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
Like 'em? Find 'em

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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Monday, November 24, 2008

Review #4: Holes

Dad:  For our bedtime story, we recently spent a few nights reading "Holes" by Louis Sachar...
Gracie (age 8):  It's about digging holes.
Isaac (age 10):  It was exciting.  There were lots of parts where, at first you don't understand what's happening, but later in the book it tells you more about it.
Gracie:  Like Stanley's dirty rotten, pig stealing, great-great-grandfather!
Dad:  So that's an example where, at first you don't understand who he was...
Isaac:  Yeah - but now we know why they called him that.
Gracie:  Dirty rotten, pig stealing, great-great-grandfather!
Dad:  I like how there were a whole bunch of things that seemed separate from each other, but as the book goes on...
Isaac: ...all the stories start combining into one.
Dad:  So what happens?
Isaac:  Zero ran away from the camp because he was mad, and Stanley chased after him...
Gracie:  Camp Green Lake -- it's a terrible camp.  You would rather go to jail than that camp.
Isaac:  He was gone for eight or nine days, and there was no water or anything.  But he brought his shovel with him, and he dug a hole under a boat that said "Mary Lou," and they found some old spiced peaches...
Gracie:  Sam the Onion Man had a donkey named Mary Lou.  But Zero and Stanley thought the boat was named after a person, not a donkey.  They said, "Man, she must have been important if someone named a boat after her.  I bet she looked great in a bathing suit next to her boyfriend."  That was SO FUNNY!  I'm imagining Mary Lou in a bathing suit right now, and it is HILARIOUS!  Do you hear me people?  HILARIOUS!
Isaac:  I can tell you why the kids dig holes...
Gracie:  No!  We don't want to spoil the mystery for the listeners...
Isaac:  WHAT???
Gracie:  Shame on you!
Isaac:  People are not just going to go read the book after they read this!
Dad:  Well, they might-- that's why we're doing this!  A book review is supposed to make it exciting for people so they'll want to go out and read it themselves...
Gracie:  Yah!
Dad:  So, Lily, what did you think was exciting?
Lily (age 5):  The lizards in the book had yellow spots and glowing red eyes and very sharp black teeth and a loooong white tongue.  They like to live in holes.  And no matter what, if the lizards bite you... you will have to die.
Dad:  Oh no!
Lily:  But they don't bite you if you have onion blood, because they do not eat onion blood.
Isaac:  The ending was one of the best parts.
Dad:  Gracie was so excited, she couldn't sit still!
Isaac:  They were surrounded by yellow spotted lizards in a hole...  It made me feel worried...
Gracie:  I was freaked out.  And when I'm freaked out, I jump around and get scared.
Lily:  I remember when it was happening, I didn't move at all.  I thought there was a lizard... crawling... up... my... face...
Dad:  Any last comments?
Isaac:  It's a good book.  You really should read it.  I wish I could tell you more about it... but I can't.  They won't let me.

spitting into the hole, by Lily

Mary Lou in a bathing suit, by Gracie

yellow spotted lizard, by Isaac

Author: Louis Sachar
Published, 1998: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Review #3: "Little Hoot" and "Little Pea"

Dad:  Today's books are "Little Hoot" and "Little Pea," both of them written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jen Corace.
Isaac (age 10):  This is our first ever double Bookie Woogie!
Lily (age 5):  Little Hoot did not like bedtime because he always had to stay up late, late, late.  "Little Pea" was about a pea, and he did not like candy at all.  For dinner, peas eat candy, candy, candy.
Gracie (age 8):  I would like eating candy all day...
Lily:  Well, it's kind of weird because People always have things that are healthy for dinner and things that aren't healthy for dessert.  But in the book they switched it around.  The candy first and the dinner after.
Gracie:  They're the opposite -- all kids want to stay up late, and all kids want to have candy for dinner.
Isaac:  No they don't...  not all kids...
Gracie:  I want to have candy for dinner!
Lily:  Well, I like peas...
Isaac:  But some kids don't like vegetables, so in the story they tell it from a different point of view, so kids will understand.  Little Hoot and Little Pea are the opposite.
Lily: ...I also like candy!  I like red, orange, yellow, polka-dot, striped, swirly kind...
Isaac:  These books teach you to --
Gracie: -- They teach you to stay up late and to eat candy for dinner!
Isaac:  So...  you want to be a Mutant Pea Owl?
All:  Hahahahahahah...
Dad:  Do I ever say things like Papa Pea does?
Gracie:  Here's what I sound like: "How much tuna fish do I have to eat?"  Then you say, "Eat eight pieces because you are 8."  "WHAT?"
Isaac:  I have to eat more food because I'm 10.  Big bites too!  I wish I was 3!
Gracie:  Do you think Little Pea knows he is going to be eaten?  Like Arnie the Doughnut... peas get eaten also.
Isaac:  The peas eat spinach -- that's practically a vegetable like they are!  Why in the world would they pick that!
Dad:  Spinach isn't alive, silly boy...
Gracie:  Peas aren't alive, crazy dad!
Dad:  Sure they are -- look in the picture: they're all happy, bouncing around...
Gracie:  Uugh!  I'm never eating a pea again!
Isaac:  Little Pea must be microscopic.  All the peas in his family are already small, so he must be super tiny.
Gracie:  I think those peas live in Pealand.
Dad:  So tell everybody what the pictures look like...
Isaac:  The pictures are watercolors.  The lines are sketchy.
Gracie:  Little Pea just has eyes, a mouth, and freckles.
Isaac:  The pictures only show the things they need to show.  Like in that picture, it only has the pea and the pieces of candy on the plate.  And the words.
Gracie:  And what about his shadow...
Isaac:  Everything else is white.  This is a white world.
Dad:  That's called using "White Space"
Isaac:  I like it.
Gracie:  You don't have to draw as much.
Isaac:  It must have just taken three days to draw.
(Gracie begins flipping through Little Hoot, then points at a picture)
Gracie:  Look - that owl just died!
All:  Hahahahahaha...
Isaac:  I think he only fell out of his chair.  And the teacher doesn't care one bit.
Gracie:  He died!
Dad:  Little Hoot doesn't even need to turn his body around to look at him...
Gracie:  Owls can turn their heads backwards.
Lily:  I can do that!
Isaac:  Elijah is the opposite of Little Hoot.  Every night he always wants water...  always wants a hundred "bookies" read to him.
Lily:  If I could, I would stay up all night and watch Dad draw.
Dad: ...because I work at night sometimes.
Lily:  I like to see how you draw.
Gracie:  I would stay up late and watch Phantom of the Opera.
Isaac:  In this picture, the only person outside with Little Hoot is a bat.
Dad:  Why is a bat a good choice.
Gracie:  Because owls eat bats?
All:  Hahahahhahahah...
Dad:  I don't think he's going to eat him!
Lily:  It's because bats and owls stay out at night...
Gracie:  He's going to eat him!  Owls do eat bats...
Dad:  We already talked about some ways these two books are alike.  Are there any other ways they are similar?
Isaac:  Both the characters are "Little."
Gracie:  They are both written by the same person.
Isaac:  Both books end with a joke: "They 'owl' lived happily ever after."
Gracie:  And: "They lived hap-PEA-ly ever after."
Dad:  Do you think they'll make a third book?  What other things don't kids like to do?
Gracie:  Cleaning up!
Isaac:  They could do Little Pig!
Gracie:  Yeah!
Isaac:  It could end: "Hap-Piggily Ever After..."
All:  Hahahahahahhah...

Little Hoot's daydream, by Isaac

Little Hoot and Mama Hoot, by Lily

Little Pea's nightmare, by Gracie

pea family snowman, by Lily

Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrator: Jen Corace
"Little Pea" published 2005, "Little Hoot" 2008: Chronicle Books
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Review #2: Arnie the Doughnut

Dad:  Today's book is "Arnie the Doughnut" by Laurie Keller.
Isaac (age 10):  This is probably the funniest book we have.
Lily (age 5):  I picked it out today!
Isaac:  It's about this doughnut that got made at the doughnut store in the morning.  A person named Mr. Bing - he has a big oval head - he picked Arnie the doughnut and brought him back to his house to eat him...
Lily:  I know why Arnie has sprinkle eyebrows - Arnie is a sprinkle doughnut!
Isaac: ...when they got to his house Arnie screamed.  Mr. Bing decided not to eat him, and they made lists of things he could do instead.  But Arnie and Mr. Bing didn't like any of the ideas so Arnie left.  But after Arnie got to the 'no dogs allowed' sign, Mr Bing ran as fast as he could up to him with a new idea...
Dad:  How did Laurie Keller make these pictures?
Isaac:  They're made out of a whole bunch of different things...
Gracie (age 8):  Cut paper!
Isaac:  Paint.  Pencil.
Lily:  This part is made out of marker.
Isaac:  A stamp.
Gracie:  Cut magazines.
Isaac:  She took some kind of paper, like newspaper or something, and she put a little paint on it.
Lily:  That road is not cut newspaper...  it's made out of a map thing!
Dad: ...which is a good choice for a road, isn't it.
Isaac:  Yeah!  A map!
Lily:  So you know where to go!
Gracie:  "Where do I go?  I'll look on the road!"
Isaac:  The story has a lot of these little side things.  She makes the main story, but off to the sides there are a lot of little guys that are talking.
Gracie:  They're fun and funny.
Isaac:  Like, one guy says, "The French word for 'me' is 'Mo-wee'..."
Gracie:  Moi!
Isaac: ...then the guy says, "Arnie learned that from 'mo-wee'..."
Gracie:  Moi!!!
Isaac:  I can't say it!
Gracie:  "Moi."
Dad:  Lily, why did you choose this book today?
Lily:  Because it makes me feel happy.  And it makes me feel like I want to eat a doughnut.  A sprinkled one!
Gracie:  It makes me NOT want to eat a sprinkle doughnut!  Because of Arnie, I'm not going to ever eat another sprinkle doughnut.
Lily:  I like the doughnut with the blue frosting on it.
Gracie:  I would eat Eclair - that looks good!  Eclair looks like a yummy one.
Lily:  Arnie is in love with Apple Fritter.
Gracie:  Arnie is very dramatic: "You are trying to EAT ME!!!"  I bet Mr. Bing was shocked when he heard that...  I bet he thought, "This doughnut is magical...  This doughnut is freaking me out..."
Dad:  Does your food ever talk to you?
Gracie:  I pretend it does...  "I want to go into the big cave... Wait - it's not a cave, it's a mouth!"  Maybe when Laurie Keller was a kid, she talked to her food.
Dad:  Why don't the other doughnuts care that they are going to be eaten?
Isaac:  They know what's coming.
Lily:  They are bored.
Gracie:  They like the sound of tummies?
Dad:  Why didn't Arnie want to be eaten?
Gracie:  Well I would never want to be eaten.
Dad:  But you're not a doughnut.  You're a person.
Gracie:  I know, but still...  Arnie feels like me.
Dad:  Oh...
Gracie:  Dinosaurs eat people!
Dad:  Uh...
Gracie:  Dinosaurs don't eat doughnuts.
Dad:  What... what are you talking about?
(Laughter from all....)
Gracie:  I have no idea...
Dad:  Now that Mr. Bing and Arnie are together, do you think he will ever be able to buy more doughnuts to eat?
Isaac:  His doughnut days are over forever.  Now it's ice cream days!
Lily:  Maybe he'll buy more doughnuts to be Arnie's friends...

sprinkle sprinkle, by Isaac

Arnie the doughnut, by Lily

"Hey, that dog looks like Arnie," by Gracie

Author/Illustrator: Laurie Keller
Published, 2003: Henry Holt
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Monday, November 3, 2008

Review #1: The Dog Who Belonged to No One

Dad:  We just read "The Dog Who Belonged to No One."  It's written by Amy Hest, and the pictures are by Amy Bates...
Gracie (age 8):  Amy...  Amy...  hello Amy and other Amy!
Dad:  So tell me about this book.
Lily (age 5):  I think it's great!
Isaac (age 10):  It's about a dog and a girl...
Gracie:  A "wisp" of a girl!
Isaac: ...who were both lonely and wished they had someone to be their friend...
Gracie:  (dramatically) that makes me cry.
Isaac: ...then they met each other, so their wishes were fulfilled.  The dog's story and the girl's story were kind of the exact same.
Dad:  In what ways?
Isaac:  They both needed a friend.
Gracie:  And she lived in a crooked house - a VERY crooked house - and he had crooked ears!
Isaac:  Also, they both tried to outrun the storm.  They were both soaked to the bone.  They both went to the same house.  They both had the exact same dream.
Gracie:  They both "tucked themselves inside themselves."
Isaac:  Yeah, I think there are nice words in this book.  They are different than other words.  Like, "a wisp of a girl" and "they tucked themselves inside themselves."
Dad:  Yes, very creative descriptions.
  I just realized something about this book - I don't know if it's a coincidence or not.  But in the story the dog and the girl are alike in a lot of ways, and look at this: (flipping to the cover) Amy Hest and Amy Bates.  They have the exact same name!
Dad:  That is cool...  And what about the pictures?  This illustrator is one of my new favorite-favorites.  She's the same lady that did the pictures for --
Gracie:  Babymouse?
Dad:  No - not Babymouse.  She did the pictures for that thanksgiving book we have, "Give Thanks to the Lord."  Do you remember that one?  We just got it.
Gracie:  No.  But I remember Babymouse.
Dad:  Do you have a favorite picture from this book?
Lily:  The picture on the back.
Gracie:  Yes, that's my favorite too.
Dad:  Tell me about it...
Lily:  There's a girl and a dog with cooked ears...
Gracie:  The girl doesn't have crooked ears.
Dad:  Why is this one your favorite?
Lily:  Because he's happy, and he's cute, and he has his tongue sticking out, and his tongue is dark red, and I like dark red.
Gracie:  And I love her hat!  It looks like something from France.
(Opening up the book)  That's a sad picture, isn't it.
Isaac:  Isn't there a thing you can do with colors - to make you feel happy or sad...
Dad:  Yep...  What do you notice about the colors when the dog is sad?
Isaac:  Purple, dark blue...
Dad:  What about this happy page?
Isaac:  Yellows and whites and bright colors.  The only blue here is like... aqua.
Dad:  Do you remember what that's called?
Gracie:  Warm colors and Dark colors.
Dad:  Not dark... what's the opposite of warm?
Gracie:  Cold.
Dad:  Almost.  "Cool" colors.  So when things are happy...
Gracie:  They are yellow and red.
Dad:  And when things are sad...
Gracie:  They are blue and purple.
Dad:  You know what Dad thought was fun about this book?  They could have put a picture on this page and just plain words on the other side.  But look what they did.  There are all these neat borders around the words.
Isaac:  Oh yeah!  And they made the border into a... wagon?
Dad:  I think it's her bicycle wheels.  And what's on the pages with the dog...
Gracie:  Aww!  Dog prints!
Dad:  It's how they both move - paw prints because he walks...
Gracie:  And bicycle wheels because she rides!
Dad:  That dog in the book never got a name did he?  What do you think his name will be now that they belong to each other?  If you saw a little cutie-dog like that, what would you name him?
Lily:  I have an idea, but I don't know if it's going to be a good name...
Dad:  What?
Lily:  "Sweetie Pie" ...hee hee
Dad:  Sweetie Pie!  I think that is a good name!
Gracie:  He's an adorable dog.

Lia and the dog, by Gracie

the dog who belonged to no one, by Isaac

"Sweetie Pie," by Lily

Author: Amy Hest
Illustrator: Amy Bates
Published, 2008: Abrams Books for Young Readers
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