Monday, December 29, 2008

Review #9: "I Love My New Toy" and "I Will Surprise My Friend"

Dad:  This is going to be a very different review.  A package I ordered just arrived, and we are recording the the unveiling in real-time.  What could it be?  (Opening...)  Ta-da!
Isaac (age 10):  "I Love My New Toy" and the other one is "I Will Surprise My Friend."
Gracie (age 8): Mo Willems.  I love Elephant and Piggie!
Dad:  Which is your favorite book in the series that we've already read?
Isaac:  I like "Bird on Your Head!"
Gracie:  Oh yeah, "There Is a Bird on Your Head" - that's my favorite.
Lily (age 5): ...that's the one that goes: "there's a bird on your head."
Dad:  So which of these new ones should we read first?
Isaac:  This is our second Double Bookie Woogie!
Lily:  Start with "I Love My New Toy."
Isaac:  That is a very weird toy.  It looks like a weird alien greeny-bluey thingie.  Hey - where's the pigeon?  There's a pigeon in every book....

reading of "I Love My New Toy" begins...
....reading of "I Love My New Toy" ends.

reading of "I Will Surprise My Friend" begins...
...reading of "I Will Surprise My Friend" ends.

Gracie:  That was HILARIOUS!  "I will save you, Piggie!" "LUNCHTIME!"  That's my new favorite!
Dad:  Even more than "Bird on Your Head"?
Gracie:  YES!
Lily:  That's my new favorite too!
Isaac:  It's funny!
Gracie:  No, it's hilarious!  "I will save you, Piggie!" "LUNCHTIME!"
Dad:  Who's your favorite character?  Gerald or Piggie?
Gracie:  Piggie!
Isaac:  I like piggie.
Lily:  I like piggie!
Dad:  I like Gerald.  You guys all like Piggie?
Gracie:  Piggie is the winner!
Dad:  Why do think that is?  Do you think Gerald is more like the grownup and Piggie is more like the kid?
Gracie:  Like in "Today I Will Fly" Gerald says, "Today you will not fly.  You will not fly tomorrow.  You will never fly!"
Dad:  You think that sounds like a parent?
Gracie:  Well, it's very, very serious.  Piggie is dramatic and she's funny like me.
Isaac:  The pig is a she?
Gracie:  Yes!
Dad:  Both of these books had lots of emotions...
Lily:  Piggie was embarrassed because she did some bad things - she was yelling at Gerald.  Another time they were both surprised.
Gracie:  Angry!  Sad.  Worried that Gerald wouldn't be friends anymore...
Isaac:  Once Piggie was shocked/sad/mad all combined into a thing where her eyes are little dots.
Lily:  Piggie felt hungry.
Isaac:  When she's mad, the guy draws this black tornado thing on top of her head.  I never knew how to do that until now - I realized he just takes the side of the pencil and pushes down hard into a tornado shape...
Dad:  I think I've seen smoke come out of Gracie's head before.
Gracie:  You could tell the character's emotions by their funny faces.
Isaac:  And you could tell by their ninja moves!
Gracie:  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Dad:  What do you mean by ninja moves?
Isaac:  I'll show you... (flipping through the book)
Dad:  What?  There are actual ninja moves in there?  Where?
Isaac:  That picture!
Gracie and Isaac reading together:  "I will save you!" "LUNCH-
(Hysterical laughter by all)
Dad:  I bet you guys are going to be quoting that all the time now aren't you...

Piggie and Elephant, by Lily

lots of new toys! by Gracie

the squirrel strikes again, by Isaac

Author/Illustrator: Mo Willems
Published, 2008: Hyperion
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Monday, December 22, 2008

Review #8: Through the Animals' Eyes

Gracie (age 8):  This is our special Christmas Bookie Woogie!
Lily (age 5):  Woohoo!
Gracie:  Deck the halls with boughs of holly, falalalala lala lala!
Lily:  Don't sing that song!  It's crazy.
Dad:  We've picked a book by Christopher Wormell called...
Lily: (reading) Through the Animals' Eyes.
Isaac (age 10):  Why do Christmas books always think there were three wisemen?  The Bible never tells how many.
Dad:  You're right.
Isaac:  It could have been six thousand wisemen.  Or it could have been just one.
Dad:  Well, we know it was more than one...
Isaac:  Yeah... wiseMEN.  But it could have been two.
Dad:  Why do you think people make the mistake of thinking there were three men?
Isaac:  Because there were three gifts...
Dad:  Yep.  Now, let's look at the book...  Who do you think the two people are in this picture?
Lily:  Mary and Joseph.
Dad:  How can you tell?
Gracie:  One lady is on a donkey and one lady is not.  Oops...  I mean...
All:  Hahahaha!
Dad:  I don't think that's a lady...
Gracie:  Well, they're both wearing dresses!
Dad:  That would be a robe...
Lily:  And Joseph always has a stick.
Dad:  Well, now I think you are pointing at a shepherd.
Lily:  Oh.
Dad:  Why did shepherds carry staffs back then?
Lily:  Because they could put the stick in the fire and then scare the wolves off and then get the fire off the stick so they could do it again.
Dad:  Those would be some Super Warrior Shepherds!  I think somebody still has "Rapunzel's Revenge" on the brain...
Isaac:  The pictures in this book were really cool.  Every picture compares two things together - animals and humans.  A different animal on each page.  In the first picture, there are storks following the humans.  Both the birds and the humans are going somewhere.
Dad:  They're both kind of migrating.
Isaac:  The next page has a griffin vulture...
Lily: ...that guy Joseph is covering that girl Mary.  And that bird is covering the egg.
Isaac:  So they are both getting ready to give birth.
Dad:  Those are called "Parallels."
Isaac:  Like a parallelogram?
Dad:  Yep - parallelograms have sides that follow in the same direction.  The animals in this book are parallel because their stories follow Mary and Joseph.  They run side by side...
Isaac:  It makes the pictures cooler.
Gracie:  The shepherds are watching over the flocks just like the dog is watching over the flocks.
Lily:  I didn't like the guy who was bad.  Herod.  They compared him to a bee stinging a hand.
Dad:  You guys are finding great parallels.
Gracie:  I found another parallelogram - there's a whole bunch of doves in the sky like angels.  That's my favorite picture.
Dad:  It would be a neat picture to hang up on a wall.
Lily:  It's cool how he made this side purple and this side orange and this side yellow...
Isaac:  How does he do... that... "shade"?
Dad:  When someone blends from one color to another... that's called a "Gradient."
Lily:  Ingredient?
Gracie:  Ha ha!  Gradient.
Lily:  Oh, gradient!
Isaac:  I think he must have used a computer for that.
Dad:  Nope, not a computer.  Okay, so here's the big question - what do you think he made these pictures with?
Lily:  There are big, big lines...
Isaac:  He used mostly black...
Gracie:  Pencil?  Pastel?  Paint?
Dad:  He did use paint - or maybe ink.  But he didn't use a brush.
Isaac:  Dipping a quill in the paint?
Dad:  Nope.
Lily:  Fruit.
Dad:  Fruit?  Wha...?
Lily:  Dip it in the paint and then draw something!
Dad:  Actually - you could be getting close.  I'll tell you.  It's called "Lino-cut."  You start with a piece of linoleum... a big block.  Do you know where this is going?
Isaac:  It's blocks of wood, er... linoleum.  You take a knife and you cut away on it and you stamp it on the paper with paint.
Dad:  So now - if you look at the pictures again - can you see that they were all made out of "stamps"?
Lily:  It's cool that he used stamps.  I could not do that.
Isaac:  I have a question...  If he cut this, how did he make these little lines in this other color?  Did he keep making a new one, put it away, make a new one, put it away, make a new one... and you have to keep doing it over and over and over again?
Dad:  Yep - he had to do a new linocut for each color in the picture.
Isaac:  That would take FOREVER!
Gracie:  He has to be a really good lino-cut artist because -- All those shapes!
Dad:  And here's the other thing that is tricky about it...  When we draw, we're marking down the black outlines.  But with lino-cut, you are taking away everything except the black lines.  So he's actually drawing/scooping everything around the black as he cuts.  Does that make sense?
Isaac:  That would be hard for the bricks in that picture!
Dad:  That would be really hard on lots of stuff!  He's not drawing the shapes of horns and legs and tails....  He's thinking about the shapes between the horns and legs and tails...  So when he's done, it leaves the black outlines behind.  Here's another art word for you...  He's got to think about the "Negative Space" - it's almost like drawing what isn't in the picture...
Isaac:  That's kind of like scratchboard.
Dad:  Exactly the same principle.
Gracie:  I like lino-cut.  It's a lot of hard work to do lino-cut.  He must be a really smart professional about lino-cut.
Dad:  I think you like saying the word "lino-cut."
Gracie:  Hee hee...
Dad:  Now that's how he made the pictures.  What about the way they looked.
Lily:  Colorful!  I love it.
Gracie:  Not very realistic looking.  But it's not cartoony either.
Dad:  Kind of "Stylized."  Boy, you guys are learning all sorts of art words today.
Gracie:  I like how the people in this book "motion."
Dad:  What do you mean?
Gracie:  The ways they are standing.  I think that part is cool.  In some pictures people are so surprised and in other pictures they are gentle and kind.  And in other pictures people look very mad.  You could tell by their "motions."
Dad:  Poses?
Gracie:  By their poses.
Dad:  So how does this story compare to the actual Christmas story?
Gracie:  It's basically the same Christmas story, only it's through the animals' point of view.
Isaac:  The pictures went along with the story, but he also kind of imagined how it might have been.  Like, on one page there was a leopard lying on the branch of a tree above Mary and Joseph.  So, he was imagining that there might have been a tree with a leopard there.  But it doesn't change the Christmas story.
Dad:  How does he keep it intact?
Isaac:  Because the words of the story keep it true.  The animals are only in the pictures.  He doesn't ever say, "Then they saw a leopard on a tree."  The words keep the story true, but in the pictures he imagines what else could have been happening with the animals.
Lily:  Everyone should read this book AND read the story from the Bible.  You can compare them!
Dad:  Good idea!
Lily:  I want to read it again.

Lamb of God, by Gracie

shepherd and a leopard, by Lily

flying dove, by Isaac

Author/Illustrator: Christopher Wormell
Published, 2006: Running Press
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Review #7: Rapunzel's Revenge

Dad:  Today we are reviewing "Rapunzel's Revenge," written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale.
Isaac (age 10):  That's a lot of Hales!
Gracie (age 8):  I bet they're all in one family.
Dad:  Nope - they're not, because I looked at the back and it says "...Nathan Hale, no relation to Dean or Shannon."
Isaac:  But why is his name Hale then?
Dad:  Just by chance I guess...
Isaac:  It sounds like "hail" from the sky.
Dad:  Do you know what this kind of book is called?
Isaac:  Comic book?
Dad:  They have a fancy name for it now - it's called a Graphic Novel.
Gracie:  I think it's a comic book and a chapter book mixed.
Lily (age 5):  The story is about a girl named Rapunzel.  She lost her real mother, and Gothel said she was a naughty girl --
Gracie:  Gothel traps Rapunzel in a tower.
Lily:  The tower had big, big thorns and it was a giant tree.  When she grew long braids, her hair helped her get out of the tree tower.
Gracie:  Her hair grew really long because she didn't have scissors when she was trapped.  There was also "magic growth" in the tree tower.
Lily:  She has magical hair!  I want hair like that!
Dad:  She used her hair in lots of cool ways, didn't she...
Gracie:  She used it to escape the tower.
Isaac:  She spins things around in it, like flaming torches.
Gracie:  She uses it to fight crime.
Lily:  She's good at tricks now.  Really good.  She practices.
Gracie:  She lassos with it, whips with it, climbs things with it like a rope.
Lily:  She wrapped it right around the water snake's head... actually its neck.
Gracie:  She used it to steer a big evil boar thing.
Dad:  What would you do if you had long braids?
Isaac:  Don't ask me that question.
Gracie:  It would take a whole day to comb it.
Lily:  I would save people from bad things and be just like Rapunzel.
Gracie:  I would lasso my brothers and sisters.  Climb up high places.  Smack bugs.  Kill evil dudes.  Pretty much the same things as Rapunzel.  I would also do lots of fun hairstyles!
Lily:  At the end, Rapunzel looks beautiful when her braids get snipped.
Gracie:  They never told us if her hair would get longer again after that.
Dad:  Well, Mother Gothel's powers were destroyed... so what do you think?
Isaac:  Nope.
Gracie:  Well, if they never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever clipped it again it might get longer.
Dad:  You think a person could grow hair that long without magic?
Gracie:  Maybe if people never clipped their hair from the time they were babies.
Dad:  So Lily, you really think Rapunzel looks better with shorter hair?
Lily:  I love her when her braids are snipped because it looks beautiful.
Dad:  Let's snip your hair...
Lily:  Nooo!  I want long magical hair!
Gracie:  If I got a really really long wig, then I could be Rapunzel!
Dad:  Now, was this book the same as the Rapunzel Story that we are all used to hearing?
Isaac:  No!  All the people are dressed like cowboys.  The original Rapunzel story had knights and things...
Gracie:  But now it's also the Wild West.  And her cowgirl outfit is awesome!
Dad:  So they took a fairytale and a western and mixed them together.
Gracie:  I LOVED "Rapunzel's Revenge"!  The original fairytale left out the coolest parts!
Dad:  Well... the original didn't leave them out.  This is all new.  Nobody had ever thought of all those cool parts until Shannon Hale and Dean Hale made them up.
Gracie:  Thank-you Shannon and Dean!!!
Isaac: What about the third guy?  Who was the third guy?
Gracie:  Thank-you Nathan, Shannon, and Dean!
Lily:  My favorite part was when Rapunzel was fighting the coyotes.  She was swinging the fire all around.
Isaac:  The water snake was really cool.  Nathan Hale did a really good job on it.  It was green and had the fangs of a rattle snake.  And it was giant.
Lily:  The water snake was very, very scary.  I thought Rapunzel would die!
Isaac:  That snake picture - it would have to take months to make.  If you look at it, there's so many little details.  I'm surprised he even finished this picture -- that he didn't give up on it.  It just looks hard to draw.
Lily:  Who was that big bad guy with a green coat and yellow hair?
Gracie:  "Brute."  But he is not a bad guy - he helped her in the end.
Lily:  And he wanted his Mommy!
Isaac:  What was that thing they were riding?  A yak?
Lily:  They were riding a buffalo in a really scary place.
Gracie:  There were no scary beasts when they got to Devil's Armpit!  (Gracie sticks her hand under her armpit and begins pumping out noises)  Pbbt pbbt pbbt pbbt...
Dad:  That's quite a musical pit you have there!
Gracie:  Hahhaahaaa!  A girl from Awana taught me that.
Dad:  Wonderful.
Isaac:  I say the worst place was with the coyotes.
Lily:  Coyotes...  Coyo-yo-yo-yo-teeeee!  Aawoooo!
Gracie:  No - Devil's Armpit was the worst place.  (Armpit noises resume)  Pbbt pbbt pbbt pbbt...  Nothing was alive there, everything was dead - plants were dead, people were dead, beasts were dead, tombstones were everywhere, boneyards... not a very happy place.
Isaac:  Rapunzel has one friend in the book
Gracie:  Two - Jack and the goose...
Lily:  In the ending Rapunzel and Jack kissed!
Gracie:  The ending was romantic -- Woo- oo!
Lily:  They kissed!
Dad:  Any concluding words?
Isaac:  I liked it.  Everyone should read the book.  It'll take an hour though.
Lily:  This book is like a movie.  It has exciting things, and movies have exciting things.
Gracie:  And I still say Devil's Armpit was bad - Everything died.  That's why there were no scary beasts there - everything died.
Dad:  Well, I think you just like saying Armpit.
Gracie's armpit:  Pbbt pbbt pbbt pbbt...
Lily:  At the end they kissed!

Rapunzel, by Gracie

Rapunzel scaling the tree tower, by Lily

Rapunzel spinning flaming torches, by Lily

Rapunzel facing the giant water snake, by Isaac

Authors: Shannon and Dean Hale
Illustrator: Nathan Hale
Published, 2008: Bloomsbury
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Monday, December 8, 2008

Review #6: Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure

Dad:  This week's book is "Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure" by Viviane Schwarz.
Isaac (age 10):  This book is one of my favorites.  It's so funny.
Dad:  So, what's the first thing you notice about this book?
Isaac:  It's sideways.  You have to hold it sideways in order to read it.
Gracie (age 8):  I think that's cool!
Isaac:  That's good for this book.  The characters are funny and confused, so the book is the exact same way too.
Dad:  Tell me about the story...
Lily (age 5):  A shark and a lobster and little tiny cuttlefishes were building a fortress to keep tigers away.  But then they realized their fortress was just a pile of rocks...
Gracie: they freaked out...
Lily: ...and they went down to get a great big giant monster, and they wrapped it around themselves.  But then the monster was chasing them!
Isaac:  That monster is very, very ugly.  Uglier than other monsters.  And... is it wearing tapshoes?
Gracie:  It has a fork-nose and eyelashes.  It's ugly!
Isaac:  Why does it have little windows on it?
Gracie:  You can see a ship and fish bones inside it.
Isaac:  I think it would be hard for the monster to grab anyone because its hands are on its eyeballs.
  I like how there are mysteries in this book.  Like - what kind of monster IS that fish-thing?  And how did it get there?  How did they learn about tigers?  I don't understand... they tied the monster in a knot?
Isaac:  How did they tie him?  He was ten times bigger than them!
Dad:  Those must be very strong cuttlefish...
Isaac:  Ha ha ha!  Yeah!
Dad:  So this book raises lots of silly questions.  Does it bother anyone that we don't know the answers, or is that part of the fun?
Gracie:  (dramatically) It drives me crazy!
Dad:  Goofball, you just said you liked the mysteries!
Isaac:  I wonder how the lobster and the shark heard about tigers?  They live miles and miles and miles away from tigers.
Gracie:  Maybe there's a traveling crab that they are friends with... and he traveled to a zoo... and he saw tigers.
Isaac:  Or maybe it was whales because they do move back and forth from Antarctica to hotter places...
Gracie:  Don't get all "schooly..."  This is supposed to be fun.
  How about the pictures?
Gracie:  Borders!
Dad:  You mean panels?  Yep, everything is in boxes like in comic books.
Isaac:  And whenever somebody is talking they put it in "word bubbles."
Lily:  I like the little tiny cuttlefishes because they are cute and you can barely see any of them...  they're just little tiny black dots.
Isaac:  The pictures weren't drawn with a perfect straight line or really serious.  They are kind of bumpy and -- at first it seems like it wouldn't take much work... but if you really look at it, it would be kind of hard to do that.
Dad:  The lines are loose...  It's a loose style of drawing.
Gracie:  Kids would really love this book.  I really love this book.  Hey, (pointing at a picture) what is that?
Dad:  That's one of the monster's eyes.
Gracie:  It's smaller than the cuttlefish!
Dad:  (laughing) You guys love those cuttlefish!  They must be the stars of the show.

no tigers, by Isaac

looking at cuttlefish with a magnifying glass, by Gracie

great big giant monster, by Lily

Author/Illustrator: Viviane Schwarz
Colorer: Joel Stewart
Published, 2006: Candlewick Press
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Review #5: Wave

Dad:  Gracie picked today's story, and it's my favorite book of 2008.  We're reviewing "Wave" by Suzy Lee.
Gracie (age 8):  Maybe the girl in this book is really the author when she was little.
Isaac (age 10):  Some of it might be one of her experiences at the beach.
Gracie:  I like this book because everything is made with pencils, just gray and white and black.  But then when you get to the waves, it's different colors -- it's done in paint, and it's blue.
Isaac:  The person who made this book likes blue.
Gracie:  And seagulls.
Isaac:  The seagulls do everything the girl does.
Gracie:  They stand still when she stands....
Lily (age 5):  The girl runs away really fast and the seagulls run away really fast...
Gracie:  They're mad when the girl is mad...
Isaac:  She goes away, "bye-bye," and the seagulls go too.  They follow everything she does.
Dad:  Now, you guys were pretty loud and excited when the waves come...
Isaac:  It was crazy!
Gracie:  The waves felt angry, and that's why they splashed her!
Lily:  The waves were wanting to splash the girl because she stuck out her tongue.
Gracie:  There was a lot of splashing.  The waves were getting bigger!
Isaac:  It was like, Uh oh - that's not going to be good!
Gracie:  The waves were HUGE!  OH MY GOODNESS!  Too big to fit on the page!
Dad: ...then - Crash!
Lily:  She's soaked.
Gracie:  She's DRENCHED!  And now her dress is blue.
Isaac:  The sand is blue...
Gracie:  The shells and the treasures are blue...  And the sky!  Now it's blue!
Lily:  The waves changed the whole entire earth.  Before it was all gray, but now it's a whole bunch of blue stuff.
Isaac:  When the girl first gets to the beach there's not too much excitement.  But when she gets the big splash, the water opens her eyes and she starts seeing things she never did before.  She starts noticing all the things on the ground.  It opened her eyes to what was out there.
Lily:  The waves were like a friend.
Gracie: ...a friend that shared a whole bunch of shells and starfish.
Lily:  And the waves shared the way to see how the world really was.

swimming, by Lily

big splash, by Isaac

raining, by Gracie

Author/Illustrator: Suzy Lee
Published, 2008: Chronicle Books
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