Monday, February 23, 2009

Review #17: Old Bear

Dad:  Today we are reviewing "Old Bear" by Kevin Henkes.  Do you guys know who Kevin Henkes is?
Isaac (age 10):  Who?
Dad:  He did "Chrysanthemum."  That's Mom's favorite picture book in the whole world.  And he did the book with Wemberly...  and Lilly with the purse...  all those little mouse books.
Lily (age 6):  "If You Take a Mouse to the Movies!"
Dad:  No... not that one.  Not every mouse book.
Lily:  Hee hee hee hee...
Gracie (age 8):  Kevin Henkes has a good imagination, because he doesn't put tails on his bears.
Lily:  Yes he does - see look.
Gracie:  No, no, no look on that page.
Isaac:  There's his tail.
Gracie: That's his leg.
Isaac:  No it isn't.
Dad:  Let's not argue about that.  Moving along...
Gracie:  "Old Bear" has such pretty colors.
Dad:  It looks like he did these all with watercolor.
Gracie:  We have watercolors!
Dad:  Maybe you guys could do your pictures at the end of our review with watercolor.
Gracie:  I like the colors.  When it's springtime in the book it's all pinks, purples.  And in the summertime there's all greens and blues.  And the fall is all oranges, reds.
Isaac:  Winter was such a pretty picture.
Gracie:  It was amazing.
Lily:  It's my favorite picture.
Isaac:  It's my favorite picture.
Gracie:  All the snow on the trees, and the sparkly sky...
Lily:  The stars look like flowers.
Gracie:  I like the colors!
Lily:  I like the colors!
Dad:  I take it you guys like the colors.
Gracie:  All the outlines in the pictures are black when the bear is in the real world.
Dad:  But when the bear dreams, then the outlines are...
Kids:  Purple!
Dad:  (flipping the page) and...
Kids:  Green!
Dad:  (flipping) and...
Kids:  Orange!
Dad:  and...
Kids:  Blue!
Dad:  depending on the...
Lily:  Weather!
Gracie:  The season.
Dad:  Then when you go back to the real world...
Isaac:  Black.  I like it better with the color lines.
Dad:  What was happening out in the world while Old Bear slept?
Gracie:  Hibernation.
Isaac:  The world was changing.
Lily:  All the weather.
Gracie:  The seasons.
Isaac:  And the seasons were changing in his dream also.
Dad:  Did he have a good dream?  Would you guys like it if it rained blueberries?
Lily:  Yeah!
Gracie:  Actually, I would like raspberries more...  but blueberries work.
Lily:  Blueberries are good because it's the color of the rain.
Isaac:  There is also a big flower sun.
Dad:  Where do you think Kevin Henkes got all his ideas?
Gracie:  His imagination.  Or maybe his own dreams!
Isaac:  First the bear dreams about sleeping -- probably his dreams dream about sleeping -- and the dream's dreams dream about sleeping...
Dad:  Anything else about the pictures?
Isaac:  When the bear is in the real world, there is white space around the picture.  But when he dreams, the picture goes to the edges.
Dad:  Except for one other time also...
Isaac:  The picture at the end.
Gracie:  When he thought he was dreaming.
Isaac:  It's pretty.  I wish that was our backyard.
Gracie:  I want to be a little pixie fairy who lives in that beautiful garden.
Isaac:  I think this book would teach kids creativity.
Gracie:  And imagination.
Isaac:  And seasons.
Lily:  And about bears.  They sleep aaaaaaaall 'til spring.
Isaac:  The cover of this book is cool!
Gracie:  The front cover is fall and snow, and the back is summer!
Dad:  Other than the seasons, the bear looks exactly the same on both sides of the cover...  the exact same pose.  See, if you open it up to look at the front and back at the same time...
Gracie:  Their buns are touching.
Lily:  Ha ha ha ha!
Dad:  Well, that's not what I...   yeah, I guess they are.

spring dream, by Gracie

spring dream, by Lily

spring dream, by Isaac

Author/Illustrator: Kevin Henkes
Published, 2008: HarperCollins
Like it? Find it

Monday, February 16, 2009

Review #16: How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird

Dad:  Today's review is for "How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird."
Isaac (age 10):  I had a feeling it would be about a bird.
Dad:  Did the book tell you how to paint the portrait of a bird?
Isaac:  No.
Dad:  But that's what the book is called.  Well... DID it tell you how to paint the portrait of a bird?
Isaac:  It did.  But not the real way.
Gracie (age 8):  This way is more fun.
Lily (age 5):  It was about a bird and a boy and, well, the bird got into a picture.  The boy painted all the stuff besides the bird.
Gracie:  The cage...  The tree...
Lily:  And the bird flew inside the paint.
Dad:  So, the boy paints a picture of a cage with an open door, a bird flies into the cage, he erases the door, and... ta-da!  The portrait of a bird.
Isaac:  But you have to wait for years and years behind a tree, hiding...
Gracie:  With no food.
Isaac:  ...waiting for a bird to fly into the picture, and you don't even know for sure if it's going to come or not.
Gracie:  The boy imagines he might be waiting there until he's an old man with a beard and super long grass all around him and cobwebs on his head!
Lily:  It could have been really funny if the bird had a beard too!
Gracie:  "I'm an old man with cobwebs on my head!"
Lily:  I think the boy was trying to keep a pet.  Maybe he was trying to get the bird to stay in his picture and be his pet.  And then he tried to make it sing, and it sang!
Gracie:  It was funny when the bird was singing, because it was
like: "TWEET!"  Ye-haw, baby!
Isaac:  The page is all full of music notes.
Lily:  Tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet!
Dad:  Did anyone feel sad for the bird when it flew into the painting?  I did.
Lily:  Me too.  But then it got free.
Gracie:  Then I didn't feel sad.
Lily:  Me either!
Dad:  Would it be worth it?  Waiting that long to paint the portrait of a bird?
Isaac:  Then only keep it for, like, a day!
Lily:  And the next morning the boy had to do it all over again.
Gracie:  That would be hard.
Isaac:  He stayed there for a YEAR.  Behind a tree.  Hiding.  Waiting for a bird.  And then he has to do it for another year to catch another bird!
Dad:  Yeah, you guys seemed pretty freaked out over the realization that if the boy wanted to keep a portrait of a bird, he would have to go through the whole process again when the bird flies out...
Isaac:  That would be frustrating.  You would just do it over again.  Then over.  And over and over and over and over.
Dad: (opening to a spread)  Now, you all really liked this page didn't you...
Isaac:  OH yeah!
Gracie:  It's so full of color!  And it's beautiful.
Lily:  Yeah!
Gracie:  The sun has tons of color shining out of it.
Isaac:  I like how he made the butterflies...
Gracie:  The butterflies are so pretty.
Lily:  I want a summer like that in our front yard!
Dad:  When the boy signs his name he writes: Mordicai Gerstein.  Do you know who Mordicai Gerstein is?
Isaac:  No.  Is it the guy who made the book?
Dad:  Yep.  So the illustrator imagined himself as a character in the book.
Gracie:  Once Mr. Murphy put me in a story he told about a big red monster who lost his blankie.
Dad:  How about Isaac?
Gracie:  I know!  He's in that book Mr. Sandford made of the guy who cooks...
Dad:  To get Isaac in that book, first Mr. Sandford had to paint a cage...  then he had to wait for Isaac to crawl into the cage...
Gracie:  Ha ha ha ha...
Isaac:  No.  I had to pose for an hour...
Dad:  So when we make our pictures at the end of this Bookie Woogie, are we going to have to paint cages and run outside to look for birds to fly into them?
Isaac:  That would be strange.
Gracie:  That would be cool!
Dad:  We might have to wait until Gracie is old and has a beard.
Dad:  Um, you just whacked me.
Gracie:  I don't grow beards...  You have a beard!
Dad:  Final verdict - how was this book?
Isaac:  Love it!  Good!  Great!  All of those combined into a little ball of birdies!
Hysterical laughter by all
Dad:  Sooooo...  I'll take that as a thumbs up?
Isaac:  YES!

portrait of a bird, by Gracie

old, waiting, and covered in cobwebs, by Isaac

catching a bird, by Lily

Author: Jacques Prevert
Illustrator: Mordicai Gerstein
Published, 2007: Roaring Brook Press
Like it? Find it

Monday, February 9, 2009

Review #15: Little Panda

Dad:  Today we are reviewing a book I love, love, love: "Little Panda."
Isaac (age 10):  The letters on the title go down because Chinese writing goes down instead of sideways...
Gracie (age 8):  And pandas are in China.
Dad:  The person who made this book has a great name - Renata Liwska.
Isaac:  Is she from China?  Hong Kong?
Dad:  The bio on the jacket said she's never been to China -- so she never met a real panda.  But she watched pandas on her computer to study them.  I wonder if we could find pandas on the computer.
Gracie:  Let's go!
Isaac:  Where is she from?
Dad:  I don't know - it doesn't tell.  I'm guessing from America, but I don't know for sure.
Isaac:  Maybe her grandparents are from China and they moved here.  Or maybe her mom...
Gracie:  Or maybe her favorite animal is just a panda bear.
Dad:  I really don't know...
Isaac:  Does she have any relatives in China?
Dad:  I have no idea...
Gracie:  She has a cool name.  Renata Liwska.  It sounds like a famous tapdacer.  A famous Mexican tapdancer.
Dad:  You guys have got her coming from all over the world...
Gracie:  Everyone should read this book!  It's about a little panda and a flying tiger.  There's a funny surprise!
Dad:  We don't want give away the ending or the funny parts...  So can you guys talk about this book without spoiling the surprise?
Gracie:  It was awesome!  It's hilarious and adorable all mixed up!
Isaac:  Little Panda, Bao Bao, is a cutie.
Gracie:  He's adorable!  He's a little ball of glory when he's sleeping.
Lily (age 5):  He looks like a chipmunk.
Isaac:  He looks like a ball that got stuck in a tree.
Gracie:  A ball of panda glory.
Dad:  What things was Little Panda good at?
Lily:  Falling!
Dad:  What things did his mother try to teach him?
Gracie:  Running.  Jumping.  Climbing.
Lily:  And hula-hooping.
Isaac:  But mostly he just fell.  He's good at falling like
what's-his-name.  That guy with the nickname Stoneface...
Gracie:  Buster Keaton!
Isaac:  Yeah, Buster Keaton.
Gracie:  Buster Keaton is FUN!
Dad:  Tell me about Little Panda's mother...
Gracie:  His mother was good at eating!  But she must not have been very good at teaching.  He didn't do any of that stuff.  And she flings him around in circles... by one of his legs and one of his arms so he does the splits.
Dad:  Do they love each other?
Gracie:  Yes, but she makes her son do the splits.
Dad:  What about the tiger?
Gracie:  It looks like a baby tiger.  He's the size of Little Panda.
Isaac:  What is that on Bao Bao?  A birthmark?
Gracie:  No - the tiger scratched his bum-bum.
Dad:  There's a very funny picture in here, isn't there...  You guys cracked up.  I don't think I've ever heard you guys laugh so hard at a story.
Gracie:  Yeah!  Hah ha hah ha ha ha haa!!!
Dad:  It's the picture of the tiger flying...  Tell me about it - don't tell me how he flies - we'll save the surprise.  But tell me what the picture looks like...
Gracie:  It's the tiger flying...  and the mama is looking backwards at it...  hee hee he...  and it's the baby's fault that the tiger is flying...  Ha haha haha ha ha!!
Isaac:  The words make it funny -- how it happens makes it funny -- you need to hear the story...
Dad:  Did you think that was going to be how the tiger would fly?
Gracie:  No - because at the beginning there was a little tiger with wings.
Dad:  Yeah - that picture kind of throws you off...  I think the illustrator did that to trick us.
Isaac:  The pictures are really cool.
Gracie:  She made the pictures with pencil and blended a lot.
Dad:  Then she added color on the computer.
Isaac:  I knew it.
Gracie:  My favorite picture is the one with the waterfall.
Lily:  That's a long waterfall...  They're up high....
Isaac:  I see a monkey.
Lily:  Of course you see a monkey.
Dad:  This picture back here is the one I love - I want to cut it out and hang it on the wall in a frame.
Isaac:  Me too.
Gracie:  But then you would wreck the book.
Dad:  Well, we'd have to get two copies, wouldn't we.
Gracie:  Then I could cut out my favorite too.
Lily:  I want the one with the tiger flying.
Gracie:  I want the one with the waterfall.
Isaac:  I want the one with all the leaves tumbling down.
Gracie:  But Daddy wants that one.
Isaac:  Nuts.
Dad:  So, can tigers really fly?
Isaac:  In imaginations they can.
Gracie:  Wait - I know a tiger that can fly!  (Gracie throws Elijah's stuffed Baby Jaguar across the room)  "Fly, Tiger!"
Isaac:  That was more of a "flop."
Dad:  And it was more of a jaguar.  "Flop, Baby Jaguar!"
All:  Hah ha ha ha...

Bao Bao, Lin Lin, and a tiger, by Lily

falling panda, by Gracie

panda out on a limb, by Isaac

Author/Illustrator: Renata Liwska who, as it turns out, is originally from Poland and now lives in Canada...
Published 2008,
Houghton Mifflin
Like it? Find it

Monday, February 2, 2009

Review #14: Monsterlicious

Dad:  Isaac picked "Monsterlicious" for our review today.  So here's a question:  Isaac, did you choose it simply because it is such a wonderful, wonderful story, or was their some ulterior motive?
Isaac (age 10):  What does that mean?
Dad:  Was there some other reason as well?
Isaac:  Some other reason!  Some other reason!
Dad:  Do tell...
Isaac:  I'm in the book!
Dad:  You're a monster?
Isaac:  No.  I posed for John Sandford the illustrator.
Gracie (age 8):  He's our old friend....  sigh...
Dad:  Are you saying Mr. Sandford is old?
Gracie:  No.  But he's our friend that we've had since a long, long time ago, and we barely get to see him any more.  That kind of friend.  He's not old.  But he does have a beard.  Anyway Daddy has a beard.  And he's not old.
Dad:  Do you remember modeling for this book, Isaac?
Isaac:  No.  But I remember posing for a different picture -- the jellyfish one.
Dad:  You were pretty young when you posed for "Monsterlicious."  Lily was just a baby... so you were probably only four or five.
Gracie:  How come I'm not in a book?
Dad:  Well, you were in a magazine.  You were his model for a princess kissing a frog.  I don't know how much it was supposed to look like you, but you posed for it.
Gracie:  I remember that!
Dad:  I don't recall what the stand-in for the frog was.  It might have been Isaac.  I think you had to bend down and pretend you were kissing Isaac's head.
Lily (age 5):  And I'm in a book I've seen!
Dad:  Yeah, even Lily posed for Mr. Sandford.
Gracie:  She wore a big hat.
Dad:  You three are pretty lucky.  Not many kids can say, "Hey, I'm in a book" or "I'm in a magazine."
Gracie:  Ahhh...  Mr Sandford...  We love him.
Lily:  Mm-hmm.
Gracie:  He moved away.  We used to watch the parade every time on his lawn.
Lily:  And I don't even remember how he looks.
Gracie:  He's skinny.
Dad:  What do you kids do every time he visits us?
Gracie:  We all make him paper doughnuts!
Dad:  Here's my question.  (laughing) Why...  in the world...  do you guys make paper doughnuts for Mr. Sandford?
Gracie:  I have no idea.
Isaac:  For some reason that started a long time ago, but I don't remember why.
Dad:  It's like a very odd tradition that every time we see Mr. Sandford, you all run to the kitchen and make seven or eight paper donuts for him...
Gracie laughing...
Dad:  You decorate them, make them all different sizes and shapes.  I have to think you guys are the weirdest kids in the world.
Gracie:  It's a tradition.
Dad:  So, should we get back to the review now?  This is "Monsterlicious," written by Erik Jon Slangerup...
Gracie:  Hey, what about John Sandford?
Dad: ...And illustrated by John Sandford.  Actually, I met Erik Jon Slangerup once too.  When I was at Book Expo he was sitting there signing his books.  So I waited in line and said, "Hi -- I am the father of "Bingle Bangdoodle," and I whipped out a wallet photo of Isaac.  It was pretty cool.
Isaac:  In the book, I'm the guy with the big white chef hat and blue eyes and yellow hair.
Dad:  Do you still look like that?
Gracie:  Yeah, it looks like Isaac.
Isaac:  I'm a little tiny kid in there.
Lily:  Named "Bingle Bangdoodle."
Dad:  Tell me about the story.  Little Bingle works at a restaurant, right?
Lily:  And the people that came into the restaurant did not like the food he made.  Because it was disgusting.
Gracie:  He made vegetable jello and it blew up!
Lily:  Awww... smushy peas on his toes.  Yuck.
Gracie:  He dropped a shoe in the food, and he dropped the noodles on the floor, and he burnt the meatloaf.
Lily:  But then monsters came in and ate all of it.  They thought it was delicious.  So he served more food, and more food, and all the food he could make.
Gracie:  Then the monsters invited all their friends.
Lily:  All the monsters of the world.
Dad:  He started making really disgusting concoctions.  Which one did you think sounds the grossest?
Gracie:  Bat booger pie.  Look, and there's wings coming out of it.
Lily:  Agggghck!
Isaac:  That one looks the grossest.
Dad:  Is that the hog hair soufflĂ©?
Isaac:  It's fuzzy and slimy.
Gracie:  Yegch.
Isaac:  If I had to eat something there, I would eat the chewing gum.  It's better than underwear stew and all those ucky things.
Gracie:  The restaurant will be the underwear stew and chewing gum factory of wonderness!
Isaac:  I don't think I want to eat right now.
Gracie:  I like how they did that...  The letters of the story follow the path of the flying gum right into the pot.
Dad:  Were the monsters in this book scary creatures?
Gracie:  No, they are funny.  And ugly.
Lily:  Just weird.  Not ugly.
Gracie:  The trolls were big.
Isaac:  They wear hats.
Lily:  They have big noses.
Gracie:  He's cute.  He's freaky.  That one is weird -- it's a 'she!'
Dad:  How do you think Mr. Sandford came up with so many monster ideas?
Gracie:  He's a very creative guy.
Lily:  Mm-hmm.
Gracie:  That's a freaky ugly dude behind Isaac.
Isaac:  I remember making that face.
Dad:  I love that picture of you Isaac, where you are making the "ooie" mouth, but there is the grossest looking monster thing behind you!  It's disgusting!  If it had been a little cutie guy hiding back there, I'd hang it on the living room wall... but not with that hideous thing there!  But it is a very cute picture of Isaac.
Lily:  If giant monsters came into my store, I would run.
Gracie:  I would find something big and heavy, break the window, and get out of there.
Dad:  What kind of invention would you feed to trolls?
Lily:  Peanut butter and honey and worms.
Gracie:  Fishbones and eggshell with already chewed gum that has been lying in a trashcan for 100 months.
Isaac:  Dirt-worm-eggshell pie.  With pepper on it.
Dad:  I bet you'll all have a fun time doing the pictures to go along with this review...
Gracie:  I'm going to draw Isaac in there with the monsters.  You are going to have to pose for me, dude.

monster food, by Isaac

monsters, by Lily

Bingle Bangdoodle serving monster chow, by Gracie

Author: Erik Jon Slangerup
Illustrator: John Sandford
Published, 2003: Gingham Dog Press
Like it? Find it

To see pictures of Isaac as Bingle Bangdoodle in "Monsterlicious," you'll have to check out the book!  But I thought I'd share a few of the other pictures in which good ol' John Sandford enlisted help from the Z-Kids: