Monday, November 21, 2011

Review #112: Tales of the Kingdom

Dad:  What do you have to say about "Tales of the Kingdom"?
Isaac (age 13):  It's a very good "family book."  It's a good book for families to read together.
Gracie (age 11):  It's for all ages.
Dad:  It's one that people will want to read over the course of many days.
Gracie:  There are many stories in this book.
Lily (age 8):  But they are all about the same persons.
Gracie:  "People."
Lily:  The stories are kind of like parables of the Bible, only these are about now-a-day persons.
Gracie:  "People."
Dad:  Tell me what a parable is...
Lily:  In the Bible, Jesus uses parables - like the Parable of the Lost Sheep.  There was this shepherd who had 100 sheeps...
Gracie:  "Sheep."
Lily:  But he lost one.  So he left the 99 sheeps...
Gracie:  "Sheep."
Lily: find the lost one.
Dad:  Why did Jesus teach in parables?  Was that necessarily a true story about a real shepherd?
Lily:  No.
Dad:  So what was the point?
Gracie:  So we can learn that God cares about all his children.  Or "childs."  Lily would say "childs."
Dad:  So the purpose of listening to a parable is...
Lily:  To learn stuff.
Gracie:  Learning through a story you can relate to.
Dad:  So that was a biblical parable.  Now let's talk about "Tales of the Kingdom."  The first time we read through this, years ago, we read a chapter every night before bedtime.
Gracie:  The second time we read it, you read it in front of our Sunday School class.
Dad:  Yep.  Every so often I spend some weeks reading through the book before our Bible lessons.  I've read through the book 4 or 5 times now in Sunday School over the last 10 years.  It's a book I would highly recommend to people looking for quality moral stories with great writing.
Gracie:  And the pictures in this book are AMAZING.  They have such cool borders and details.
Isaac:  The stories are about this kid named Scarboy who lives in the Enchanted City.  This evil ruler guy, the Enchanter, hates the sun -- so he makes everyone sleep in the daytime and wake up at night so he can use his fire and magic.  Scarboy's parents die, so he's going to become the Enchanter's slave and he has to get branded.  So he tries to run away with his little brother.
Gracie:  What was the little brother's name?
Dad:  Wasn't it "Little Brother"?
Lily:  Small Child.
Dad:  Little Child?
Isaac:  Small Person.
Gracie:  Teenie Weenie Little Boy.
Isaac:  So Scarboy and his brother run away to this place called Great Park.  I bet it's great.
Gracie:  Great Park is a place for outcasts.
Lily:  It's a good happy place.
Gracie:  With trees.  Enchanted City didn't have trees.
Lily:  The good king is there, and he disguises himself as an old beggar.
Dad:  Who is your favorite character in Great Park?
Isaac:  Caretaker is awesome.  He wears a tree-hat.  He has all these cool little pockets and a hat with a tree on top of it.
Gracie:  My favorite is Princess Amanda.
Dad:  She's my favorite too.
Gracie:  Princess Amanda is a girl who wears overalls and sneakers.  Scarboy thinks she's crazy.
Lily:  But she's not.
Isaac:  She can spit with perfect aim.  She can knock rocks off of fences.
Dad:  We talked earlier about parables.  Give me an example of one of the parables in this book.
Isaac:  Every year these dragons come and lay eggs in Great Park.  And every year the kids have to find the eggs like in an Easter egg hunt and give them to Caretaker.
Lily:  They had a sign that said you are not allowed to keep the eggs.
Isaac:  But this one year, Princess Amanda kept one.  She figured, "What harm could a little tiny baby dragon do?"  And she loved it.  She never told Caretaker about it.
Lily:  She wanted a nice pet.  She had a little hideout in a tree-cave.  But the dragon got too big for it, and she couldn't hide it there any more.
Isaac:  Over a long time it grew bigger and bigger, and finally it got too big for her to control, and it burned down half of Great Park.
Lily:  Princess Amanda almost died by the dragon.
Dad:  Since these are "lesson stories," does that mean they are lame?  Are they boring?
Lily:  No - they are awesome!  They are very adventurous.
Dad:  That dragon one is so exciting.  You don't know what is going to happen.  And it doesn't wrap up nicely -- Amanda doesn't get out of it perfectly fine, does she?
Gracie:  She becomes bitter.
Lily:  She becomes evil.  She has to go to Mercy because she gets all burned up.
Dad:  So what could somebody learn from that parable?
Isaac:  You could learn about lying.  You might think that one little lie won't hurt.  But it can lead to more and more until it gets too big to handle.
Dad:  The book never comes out and says, "This teaches you about the dangers of sin..."  Do you think it needs to?  Do you think kids are smart enough to make the connections?
Gracie:  Some kids are smart enough.  But some kids are little dummies.

Caretaker, by Isaac

Enchanter's Burner chasing Scarboy, by Lily

Princess Amanda and the dragon, by Gracie

Authors: David and Karen Mains
Illustrator: Jack Stockman
Published, 1983: Lamplighter Publishing
Like it?  Here it is

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review #111: Blue Chicken

Dad:  Today we're taking a look at "Blue Chicken" by Deborah Freedman.
Lily (age 8):  I wonder if she lives on a farm?
Dad:  So, tell us about this book.
Lily:  Blue Chicken is about a chicken who wanted to help paint the barn.
Gracie (age 11):  Never let a chicken help you paint.  Never.
Isaac (age 13):  They'll just mess it up.
Gracie:  There is a drawing of a farm, and the little animals in the picture come to life.
Lily:  The artist wasn't done with her painting yet.  The barn hadn't been colored in.  Then the chicken comes out of the picture and goes over to the blue paint.  Then it splashed, and she got everything blue.  Everybody in the painting got blue, all the cows, all the chickens, all the ducks.
Dad:  Oh dear.
Lily:  So the chicken runs over to a glass of water.  She throws a duck, and he plops in the bucket, and the water splashes all over the place, and everybody got washed off, and I love this page.  It's awesome.
Gracie:  The picture looks so watery.
Isaac:  Deborah Freedman is very good at watercolors.  There's one page where it looks like actual water ripples.  How would you do that?
Gracie:  I like that page.
Isaac: (continuing to flip through the pages)  And that's a really amazing picture too.  See how she can make the water look like it's tipping over and starting to spill out...
Dad:  There are so many different handlings of water in this book.  She can make water look still, and she can make it look splashy.
Isaac:  There's big splashes. And there's also little tiny drips seeping out.
Gracie:  Dribbles.
Isaac:  And puddles.
Dad:  Characters wading in water.  Characters swimming in the water.
Lily:  And rain water.
Dad:  Water is seen inside the full glass.  And it looks different than the water seen behind, through the empty glass.
Isaac:  Shadows in the water.  And reflections in the water.  She's really good at this.
Dad:  What did you guys like besides all the paintings of water?
Lily:  That duckling.
Dad:  Ducks are your favorite.
Lily:  I'm pretty sure the duck and the chicken are best friends.  The duck follows her around.  And the duck wasn't angry at the chicken.  And he let the chicken throw him into the jar.
Dad:  What if you left one of your pictures, and when you came back, more of it was finished?
Gracie:  I did that once.  One time I drew a picture of a boy running.  And I came back later...
Isaac:  Ohhhh ho ho...
Gracie:  And there was a little monster shooting bullets everywhere, climbing on his shoulder!
Isaac:  Ha ha ha hee hee ha ha hah!
Dad:  Hmm - why is Isaac laughing so hard I wonder?
Lily:  Oh yeah, that was Isaac.
Dad:  Are you saying Isaac is a "Blue Chicken"?
Lily:  Yes.
Isaac:  I was trying to finish the picture.
Dad:  Maybe that can be our new code word.  Anytime something bad happens to one of our drawings... "You... Blue Chicken!"
Gracie:  "Darn you, Blue Chicken, you!"
Dad:  Would you like your pictures to come to life?
Lily:  If I were going to draw a picture to come alive, I would draw a duck.  A trained duck.  A duck that is trained to eat warmed-up broccoli.  Then we could eat it together.
Dad:  You guys know who Deborah Freedman is, right?
Lily:  She did "Scribble"!
Gracie:  This book is so similar to "Scribble."  They each have themes of color.  They each have pictures of animals that come to life.
Lily:  She takes a similar idea and twists it.
Gracie:  She's creative.  Who else would have thought of a Blue Chicken?
Lily:  I love this book like the dickens.  The dickens and the chickens.

blue chicken, by Isaac

chicken splashes duckling, by Lily

splash-off between blue duckling & orange chicken, by Gracie

Author/Illustrator: Deborah Freedman
Published, 2011: Viking
Like it? Here it is

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Audio Snippets V

This is our fifth batch of Audio Snippets... those memorable moments compiled from the recordings we make when reviewing books for Bookie Woogie.  I think it will also be the final Audio Snippet post -- in the future, when worthy bits of audio review come along, I'll simply add them to this post here.  So feel free to check back to this one from time to time...

If you've watched our video rendition of "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" and stayed for the credits, then you've heard this first one already.  But it's worth another listen!

We had a lot of fun making that video.  Even 3-year-old sister Evie wanted to join in:

In the "Goose Girl," the main character can communicate with animals.  Mom has a question that she would ask an opossum we saw.  Isaac has the possum's possible answer:

Dan Yaccarino?

Here's a clip from our "Ribbit, Rabbit" review.  Anyone who wants to create book reviews by interviewing children must be insane.  Certifiably insane.  Need evidence?

Of course at other times, it can be lots of fun.  Gracie gets ready to review "The Complete Peanuts":

During our "Sidekicks" review, we exercised some self-censorship:

"The Watcher" tells about Jane Goodall's life observing chimps.  Elijah would like to go back in time to study dinosaurs.  Although, he already thinks he knows where baby dinosaurs come from:

Apparently, the whole time our family was reading "The Black Cauldron," Lily thought a "cauldron" was a type of book:

We also read "Wonderstuck."  Maybe Lily knows what a "gutter" is:

Toward the end of our Skype interview with Jarrett Krosoczka, he started saying some really nice things about us.  While that was going on, more and more of our kids began walking into view.  I love the shock in his voice as he notices!