Posts tagged ‘snow’

November 6, 2014

if you could skate with a PENGUIN

by Wendy Lawrence

I have a gorgeous book for you today, a story of a girl and a penguin told entirely in whites, blues, and yellows. White mostly for the snow, blues for the penguin and the girl’s snowsuit, yellows for her hat, his feet.

floraTitle: Flora and the Penguin
: Molly Idle
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 0 – 6 (I usually think kids need to be a little older to get books without words, but this is a story anyone, even the youngest, would love to look at.)

There are no words, and I have mixed feelings about books without words. On the one had, I love them. The illustrations tend to be powerful and emotional. The stories tend to be mixed with a certain kind of humor that can only be told without words. (Remember Flashlight and the raccoon pointing the light back at the boy?) On the other hand, when I’m “reading” them to my kids, which is clearly the wrong verb, I’m sometimes at a loss.

Do I describe the pictures? But if I do that, which sometimes I do, then I’m just writing the words myself, and that seems lame, because even though I call myself a writer, I don’t think that the words I’m using would be any better than the words the author might have used and, in the end, decided not to.

Or do I remain quiet and just flip the pages, letting my mind and my son’s mind wander through the story? But then sometimes he gets mad, and doesn’t believe me when I say there are no words.

Or do I ask him to tell the story? Ask him what he sees? Ask him to describe?

Usually, I settle for a mix of all three. Which is probably what the authors intend. Plus, it has the added benefit of forcing interaction with the book! Which is why I started this blog in the first place! So bring it on, books that demand me to do more than think about the laundry while reciting words my brain has long since memorized!

Flora and the Penguin is a great one for this because the story is told so obviously. Also, it adds to the interactive nature of the book with tabs that your kids can flip. Flora starts ice skating, she finds a penguin. She ice skates with the penguin. The penguin disappears. She is a little sad. Penguin brings her a fish. She throws it back in the water. The penguin is a little sad. There is resolution and love in the end. It’s a super sweet book with beautiful colors and lines and surprise. With the snow on its way, it would make a great fall or winter birthday present or a gift for the winter holidays!

April 24, 2013

even in the April snow, the forest is singing

Each silver
sings my name.
Guess what?
No two sound the same.

foresthasasongI love LOVE LOVE that last line. We all know that no two snowflakes look alike, but that they sound differently? When they call our name? What a wonderful image! And while you might think it strange to start a blog in April about snow, the flakes are fast and furious outside my window right now, so I’m just trying to stick with what mother nature is dealing.

This poem is from a wonderful book of poems just sent to me. And it’s poetry month, so that’s perfect, don’t you think? It’s called Forest Has a Song and in it a girl walks through the forest in all four seasons, listening to the song. There are so many wonderful kid-friendly images that really make the forest come alive.

exploding a mushroom:

I found one.
It’s plump.
Come see this
mushroom pump.

tiptoeing on moss:

Barefoot on this emerald carpet
toe-by-toe I squish across.
I softly sink in velvet green.
Oh how I wish for socks of moss.

Aren’t those great? Other poems detail a fossil, a pile of animal bones, a squirrel, the song of the forest, deer, and many more.

This would be a great book for a classroom. It would be fun to read on or before a family camping trip or hike. It would be fun to read any night, really. And you can challenge your kids to look for the sensory images in the poems. Can they hear a snowflake? What do they think it sounds like? Can they see a cardinal and do they think he looks like a kite?

You could also turn it into a scavenger hunt if you live near or are visiting a forest. Can they find mushrooms? Lichen? A squirrel? A deer? How many images from the book can they remember and see for themselves?

Older kids can make up their own images. Have them walk barefoot across something…a lawn, a pebbly beach, or maybe through a cool brook. What does that feel like? Would they want pebble slippers like the author wanted moss slippers? Can they think of a different image they would like?

Have fun with this book, and I hope you enjoy some of nature this summer. Just not the snowflakes, maybe.

foresthasasongTitle: Forest Has a Song
: Amy Ludgwig Vanderwater
Illustrator: Robbin Gourley
Genre: Poetry, Pictures, Nature
Ages: Almost any

October 22, 2010

For the families who wish they could winter in New England, or even those who do

This book makes me want to put on my hat, mittens, and gloves and walk in the snow, roll down a snowy hill, make a snowman, and then come inside for some hot chocolate.  I LOVE the illustrations and the tone/feeling that this book evokes.  I also love that its teaching my son about different kinds of animals and the different tracks they make.  It was a gift from great grandma, and we taped the card she sent inside the book–we will treasure this for a long time!

Title: Who’s Been Here? A Tale in Tracks
Author: Fran Hodgkins
: Karel Hayes
: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Summary and Review:

A dog goes outside and find lots of different kinds of tracks.  The three-toed print turns out to be a turkey, the prints with long feet and short hands coming out of the compost bin are, of course, the pesky raccoon, and double hooves mark a deer and a moose.  But who do the final tracks belong to?  Unfortunately, Willy the dog goes to find out, and ends up sprayed by the owner, a skunk.

Possible conversations to have with your kids (yes, it’s Science time!):

The drawings of the tracks appear on the borders of the pages so the kids can see them clearly.  Ask your child to guess what the animal is before you turn the page to find out.  After a few readings, they will be proud that they can guess every time!

For older children, you can point out more details in the tracks.  The book’s text mentions some of them without slowing down the narration, and you can expand.  For example, some of the tracks look like paw prints, but others look different.  Why?  What makes the paw prints of different animals similar?  What makes them slightly different?  And how is a paw print different from a hoof print of a deer or the clawed foot print of a turkey?

Ask them to look at the pattern of the prints as they lie in the snow.  Which one do they think is the right foot and which one the left?  Why?  Can they tell the difference between the two footsteps that are together in one stride and the next stride of two footprints?

What about animals that walk on four feet?  How are their tracks different from two-footed animals?  Have your child walk on all fours and see where their hands and feet end up.  Compare them to the drawings in the book.

On the raccoon prints, the hands and feet are different–can they tell which is which?  How do they know?

Why do the kids run away when they see the skunk?  Why do they leave Willy outside?


P.S. The danger of mixing gorgeous picture books with 2-year-old boys is that they will get ripped.  This is NOT a reason to take them away, but to help kids understand how to take care of books.  However, some damage will occur, and hopefully you can write it off as damage in the name of education and growth.  One way to minimize the damage, though, is to take off the fragile paper covers and store those separately.  I learned this trick from a brilliant fifth-grade teacher I worked with who did this before lending books in her library to parents and kids to take home.  (Thanks, Daria!)