Wednesday, December 12, 2012

what we're reading now...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
I am still planning to put together a list of my favorite children's holiday books, but for now, here is a glimpse of what has been shoved into my lap with the highest frequency in the past month or so.

Silly Sally.  I picked this up on a whim at the library, thinking that A might like the "silly" theme. The pictures are bright and bold, and it is funny to see Sally's upside-down march to town.  Once again, however, it's the rhyming that captures his interest.  I read it no less than six times, yesterday, several of them in consecutive order.  Thank goodness it's short!

Llama Llama Time to Share.  I tried to avoid buying this book, the latest little Llama adventure.  My spending on books has been, ahem, out of control, and I thought it might be good to leave this particular title for the library.  We could check it out as much we wanted.  However, my plan was foiled when A discovered it at a bookstore we visited on our weekend in Bodega Bay.  He enthusiastically yelled, "Share!  Share!" which sounds (adorably) something like "Sa-ow!  Sa-ow!"and yanked it off the shelf, tearing one of the pages in his excitement.  Even if he hadn't torn a page, I might have had to give in.  I love that he loves books so much.

Ten Apples Up on Top.  This lesser-known Seuss title is not exactly a favorite of mine.  I bought it for a unit on apples several years ago, and I'll admit the kids loved it.  I should have realized that once he discovered it, A would too.

Little Blue Truck.  I overheard a few people chatting about this book and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way, at our bookstore.  I have something of a competitive nature, and I was horrified that I wasn't aware of its charm.  "I must have the best of all the best books!"is probably the thought that crossed my mind (I'm not proud of this flaw).  Anyway, I snuck over to Little Blue Truck, and attempted to thumb through it quickly as though I was completely familiar with it.  I humbly confess that it IS just as delightful as you might imagine, and that I took extra time admiring the friendly illustrations before purchasing both books.  A loves them.

This is Not My Hat.  I was ecstatic when I found out that Jon Klassen, author of one of my favorite new books, I Want My Hat Back, would be coming to our local bookstore for a signing/reading. I decided that A and I would have to go, and it couldn't have been better.  He was charming and funny (not to mention young!) and A had just really gotten into I Want My Hat Back about a month before the signing, which was perfect.  I wasn't aware that Klassen had a new book coming out, so was happily surprised to pick it up and have it signed as well.  It's just as funny (perhaps even more so) as its predecessor, though I know it will be some time before A grasps the humor of the story.  Because the illustrations are so simple, however, he really enjoys reading it.  I am beginning to think he might grasp the fate of the thieving fish at the story's conclusion, which could be rattling to his newly sensitive, anxious toddler state.  Even if he does, I'm fairly certain he'll still want to hear it a few times a week.

Three by the Sea. For some strange reason, this book made a real impression on me as a child.  James Marshall's writing and distinctive illustrations are comically charming (see George and Martha, Miss Nelson is Missing) of course, but there isn't exactly anything earth-shattering about three friends telling stories by the sea.  Their names are Lolly, Spider, and Sam, which is, I suppose, memorable enough in itself.  Needless to say, I broke the book out on one of our recent flights and A was captivated.  He especially loves the monster story.  Note: Three by the Sea is written under the name Edward Marshall, one of James' pseudonyms.  I discovered this tidbit while researching Marshall, and I'll include a fascinating bit straight from the ever-reliable Wikipedia, which I love because of what Sendak had to say about Marshall.

It is said that he discovered his vocation on a 1971 summer afternoon, lying on a hammock and drawing. His mother was watching Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and the main characters, George and Martha, ultimately became characters in one of his children's books (as two hippopotami). Marshall continued as a children's author until his untimely death in 1992 of a brain tumor. In 1998, George and Martha became the basis for an eponymous animated children's television show.
Marshall was a friend of Maurice Sendak, who mentions him as the "last in the line" of children's writers for whom children's books were a cottage industry. Sendak said that Marshall was "uncommercial to a fault" and, as a consequence, was little recognized by the awards committees. (Marshall won a University of Mississippi Silver Medallion in 1992, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1989.) Sendak said that in Marshall you got "the whole man", who "scolded, gossiped, bitterly reproached, but always loved and forgave" and "made me laugh until I cried." In 2007, the American Library Association posthumously honored Marshall with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for his "substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children."

You Can Do It, Sam.  One of our favorite bedtime books is Kiss Good Night, featuring Sam and Mrs. Bear and their sweet bedtime routine.  I wasn't aware there were other Sam titles until we came across this one and another, Don't You Feel Well, Sam, in the library.  There is something really unique about the way Amy Hest writes, a repetitive prose that at first seems disarming but eventually becomes incredibly appealing.  Example: "Mrs. Bear and Sam walked towards the little white house, and the sun was just sunning up the little white house."  (Not an exact paraphrase, the book is snugly packed into the bookshelf in the room where dear A is snoozing).  We read all three books frequently.  It's not unusual at all to hear a loud "Sam!" demand.  

Duck on a Bike.  I am not a huge fan of the David books.  Am I really the only one to find the illustrations extremely creepy?  I look at David and I shudder.  Seriously.  Thankfully, Duck on a Bike is devoid of strange children, and is instead another farm animals tale.  A gets to practice all his sounds while looking at hilarious pictures of a duck riding a bike, quite proficiently I might add.

I should note that A is also really into Extra Yarn, Blue Chameleon, Boy + Bot,  and The Lorax right now, all of which I've written about before.  He'll even sit down for an entire reading of The Lorax.  He really is a bookworm.

Of course I've purchased a pile of books for him for Christmas.  The holidays aren't helping my book buying problems.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

latest online treasures

Wednesday, December 5, 2012
We have been UNBELIEVABLY busy the past few weeks.  All caps is necessary to truly express the level of craziness that ensues with yet another set of flights for baby, family wedding, Thanksgiving festivities, not one but two dreadful bouts of sniffles/sad coughs, and a lovely weekend celebrating my dear MIL's 60th birthday in the gorgeous but decidedly bird-stalked Bodega Bay.  I have a LOT of fun internet gets better and better as the holidays descend upon us.

50 products you can't live without, via Bon Appetit's Seal of Approval. I will probably have to print out the entire list, minus the mayo, of course.

21 classic opening lines in books. I'm predictably partial to Dickens.

John Krasinski loves his wife. Ah!  It's like Jim in real life.  It IS Jim in real life.

Daryl Dixon's playlist. You know you want to listen.

The Daily Dot says what all of us amateur foodies are thinking.  (rather, thought, considering that I'm posting a full two weeks post-Thanksgiving).

Joy the Baker (and SK, and Homesick Texan!) swaps cookies with Ina Garten!

The story behind Zou Bisou Bisou. I still have trouble getting this confection of a song out of my head.

2012 movie trailer mashup.  I was surprised at how many scenes I didn't recognize.  Perhaps I'm off on my game?  The more likely culprit for my film inadequacies is a certain pint-sized treasure that keeps me on my toes and away from the movie theaters!