Archive for October, 2011

October 28, 2011

the furious dragon that blows fire and is not nice

I read a great book this week. It was penned on my living room carpet (the one wearing three years worth of stains from juice boxes and wine boxes, unsupervised sharpie markers, vomiting and potty-training children, and who knows what else).

The book is called “The furious dragon that blows fire and is not nice”. The title, as you can see, tells you a lot about the temperament of the main character. It also tells you a little bit about the temperament of the author, who is currently and lunatic-ly a three-and-a-half year-old. He narrated it as I wrote. I will relate it in its entirety, with commentary:

“First, the dragon gets in his cave. He walks around it and tries to get lions and tigers and bears.* Then the dragon gets very mad and very fast.** Then the knight comes and looks for that dragon. Then he gets on his horse. The dragon looks for that knight. The dragon keeps blowing fire and trying to look for the knight. Then the dragon finally finds the knight. The knight kicks the dragon. Then the knight dashes the dragon down.*** They still fight mean.**** Then they hit each other. Then they stop being mean. Then they hear a noise…”*****

*Scribe’s note 1: Oh my! Yes, we are VERY into the Wizard of Oz. The author is planning to be the Tin Man for Halloween.

**Scribe’s note 2: The author also gets very fast when he is very mad. I think like most first novels, this book is partly autobiographical.

***Scribe’s note 3: I’m not sure the exact meaning of “to dash down” but it is clearly violent and said with a lot of volume and emotion. (Volume and emotion go together in the same way as the previously mentioned qualities, speed and anger.)

****Scribe’s note 4: This page was written after I reminded the author that he only had a few pages left. (We had created and bound the book before writing it.) I think it was his way of saying “So what? you can’t force a peaceful resolution on me!”

*****Scribe’s note 5: Showing that he’s learning something about stories, if not his own temper, he decides when faced with the last page to end the fighting. But not the suspense. You should hear “DUH, DUH, DUH” playing as the story ends.

Follow up with the kids

No, you can’t find this book on Amazon. Not yet, at least. But you could find one a lot like it in your own living room. Sometimes the best stories for finding a connection with your kids aren’t already published and on a shelf somewhere. Sometimes you need to take a stack of paper, punch some holes, tie it together with ribbons (Halloween ribbon in our case) and let imagination fly. Chances are, you will find out something your child won’t otherwise tell you (like the fact that when he’s frustrated and doesn’t always know what to do with his anger he wishes there were a dragon he could dash down).

Writing a book like this with your child not only gives you insight into what they are feeling and thinking, it also helps them practice story-telling skills, using their imagination, feeling empathy for characters, and problem-solving (unless, of course they decide to ignore the problem in their story and just continue the fighting…)

You can be creative about how you make the book. Don’t stop with just stapling (or tying) paper together. If you have an older child who has worked hard on the book, consider scanning in the drawings and printing the book out. Or sending it to a printer as a photo album and getting a nice hardbound copy printed out. (Think holiday presents!)

If drawing isn’t your child’s thing, or they are searching for inspiration, consider cutting magazine photos for the pictures, or printing out family photos for a fun family-inspired story.

Have fun with this! And I hope your knight and dragon, or your princess and unicorn, or whatever the story is, becomes a wonderful family memory.

October 26, 2011

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October 26, 2011

Throwing in the dish towel

Today I’m over at Nashville Parent writing about getting toddlers to eat.

October 3, 2011

CINDERELLA SKELETON, the “Halloween kind” of skeleton book

My son knows me well. One of his favorite parts of the library routine is typing his search word into the catalog. (He’s even been known to leave the sacred puppet shows one or two minutes early because he can’t contain his excitement for the keyboard.) Recently, in response to my usual question about what kind of books we were going to check out today, my son says “I want skeleton books, but the Halloween kind, not the body kind.”

In case this isn’t clear, let me explain: he knows very well his mom used to be a middle school science teacher, even if he can’t explain it in so many words. And he knows very well that asking said mom for skeleton books will likely result in bedtime stories about tibias and fibulas. (We’ve done that before actually. The only bone name he seems to really remember is the patella. But we’ll work on that.) So what he was saying is this: “I want a scary skeleton book. A book where the skeletons are main characters, where they do things. I do not want to learn anything about anatomy when I read these books.”

Done. We typed “skeleton” one letter at a time into the catalog and came home with a whole pile of non-academic Halloween-based scary and not-so-scary skeleton books which we have been enjoying reading for the past few days.  Here are our favorites:

Title: Cinderella Skeleton
Author: Robert D. San Souci
Illustrator: David Catrow
Genre: Picture Book, Scary
Age: 3 – 7

Summary and Review: This book is wonderfully creepy. It’s by far my son’s favorite of all the library books we’ve gotten, seeing as it combines two of his loves: skeletons and fairy tale princesses. He looked at the pictures in the car on the way home from the library and excitedly showed me how, instead of losing a glass slipper, Cinderella loses a foot. 🙂 What is not to love about this gorgeously-illustrated, somewhat creepy fairy tale re-telling with an unusual rhyming scheme?

Title: Skeleton hiccups
Author: Margaret Cuyler
Illustrator: S.D. Schindler
Genre: Picture Book, Halloween
Age: 0 – 7

Summary and Review: This one is funny. The only downside is that my son doesn’t remember ever having the hiccups, so he doesn’t relate very well. But he loves it and reads it out loud to himself all the time–at least the “hic, hic, hic” part. Skeleton tries to get rid of the hiccups with a lot of traditional ways, but the water he tries to drink upside down goes right through him. He has other similar problems. Ghost is trying to help, and finally Ghost gets an idea that cures Skeleton once and for all. (Hint: it involves a mirror.)

Title:  Skeleton Bones and Goblin Groans
Author: Amy E. Sklansky
Illustrator: Karen Dismukes
Genre: Poems, Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Summary and Review: This is a collection of cute Halloween poems. Fun to read out loud.


What about you? Any great Halloween stories? Or skeleton stories? Or fairy tales about the undead? What are your kids into right now?