Friday, 30 May 2014

Tomi Ungerer

We own this Crictor and got Adelaide from the library. Both are awesome. I'll start with Adelaide. 

Unusually, Adelaide the Kangaroo was born with wings. As a result, she wanted to use them. So one day she took off. That pilot, though initially surprised to see her, became a good friend.
In Paris, Adelaide decides to stay for a while. But is upset to find out that the taxi drivers ask to be paid! And she has no money.
 Anyways, she makes a friend who pays the fare and they see the sights. Here she is below at Notre Dame.
 She is a kind kangaroo and actually risks her life to save some children. She is injured,
 but makes a full recovery. 
 In the end, she finds love but it isn't the happy ending that makes this book a joy. Its the whole wonderful, funny, daft journey. We loved it.

Crictor is similar insofar is there is more lovely French houses and another brave animal with a warm heart.
He is delivered in a box.
 Initially, Madame Louise Bodot is frightened,
 but soon grows to love the Boa Constrictor.

 He helps teach her pupils their letters, and is a good friend.
 One day the pair hear that there is a thief in town. 
 And that night he targets their house!
 But Crictor saves the day.

Both books are keepers. For ages three to adult.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Quick & Flupke books by Hergé

There are two of these Quick and Flupke volumes in our library and my eight year old really loves them. As well as that they're earmark-worthy as great birthday presents for his peers. (Good for the post-picture book crowd but also not tiny when wrapped!)

Created by Hergé (the author-illustrator of Tintin), the adventures of these two "street urchins from Brussels" are aimed at a slightly younger audience than fans of Tintin. And considering they were written between 1930 and 1940,(in the form of black and white comic strips in a Belgian magazine) its safe to say they have stood the test of time.
I've photographed Under Full Sail here. But Fasten Your Seatbelts is great too.

Theres not a huge amount of dialogue. But does that matter? No, it does not.

So there you go. Quick and Flupke.  Write it down. 

Monday, 26 May 2014

Adele and Simon and Dahlia by Barbara McClintock

Firstly, I must apologise for the quality of these photos. In no way do they do justice to these two beautiful books. Dahlia is out of print, but available second hand from and I got Adele and Simon from Book Depository. I have both in hardcover(I'm not sure they come in paperback?) but really, its the only format worthy of these lovely, lovely stories. 

My favourite of the two is Adele and Simon, which begins when Adele collects her little brother from school. That's him below, in the yellow scarf. His school is in Paris, in the early 1900's. Read on - ALL the illustrations are as lovely as this one.

As they travel through the city (the endpapers are an old Baedeker map, showing their route), Simon loses his belongings  and the reader gets to find them. The detail is stunning and its not too easy to find everything. Just hard enough, I'd say. As well as that, its a nice story and wonderfully, you can find the same people popping up page after page. It cost me almost twelve euros and is well worth the price. Perfect for boys or girls age three to six.

Dahlia, by the same author is set in similar times, but in a New England-ey setting. Charlotte, a little tomboy is given the gift of a pretty doll, and the story follows their first day together. Also perfect for boys or girls, again ages three to six.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Here's To You, Rachel Robinson by Judy Bloom and Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

We were on our way to the dentists yesterday when I noticed my older son (he's twelve - a fantastic reader, until we got an Xbox) was half way through this.

Seeing him reading something that wasn't a gaming magazine made me giddy with pleasure. The journey continued in silence as he read, as did our time in the waiting room. And this morning, when he emerged from his bedroom, bug-eyed from looking at god-knows-what on his netbook(actually I do know- special offers on the new version of the Xbox One), he said "Did you get me any other books from the library?" I hadn't. But, this morning, its Saturday and our local library is open until one. "They've loads of Judy Blooms up there." I said, "Why don't you go up and get a few?" Believe it or not he said....."Ok." I mean, its twenty five to one and he's not dressed yet, so I can't say if he will actually go, but it was nice not to get a look of scorn when I suggested it. Judy Bloom eh? Isn't she amazing?

Also, in the back of the same car on the way to the same dentist, my eight year old was reading this.

He hasn't finished it yet but I'm pretty sure judging by the silent concentration, that he will. I have and sighed with pleasure when I did. Its BEAUTIFUL in every way. Beautifully written with matching illustrations.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan. Illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker

My kids only know Jackson Pollack as a page in Olivia. We've read that so often that when I showed them Action Jackson they said "Oh! The Olivia picture."

Anyway, I saw Action Jackson recommended on What Do We Do All Day and got very approving looks from the librarian when I requested it. Apparently it has been sitting on a shelf for a year and I was the first borrower. I couldn't say my kids absolutely adored it, but my youngest did enjoy it and the elder ones (and their parents) now have a sort of idea how Jackson Pollack painted. I could certainly say the older guys liked it. (I just asked my eleven year old and he said he did, and was particularly taken with the idea that he kept going with a painting, even when there was an insect stuck to it.)

So how did he paint? Well, this book gives us a day in his life, as close to how it really was as the authors could manage. 

Its pretty straightforward for nowadays; working on the floor in a barn with house paints and sticks and dried up brushes, but I suppose for the time it was very different.

I found it fascinating and am now dying to see one of his works in the flesh. Theres a a bit of a bio in the back of the book, with photos, which is nice, but sad; he died at 44 for goodness sake. But overall, a very nice, very interesting book. I'm not sure what age I'd say its for, its in a picture book format but what it's explaining is really for ages six or seven and up. 

My Book of Telling Time (Kumon)

I have two middle boys. One of them was always "easy". Slept OK as a baby, ate well, smiled a lot. As a result though, I think he sometimes feels a bit forgotten. The other day when I was dropping him at school with his brothers, while I was doing my usual fussing about with schoolbags and sorting out collection times he said, "Look at me now, Mum, and say goodbye." The guilt! I have of course, been smothering him with attention since, which he doesn't like either. Oh well.

Anyways, I did notice that said boy couldn't read the time easily not too long ago. He's eight and  had done a whole section on it in school, so I knew something needed to be done. In about three afternoons, this book solved the problem. Its not often you can say that about a book, so even though I have blogged about the Kumon books before, I thought My Book of Telling Time deserved a mention.

Friday, 9 May 2014

holiday scrapbooks by Lucy Mitchell

Holiday scrapbooks.
We do this every year. Well, ever since we visited my brother in the States - it seemed so momentous to get all (then)five of us as far as California, that it deserved to be recorded. I learnt then that all you need is scissors, a glue stick and an old-fashioned scrapbook. 25 pages is enough. And just wait for the rubbish/memories to accumulate. A few (quite relaxing, actually) minutes spent sticking each day will result in a book they will look at forever. I guarantee you won't regret it.

We always camp in France these days and below are examples from our last two years efforts. Don't use ring bound notebooks, as we did the first year, they just fall apart. And make it as you go. Believe it or not the kids will actually help.  Empty sweet bags, receipts from the supermarket (holiday shopping is so much more treaty that normal home stuff), any entrance tickets, brochures. Really anything to do with what you did. Two of our boys usually have their birthdays when we are on holidays, so we put a card and a few clues about their presents in too. And they LOVE looking through them afterwards. 

So here we go; A seventh birthday,

 French Macdonalds wrappers,

The playground we camped beside for one night. We arrived late and didn't know the code to open the gate so had to loiter for someone else to open it and drive about an inch behind them to get through. In fairness the French are pretty cool about that stuff. No one batted an eye. We set up camp on the only pitch left and put the tent up in the dark. Once it was up we realised we were almost on top of the communal barbeques where a tattooed gang of muscly men gathered to chat, cook and drink. We feebly attempted to get the kids to sleep and wondered what to do.  Would we live through the night? Hopefully. My husband ventured out to the car to see if there was anything there to eat or drink and came back with a plate of sausages from one of the chefs. 

 My middle boys writing practice and my reading material. Nabilla will be a millionaire by the time she is thirty. At least I think thats what it means.

A bin truck for the birthday boy and a lovely French sweetie bag.

An extra sleeping mat and Lego. And a carambar.

 I didn't make that medieval village. My husband did. With a little help from the kids. Very little to be honest. And yummy biscuits and even yummier beer.

The bag our croissants came in each morning, horse-riding and chocolate milk.

More beer and an Ethni'Cite(Troglodyte settlement) information book. It was closed when we got there. On a Wednesday in mid-August. Because they close every Wednesday afternoon, explained the guide. 

So, I'd buy the scrapbook at home, its not the easiest thing to find abroad, even with the massive stationary sections in the lovely continental supermarkets. Ideally have it, the gluestick and a scissors in a ziplock bag. Then you dump the stuff in there and glue it when you get a chance. Once you start the kids will get involved. Everyone wants their stuff in it. And thats it! Have a lovely weekend!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Waber

While I was thinking about collections of stories yesterday, this popped into my head. We all loved Ira Sleeps Over here, so I ordered this on the strength of that.

Lyle, Lyle Crocodile Storybook Treasury is a hardcover collection of Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, The House On East 88th Street, Lyle and the Birthday Party and Lyle Walks the Dogs. The last one is more of a toddler story and is illustrated by Bernard Wabers' daughter, Paulis. I thought at first it was just going to be a vehicle for the father to introduce his daughters work but no, its lovely. My three year old asks for it regularly.

The other stories must be well known to readers across the pond but Lyle was new to me. There's a good bit of reading in them - so for ages four to six they're a perfect, substantial read-aloud. One is more than enough for bedtime as they're not short. Like the Curious George stories I mentioned yesterday these just make me think childrens' attention spans must be getting shorter as stories written in the 40's, like George and 60's, like most of these seem way longer than lots written now. 

Anyway, this is where Lyle lives. Its on East 88th Street. Doesn't it make you want to go to New York? Or at least watch You've Got Mail?

It all begins when the Primm family move in. Alarmed on hearing a noise coming from the bathroom, they investigate. And find Lyle in the bath. What to do?

 He comes down the stairs to see them. Help!

 But really, there's nothing to panic about. Lyle is just such a nice guy.

 He helps around the house.

 Joins in socially.

 And keeps himself very clean. He loves baths!

 He doesn't mind if he's "on" in games. (or "it" as they say in the States.)

 How could you not love such a friendly guy?

 In Lyle and the Birthday Party, he does have a bit of a sulk.

 How does Bernard Waber draw a sulking crocodile? Aren't these pictures perfect?

 But behaving like that is so out of character, the Primms think he must be sick. And off he goes to hospital.

 Where, like all of us, he wonders why he is woken so early!

 But soon he is back to his cheerful, helpful self.

 And the Primms, realising that he may have been a bit miffed at not having a party of his own, throw him one. Because he deserves it. Because everybody loves Lyle.