Monday, April 25, 2011

Audio Snippets IV

Our audio recorder is all filled up.  So once again, it's time to blow away the files in order to make way for recording more book reviews!  But before the old audio gets zapped, never to return, I'll share a few highlights for your listening pleasure.  (And in case you missed any the first time around, I've also included links back to the original book reviews.)

This is the fourth batch of Audio Snippets we've shared.  I've never been certain how much you, our regular readers, like it when I break from our routine in order to post these.  I for one enjoy the audio.  Our regular weekly book reviews work really well in a typed-up transcript format.  But sometimes you miss the enthusiasm in the voices behind the words.  And sometimes reading "Ha ha ha ha ha..." just isn't the same as listening to a room full of belly laughter :)

Bookie Woogie began with the three oldest Z-kids.  After a while, little brother Elijah (now 5) came on board.  And I have a feeling it won't be long before little sister Evie (now 3) joins in too -- she's already raring to go:

Suzy Lee's book "Shadow" is fun, fun, fun.  Why do we grown-ups have to over think everything?  It's good that Isaac is here to set me straight:

We are HUGE "Suzy Lee" fans.  So much so, Gracie felt the need to thank her for merely existing:

The book "Mostly Monsterly" features two types of monsters: the Growly kind and the Love-song kind.  What kind of songs would a Lily-monster sing?

What did Gracie think of the illustrations in "Mostly Monsterly"?

It may not be my favorite Christmas carol, but it's still fun when you sing it together:

Isaac was determined not to give away the ending of Tomie dePaola's book "The Baby Sister":

Our own baby sister was soon to arrive!  At the time we didn't have a name picked out yet.  Everyone had their own favorite: Magdalene, Olive, Olivet, Sparrow, and Zion.  We called upon brother Elijah to break the tie...

While reviewing "Dotty," Gracie recalled her own imaginary friend named Ensenta:

Elijah would love to be a japanese spider crab, and he revealed the only conditions in which he would pinch someone:

Lily knows that Dad can touch the end of his nose with his tongue.  So can Kinako the wolf:

The Z-Kids have many skills.  Math may not be one of them.  But Debbie Taylor doesn't seem to mind:

Gracie was quoted for a blurb on the back of a graphic novel.  Dad tried his hand at crafting a blurb for "You Are What You Eat":

One significant way in which the kids and I are wired differently: they love non-fiction.  LOVE it.  I really should work harder to feed it to them more than I do.  As for me?  Not my thing.  But just listen to the passion in Gracie's voice as she tells me about Kadir Nelson's "We Are the Ship":

The kids made wadded up paper bats and paper balls to play "paper baseball" in the livingroom.  Then they assumed the roles of their favorite Negro League heroes:

Sometimes we learn new words:

Sometimes we learn old words:

Sometimes Dad tries to teach a new concept, and the kids start meowing like cats:

Lily has a special connection to "Chuckling Ducklings":

While reviewing "Chuckling Ducklings," Gracie played reporter:

I love Isaac's laugh.  Here he is, cracking up, after showing Gracie his own fan art for "Animals Home Alone":

I've saved this clip to close with.  I'm thrilled with what Gracie told me here about reviewing books and the impact it makes on her.  Awesome.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Review #94: Animals Home Alone

Dad:  We've got a great book here by Loes Riphagen, originally published in the Netherlands.
Isaac (age 12):  "Animals Home Alone."
Lily (age 8):  It's a wordless picture book.
Dad:  And what's the premise?  A family leaves their house, and...
Gracie (age 10):  The animals are home alone.  It's about what the animals do when no one is looking.
Isaac:  I loved the idea of this book.  It's like someone took a photograph every minute in this one room.  The illustrations are drawings, not photographs.  But it's like every minute someone takes another picture, and then another one, and then another one.
Gracie:  The scenery is always the same -- the setting -- the background.  But all the characters in the book keep doing these different little crazy things.  It's pretty funny.
Lily:  See, the bird chases the moth all around the room.  So on one page they are in one place in the room, and on the next page he is in different place chasing the moth...
Isaac:  It's like one of those Search and Find books.  On every page, things are always different -- all the little things that happen.  All the animals in the house are doing funny stuff.
Lily:  The animals messed everything up inside the house.
Dad:  There's way more than one story going on at the same time.
Lily:  There's two stories... three stories... four stories... five stories.
Isaac:  More like a hundred.
Lily:  Lots of stories.
Isaac:  The little moths are getting into mischief.  And the cockroaches are evil.  I like the cockroaches.  They are always making the most trouble.  One time they go swimming in the toilet.  One time they crash a toy car into the steps.
Elijah (age 5):  And one of those little guys knocked the jelly down.
Isaac:  Jelly got everywhere.
Elijah:  They were naughty bugs.
Lily:  One time they drew a moustache on grandma!
Elijah:  My favorite guy was the yellow elephant.  He collected a whole bunch of yellow toys and stuff.  Maybe he didn't know which one he wanted.  And he fell in love with a bunny.
Gracie:  The elephant and the bunny fall in love.  Then they give each other smoochies.  And have baby bunny-phants.
Lily:  I like the fish.  Because he's awesome!
Gracie:  The fish is very funny.
Elijah:  On every page we have to try to find the little fish.
Dad:  He kept swimming in funny places.
Isaac:  And the pig pretty much ate everything.
Gracie:  The pig eats everything he can get his hands on.
Dad:  Would you have wanted any of those animals for a pet?
Elijah:  NO.  Only if they were not knocking stuff over.
Lily:  I'd want to have the cat that could talk on the phone.  He could do business calls for me.
Dad:  Did it feel like we were "reading" the book?
Lily:  It felt like "playing" the book.
Isaac:  It was really awesome.  I love this book.  It's just so funny.
Gracie:  I think it's special because on every page, every time you read it, you notice something different.
Dad:  So even though we just read it, you're not done with it...
Isaac:  I'd want to read it again.
Gracie:  I'd want to read it tons and tons of times, over and over again.  Just to see something else I didn't notice.  Every time you read it, it's a thousand new experiences.
Dad:  Now, some of the animals were pets - but not all of them.
Lily:  Some of them came out of strange places.  The fish was a real pet, but the bear came out of a picture frame.
Elijah:  And the pig came out a book.
Gracie:  And the elephant came out of a drawing.  That's why he is yellow.
Dad:  Do you think anything turns alive at our house while we're not looking?  Like, the pictures on your walls?
Gracie:  That explains it!  I clean my room, and every time I leave for a few seconds, I come back and it's trashed again.
Dad:  Those animals came from weird places, but they also left in some fun ways too...
Elijah:  The bear went onto the t.v. because he wanted the honey so bad.
Lily:  I might want to go into a movie.
Gracie:  I'd go into a dictionary so I'd know everything naturally.
Isaac:  The evil cockroaches got flushed down the toilet.  The cat flushed them.
Gracie:  Because they were splashing him with toilet water.
Elijah:  "Hey - hey - get us out of here! Agh!"
Dad:  What do you think the people will do when they come back home and see the mess?
Lily:  Freak out!  They will be shocked.
Gracie:  If you lived with THOSE animals, you probably shouldn't be shocked.
Dad:  So you think the owners have dealt with this before?
Gracie:  Well, it's not like that's the first time they ever left the house in their whole entire life.  So they are probably used to it.
Dad:  I don't think I'd ever leave the house if it always looked like that when I came back.

bunny, elephant, and baby bunny-phant; by Elijah

fish in the jam jar, by Lily

pig eats... everyone, by Gracie

And lastly, moth meets bird, by Isaac:

Author/Illustrator: Loes Riphagen
Published, 2011: Seven Footer Press
Like it?  Here it is

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On the News!

A couple weeks ago, the Z-Kids were IN the news...  and now they've popped up ON the news!  Our local T.V. station ran a feature on Bookie Woogie last night, and the segment is now online.  Click below to see the kids talkin' and wigglin' and readin' some books:

And here's a teaser that ran on the morning news:

Some of the books you might have noticed on there:
• Flamingos on the Roof by Calef Brown
• Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex
• The Wonder Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paul Schmid
• Chuckling Ducklings by Aaron Zenz
• Pssst! by Adam Rex
• Max Spaniel by David Catrow
• Knuckleheads by Joan Holub and Michael Slack

Thanks much to Tara Kuhnlein for the fun interview and nicely crafted news stories!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Review #93: Bone

When Isaac, Grace, Lily, and I recorded our very first Bookie Woogie review, Elijah was only 2 years old.  Over the years he's started joining in... slowly... more and more... bit by little bit.  I think he's participated in around 15 reviews so far.  And now that he's five years old, his contributions have started becoming more substantial.

Recently I decided that here on the blog we'll diverge from our group reviews from time to time for some One on One conversations with the kids about books.  And today Elijah gets his own moment in the spotlight!

Dad:  So tell us Elijah... What books did you and Dad just finish reading together?  We read them special, just you and I.
Elijah (age 5):  Bone.
Dad:  Yep, by Jeff Smith.  And how would you describe these books?
Elijah:  I don't know which they are out of these two things... chapter books or comic books.
Dad:  It's kind of a mix of the two.  Nowadays they would call them "graphic novels."  That just means a really long comic book that is divided into chapters.  So you are right - they are a bit of both.
Elijah:  But it isn't the longest story in the world.  There are other books that are way longer than Bone.
Dad:  So, what is a Bone?  Are these like the bones in your body?
Elijah:  They are a different kind of Bone.  Bones are like people, only they are white and they have really big noses.
Dad:  Who is the hero of the books?
Elijah:  Fone Bone.  He never wears clothes.
Dad:  And who are the Bone Cousins?
Elijah:  Phoney Bone is the one with a star on his shirt.  And Smiley Bone has a jacket.  Smiley also has a big nose, and his head is longer than the others.  I think I'm the goodest at drawing Smiley Bone.
Dad:  What kind of adventures do the Bones have?
Elijah:  They explore.  Like climbing high, high mountains.  And exploring woods and stuff like that.  Sometimes they stick together, but they always keep getting spread apart.
Dad:  They do, don't they!  And when they split up, it's always in different combinations.  So what happens in the stories?
Elijah:  There are these Rat Creatures.  They are trying to catch the Bone people.  Because they are hungry.  To the Rat Creatures, the Bones look yummy.  But to us, the Bones just look cool.
Dad:  So Rat Creatures are the bad guys.
Elijah:  Except for one.  His name is Bartleby.  He isn't mean -- he's a good Rat Creature.  He's a young, young Rat Creature.  He's on the Bones' side.
Dad:  So, we've got Bone guys and Rat Creatures.  Is that it?
Elijah:  No, no.  There's an old lady - her name is Grandma Ben.  She is super strong with cows.
Dad:  She can lift cows.
Elijah:  And she's faster than cows.  Stuff like that.  And she has a girl named Thorn.  And Fone Bone is in loooooooove with Thorn.  He writes secret love letters, but he never tells her.
Dad:  So there are some human characters too.
Elijah:  Oh - and there is one more character.  Her name is Briar.  And they call her "The Hooded One."
Dad:  You loved it every time she took her hood off...
Elijah:  No.  I hated it.  She freaks me out with her face.
Dad:  So what else happens in the books?
Elijah:  There are a lot of big wars.  All the bad guys and the good guys -- everybody in the whole world of Bone -- they are all attacking.
Dad:  That's the main storyline, right.  There is a big war coming.  The Rat Creatures are on one side, and the good humans are on the other side.
Elijah:  And also the dragon.  You know... the dragon with the fluffies on his ears.
Dad:  How would you describe these stories?  Funny?  Or exciting?  Or scary?
Elijah:  Cool.
Dad:  Cool?
Elijah:  Yeah.  They are just cool.  Mostly I always said, "Can we read it now?  Can we read it now?  Can we read it now?"  I never wanted to stop.
Dad:  Why did you like them so much?
Elijah:  I liked them because they are exciting.  I don't know my favorite part, but they are fun and exciting.  There were tons and tons and tons of scary parts.  But not too scary.
Dad:  So who would like these books?
Elijah:  My friend Nathan would like them.  And boys in my classes at church.  Some boys.  But for some boys, it would freak them out.  But it wouldn't freak Nathan out.  For Nathan, he would think it was really cool.
Dad:  You and I had read these together, just the two of us for our special reading time.  But the other kids in our family are reading them too.
Elijah:  Everyone is reading them.  Except for Mom.  And Maggie.  Because Maggie is not old enough to read.
Dad:  How old is Maggie?
Elijah:  Three months.
Dad:  She doesn't do much reading.
Elijah:  Yeah.
Dad:  So, what was your favorite part?
Elijah:  I liked it all.
Dad:  Was there a funniest part?
Elijah:  When Bartleby said his first words.
Dad:  We didn't expect him to talk, did we...
Elijah:  It was a surprise.
Dad:  I was reading along, and I didn't know he was going to talk -- I was just as surprised as you -- and I had to quick make up a voice on the spot.
Elijah:  I think it was the same as Ted's voice.  Ted is a little leaf monster.  Bartleby sounded really high and squeaky!
Dad:  And we cracked up.  He's just a baby rat creature.
Elijah:  When he grows up, he'll probably sound like the other rat creatures.
Dad:  Thanks for reading these books with me.  Do you remember any other books we've read together, just you and I?
Elijah:  The first book before Bone was called "James and the Giant Peach."
Dad:  You do remember!  I wondered if you would -- that was a while ago.
Elijah:  Nobody read it except just you and me.
Dad:  It's fun to read with just Dad and one kid sometimes.  Which story did you like better?
Elijah:  I don't know...  I like them the same.  Well, "James and the Giant Peach" is much longer than a Bone book.  But not with all of the books of Bone put together.  All of them put together is WAY longer.
Dad:  Tell us how many Bone books make up the whole story.
Elijah:  Nine!  And we read all nine.
Dad:  Thanks for reading these books with me.  I love you, Bud.
Elijah:  I love you too.  Now can we read Bone?  Let's go read.  Now.

all pictures by Elijah:

dragon with the fluffies on his ears


Phoney Bone

Smiley Bone

Author/Illustrator: Jeff Smith
Originally serialized 1997-2004
Collections published, 2004-2009: Scholastic
Like them?  Here they are

Monday, April 4, 2011

Review #92: Zita the Spacegirl

Dad:  What did you guys think of Zita the Spacegirl?
Kids: (cheering)  Woohoo!  Oh yeah!
Dad:  Why did she get all these cheers?
Gracie (age 10):  Because it's a cool book!
Dad:  And how about the author?
Gracie:  Ben Hatke, you rock!  Woo!
Dad:  We saw videos of him on his website.
Isaac (age 12):  He can jump through flaming hoops of fire!
Gracie:  And I saw this really detailed, really pretty painting on his website.  It was a sword and a stack of books and a shell.
Dad:  So, tell me about this book.
Isaac:  It's awesome and everyone should read it.
Dad:  What was awesome about it?
Lily (age 8):  Space Monsters.
Elijah (age 5):  All these awesome aliens and monster guys.
Isaac:  I love graphic novels.
Gracie:  The book is all about this girl named Zita.  She and her friend Joseph find a meteoroid with a button in it.  Zita pushes the button, and her friend gets sucked into an alien world.
Elijah:  He went to the space-guy world where there is all kinds of alien things and monsters and things like that.  Then Zita had to go in there to save him.
Lily:  She has to save him from the guys with long black arms that capture people.
Isaac:  An asteroid is going to hit the alien planet, so Zita has to find Joseph and get back to earth before that world explodes.
Dad:  So what's most fun about this book?
Isaac:  All the little alien people.
Gracie:  They are so cute!
Isaac:  They are curious little creatures.
Dad:  Tell me about some of the friends Zita makes.
Gracie:  Mouse is a giant mouse that can't talk -- so instead he's got this little machine that pops out these little paper messages, like - chick-ching.
Elijah:  It's the hugest mouse in the whole world.  Zita travels by riding on it.
Dad:  Would that be fun?  Would you like to ride on a giant mouse?
Elijah:  No way!  It might go too fast.
Dad:  Who was your favorite guy Lily?
Lily:  I like Strong-Strong.  He's big.  Really tall.  And strong.
Elijah:  He's a monster.  But not too smart.
Lily:  No, he's not too smart, but I want him for a friend.  I want him to be my friend.
Isaac:  I want to tell you who my favorite guy is.  It is One.  One is this super battle robot.
Elijah:  I think he's a cherry.  Because he is round and red.  He flies.
Dad:  He's a flying cherry robot?
Elijah:  Hee hee, Yeah!
Isaac:  Actually, there are lots of these super battle robots that are like super guards.  There is a One, a Five, and an Eight.  They each have a special power.  Five shoots a tracking beacon, and all these barnacle bombs fly out of him.  Eight's body can open up, and he has all these razor sharp slashers.  And One has a laser.
Elijah:  And there is another robot named Randy.  He squeaks.  He's not a brave robot.  Look on the back cover...  He's a scaredy cat.
Gracie:  Randy is a nervous wreck.
Dad:  My favorites were the little whacker guys.
Gracie:  Those are the cute ones.
Lily:  They are little blue men with giant sticks that whack people.
Dad:  They are hilarious.  I love them.
Gracie:  My favorite guy was Piper.  He's pretty awesome.  He's handsome.  He's very handsome.  If he were real, I would definitely have a crush on him.  He's handsome, and he's got this cool magic flute that makes people dance and get so tired that they fall asleep.
Dad:  Would you say he is a good guy?
Gracie:  Kinda.  He's kind of someone who just wants his ship fueled up so he can leave.  But toward the end he starts being on Zita's side.  Hey - there's a story arc with Piper!
Dad:  Good phrase!  Tell me about it.
Gracie:  At first he only cares about himself... and money... and fuel for his ship... and getting off the planet before it explodes.  But by the end he really, really puts his life on the line for Zita.
Dad:  So there are lots of cool creatures in this book.
Gracie:  It is a collection of rather strange friends.
Isaac:  And exciting adventures.
Dad:  Do you hope there will be more Zita books?
Gracie:  I think there might be more stories coming.  Because it says Book One on the cover, so there's got to be more.  And Zita never got home!  She has to go home still.

Mouse and Zita, by Lily

Piper, by Gracie

cast of characters, by Isaac

Strong-Strong and the whacker guys, by Elijah

Author/Illustrator: Ben Hatke
Watch: the author jump through fire
Published, 2011: First Second
Like it?  Here it is