Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Like Kristen, I devoured this book fairly quickly. And like Kristen, I'm not inclined to tell you much of the story because I think that kind of ruins it. I will tell you this much. The novel begins in post-war England in1946 (no I didn't remember that, I looked it up), and flashes back to the time that Guernsey was under German occupation during World War II.

As Kristen mentioned, the story is told through a series of letters between several different characters, which I find an utterly charming way to tell a story. Sadly, with such a terrible memory as mine, I have trouble remembering the details of the novel, but I do remember this: I laughed, I cried, and I cheered. And I was so sad when the letters ended. To me, that's evidence of a great book.

Not too heavy, this book makes for a great vacation read. Want to know more about the story, or interested in reading it as part of your book club? Definitely visit the book's site, which contains some delightful information, including a recipe for Potato Peel Pie.

Tell me readers, what's your criteria for deeming a book a great read? And do you have any recommendations for us?


Friday, December 18, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Doesn't that title pull you in? What could Potato Peel Pies possibly have to do with literature? And why are they in Guernsey of all places?

I accompanied my hubby on a business trip to Detroit. Or it's suburbs, more precisely--there was absolutely no place to go by myself while he worked, so I sat in the lobby and read. I brought along my mom's copy of this book and finished it in about a day and a half. I couldn't put it down. It's a good thing I bought other books along, too.

Mom made it very clear that she wanted her copy back, so, being that it's a story that begs to be read again and again (once is just not enough), I bought my own copy.

I've written a lot without telling you any of the story. I'm not really inclined to. Maybe Allegra will give you more details. What I will tell you, though, is that it is an epistolary novel. (Did I make you look that up? It means the story is told through the exchange of letters.)

The characters are well will think that they are your friends. You will feel their pains and rejoice in their triumphs. All I can say is read it. Savor it. Share it.

Follow this link and you can hear the first few letters read: excerpt from the book.

PS--These characters don't all have high morals. Please don't think less of us for loving it as we do. It is a beautifully written book.--kms

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Harry the Dirty Dog

I'm sure I must have read this book as a child. It seemed quite familiar as I read it again at my local book emporium. I wish I had my own little person to read it to right now, but, alas, I don't. So instead I'll tell you what I'd do as I read the story.

Many kids aren't too fond of baths. Harry really isn't! As his family is preparing to bathe him, he steals the scrub brush that they intend to use on him and buries it in the back yard. (I don't blame him...I've washed a lot of dogs and never used a scrub brush. I'm sure it was soft bristled and that they wouldn't have been too rough. But I digress.) Then he runs away. And gets dirty, dirtier, and, finally, dirtiest of all.

That's something I would emphasize with my little reader. The degrees of dirty that Harry gets. They can see it in the pictures and it's a nice way to emphasize -y, -ier, -iest. They will encounter words that follow that pattern repeatedly.

I also think it's important, as you near the story's conclusion, to emphasize and discuss Harry's change of mind/attitude. He missed his family. Why? What does he do about it? Why does he do it? What would you do in a similar situation?

But you know what the most important thing to do with Harry the Dirty Dog is? Read it with the children you love. After the first 50 million times or so, ask them to read it to you.

Happy reading! It feels good to be back.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Harry the Dirty Dog

This book is an oldie, but a goodie. Originally released in 1956, Harry the Dirty Dog -- written by Gene Zion --  is the story of a dog who, afraid of getting a bath, runs away and gets really really dirty. He goes from being a "white dog with black spots to a black dog with white spots."

The illustrations by Margaret Bloy Graham are probably Allen's favorite part of the book. He enjoys finding Harry in each picture, and seeing just how dirty he's really getting. And the best part, of course, is when Harry gets reunited with his family.

I'm not sure what exactly gives this book the honor of getting picked repeatedly, but I know Allen likes it, which means I like it too :)


We're Back!

After a year-long hiatus, Kristen and I have decided that we miss this blog something awful, and we want to start posting again.

While we haven't posted in a year, that doesn't mean that my son and I haven't been reading. Not only that, but we now have a children's bookstore -- The Storybook Shoppe -- right here in the Marketplace of our neighborhood. So, we have access to excellent children's books whenever we want. And an awesome shop owner, Miss Nancy, who knows the books in her shop like the back of her hand. She also knows her customers well enough to know what books to recommend each time we visit. It's such a joy to visit, and it's one of Allen's favorite places to go.

So without further ado, let's review a book :)


Friday, December 26, 2008

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

I guess I had heard of this book before, but I had never read it myself. Then I came across a few reviews of it by other parents, so I looked into it. I knew that we liked Bill Martin Jr, since he wrote the famous -- and Allen favorite -- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (along with the companions Baby Bear, Polar Bear, and Panda Bear all illustrated by the amazing Eric Carle) so I decided to purchase this book as well.

It's a recurring favorite of Allen's. He absolutely adored it when we first got it, as you can see from this post on my personal site. And he's now smitten with it once again. It rhymes, it's colorful, and it teaches him the alphabet. It's easy to read enthusiastically with spunk and a little attitude ( Mommy likes to dance as she reads "Chicka chicka boom boom," swinging her shoulders back and forth).

I always point to the letters as I read them so he can learn to identify them, and now I'm encouraging him to point to them as well (they are lowercase letters, so it's a little more challenging for him. He's more familiar with the capital letters). It's a book I feel really good about reading to him because I know he's learning as well as enjoying the book.

This is one of my personal favorite children's books for the above reasons. I recommend it for all parents of young children. It's pretty much universally adored by toddlers, I think. And because it's got such a nice rhythm to it and it's short, parents don't get sick of reading it.

Enjoy the book and have fun with it!


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

I admitted to Allegra when she told me this was the next book that she wanted to share that, not only do I not have this book, I only read it a few times to the Kindergartners in whose classrooms I found myself. A quick Google search, however, revealed this lovely video. I watched it twice and found myself bopping around to it. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

An additional at-home activity has to do with matching the upper and lowercase letters. This book features the lowercase letters which may be new to some pre-schoolers as many other alphabet books use the capital letters. Print and cut out a set of letters in their upper an lower case forms. 52 cards in a Memory style game is too many (it's too many for adults...even the game I play on my DS only uses 32 cards). Try using just the vowels or maybe the letters in their name. It's a quick and, I think, fun game. I used a similar idea with numbers and pictures to represent the number (ie: 3 matched a card that theree stars on it). Great for developing 1 to 1 correspondence.

Happy Reading!