Monday, January 26, 2009

Review #13: Knuckleheads

Dad:  We're all gathered around a special secret package that came in the mail!  From a very nice person...
Isaac (age 10):  It looks like a book!
Dad:  And we're going to record a Bookie Woogie review as we unveil it...
Isaac:  "Knuckleheads!"  This one looks good.
Dad:  So, what do the characters look like?
Isaac:  Hands...
Gracie (age 8):  That's why they're called Knuckleheads.
Isaac:  I think that's a nose though...
Dad:  Yep.  "Nose White"  Here are the four stories in the book: "Handsel and Gretel," "Handerella," "Thumbelina," and "Nose White."
Isaac:  I want to see this book!  I want to read!  I want to read!
Dad:  Wowsers, you're excited...  Okay this is "Knuckle Heads," written by Joan Holub, illustrated by Michael Slack.
Gracie:  I want to read "Handerella" first!
Isaac:  I want to read "Thumbelina."
Dad:  Well we're going to read all of them...

Reading commences....
...Reading concludes.

Dad:  So what did you think of "Knuckleheads," you knuckleheads?
Isaac:  It's good!
Gracie:  It's really good!  Awesome!
Lily (age 5):  There was a lot of stuff with hands.
Isaac:  Hands, hands, hands, hands, and one white glove.
Gracie:  And a nose.
Isaac:  And an oven mitt.  And a foot.
Gracie:  The pictures look like "Scrambled States of America" and "Arnie the Doughnut" because the drawings are kind of cut-papery and there are little picture-thingies off to the side of the pages.
Isaac:  There were lots of jokes.
Lily:  There was "finger food..."  like, because they have fingers.
Isaac:  I realize why the police said "caught you red-handed..."  Get it - she has the red oven mitt on.
Gracie:  The evil oven mitt...
Dad:  Did you catch any other hand jokes?
Isaac:  Catch them?  The police would have to catch them.
Dad:  Ha ha...  I see you're making up your own jokes now.
Gracie:  The book had "step sisters" - get it?  Because they are made out of feet!
Lily:  And "thumbs up..."  Get it - Thumbs up!
Gracie:  "Hand in marriage..."  Get it - Hand in marriage...
Lily:  Get it!  Handing in my resignation!
Gracie:  Get it!  Shoe in!
Dad:  I kept thinking she was going to run out of hand puns, but she kept coming up with more and more.
Isaac:  Hands, hands, hands, hands...
Lily:  There were one, two, three, four stories in this book.
Dad:  How was the first story different from the normal Hansel and Gretel story?
Gracie:  It was a finger food house instead of a candy house.  They dropped fingernails instead of breadcrumbs.  And the kids didn't get along at all.
Lily:  When they got to the fingerfood eating house, that's when the bad, bad, bad, bad witch came.
Gracie:  The evil witch - she's green.  And she's evil.  And she's ugly.
Isaac:  Once she dressed up as a foot.
Gracie:  She's in every single story.  She's popular.
Dad:  She kind of ties all the stories together doesn't she.
Lily:  Get it!  Ties them!  You tie things with your fingers!
Dad:  What--  Now you're finding too many puns - even in places they don't belong!
Lily:  Hee hee!
Dad:  What did you think of the characters?
Isaac:  Hands, hands, hands, hands...
Lily:  I like Gretel.
Isaac:  I like Officer Whiteglove.  But, uggh - the teacher was freaky.
Gracie:  Thumbelina looks weird.  She's blue.
Lily:  I like her.  I think she's cute...
Isaac:  Thumbelina's story was fast.  Maybe the author did run out of jokes.
Lily:  I like Handerella.  She looked beauuuuu-ti-ful...
Gracie:  You always like all the girls.
Isaac:  I see a dog with fingers for ears...
Dad:  What is that stuff Handerella is holding -- it's disgusting.  It's got nail clippings in it.
Gracie:  Maybe it's the crud from between the step sisters' toes...
Dad:  Ewwwww...
Isaac:  Yuck.
Gracie:  The Hand-some Finger Prints had fingerprints floating over his head.
Lily:  Look at his crown - it's like fingers!
Gracie:  Oh, and this guy has weird hair on his knuckles.
Dad:  Do you see what all the guests are doing at the ball?  What are they spelling?  You guys know some sign language, don't you?
Gracie:  L - O - V - E... that's love!
Lily:  I like that girl....
Gracie:  Nose White has a ring on her nose -- which is her head.
Dad:  So, would you read "Knuckleheads" again?
Gracie:  Oh yeah baby.
Lily:  Let's read it again.  Now.
Dad:  Right now?  Guess so...  Lily is opening the pages as we speak...

handprint people, by Gracie

footprint person with toe people, by Lily

thumbprint people, by Isaac

Note: you can always click on the pictures for a larger view...

Author: Joan Holub
Illustrator: Michael Slack
Published, 2008: Chronicle Books
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Review #12: Inkheart

Dad:  We just finished reading "Inkheart" by Cornelia Funke over many, many weeks.  I didn't know if we'd make it before the movie came out, but we did.
Gracie (age 8):  This is a book about a book.
Isaac (age 10):  Yeah.  It's a book about a book named Inkheart.
Dad:  Where did the title "Inkheart" come from?
Gracie:  Because the character Capricorn had a heart as black as ink.
Lily (age 5):  Capricorn is an evil guy.  Woo-ha-ha-ha!
Dad:  There are lots of black things out there.  She could have called this "Night-heart," or "Coal-heart."  Why is "Ink" appropriate for this story?
Gracie:  Because the story is about "books" and "words."  And books are written in ink!
Lily:  Boots are also black.
Dad: (laughing)  "Boot-heart" -- because Capricorn's heart was as black as... boots!
Gracie:  Basta is another really, really bad guy who works for Capricorn, but I think Basta is even worse than his master Capricorn.  He's always threatening people.  He loves to play with his knife.
Dad:  But when we got to the end of the story, you told me that you "had feelings for Basta."  Why?
Gracie:  Because.  He's one of my favorite characters.  I don't know why, I just really like him.
Isaac:  I like Dustfinger and Farid.  And the marten, Gwin, which is a weasel-like thing...
Gracie:  And the marten had horns!
Lily:  Dustfinger could play with fire and eat fire and breathe fire.
Dad:  In the story, where did all those characters come from?
Gracie:  Well, Meggie is a girl, and she is probably the main star.  Meggie and her father Mo could actually read things out of books.
Lily:  Stuff came out!  People and animals and stuff came out of the books.
Gracie:  Mo read Basta, Capricorn, Dustfinger, and the marten Gwin into our world.  But for them to come out of the Inkheart book, four things from our world had to go in.  Unfortunately Meggie's mother went into the book.  So did two cats and some sort of bug.  After that, Mo kept trying and trying to read Meggie's mother back out of the book.
Dad:  The "Inkheart" book in this story was just invented, but there were some characters that came out of real stories too...
Gracie:  Tinkerbell came out of "Peter Pan!"  And the tin soldier came from the tin soldier story!
Dad:  The Steadfast Tin Soldier...
Gracie:  He was a weakling.
Lily:  I've never seen a real fairy.  Because they are not alive.  I want to have a pet though.  But all the pets we had died.  Like our goldfishes.  And our hamster.  Our hamster did not have horns like Gwin.
Isaac:  Farid is from the "Arabian Nights."
Lily: (singing to the tune of the Aladdin song)  "A-ra-bian Niiiiii-ights!"
Gracie:  Capricorn tries to make Meggie read the Shadow out of the book.  The Shadow is something made out of ashes.
Lily:  The Shadow is a shadow who has bright red stars for eyes.
Gracie:  Meggie is very brave.  When Elinor is trying to describe Meggie, she says "Look at your girl up there, as brave as... as..." but she couldn't think of anyone to compare because Meggie was so brave!  Braver than all the other heroes.  Plus most other heroes were men.
Isaac:  Not Wonder Woman.
Gracie:  But Meggie was even braver than Wonder Woman.
Isaac:  Meggie said that she wished that she was in a book and the person reading it would think the story was so horrible that they would just shut the book and then she'd be back at her house.
Dad:  And think about it -- she really was in a book, this book in our hands, but she didn't know!
Gracie:  Daddy, Daddy!  Read Meggie out of her book!
Dad:  Meggie didn't know she was in a book any more than Dustfinger knew he was in a book inside this book.  Maybe we are in a book too and just don't know it.
Isaac:  If someone stopped reading our story, we would just freeze.  Freeze!
Lily:  Like this.  (Lily freezes)
Gracie:  Then we would die of freezing.
Isaac:  We are kind of in a story...  God is our author.  And our illustrator is God too.  Because He made us and because He knows everything that is going to happen.
Gracie:  We are in His world.
Isaac:  And He came into our story.
Gracie:  He was riding on a donkey.
Isaac:  No.  He came as a baby.
Gracie:  Well, Mary was riding on the donkey.
Dad:  The Bible says Jesus is the "author and perfecter of our faith."
Gracie:  It actually says that?  What did He write?
Dad:  Well for one thing, according to that verse, He writes our faith.
Gracie:  That's cool.
Dad:  So what do you guys think about going into a story that you wrote?
Gracie:  Yeah!!!
Isaac:  No - Ahgghh!
Dad:  Why are you freaking out?
Isaac:  I don't want to meet "Flame" -- he's freaky.  And his men.  And the king-goblin-thing that likes tacos.  And all the skeleton guys.
Dad:  So, that's a story you've written that you wouldn't want to go into?
Isaac:  There are two or three of them I wouldn't want to go into...
Lily:  My story is called "Mae" -- there's a baby who turns into a monster.  I would not want to see that.
Gracie:  And actually, I don't want to meet Skullface either!  I wonder if Skullface knows he's in my story?
Dad:  Now, we liked what the story Inkheart was about, but we also really liked the way she told the story.
Isaac:  Yeah, the words... like: "Light seeped like milk running through the darkness."
Dad:  That was my favorite line: "Pale light seeped from Capricorn's village like milky water running into the night."  Do you remember any other cool phrases?
Isaac:  The one about the window...
Dad:  Yeah, from the very beginning.
Isaac:  The rain sounded like small... creatures or something... walking across the window...  What was it?
Dad:  "Rain fell that night... like tiny fingers tapping on the windowpane."  I can think of another one that made you guys laugh a lot...  What did she say Fenoglio's eyebrows were like?
Gracie:  Caterpillars!
Isaac:  Fuzzy caterpillars crawling above his eyes!
Dad:  Okay - so we all know this book is being turned into a movie, and it is coming out soon...
Gracie:  I want to watch it!
Isaac:  I want to compare the movie to the book.
Dad:  There will probably be some changes that they'll make.
Gracie:  There probably won't be caterpillars stuck to his head.
Lily:  I know!  I know!  The movie is different because they added a giant mole!
Dad:  Uhhhhh....  Hah! - that's a different movie.  You are thinking of "City of Ember."
Lily:  Oh.
Dad:  I don't think this movie is going to have a giant mole.  Do you have any guesses whether you will like the book or the movie better?
Lily:  Well... the movie has pictures, but the book doesn't.
Gracie:  I want to see what Basta looks like - he's my favorite character!
Lily:  Daddy, I'm imagining the Shadow right now.
Gracie:  In my mind, Capricorn looks like the guy on "Deal or No Deal," but with white eyes.
Dad:  Will it make it more exciting seeing the movie after we've read the book?  Usually if we go to a movie, we just plop down, watch a show, and then it's over.  Or is it more fun spending weeks and weeks reading this book, living in the story?
Isaac:  Live in it.
Lily:  The book.
Gracie:  We get to live in a book?
Dad:  Do you think this story would be too scary for anyone?
Gracie:  Too scary for little tiny babies who are scared of people with knives.
Dad:  How about you, Lily - you're five.  Is there anything in this book that was too scary for you?
Lily:  No.  I'm five and a half years old.  I'm brave.  If I saw the Shadow in real life the way I imagine it... I wouldn't be scared.
Dad:  Should we warn people about the violence?  Do you think there are parents that wouldn't like the violence for their kids?
Gracie:  If they don't like the word "Execution" then they shouldn't read it.
Mom: (piping in)  Oh goodness!
Dad:  The story talks about violent actions done in the past, and the story contains the threat of violence, but we don't see actual violent harm done while we are reading the story itself.  Still, parents should probably be aware of that.
Gracie:  If you don't like people with knives, don't read the parts about Basta.
Isaac:  Lily fell asleep about 16 different times at the ends of the chapters.
Dad:  Yeah, Lily slept through a lot of this book actually.  Or played through it.  So it didn't really hold a five-year-old's attention very much.
Lily:  That's because we read it at nighttime!
Mom:  I have the same problem...
Isaac:  That's because Mom is old.
Mom:  What!
Gracie:  Hee hee hee hee!

superstitious Basta, by Gracie

Dustfinger teaching Farid fire tricks, by Gracie

Gwin the horned marten, by Isaac

Mo and Dustfinger behind the olive tree, hiding from Basta, Flatnose, and the hunting dogs, by Lily

the Shadow, by Lily

Update:  The managing editor of the "5 Minutes for Books" blog invited us to share our thoughts on the movie over at their site.  It's a great site that I've visited often.  Click here to read the Z-Kids' review of Inkheat the Movie!

Author: Cornelia Funke
Published, 2003: Chicken House
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Monday, January 12, 2009

Review #11: Hush Little Dragon

Dad:  Today we're reviewing "Hush Little Dragon" by Boni Ashburn and illustrated by Kelly Murphy.
Lily (age 5):  Okay - let's do it!
Gracie (age 8):  Is she related to Katie?
Isaac (age 10):  Katie Murphy - Gracie's friend...
Dad:  I don't think so.  Okay, let's read it first.  Should I sing it or read it?
Gracie:  Read it.
Dad:  "Hush, little dragon, don't make a sound...."
Gracie:  No, no!  Sing it!
Dad: (singing) "Hush, little dragon, don't make a sound.  Mama's gonna bring you a princess she found."
Gracie:  With a very pointy hat.

Singing continues... and the book eventually concludes with...

Dad:  "She'll whisper in your ear, 'Sweet dreams, good night.'"
Lily:  Where's his ear?
Gracie:  There was a lot of running away in that book.
Lily:  That was a cute baby dragon!
Isaac:  Why does the mother dragon have a brown beard?  It's a girl!
Lily:  It's the cutest baby dragon in the world.
Gracie:  People would not want to read this book to their baby if she's scared of the dark.
Dad:  Then to whom would you read it?
Isaac:  To a dragon!
Dad:  Alright, tell us about the book.
Isaac:  It was good.  It's about a dragon...
Gracie:  Who has to "hush."
Isaac:  He has to go to bed.
Gracie:  But he wants a snack.
Isaac:  So he eats people.
Gracie:  And a horse.
Dad:  Was that kind of surprising to have a kids' book where creatures eat the people?  Did that strike anyone as weird?
Gracie:  It's a funny, cute, little, horrifying book...
Isaac:  It's a strange book, but it's good.
Gracie:  It's strange because it's horrifying and cute at the same time.
Isaac:  I like it, but it's just kind of strange.  Not in a bad way though.
Gracie:  It's funny because the baby has a gynormous belly.
Isaac:  That's only in the end...
Gracie:  I know - it's funny.
Lily:  It's fat!
Gracie:  It ate everything.
Dad:  Every thing?
Gracie:  EveryONE.  Plus a horse.
Dad:  Some of them got away I think, didn't they?
Gracie:  Yeah, the king.
Isaac:  And the magician.
Gracie:  No wait - he disappeared, but I think he disappeared into his belly.
Dad:  Which of those people do you think was the most delicious?
Isaac:  The mean old queen.
Gracie:  Yeah.
Dad:  Really?  I wouldn't want to eat someone so sour looking.
Gracie:  But it says "You're in luck - it's good cuisine."  The one I wouldn't want to eat is the knight with fire on his buns - I don't want to eat fire!
Lily:  I would eat the wizard so I can get magic and make things disappear.
Dad:  You think you're able to do magic if you eat a wizard?  What happens if you eat a knight?
Lily:  I would become brave!  And strong!  And fight bad guys!
Gracie:  You would get fiery buns.
Lily: (now off in la la land...) "Don't eat me up!  I'm the beautifulest princess of all!"
Gracie:  All the princesses are just watching the king get grabbed by the dragon and they are not doing anything about it.  No one cares that the dragons are taking the king.  The king with his underpants.  "Aaaghh! You can see my underpants!"
Isaac:  I don't think those are underpants.
Dad:  What are some ways that they keep this book from being scary?
Gracie:  Because she draws the baby dragon cute.  And the mommy dragon has giant eyelashes and a beard.  And the king is wearing his underpants in public.
Isaac:  It's not underpants!
Gracie:  And besides... the dragons only eat kings and musketeers and horses and things like that.  Children are safe.
Isaac:  The people don't look real.  They look like little blocks... like they are built out of squares and triangles.
Gracie:  She made the three musketeers have tiny little beards and gynormous mustaches.  The knights have no noses.  And the princess has pink bunny ears.
Lily:  The buildings look like building blocks.  No - actually, a rubber castle.  A rubber town.
Gracie:  Like one of those giant bouncy castle things.
Isaac:  If you think of the dragons as felt and cloth, they would really look like Muppets.
Gracie:  Look at the little dancing dragon!  He's dancing!  He's dancing!
Dad:  How can you tell the mommy dragon and the baby dragon love each other?
Gracie:  The mommy is serving the baby his food.  And she's protecting him.  And she lets him wear the queen's crown.  And she snuggles with him at the end.
Isaac:  When does the baby wear a crown?
Gracie:  Hee hee!  When the mom finds the mean old queen... see!  Ha ha ha!
Dad:  Is your mommy like this mommy?
Gracie:  They both love their children.  But our mom doesn't go around eating people.

little dancing dragon, by Isaac

dinnertime, by Lily

Boni Ashburn and Kelly Murphy meet their dragons,
by Gracie

Author: Boni Ashburn
Illustrator: Kelly Murphy
Published, 2008: Abrams Books
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Monday, January 5, 2009

Review #10: Jimmy Zangwow's Out-Of-This-World Moon Pie Adventure

Dad:  Time yet again for another Bookie Woogie.  And little brother Elijah is sitting here with us, so we'll see if he chimes in.  Are you ready to review "Jimmy Zangwow's Out-Of-This-World Moon Pie Adventure"?
Elijah (age 3):  Read!
Dad:  Do you guys know what a Moon Pie is?
Isaac (age 10):  I had one before.  They're good.
Lily (age 5):  Yummy!
Gracie (age 8):  This book is by Tony DiTerlizzi.
Isaac:  Yeah!  The guy who made "Spiderwick" and "Kenny and the Dragon"!
Dad:  I think "Jimmy Zangwow" was his very first book.
Isaac:  What was his second book?
Dad:  A book called "Ted" about a big rabbity monster who does bad things like color on the wall.  We got that book when you were just a little bitty guy, Isaac -- but after we read it, you immediately colored on the wall.  So the book disappeared the next day.
Gracie:  Hee hee hee ha ha!
Dad:  Is there anything we can learn about Tony DiTerlizzi by reading "Jimmy Zangwow"?
Isaac:  That he has a good imagination.
Gracie:  And that he's invented a weird contraption that can actually fly.  And a kid that says "Holy Macaroni."
Isaac:  I once tried to build a spaceship.
Dad:  Did it work?
Isaac:  No.  It was just a big bunch of pieces of board nailed together flat.  It didn't do much except sit there and do nothing.
Dad:  What do you think made Jimmy's contraption work?
Isaac:  His imagination?
Gracie:  Or maybe Jimmy hurt the jalopy's feelings so it wanted to show that kid how much it could do!
Dad:  So what happened?
Lily:  Jimmy wanted a Moon Pie, and he went all the way around the world.  He went to the moon to get Moon Pies.
Gracie:  The moon is weird.  He has giant eyebrows.  Rosy cheeks.  And he must have a cold -- he has giant red nose.  And he has weird silver buttons on his pajamas.
Elijah:  And he has sunglasses too!
Dad:  Well, glasses, but not sunglasses.
Gracie:  Pinch-on glasses.  Maybe that's why his nose is red - because it hurts when the glasses are pinched on his nose.
Dad:  What did outer space look like?
Isaac:  Earth looked like a globe.  Like it would be in a little kid's imagination.
Gracie:  And Earth had little tiny words written all over it.  It shows the names of countries.  I wonder if I could search around Michigan and find a giant "M" on the ground.  Probably not.
Lily:  My favorite part was when Jimmy saw the Grum... that guy.
Dad:  The Grimble Grinder?
Lily:  Yeah - in the Milky Way.  Because I like milk and there was milk in there.
Dad:  You do love milk.  Going to the Milky Way would be like paradise for you.
Lily:  Oh yeah - I would drink it like... slurp! slurp! slurp!
Isaac:  I wouldn't like it -- if you swam in milk, you'd be all sticky.
Dad:  Tell me about the Grimble Grinder...
Gracie:  He's weird.  He has a gynormous chin with a blue nose and he's wearing striped pajamas with a weird hand/tail thingie attached to his bee-hind.
Isaac:  He has three eyes.  One is a weird eyeball on top of his head.
Gracie:  And he eats "tasty little nuggets" for dinner.
Elijah:  He's scary.
Lily:  Then Jimmy had an accident - he heard a rumble bumble and got to Mars.
Gracie:  He heard the rumble coming from the Grimble Grinder, and he crashed on Mars because of the rumble.  But Jimmy's happy!  He's happy tumbling through the air!
Elijah:  "And now I am going to get hurt."
Dad:  His jalopy gets smashed...
Elijah:  I think somebody broke it!  The Hungo Bungo did!
Gracie:  Ha Ha Ha!  Did you say Hungo Bungo!  You mean Grimble Grinder?
Elijah:  Yeah!
Gracie:  And on Mars there were nine hundred ninety-nine Mars Men that look all exactly the same.
Elijah:  I think he has a weird feet - with a wheel on it.
Dad:  Do you think that's what people on Mars would look like?
Isaac:  I don't think Mars Men look like these robots with alien heads.  I think they are green and they have big eyes.
Dad:  In "War of the Worlds" they look like slimy octopuses...
Gracie:  These Mars Men have numbers on them so they can keep track of who is who.  Number 365 is the popular one because he keeps talking.
Lily:  The Mars Men wanted Jimmy's Moon Pies.  He shared.  He was like, "Here you go, here you go, here you go, here you go Fifty-five, here you go Ninety-hundred."
Gracie:  Ninety-hundred!
Isaac:  They didn't even have that many!
Gracie:  The Grimble Grinder's tummy grumbled, grumbled, grumbled, and they were afraid of him.  So Jimmy gave him his last Moon Pie, and then he wasn't scary.
Elijah:  What was getting out of his ears?
Isaac:  Moon Pies went flying out of the Grimble Grinder's ears when he burped.
Gracie:  Barrp!
Dad:  Oh that's wonderful.
Gracie:  Barrp!
Dad:  How do you know how to do that on command?
Gracie:  Because.  Barrp!
Dad:  What has Tony DiTerlizzi brought out in our children...  First wall-coloring, now this...
Isaac:  Hey, that was when I was little.
Gracie:  Tony rocks!
Dad:  Tony does rock.
Gracie:  I don't think I would want to eat one of the Moon Pies that came out of the Grimble Grinder's ears.  They would be all waxy and gooey.
Dad:  On with the story...
Gracie:  The Grimble Grinder burped to fill up a hot air balloon so Jimmy could get back home -- just for Brusslesprout Noodlebean Casserole!
Isaac:  Ewww.  Green goo.
Elijah:  Yuck!
Dad:  So can you put this story in a nutshell?
Gracie:  The point of the story is "Imagination" and "Moon Pies."
Elijah:  I think we don't put Moon Pies in our ears.
Dad:  That's a good rule.

Mr. Moon, by Lily

Mars Man #112, by Isaac

the Grimble Grinder, by Gracie

Jimmy Zangwow, by Elijah

Author/Illustrator: Tony DiTerlizzi
Published, 2000: Simon & Schuster
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