Saturday, March 19, 2011

Weekly Story Time Wrap-up Volume 8

I had a full story time schedule this week. In addition to my usual sessions, I also had to fill in at the Friday preschool program, giving me a total of four sessions for the week! Here's what I read to each group. I'm trying  a different format for this post this week; we'll see how it goes!

Monday's Family Story Time

by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Lane Smith

Summary:  Hyacinth, a princess who floats if she is not weighted down, needs to be rescued when an attempt to float outdoors goes awry and leads to danger.
What I liked: The illustrations match the ironic tone perfectly, and the story appeals equally to boys and girls. It's a very contemporary fairy tale, and the ending is happy, but still realistic.
What the kids liked: Princess Hyacinth's royal underwear. Underpants are funny no matter how old you are.
by Kevin Henkes

Summary: Ruthie's parents encourage her to get rid of her imaginary friend, Jessica, before going to kindergarten, but Ruthie can't let her go - at least not until she meets a new friend with the same name.
What I liked:  I love the detail in the illustrations, even though the kids probably couldn't see them well unless they were in the front row. I also love the ending, where Ruthie befriends a real life Jessica and the story comes full circle. (I reviewed this book recently, and my complete thoughts can be found here.)
What the kids liked: It was really hard to tell. They didn't have much of a reaction to this one, other than silence, which could signify politeness or boredom, I never know which.

by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson

Summary: When three owl babies wake up in the middle of the night to discover their mother is gone, they worry for her safety until she returns.
What I liked: I think it's so impressive that in very few words Waddell has given each owl a complete personality. I also think this book puts a fresh and clever spin on the universal experience of separation anxiety.
What the kids liked: Bill's refrain of "I want my mommy!" I don't know if they were laughing at the story itself, or at me trying to sound like a weepy baby owl, but either way, there were giggles all around.

Tuesday's Baby/Toddler Story Time

by Pat Hutchins

Summary: Ma bakes cookies for her two children, which they must then share with a seemingly endless barrage of guests who ring the doorbell and are invited inside. Just when the cookies run out, Grandma arrives with a fresh tray to share.
What I liked: I like the repetition in this book, and even though it wasn't appropriate for this age level, the math lesson that could come from trying to divide the cookies evenly among the members of an ever-growing group. I also love the surprise arrival of Grandma and her cookies.
What the kids liked: I don't know if they liked anything. They said they liked cookies, but only when I asked, and the rest of the book seemed to go right over their heads. Oh well. 

by Don and Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood

Summary: An unseen narrator convinces a little mouse that the only way to save his freshly picked strawberry from the (also unseen) big hungry bear is to split it in half and share it with him.
What I liked: I experienced feelings of wonderful nostalgia when I read this. I loved the illustrations in this book when I was a kid - especially the ones where the mouse tries to lock up the strawberry in chains and hide it behind a disguise. This was also so much fun to read aloud. I really hammed it up, and got into the drama of the story.
What the kids liked: Their eyes were as big as saucers when I read about the bear stomping and sniffing as it looked for the strawberry, and they were just as obviously relieved when the bear didn't show up in the end. I have never seen them pay so much attention. I think they really loved it.

by Amy Schwartz

Summary: Old McDonald's farm is filled with animal sounds and many other noises in this illustrated version of the favorite children's song.
What I liked: I always appreciate a book that can be sung, because this group really likes music, and the parents and nannies pay much better attention when they can sing along. This book went on about ten pages too long, but that was easily fixed by skipping a couple of pages here and there.
What the kids liked: Their favorite part seemed to be the verse where Old McDonald's tractor goes "putt, putt." I have no idea what was so funny about it, but both sessions laughed at that specific part.

Friday 's Preschool Story Time

Little White Rabbit
by Kevin Henkes

Summary: While hopping about, a little rabbit wonders what it would be like to be green as the grass, tall as a tree, or able to fly like a butterfly. 
What I liked: Kevin Henkes's illustrations are gorgeous. I love the bold, thick outlines and the colored pencil he uses to  fill in his shapes. The pale pastels evoke the warmth and fresh air of a Spring day. The rabbit's imaginings also reminded me of Runaway Bunny, another favorite children's book. 
What the kids liked: I couldn't tell. There was a smattering of applause from the adults, but none of the kids seemed too interested. Maybe this would have been better suited to my Tuesday audience. 

Duck, Duck, Goose: A Coyote's on the Loose!
by Karen Beaumont, Jose Aruego, and Ariane Dewey

Summary: When a bunny falls into some leaves, his identity is hidden, and his animal friends run from him, thinking he is a coyote.
What I liked: I was not really a fan of this one. I was looking for a farm animal book and this one seemed to fit the bill, but I found the whole thing pretty unbelievable, and the punchline - that the rabbit just wants to play - predictable. 
What the kids liked: Some of the older kids stood right up to look at the book. I think they appreciated the suspense of running away from something scary. But it didn't seem like the ending paid off for them very much.

 Oh My Gosh, Mrs. McNosh!
by Sarah Weeks, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott

Summary: Mrs. McNosh's out of control dog, George, takes her on a wild goose chase through a wedding, a baseball game, and more. 
What I liked: There was a great opportunity for audience participation with this book. I asked the audience to repeat the refrain "Oh my gosh!" for me every time I pointed to them. Only a handful of adults actually did it, but the potential was there.
What the kids liked: Again, I'm not sure. I think I read too quickly and focused too much on getting the call and response going, so they lost the direction of the story. I wasn't even sure what happened in the ending either - I needed to pay more attention to the illustrations.

Friday's Baby Lap Time

by Karma Wilson

Summary: A series of diverse babies are pictured showing off their toes, tummies, cheeks, and more. 
What I liked: I chose this book solely for the warm and welcoming illustrations and  the rhythmic rhyming text. I love the cozy feel of the book, and thought it would make a great one on one read for parents and babies, in addition to being a fun group read-aloud. 
What the kids liked: In this session, it tends to be more about the parents, since the babies don't react much to the books, but there were some older kids in the room, and they responded well. The parents seemed a little puzzled, and I'm not sure why, but they clapped for this book, so I'll take that as a positive sign.

by Karen Katz

Summary: This counting book defines the many different types of hugs moms and babies share throughout the day, including the first hug in the morning, and the hug when the baby comes down a slide into his mother's arms. 
What I liked: I love Karen Katz and use her books frequently for story time. I especially love  the shapes she uses to draw people, and the bright prints that appear throughout her illustrations. I was a bit puzzled by the counting, since the numbers seemed kind of arbitrary, but overall, this is a lovely little book. 
What the kids liked: Again, the adults are the ones who reacted, and I think they had the strongest reaction - amusement - to the page where "I love you" is repeated ten times in a row. I'll assume they were laughing with me and not at me.

That was my busy, book-filled week! Did you read any picture books this week? Share them in comments!
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