Monday, January 12, 2015

I'm a fan of Russian folklore and thought I had the measure of Baba Yaga.
I was wrong. Baba Yaga, in Gregory Maguire’s Egg and Spoon, has sass and wit! You’ve got to meet her!
Here’s the pith of the plot: Spoiled rich girl, honorable peasant girl, and a misunderstood Russian royal join forces to save the world.
Why is the world in trouble? Eggs! The accidental switch of two eggs (a priceless, if tasteless Faberge, and the priceless, immortal Firebird)
It’s funny, mysterious and archetypal.
Ages 8 and up. Both boys and girls and grownups (that’s me) will gobble it up.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

One of the best things about the holidays is getting cards. Paper. Envelopes. Stamps. Real Mail. That’s why a Letter for Leo by Sergio Ruzzier caught my eye. The story revolves around Leo, a mailman who never gets any of his own. By rescuing a baby bird left behind after Fall migration, Leo makes himself a friend. When Spring comes, baby bird Cheep’s ready to rejoin his flock and leaves. You know what happens next. Baby Bird Cheep sends Leo a letter. Hurrah! Maybe it is a simple plot, but the story is not. The artwork takes you to far away place, where cats play bocce and fish get mail. I don’t know how he does it, but Ruzzier can move an eyebrow a millimeter and change the emotion shown from “sincere, heartfelt” to “bewilderment.” There’s a lot to discover in Ruzzier’s world and it’s fun to take the journey. PS This would a great read aloud over Facebook or Skype.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

The perfect elements for an old-fashioned scare. Two orphans, Molly and her lame brother, find work at an isolated mansion with a strange family. It’s apparent that the family was once healthy and happy. Now the house and the family are falling to ruin. The gigantic tree, that grows both inside and outside the house, may be to blame. Or, is it the phantom that roams the house and grounds at night? Does he come to tend the tree or torment the family? This can be scary, so I’d recommend ages 10 and up. (Unless your reader is brave hearted!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Make a Lifetime Reader!

What makes a child love reading? What makes anyone do anything? When it’s Fun!
Here are hints to get your child started on the adventure of reading.

            ·Kids learn from example. Let them see you read in the house, in the park, anywhere!
·Take outings to the bookstore and library.
·Ask for books as gifts. Let the gifter know your child’s favorite animals, hobbies and passions so they can find the perfect book.
            ·Use MP3 downloads or CDs for read-alouds. Audio books build vocabulary. Just make sure you choose” unabridged” instead of “abridged” books.  (Condensed books don’t have the books’ real flavor. )
            ·Make a little library in their room or on a bookshelf.
·Buy cheap books at garage sales and flea markets.
·Plan play activities that involve books-picnics, crafts, or science projects.
·Let them ‘read’ stories to their dolls or younger siblings.
 ·Play reading games- let them cross off items in shopping lists, put nametags around the house, play school, bookstore, and library.
·Read to your child at least 20 minutes every day.
· When you read, make it an Oscar performance. Use different voices for characters in books. Act out exciting passages. Pretend to be the character in a book. And always, read the story as it’s written!
·If your child loses interest in a book, wrap it up quickly.
·Don’t make reading time “teaching” time. No vocabulary lessons. If there are 5 or more words on the page that your child doesn’t understand, try a book on a lower reading level.
            ·Immerse children in fiction and non-fiction. Some children are not interested in ”make believe.”  That might mean reading from magazines and newspapers.
            ·When your child enjoys a particular book, be willing to read it over and over again.
            ·Let your child participate as much as possible in reading- let him finish the sentence, read the pictures, take turns reading, etc.
·Have a family reading time after meals. Have one member of the family read aloud as the rest do the dishes.
·Do a reading night with popcorn and blankets, instead of movie night.

Carving out time in one’s busy day for reading might seem difficult.  But after 30 days, the time it takes to establish a new habit, you’ll find more time for making reading fun.
Books to Get You Started

How to Get Your Child to Love Reading: For Ravenous and Reluctant Readers Alike by Esme Codell

Reading Together-Everything you Need to Know to Raise a Child to Read  by Diane W. Frankenstein

The New York Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children

The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Books for Reluctant Readers

When you're trying to interest reluctant readers,these are the books (by Alvin Schwartz) to put in their hands. The pacing is perfect: scary, scarier, scariest! But not so scary as to give nightmares. ALL of his books are delightful.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

                                                     Bogeyman #2                                        
                                                                     The Qallupulliat

What do you think of sisters that do everything together? Sisters who play, swim, hunt and eat together? Actually, you don’t want to know them. They are the qallupulliat sisters and they hunt children. Their eyes are as big as saucers and their skin is a slimy green. Arctic children learn to stay away from old ice, because that’s where the sisters like to hide.

Bogeyman 101

Bogeys of the Arctic Circle

Picture yourself here...the Arctic Circle...looking at the Northern Lights. But that's not all you'll see.
There's the string monster, a creature that will punish you if you don't do your chores and instead, play string games. There's the Mahaha, a skinny creature, blue in color and ice cold to the touch. He 
always laughs and giggles, but if you see him, he'll tickle you to death. 

You have to be careful to be safe. That's why, if you think you see a rockfish, don't creep closer to spear it. That scaley green skin might not be a rockfish, it might be a qallupulliat instead