105 Ways to Give a Book

Thursday Three: Easter

I'm approaching today's post on Easter books like a wedding tradition - with something old, something new, something borrowed, and something out-of-the-blue.

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes
by Dubose Heyward, illustrated by Marjorie Flack

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold ShoesA little girl bunny defies the odds to become an Easter Bunny, even though she isn't high-born or well, male. Her good upbringing, hard work, and perseverance take her beyond what others think a country bunny can do. You go, girl! I loved this book as a child, and it was one of very few books about Easter at the time. Of course, this was before every cartoon book and TV character got their own holiday story. Does this older tale still win over the young readers? With a wink, I have to say that it doesn't really matter. We parents have to reserve the right to share a few books just because they spoke to us as children, and I'll put this one top of my list for its great story, lovely illustrations, and classic classicness.

The Easter Egg
by Jan Brett

The Easter EggSeriously, I have to wonder what took Jan Brett so long to tackle an Easter story because this is a natural subject for her amazing artwork. Look at the possibilities in decorated eggs! And so she did, with this new book where a bunny finds that his real talent isn't in egg-decorating, but in something else altogether. It's a sweet story, and of course beautifully illustrated. If you like some behind-the-scenes, check out the short video where Jan Brett talks about her process - while holding a chicken. She also has a coloring pages and more fun at her website.

Junie B. First Grader: Dumb Bunny
by Barbara Park, illustrated by Denise Brunkus

Junie B. First Grader: Dumb BunnyHere's both the something borrowed (from a previous post) and out-of-the-blue (if you were expecting another picture book). Junie B. and her class are invited to an egg hunt at richie Lucille's house. There's a special prize if you find the golden egg, and that lovely prize is a playdate with Lucille in her indoor pool and everyone wants to swim in that fancy, hot water pool. But things take an unfortunate turn for Junie B. - as they often do - putting the poor girl in a pink bunny suit. A fun book for Easter, or really any time you need a laugh. As a little bonus today, I'll share my favorite passage:

"I just don't get it," Lucille grouched. "How could anyone forget the Easter Bunny? The Easter Bunny brings candy right to your door."
Lennie did a frown at her.
"He doesn't bring candy to my door, Lucille," he said. "The Easter Bunny is a different religion than me. I'm Jewish."
Shirley nodded.
"I'm Jewish, too, Lucille," she said. "I've never even been to an Easter-egg hunt before. What do you wear to something like that, anyway?"
Lucille stood up and fluffed herself.
"Well -- since the Easter Bunny and I are the same religion -- I'm going to wear a fancy Easter dress, Shirley," she said.
Shirley though for a minute. Then she nodded.
"Hmm. Then I guess I will wear a fancy Jewish dress," she said.
Lennie's eyes lighted up.
"Really, Shirley? You mean we have our own clothing line?" he asked.
He smiled.
"Then I think I will wear some fancy Jewish pants," he said.

Jewish pants. Love it.

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Thursday Three: Toddler Books

Trying to catch up on some stuff this week, so pulling a post from the files.

Higher, Higher
by Leslie Patricelli

Higher, HigherBright colors suck the reader into the world of a little girl and her dad, and carry through into the world of her imagination. As dad pushes the swing, she indeed goes Higher, Higher passing the head of a giraffe, the top of a building, and the summit of a mountain. With a special extraterrestrial high five, she slows down and returns home again without ever leaving the swing. With very few words, it's more like a wordless picture book, where the story is contained in the illustrations. Even then, it's a simple story of bright and lively imagination, making it a great book for younger tots.

Hello Baby!
by Mem Fox, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Hello Baby!It would be hard to beat the combination of these two powerhouses in writing and illustration. Mem Fox gives us the simple, rhyming story of looking for baby and finding animals. Steve Jenkins lends his amazing artwork to each creature, making the porcupine prickly and the elephant wrinkly all with cut paper. Don't miss the deep and varied greens captured in the crocodile, with a glorious reptilian eye peering out. The word baby in the title should tip you off that this is indeed a book for the baby and toddler set. Older preschoolers would appreciate the artwork more, but they'll be ready for the many, many Steve Jenkins books for their age group. As a baby/toddler book though, it's way above average.

My Goldfish
by Barroux

My GoldfishIf you're looking for something a little different for your youngster - simple yet interesting - then turn to the French. While the cover shows the bright colors and hints at the simple text inside, it can't prepare you for the first page where the goldfish is holding up the bowl with the text reading, "My goldfish is the strongest goldfish in the world." While keeping the same simple artistic features of the goldfish, we see the little guy in a Halloween costume, coming back from vacation sunburned, and even falling in love. There's even allusion to the day that the goldfish will leave the bowl and "finally swim with the great white fish." It's meaningful and imaginative, silly and strange, and in the world of very safe books for the littlest kids - absolutely exceptional.

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Science & Stories Program: Rocks Rock

There’s a new meme in town. STEM Friday focuses on books that promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The round-up this week is hosted at, well, STEM Friday.

Over the year I’ll be sharing the preschool program I created for the library and that I’m presenting once a month. The concept behind the program is to introduce science topics by combining fiction and nonfiction, songs and mini-experiments, action rhymes and hands-on times. As a preschool program the information conveyed is basic, and intended to encourage a questioning, observational approach to scientific topics.

Book: Rocks in His Head, by Carol Hurst

Hands-on "Rock Show"
Examine different kinds of rocks: from the garden, the ocean, caves, polished, carved, etc. Maybe kids can bring their own rocks.

Book: Rocks, Rocks Big and Small, by Joanne Barkan

Experiment: "Rock Layers"
Layer modeling clay lightly in sheets and press together to show how rocks can press made in the compression of layers.

Book: Let's Go Rock Collecting, by Roma Gans

Experiment: "How Does Solid Rock Melt?"
Fill a cup with warm tap water. Put a spoon in the cup of water. After 30 seconds remove the spoon, and put a chocolate chip in the spoon and see it melt. Though rocks are also solid, when they reach they’re melting point they become magma.

Book: If You Find a Rock, by Peggy Christian

Hands-on: "Rock Collector"
Look at different kinds of rocks. How would you put them in categores? By color? By size?
By name? Test rocks for hardness by scraping with a penny and piece of quartz. Scrape the rock across a surface to see if it makes a mark.

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Thursday Three: Colors

These books were nominated for the 2011 Cybils and reviewed from library copies.

Follow Me
by Tricia Tusa

Harcourt, 2011
Follow Me"Swing into a daydream," states this lovely picture book, and indeed we do. A girl is swinging among the soft pinks, blues, and grays of her surroundings. With a flash of imagination, she is part of the greens of the tree and through the oranges of fall leaves. Time seems to stop or to flow endlessly like a dream, which ends with her back home, where mom is waiting. A beautiful way to look at colors, complemented with gentle, poetic text."Look at me, follow me into the curl of a breeze. I am caught in its folds." Sigh.

Blue Chameleon
by Emily Gravett

Simon & Schuster, 2011
Blue ChameleonA lonely chameleon changes colors and contorts his body as he tries to make a friend. For instance, looking to find a companion in a banana, he turns yellow and curves himself appealingly (Get it? ap-peeling-ly.) Fortunately, before he loses hope and perhaps his mind he finds a fellow chameleon and together they display all the colors of the rainbow. With very little text it's a simple book, but the fun comes from the character's attempts to fit in and the author/illustrator's clever take on a common book of colors. Brilliant.

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse
by Eric Carle

Philomel, 2011
The Artist Who Painted a Blue HorseThat "common book of colors" I just referred to above? That's what this book is. Yes, the colors are on animals not normally that color. But when you look at what else has been done with the topic and by this renowned artist, I cannot understand the buzz for this book at all. With little text and no story, a child artist paints animals in unusual colors. At each page turn, the reader sees the standard Carle artwork for each creature, including a blue horse. Okay, I'll give you that standard Carle is still a pretty great thing, and indeed the illustrations are vibrant and the message of creativity rings true, but I'd say it's not his best work.

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Nonfiction Monday: Here Come the Girl Scouts!

It's the official Girl Scouts 100th birthday today, so as a proud member and leader I'd like to celebrate by sharing a new book for Nonfiction Monday hosted today by Rasco from RIF. The problem is my lead-in where I'd usually share a personal connection to the topic. As a long-time leader it's hard to know where to start. I was so proud seeing so many of my teens earn their Silver Award for service and then watching their induction to the National Honor Society as tenth graders. On the other hand I have now where I am leader and cookie coordinator of two troops - with both my co-leaders experiencing personal issues that are limiting their involvement - wrapping up the fourth cookie booth sale that I have personally had to staff. So there are highs and lows.

I've based a whole trip on the skill of campfire cooking, to learn that open fires were forbidden because of drought and have spent at least two camping trips in steady rain. I've slept on the floor of a museum and the balcony of an oceanfront hotel. Along with my troops, I've learned skills in cooking, archery, canoeing, first aid, and photography. We've studied aspects of art, law, music, finances, fashion, writing, theatre, science, sports, and child care. During the years we've organized service projects and collections that brought books to needy schools, mosquito nets to African homes, and art supplies to homeless children. This very month one troop will teach camping skills to younger scouts while the teens organize a social media campaign for concepts from the Girl Effect. If at times Girl Scouts gets reduced to cookies, crafts and camping, I know better. And books like this help us all know better.

Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette 'Daisy' Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure
by Shana Corey and illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Scholastic Press, 2012
reviewed from library copy

Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette 'Daisy' Gordon Low and Her Great AdventureFinally! Here is a perfect book for girls to learn about the founder of Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, and the beginnings of the organization itself. Old-fashioned and engaging illustrations complement the easy-enough text to create a fantastic story of breaking barriers. Starting with Juliette Gordon Low as a young girl, we learn that she was an adventurous sort who found a way to bring camping, sports, and service to a population considered too delicate for such things. The values of Girl Scouts are interwoven in the biographical information as quotes from Juliette Low are incorporated into the lovely pages. A wonderful celebration of an outstanding woman and of Girl Scouts!

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