Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol by Harper & Almara

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Title: A Christmas Carol: A Graphic Novel by Benjamin Harper & Dono Sanchez-Almara

Premise:

This is a retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in the form of a graphic novel.  A miserly old man named Scrooge is visited by three Christmas Spirits who show him the error of his ways, and what awaits him in the afterlife unless he changes.  Scrooge vows to be a better man and spends the rest of his life being kind and giving to others.

My thoughts:

I really like being able to read a graphic novel version of this story with my kids.  It’s an awesome way to introduce them to the story!  I was a bit unrealistic about my childrens’ ability to understand the original story by Dickens.  I started reading it with my son and he was looking lost, so we opted to read the graphic novel instead.

You should know going into it, that this is a very simple telling of the story.  The language is quite basic and the retelling really just sticks to the main meat of the story.  I thought the illustrations were really nice!  Marley’s ghost and the third Spirit might be a little alarming to small children, but I don’t think they’re too bad.

I recommend A Christmas Carol to children and families to enjoy together during Christmas.  It’s short enough to read in one sitting.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet, and Silly by Scott Nash

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Title: Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet, and Silly by Scott Nash

Premise:

The author has taken classic works of literature and condensed the essential story into short verse form.  Each story is fun, playful, and rhyming.  They are also complemented by cute, juvenile illustrations.  The works included are: The Odyssey, Frankenstein, Moby-Dick, Jane Eyre, A Thousand and One Nights, Hamlet, Don Quixote, The Metamorphosis, and Remembrance of Things Past.

My thoughts:

I stumbled on this book when I was doing a search of the library’s system for Jane Eyre graphic novels.  It’s such a neat concept for a book that I just had to share it with you!

I love that the author decided to share the gist of these classic stories in a way that is accessible and appealing to young children.  The rhyming verse and charmingly playful illustrations combine to create a book which children would love reading with their parents.

I should note that the author made a few changes to stories which needed a bit more innocence than their original story contained.  For instance, Frankenstein has a different ending because, obviously, you don’t want the Dr. and his monster killing one another.  Hamlet also experienced significant changes, but I think it was done in a very clever way.

I recommend Shrunken Treasures to parents who want to introduce their children to the classic stories in a way that is fun and easy, while keeping the story at a child’s level.  It would also appeal to adult fans of classic literature who like to see interesting adaptations of their favorite works.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

4 Favorite Children’s Books #5

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Here are more of our favorite children’s books coming your way!  Are any of these your favorites, too?

If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff

Mouse goes to the movies and gets a kit for making a popcorn string, which he wants to put on the Christmas tree.  Along the way, he gets distracted into making a snow mouse and from there subsequently gets distracted into doing a whole string of other Christmas activities.  We absolutely love these books which feature Mouse.  They are full of fun and action, and the illustrations are just wonderful.

Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell

This is a simple and cute story about a little bear who can’t go to sleep because it’s too dark.  Big Bear brings a lantern, but Little Bear says it’s still too dark.  So Big Bear brings another, and another, and another…  When all of the lanterns have been lit and Little Bear says it’s still too dark, Big Bear takes him outside to look at the light from the stars and the moon.  Finally Little Bear falls asleep.  This book has a lot of repetition and would be good for a child who is afraid of the dark.

Too Many Toys by David Shannon

Spencer has too many toys.  They are spread out all over the house, and he just keeps getting new ones for birthdays, Christmas, etc.  Finally, Spencer’s mother says that it’s time to get rid of some toys, but how can he part with his special friends?  He and his mother haggle over which toys to get rid of, until they’ve filled one box.  However, Spencer can’t bear to get rid of the box–the best toy ever!  Does any of this sound familiar?

Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson

This book is absolutely adorable!  It’s a perfect bedtime story, leading your child to perform a simple action on each page of the book, and gradually calming them to be ready for sleep.  The illustrations are lovely and I think I’ll be purchasing this one for my daughter’s next birthday.  It’s one of my new favorites.

4 Favorite Children’s Books #3

4 Fav. Kids Books #3

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Four more fun children’s books that we really enjoyed!

One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo

This is a really cute story about a boy who brings home a penguin from the zoo as his new pet.  His father is oblivious to the arrangement until the very end of the book.  The illustrations are unique and remind me of the 1970’s for some reason.  It’s a Caldecott Honor book, too.

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

Stellaluna is separated from her mother when she is just a baby bat.  A mother bird raises Stellaluna alongside her own babies, but she struggles to fit in.  One night Stellaluna encounters other bats and discovers the wonderful things that she’s capable of.

How to Build a Museum: Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture by Tonya Bolden

This is a really interesting book which chronicles the journey of planning and building the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.  Kids will enjoy reading it because it’s chock full of informative tidbits and wonderful photos.  It’s astounding how long it took for this museum to come into being!

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet & Allan Ahlberg

Here’s another charming and simple book from Janet and Allan!  The text is very simple rhyme and the pictures are an I Spy game featuring well-known nursery rhyme characters.  I’ve always loved the illustrations in the books by the Ahlbergs–they are so quaint and adorable!

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Wild Beautiful Places: Picture-Perfect Journeys Around the Globe from National Geographic

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When I spotted Wild Beautiful Places at the library, I had to get it.  Anything by National Geographic is almost certain to be stunning!

Premise:

Readers get to see some of the natural beauty all over the globe through amazing photography, with a section devoted to each continent.  Also, there is a short explanation of each of the places visited, as well as a few travel tips for those who want to visit the locale.

My thoughts:

My favorite part of the book is, of course, the photography.  I’m a sucker for a good coffee table book–one which features amazing photos.  This book doesn’t disappoint in that respect at all!  The photos focus mainly on landscape, with a few photos of animals and people thrown in, too.  Many of the places I had never heard of, so it was nice to see something different.  There were a good number of National Parks featured, and not just in the United States.

I don’t think that I’ll ever travel to any of the featured places (Traveling internationally with a family of seven is completely out of the question!), but it’s a nice thought to include travel tips for those who might want to visit for themselves.

I recommend Wild Beautiful Places to anybody who enjoys a good photography book.  It’s appropriate for all ages and would make an excellent coffee table book.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Children of China by Alethea Gold

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I found this visually stunning book the last time we made a library trip.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any for sale.  If you really want to admire it, you may have to find a library that carries it and check it out.

Premise:

This book is a visual record of the children of China.  Alethea Gold and Luca Zordan traveled throughout China to photograph children from a wide variety of locations.  Children are shown wearing widely differing clothing styles, in a variety of settings, and engaging in many different activities.

My thoughts:

This is an awesome book!  It would be a great coffee table book, but it’s probably more important as a culturally diverse look at China’s children.  Children would have a great time looking at what life is like for children in China, and seeing the huge diversity.  What better way to teach them to look beyond stereotypical ideas?

The photography is just wonderful!  I love how they caught kids in the midst of their activities, preventing the book from looking like a series of unnatural portrait shots.  There are kids in Mongolia riding horses, children dressed to the nines in the big city, and children living in a monastery.

In the back of the book there are comments about some of the photos and/or quotes from the children about what they want in life.  The list runs the gamut from wanting a TV to wanting to be an astronaut when they grow up.

I recommend this book to people of all ages.  It’s a great way to learn about the diversity of China through it’s children.  It would be particularly useful as a resource in a social studies class.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

4 Favorite Children’s Books #1

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I’m starting a new series of posts which feature our favorite children’s picture books.  They usually aren’t long or complex enough to warrant an entire blog post, but if I give you a batch of four, it makes it a bit more worthwhile.  As you can see, our books are well-loved.  😉

Baby Food by Saxton Freymann & Joost Elffers

I remember back when this book first came out, and I was so impressed by it.  I loved the adorable animals made from fruits and vegetables!  The text is very simple, but the authors’ creativity in assembling recognizable animals from food is really impressive.  My kids love this book and enjoy reciting the different foods that the animals are made from.

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

Who hasn’t heard of this book?  It’s a classic that I grew up with, and now my kids are enjoying it, too.  The sing-song rhyme is very catchy and the illustrations are wonderfully whimsical.  This book explores many animals from the imaginary world of Dr. Seuss.

The Day the Goose Got Loose by Reeve Lindbergh

I love the illustrations of Steven Kellogg–they practically make this book!  This is a story about a goose who gets loose and causes mayhem on the farm.  The antics are hilarious and we laugh every time we read it.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

This is one of those feel-good bedtime stories.  Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare compete to see who loves the other more.  No matter how hard he tries, Little Hare is outdone by Big Hare in his exclamations of love.  It’s a cute and heartwarming story.

The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Pets by Stan & Jan Berenstain

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The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Pets is a funny book about the realities of owning a dog.  The cubs ask Mama and Papa if they can get a pet, like other cubs have.  Farmer Ben just happens to have some pups he’s getting rid of, and offers one as a gift to the cubs.

Mama and Papa talk about all the work that is involved with owning a dog, but the cubs promise that they will do all of the work themselves.  Once they get the dog home, they make sure everything is set up for her and she seems to settle right in.  At first, the cubs argue over who gets to do things like feed and walk the dog, but soon it turns into arguments over whose turn it isn’t.  Not only that, but the dog starts to get destructive when she is left inside all day.  As a solution, Papa builds a doghouse and fenced area for her out in the yard.

The book doesn’t say that she is an outside dog all the time, but it is implied.  I’m not crazy about the end of the book because it seems to send the message that you should just send a misbehaving dog outside.  It could at least talk about the fact that a bored dog is a destructive dog.  Other than that, it’s a cute book that does a fair job of talking about the responsibilities in owning a dog.

Until next time…

Lori

Bears on Wheels by Stan & Jan Berenstain

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Bears on Wheels is great book for little kids who are just learning to count.  The text is very short and repetitive.  Each page is simply a counting of how many bears are on the bikes.  The numbers change in silly ways–by bears jumping onto other bicycles, balancing on one another, or falling off.

The illustrations are really cute and in the traditional style of the Berenstains.  Little kids will love this one!

Until next time…

Lori

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Yoda in Action by Heather Scott

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Slime wanted to post this book because he really enjoyed it.  Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Yoda in Action! is best for kids who are learning to read alone.  The length is somewhere between a picture book and a chapter book.

The story involves Yoda and Asajj Ventress in an adventure on a moon called Rugosa.  They are meeting with the Toydarians to help establish a treaty that would allow them to build a base in their star system.  However, nasty Dooku tries to ruin their plans by attacking with a bunch of battle droids.  Of course, Yoda wins.

This book isn’t grand literature by any means, but it is a way to get kids reading.  😉

Until next time…

Slime & Lori

The New Baby by Mercer Mayer

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The New Baby is another book that I enjoyed as a kid.  In fact, this is the very copy that I read back then, with my name printed inside the front cover.  I loved, loved, loved this book.  Maybe it was because of the cute baby, maybe it was the fun illustrations, maybe it was the goofiness of it.  Or maybe a combination off all three.

In this book Critter gets a new baby sister.  He tries to interact with her, but discovers that there are many things she isn’t able to do yet.  However, he also discovers that she can do some fun things like cuddle, laugh, and go for a walk in her stroller.  At first Critter is a bit put off by her stinky diapers and crying, but he learns that babies can be enjoyable, too.

This is a good book for a child who is expecting a new baby in the house.  The text is very short and the pictures are great!

Until next time…

Lori

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Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

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I’m curious to know who else grew up reading Harry the Dirty Dog.  I enjoyed it when I was little and now my kids love it, too.  This is a really cute story about a dog who runs away from home because he doesn’t want a bath.  He goes through town on a series of explorations, getting dirtier with each one.  When he finally decides that he would like to return home, his family doesn’t recognize him because he’s so dirty.

Harry finds his scrub brush and jumps in the tub, as if asking the family to bathe him.  As they start to wash him and the dirt is scrubbed away, they finally recognize him as their very own Harry.

I think the illustrations are magical, but that might be nostalgia talking.

Until next time…

Lori

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

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We received The Gruffalo from a family member several years ago as a gift.  It’s a cute story about a mouse and a monster-type animal called a Gruffalo.  The mouse is walking through the woods and when he is accosted by animals that want to eat him, he describes a monstrous animal that he’s meeting to share a meal with.  The other animals flee because the Gruffalo sounds so scary and forbidding.  Of course, the mouse doesn’t believe in the Gruffalo, until they actually meet in the woods!

Thinking fast again to avoid being eaten, the mouse tells the Gruffalo to follow him and see that all the animals in the woods are afraid of him.  As they walk past each animal it flees, not because of the mouse, but because of the Gruffalo who is tailing the mouse.  The Gruffalo, however, doesn’t realize this and runs away from the big bad mouse, too.

The illustrations in this book are fabulous!

Until next time…

Lori

Ten in the Bed by Penny Dale

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 Ten in the Bed is a very cute sing-song story for younger kids.  It’s about a little boy who goes to bed and keeps kicking his stuffed animals out when he rolls over and pushes them out.  When all of his animals have left the bed, then he starts to feel lonely and calls them back in.

The illustrations in this book are what really make it.  You can see how the little boy is just being rough with his animals and purposely throwing them out of bed.  They, in turn, go to the kitchen to look for a nighttime snack.

I’ve read this with all of my kids and it’s been a great book for cuddling together and sharing warm fuzzies.

Until next time…

Lori

The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein

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The Missing Piece is about a circle with a piece missing who goes in search of it.  He sings a song while he is rolling along.  He goes up hills and down hills, into holes and across oceans.

Some of the pieces he meets are too big, too small, too long, etc.  One day he finds a piece that fits, but he can’t sing anymore or say ‘hi’ to the butterflies.  He decides to put the piece down and rolls away.  It’s quite obvious that this book is really about people who “fit” and those who don’t.

I like the pictures.  They are pretty simple.

Bubba says goodbye!