hither

  • The Lamb (#94) by William Blake
  • This Is the Key (#483) (Note: The linked version is slightly different from the one we used.) 

From Piping Down the Valleys Wild

From Handsprings

  • Spring is When 

From Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young

From National Geographic's Book of Nature Poetry

Some of the poems, such as "The Lamb," "Stars," and "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" - were way over Little Miss Muffet's head, but it didn't seem to make a difference to her. She listened just as eagerly to these more complex pieces as she did to the shorter, more accessible ones. (And she actually did get the gist of the lamb poem, as she keeps telling me that "God made lambies.") I read the shorter poems twice, just as I would sing a song or perform an action rhyme in story time, and I think that helped her engage with them a little bit more. On the way home from the park, she said that her favorite poem was "Before the Bath," but in telling others about the picnic days later, she has spoken mostly of the poems about birds and the photograph of a rainbow that happened to share a page with "The Pasture."

Little Bo Peep spent the duration of the picnic in the carseat, which I took out of the stroller and set down in the grass. She likes the rhythm and rhyme of poetry and was perfectly happy to sit and listen but she didn't have much of a reaction beyond sitting contentedly. I expect this will change as we go on, and as she becomes more mobile and more interested in active participation.

All in all, I would say our first poetry picnic was a great success. I'm looking forward to planning our next one soon!
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