Monday, June 29, 2009

Review #34: The Amazing Trail of Seymour Snail

Dad:  The mailman brought us this wonderful book.  We sure have a nice mailman.
Gracie (age 8):  Mail Lady.
Isaac (age 10):  It's a girl.
Dad:  She keeps bringing us nice things.  This is "The Amazing Trail of Seymour Snail."
Isaac:  It's cool.
Lily (age 6):  I like it.
Dad:  Do you guys know anything about snails?
Lily:  They leave a track.  A slimy track.  And they are slow.
Dad:  We don't really have snails around where we live, do we?
Isaac:  We only have slugs.
Lily:  Is a snail like a slug with a shell on it?
Dad:  This is a good book for beginning readers.  It's a chapter book...
Lily: ...but every chapter is just a few pages.
Dad:  And there are pictures - big pictures - on every page.
Isaac:  It looks look like a Chapter Picture Book.  It's a picture book and a chapter book mixed together.
Lily:  It's about a snail and his track.  Seymour Snail.
Dad:  And Seymour was a...
Lily:  Snail.
Dad:  Ha.  He was a snail.  "Seymour Snail, he was a snail."
Gracie:  Ha ha ha!
Dad:  And he was a...
Lily:  Snail.
Gracie:  Artist!
Isaac:  He likes to paint, but he's shy about letting his friends see it.  Then this big gust of wind blows all the art out of its hiding places.  Then his friends see it and think it's really good.
Dad:  Do you guys ever get shy about your art?
Gracie:  Nope.
Lily:  Sometimes.
Isaac:  I don't like letting people see me drawing fish, because I'm bad at fish.
Gracie:  Oh, I think you are good at fish.
Lily:  When I try to make a 'possum, it looks horrible, that's why I never show anybody.
Gracie:  I like letting people see my art.  I even show them my bad pictures.
Dad:  Why do you think Seymour is shy about his art?
Gracie:  Because he's a snail.
Lily:  After his friends see his paintings, Seymour wanted to get a job as an artist.
Gracie:  So he gets the phone and starts calling people for an art job.  The first guy he called said, "You can have a job cooking escargot.  You can cook the snails."  But Seymour was a snail so he goes "Ahhhhhghhhh!"  And then he almost got a job painting dead bugs for the pest control.  But Seymour was a snail so he goes "Ahhhhhghhhh!" again.
Lily:  Finally he got a job at the Speedy Art Gallery.
Gracie:  Yeah, even though he was a snail.
Isaac:  There is this mean old stink bug there.  He makes him do all this stuff.
Gracie:  Seymour had to seal shut envelopes and go up a million hundred stairs to deliver a painting.
Lily:  The stink bug is grouchy and mean!
Gracie:  He's stinky.  He stinks literally, and he stinks in attitude.  Both ways.  Literally -- he's smelly.  And he stinks in attitude -- he's very mean.
Dad:  But would that be fun -- to get a job at an art gallery?
Gracie:  Yes.  I like making art and being around other people's art.
Dad:  This is a good book for you guys, because Seymour is an artist...
Lily:  And we are artists!  And he has great art.
Gracie:  Seymour could make a slimy trail that was glittery.
Lily:  So he finally got a job as an artist, making pretty snail goo trails.
Gracie:  Everyone saw the slimy trail he made.  They thought it was pretty and shiny, and then Seymour became a famous artist.
Dad:  Would you like it if you left behind a big slimy, glittery trail everywhere you walked?
Isaac:  No way.  Then in hide-and-go-seek we would always be found first.
Dad:  Is there anything else that we as humans might think is disgusting, but animals themselves might think is beautiful?  Remember when we were watching "Planet Earth" the other day?  What did those birds make their nests out of?
Gracie:  Saliva.  And that's the main ingredient of bird nest soup.  Bird saliva.  Which is spit.  Dad, put this in the review as a warning so no one eats it.
Dad:  You eat honey.  Bees make slimy goo, and you love it.
Isaac:  Hey Dad, there's one thing I don't understand.  In the book, why did the bugs have such big stairs?  Why don't they make them bug sized?  Since bugs were the only ones that were going up and down them?
Dad:  That's a good question...  I don't know.  Well, the book mixes and matches.  Some of this takes place in a "bug world."  Like the cockroach's/gallery owner's door.
Gracie:  And the art they make.  And the bug's briefcase.
Dad:  Right.  But part of the story is also in the "people world."  Like the chef and the pest control lady.  Even the envelopes Seymour licks aren't bug sized envelopes.  They are people sized envelopes.
Isaac:  And the telephone.
Dad:  Right, the telephone is a "people telephone."  How do you think Seymour took that giant telephone off the receiver?
Isaac:  HA ha ha!  I don't know!
Gracie:  Hee hee hee!  And how does he push the buttons on a gi-normous phone anyway?
Dad:  See, some of those things are funny.  Is this supposed to be a serious book?
Gracie:  No, ho ho ho ho!
Dad:  Some stuff is just funny.  So it's a mishmash.  Some of it is bugs living in a "people world," and some of it is bugs living in a "bug world."  They use whatever makes the most sense for each particular scene in the story.
Isaac:  Maybe bugs took over half the world.
Gracie:  It's really funny the way the guy made the pictures.
Dad:  Doug Cushman made them.
Gracie:  They are cooooool.
Dad:  And Lynn E. Hazen wrote it.  Did you read her other book too?
Lily:  Yeah!  Cinder Rabbit!
Dad:  Is there anything you can think of that is similar between the two books?
Gracie:  Yes.  They are both Chapter-Picture Books.
Dad:  And they are both about creative pursuits.  Cinder Rabbit is about acting and dancing...
Gracie: ...and Seymour is about painting with slime goo.
Lily:  And both characters think they can't do something.  Cinder Rabbit thinks she can't hop, and Seymour thinks he can't get a job as an artist.  But they learn that they can!
Dad:  Why do you think she wrote these books that have similar messages?
Gracie:  To encourage kids!
Dad:  Why do kids need to be encouraged?
Gracie:  Sometimes people think they can't do something.  Like, I once thought that I couldn't do a headstand, but then I practiced it, and I learned how to do a headstand.
Dad:  Are you encouraged to try anything after reading these books?  Squeezing goo out?
Gracie:  No!  Ha ha ha ha!
Lily:  I'm encouraged to try to get a job.
Dad:  Get a job?!
Gracie:  HA HA ha ha ha ha!
Dad:  Alright, go get the phone...
Gracie:  Cook escargot!
Lily:  No... I want to be an artist.
Dad:  Ohhhhhhh...
Lily:  What's the phone number?
Isaac:  That's not going to happen.
Dad:  Well, Lynn Hazen says You can do it!
Gracie:  You can do it, baby!

Seymour Snail paints, by Gracie

a very demanding Stink Bug, by Isaac

snail trail, by Lily

Author: Lynn E. Hazen
Illustrator: Doug Cushman
Published, 2009: Henry Holt
Like it?  Find it

Monday, June 22, 2009

Review #33: How Are You Peeling

Dad:  It's time for "How Are You Peeling..."
Gracie (age 8):  "...Foods With Moods."
Dad:  And the guys who made this book have great names: Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers.
Isaac (age 10):  It sounds like a "Juice" guy.
Dad:  What is the interesting thing about this book?  How is this different from other books?
Isaac:  Vegetables!
Gracie:  This book is about a whole bunch of different moods.
Isaac:  And vegetables and fruits!
Gracie:  A "mood" is how you are feeling -- if you are feeling happy or feeling sad.  And this whole book is told with food, because the guy that does the pictures goes to the store, buys a bunch of food, and carves in faces.
Lily (age 6):  He puts eyes on the food, and sometimes he carves mouths and noses.  Actually, I bet he doesn't carve the noses.  Then he takes pictures of them.
Gracie:  But sometimes he doesn't carve the food at all.  Sometimes the faces are already there!
Isaac:  Mostly he tries to find weird looking fruits.  Like this one... he really found an apple that looked like that.
Gracie:  It's an apple with a big hole in it, and the guy didn't carve it.
Lily:  He actually found that real dent in an apple.  He was like, "Oh, that could be good -- I'm going to use it for my character!"
Dad:  And that's probably an apple most people would have skipped over.  Most people would say, "Eww... I don't want that apple..."  But he saw it and thought, "That's my book, baby!  I take all the weirdies!"
Kids:  Ha ha ha ha ha!
Isaac:  Woah!  Look at that one!  It's a weirdie!
Dad:  Putting faces on food isn't a completely new idea.  Can you think of a food that everybody already carves?
Isaac:  Tomatoes.
...pause followed by laughter
Dad:  Who carves tomatoes?!
Gracie:  Pumpkins!  Pumpkins!!
Dad:  There you go.  Winner!  We have a winner!
Lily:  People carve pumpkins for Halloween.
Dad:  But these guys thought, "Why not oranges?"
Gracie:  Why not strawberries?
Lily:  There's no pumpkins in this book at all.
Isaac:  They'd probably get a weirdie pumpkin or turn the stem into a nose.
Dad:  So when you illustrate a book, do you have to use pencils or paints?
Isaac:  No, you can take photographs.
Gracie:  You can do it with food!
Isaac:  I did something like this once!  I used Gracie and Lily's dollhouse set, and I took my camera, and I zoomed in so that it looked like a real room, and I took a picture of it.  Then I stuck a banana in the dollhouse, and I zoomed in the same way, and took another picture, and it made it look like a giant banana appeared in the room.
Dad:  Can you describe some of the pictures in this book?
Isaac:  Sometimes they have to combine three foods.  The turtle has a seed for the eye, a pepper for the head, and a melon for the shell.
Gracie:  I like the little radish guys.  There are these tiny, itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, little radishes.  And there's this giant yellow melon or something...
Isaac:  Squash.
Gracie: ...this giant yellow squash, and the radishes are freaking him out.  And the squash is, like, eleven times their size...
Isaac:  Nine times.
Gracie: ...nine times their size.  The radish is this teeny-tiny guy with an open mouth, screaming at the squash.  And the radish has a pointy stick nose.  Some of the other radishes have curvy noses...  I love them!
Isaac:  Here's another one of those weirdies.
Dad:  Yeah, they hardly did anything to that pepper.  All they did was add eyes.  The natural folds make all the expression.
Isaac:  He was a weirdie.
Gracie:  He looks like one of those bulldogs.
Isaac:  There are tons of weirdies on this page!
Dad:  That one looks like baby Evie.
Isaac:  Oh, for the love...
Lily:  Look at tha-ha-ha-hat!
Isaac:  He has weird teeth.  He looks evil.
Dad:  Who?  The orange?
Gracie:  Do you think the guys that make the book eat the food afterward?
Isaac:  "Hello, I'm going to eat you, big teeth guy."
Lily:  I like this one - he's cute.  He's a lemon.  He doesn't have freaky teeth.  I like the ones that don't have freaky teeth.  But this one is sad.  He's feeling very sad.
Dad:  You like the sad ones?
Lily:  No.  I like the ones that don't have freaky teeth.  I like to eat lemons too.  They are sour and good!  But I haven't had one for ages.
Isaac:  I saw in a magazine how he makes these pictures.  That would be fun to do.  For this review, we could go to the grocery store...
Dad:  That IS what we're going to do.
Isaac:  It is!?!
Dad:  Yep!
Isaac:  I want to find a piece of food, a vegetable, that looks weird.  I want to get a weirdie vegetable.
Gracie:  I am going to find the weirdie-est one of all!
Lily:  Me too!  I'm going to find the second weirdie-est one of all.
Gracie:  I want to eeeeeeeat something.
Dad:  Did that book make you hungry?
Gracie:  Now I want to eat a kiwi.  I want to eat that kiwi.  The one that's going, "Aaaaaghhhhh!"

pear bird & melon guy, by Lily

lemon man & potato seal, by Gracie

beet creature & pear mouse, by Isaac

I have to say, the whole process of shopping for these foods and bringing them to life was a blast!  Here's one last group shot:

The kids also had fun eating them when we were all done.  Here are some funny picts I got when little brother Elijah started digging in:


Creators: Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers
Published, 1999: Arthur A. Levine Books
Like it? Find it

Monday, June 15, 2009

Review #32: I Spy A to Z

Dad:  Here's the package that just came in the mail!
Gracie (age 8):  It says "Bookie Woogie" on it!
Dad:  What do you think it is?
Gracie:  A book!
(opening package)
Gracie:  It's "I Spy!"
Dad:  Elijah's favorite kind of book.
Gracie:  "I Spy A to Z!"
Elijah (age 3):  Read it to us!  Read it to us!
Dad:  Right this second?
Elijah:  Yeah!
Dad:  I was only going to open the package...  Let me check with Mom to see if we have time to do this right now...
Lily (age 6):  We're reviewing this!
Isaac (age 10):  Can I see it?  I haven't gotten to hold it yet.
Dad:  We love "I Spy."  We have three of the other "I Spy" books already.  Plus we also have an "I Spy" board book.
Gracie:  And I have an "I Spy" memory game that I got for Christmas.
Dad:  But we can't assume everyone else out there knows what "I Spy" books are.  If someone's never seen one, how would you describe them?
Isaac:  People take photographs of all these things -- toys and screws and bolts -- all kinds of bits and ends and things.
Gracie:  Real toys -- a lot -- tons of different toys and shelves and boxes all over the place.
Isaac:  Then they say: "Find a ball" or "Find a cow."
Lily:  Then you find them in the pictures.
Gracie:  They're really good for younger kids.  Especially Elijah.  He loves "Finding Books."
Dad:  Yep, that's what he calls them.  "Finding Books."
Elijah:  Me.  Yeah.
Dad:  So Buddy, are you going to review it with us?
Elijah:  Yeah.  But is it a Finding Book?
Dad:  It is!
Elijah:  A BIG Finding Book!
Gracie:  The cover is so sparkly...
Elijah:  There is a "J" that has a bead on the bottom...
Dad:  Yeah - you know some of your letters already.  This is a great book for you!
Elijah:  Read it now.  Read it now.
Dad:  Why is this book called "A to Z"?
Gracie:  Because the letters go in order.
Isaac:  Like on these first pages, you find things that have A's.
Elijah:  Find them now.

(reading begins)

Isaac:  You know what they did?  They cut half of this page off.  This used to be a big page in a different "I Spy" book, and they cut it down to a little square.
Dad:  So are these all pictures from other "I Spy" books?
Isaac:  Yeah.
Dad:  But that's cool, because it makes this book huge!  Look at how many pages there are!
Isaac:  See this picture here?  That one used to be a much bigger picture in a different book.
Dad:  It's kind of like a "best of."  And even though they are reusing pictures, I bet they have you finding different things this time.

(reading continues)

Dad:  How do you think they do the pictures where it looks like all the toys are flying through the air?
Lily:  On strings maybe?
Isaac:  On the computer?  I have no clue.
Gracie:  Maybe they put everything on a trampoline.
Dad:  And then jumped on it?
Isaac:  It wouldn't come out that perfect.
Dad:  And if they did it on the computer, they'd have to add all the shadows that the objects cast on each other.
Isaac:  Well, do you have any ideas?
Dad:  I don't have any idea.
Gracie:  A glass blower trapped them in glass.
Isaac:  If the person who makes the "I Spy" books is reading this, could you tell us how you make things look like they are floating in the air?

(reading concludes)

Dad:  Did you like that book?
Elijah:  Yeah!  I like the letters that we found.
Dad:  Did you like the easy ones that you could find fast, or the tricky ones you had to hunt for?
Elijah:  Hunting!
Gracie:  I like the parts where it's super hard and everyone is looking and looking...
Lily:  This book was long and fun.
Gracie:  And there's an awesome Spanish corn dude on one page!  I want a Spanish corn dude!
Lily:  All the pictures look really cool.
Gracie:  Especially the picture with the sweet Spanish corn dude.  He was so stinkin' awesome!
Dad:  Now this "I Spy" is different from the others.  There are little pictures along with the text that show you what you are looking for.  That's a new addition.
Gracie:  It's a good thing they did that.  I like it a lot.  Now kids that can't read can enjoy this book too.
Dad:  Which is especially good since it's an Alphabet Book.  Who's more likely to need an alphabet book?  Someone who can't read yet.
Isaac:  I know.  I loved these books when I was little too, but I couldn't read.
Gracie:  I like how they make the pictures.  They just put a whole bunch of stuff together.  They find a whole bunch of toys and build a set.
Isaac:  There's a game my friends and I play.  We each get an "I Spy" book, and then we look for the hardest thing on the page.  Then you say "Look for, like, a green car."  Then the other person says, "Look for a... zebra."
Dad:  So then you switch books and say "go"?
Gracie:  Yep, and the first one to find it wins.
Dad:  That's fun!  You guys are clever!
Isaac:  What are we going to do for our pictures at the end of this review?
Dad:  Maybe you guys could all work to build a scene, and Isaac can take a picture of it.  He's good at taking pictures.  You've never done a collaboration for Bookie Woogie before.
Gracie:  What in the dickens is a "collaboration"?
Lily:  It's where everybody does something together.
Dad:  Did you know that word, Lily?  Or did you just figure it out from the context?
Long silent pause...
Dad (in mock-Lily voice):  What in the dickens is a "context?"
Laughter by all

Here's a picture hunt the kids made for you all:

And a close up detail:
I spy an Alligator, a Ballerina (who lost her bun),
the Captain of a ship, and a tiny green Dude with a gun.

I Spy A to Z
Riddles by: Jean Marzollo
Photographs: Walter Wick <– secrets revealed!
Published, June 2009: Scholastic
Like it? Find it

Now comes some more fun!  Giveaway time!!  Scholastic has provided a generous giveaway with five lucky winners!!!

Four winners will receive a copy of this new book, "I SPY A to Z:
A Book of Picture Riddles."

And one Grand Prize Winner will receive a Grand Prize Pack including:
• "I SPY A to Z: A Book of Picture Riddles"
• "I SPY Treasure Hunt"
• Board Game "I SPY Memory Game"
• Wii Video Game "Ultimate I SPY"
That pack is worth over $85!

So to enter, simply leave a comment on this post.  And for those of you who have been visiting Bookie Woogie for a while - or for new visitors who want to peek at the archives - you can multiply your chances: in your comment if you let us know which Bookie Woogie review has been your favorite so far, you'll get extra entry points.

(Also, be sure your comment has a way for us to contact you when it's time to pick the random winners)

Contest runs until July 4th.  Good luck!  Spread the word!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Review #31: Scribble

Lily (age 6):  Let's do this already...
Gracie (age 8):  "Scribble."
Lily:  By Deborah Freedman.
Isaac (age 10):  It's a super cool book.
Lily:  It's one of my favorite books in the world.  Scribble, scribble, scribble...
Dad:  So tell me about it...
Gracie:  There is a girl named Lucie and her sister named Emma.  They both draw pictures.
Lily:  Lucie has a yellow outfit, and she drew a picture of a kitty on yellow paper.  Emma has a pink outfit, and she drew a picture of a princess on pink paper.
Gracie:  They get in a fight because Emma is making fun of Lucie's kitty picture.  Then Lucie gets mad and scribbles on her sister's princess picture.
Lily:  That was mean.
Gracie:  But I think she feels sad for what she did.
Lily:  Then the yellow kitty picture grew and turned alive!
Gracie:  The kitty found Emma's picture and saw the princess.  But since Lucie had scribbled on it there was a thicket.
Isaac:  The scribbles Lucie made are the thicket.
Gracie:  The kitty wanted to rescue the princess, and so he walked right in there.
Dad:  Right into her drawing.
Lily:  The kitty was trying to save the pink princess from being asleep forever.
Dad:  Like in Sleeping Beauty.
Lily:  But he couldn't get to her because of the tangly scribbles.  The scribbles that Lucie made.
Gracie:  He got tangled up in the scribble thicket.  So Lucie followed him into the picture and had to help him get the thicket untangled.
Dad:  And to wake her, the kitty gave the princess a kiss.  Smack!  (Dad gives Lily a kiss)
Gracie:  Awww - how come Lily gets a kiss?
Lily:  Because I'm sitting on his lap.
Dad:  Smack!  (Dad gives Gracie a kiss)
Gracie:  Hee hee!
Dad:  Do you want a kiss, Isaac?
Isaac:  Aghh!
Gracie:  The kitty woke the princess up.
Lily:  And then they got married.
Dad:  Was it real?  Or was it all a dream?
Isaac:  Imagination.
Lily:  But Lucie did un-scribble the picture.
Isaac:  It's like the real world, but then it's not.  It's the real world when they are drawing the pictures.  It's not real when she goes into the picture.
Dad:  But it's a fun thought -- that you could draw a little friend who would come alive, and you could follow him around on adventures...
Gracie:  Lily does that.  She talks to her drawings.
Lily:  I also make the drawings talk back.
Dad:  How do you guys feel about people wrecking your pictures?
Lily:  Mad.  Sad.
Dad:  In our family, that's about the worst thing you can do.
Gracie:  Yep.
Dad:  Someone drawing over a picture you'd worked on?  Tragedy.  You guys are very protective of your pictures.
Lily:  You wrecked my picture!
Gracie:  Yeah, this morning I wrecked one of Lily's pictures.
Dad:  This very morning?  Oh my lands.
Lily:  She rubbed clay on it, and it left a little smudge.  And there wasn't any way to get it out.
Dad:  This book is an appropriate pick today then.
Isaac:  I know one other story that is like this one.  "The Three Pigs."
Dad:  By David Wiesner?
Isaac:  Yeah, because they go in and out of pictures too.
Gracie:  And what about "Inkheart"?
Dad:  Yep, it's also like "Inkheart" -- people hopping in and out of their own creations.
Isaac:  There's a story, but there's also a story inside a story.
Lily:  I like the kitty in this book.  He is yellow.
Dad:  It's important the way the author uses colors.
Isaac:  The colors in the book are pink and yellow.
Dad:  Pink represents Emma, and yellow represents Lucie.
Gracie:  First, the author uses it for their outfits.  Emma is wearing a pink outfit and she drew on a pink paper.  And Lucie is wearing a yellow outfit with a kitty on it, and she drew a kitty on yellow paper.
Dad:  I never noticed Lucie's outfit has a kitty on it.
Gracie:  See!
Dad:  So there are three pink things and three yellow things.  The girl, the paper, and the drawing that comes to life.
Gracie:  But part way through the book, Lucie turns pink!  See - her clothes do.  And the kitty gives the princess a yellow heart kiss.  And the princess gives the kitty pink cheeks.
Dad:  Aw, he's blushing!
Isaac:  It might be hard to draw in different styles for the different characters.
Gracie:  You'd have to draw like a five-year old!
Isaac:  But it would be fun.
Lily:  This is one of the most wonderfulest books in the world.  And I want you to read it.  Because it is wonderful.  And I don't want you to miss it.

Prince Kitty and Aurora, by Lily

Aurora, Kitty, and what their children might look like,
by Isaac

Lucie chasing after more drawings, by Gracie

Author/Illustrator: Deborah Freedman
Published, 2007: Knopf
Like it? Find it

Monday, June 1, 2009

Review #30: A Curious Collection of Cats

Isaac (age 10):  "A Curious Collection of Cats"
Gracie (age 8):  This book is fun!
Isaac:  It has lots of cats and lots of colors.
Lily (age 6):  A whole universe of cats.
Dad:  The cover says "Concrete Poems by Betsy Franco."  Do you know what a concrete poem is?
Gracie:  No.
Dad:  Let's think about "concrete."
Isaac:  It's cement.
Gracie:  You make things with it.
Isaac:  You put it on the ground to make sidewalks and roads.
Dad:  And buildings and sculptures... all different shapes.  Concrete is the material that makes them up.
Isaac:  So for a concrete poem, you make the poem into different shapes.  Or build the words into parts of things.
Dad:  Are the words in these pages laid out in a normal succession from top to bottom?
Gracie:  No.
Lily:  There are pictures with words inside them.  And sometimes the words hook onto part of the picture.
Dad:  In a concrete poem, what the words say is important, obviously.  But the way the words are arranged on the page is equally important.  They can twist, follow paths, form shapes.  Concrete poems acknowledge the "physical material" - the words - that make them up.  Where the words fall is just as significant as what they say.  That's a concrete poem.
Isaac:  Like, one of the lines says "Falling upside down" and it is written upside down.
Dad:  Good one!  What are some other examples?
Isaac:  In "Rascal's Tongue" the words are about a tongue, and the words ARE a tongue.  And they are pink.
Dad:  Same with "Tabitha's Tail."  The words are about the tail...
Gracie:  But the words also make the tail.
Isaac:  They are all twisted around.
Lily:  Another poem has a cat spitting out a hairball-thingie.
Dad:  And the words made the path of the hairball.
Gracie:  Yeck!
Dad:  The illustrations are by Michael Wertz.  So his job in crafting these poems was just as important as Betsy Franco's job, huh?  He's not just making supplemental pictures off to the side.  He's 'sculpting' the actual poem.  Giving it form.
Gracie:  It's poetry stacked on colorful cats!
Isaac:  Oh no.
Dad:  What?
Isaac:  I just realized...  We're all going to have to make a concrete poem about a cat for our review...
Dad:  Ha ha ha ha...  Yep.
Isaac:  This is going to be difficult.
Dad:  I bet you'll have fun.
Isaac:  I'm doomed.
Dad:  You're not doomed.  Come on, dude.  If it's too hard, you don't have to make a picture.  But at least have fun trying.
Gracie:  Yah-hoo!
Isaac:  I'm horrible at poems.
Dad:  We've never tried this!  Concrete poems may be your favorite thing ever, after we try!
Lily:  Daddy, I have a favorite poem.  I looooove "Shadow's Dream."  It's so cool!
Dad:  That one is beautiful.  There were some gross poems in here too.
Kids:  Yes!!!
Gracie:  Hairballs...  drinking from the toilet...  peeing on people's hats...
Lily:  Eating a fish cake.
Dad:  Those poems will probably be kids' favorites...
Gracie:  Yeah... hee hee hee!
Lily:  We like gross things.  Oo-hooey.
Dad:  Let me ask you about one more specific poem.  Who does Wide Veronica remind you of?
Lily:  Fat Cat!
Gracie:  She's our Nana's cat.
Isaac:  It also reminds me of Pumpkin, Sam's cat.
Dad:  Sam's cat is fat now too?
Gracie:  Very fat.
Dad:  Fatter than Fat Cat?
Gracie:  No way!  There's no cat that's fatter than Fat Cat.
Lily:  She could beat a bulldog in a fight.
Isaac:  Pumpkin is probably second place.  He has tons of fat that wobbles when he walks.  It jiggles around.
Dad:  We don't get to see Fat Cat wobble around too much, do we?
Gracie:  She mostly hides and growls.  We love her anyway.
Dad:  She used to be tiny once upon a time, before you all were born.  Mom and I babysat her when she was a kitten, and she jumped into our Christmas tree and hid.  Imagine what would happen to a Christmas tree if she jumped into it now!
Isaac:  HA HAH HA HA HA!!!
Dad:  Did Michael Wertz use realistic colors in this book?
Gracie:  No.  And that's okay.
Lily:  Some of the cats are pink cats.
Isaac:  It almost looks like layered tissue paper.
Gracie:  The colors are cool.
Dad:  Now, people who have cats would like this book...
Isaac:  I recommend Nana reading this book.
Dad: ...but what about us?  We didn't know that much about cats beforehand, but what did we learn from reading this?
Gracie:  Some cats can have six toes!
Lily:  And they eat spiders.  Mommy would freak out about that.
Isaac:  They have different personalities.
Lily:  Yeah, some of them like to kiss.
Isaac:  Some of them sleep and hide.
Gracie:  Some are shy.
Dad:  Some are brave.
Gracie:  And some of them pee on people's hats.
Dad:  Does this book make you want to get a cat or not?
Gracie:  I want to get a kitten that doesn't drink from toilet bowls.
Dad:  Kittens don't stay kittens.  They grow up to be...
Gracie:  Plump!

My cat May plays with Jerry
in the month of February
-- by Gracie

My kitten has a mitten that got bitten
-- by Lily

When people visited me
my cat jumped up the tree
And when she got FAT
the tree went splat
-- by Isaac

Good poems guys! (You too Isaac!)

Author: Betsy Franco
Illustrator: Michael Wertz
Published, 2009: Tricycle Press
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