Posts tagged ‘song’

January 27, 2011

Animals, animals, and more animals

This book has spawned a musical revolution in my house.  My toddler now goes around the house very proudly singing “Old MacDonald” but purposefully mismatching the animal sounds.  (As in, Old MacDonald might have had a cow on his farm, but there is a “quack, quack here”.)  He thinks this is the most hysterical thing anyone’s ever said, and he sings a verse and then waits politely for me to laugh out loud, which of course I do, even if I hadn’t been paying attention and have no idea what he was singing–I can easily assume because that’s what is being sung around our house.  At any rate, he loves it, and I love it, and that’s only the influence of one of the many awesome poems and quotes in this book.

Title: Animals, Animals
Illustrator: Eric Carle
Genre: Picture Book
Age Group: 0 – 7 and much, much older!

Summary and Review: This is one of those picture books you keep for a long time.  It was good for reading to an infant because of the gorgeous pictures and melodic verse.  It’s great for a toddler because of the huge variety in animals as well as the type of verse that describes those animals.  The book is an anthology of famous and not-so-famous animal quotes, poems, and songs.  It has every from a quote from the Bible and the Talmud (the latter is “a handful does not satisfy a lion”), to haikus, silly poems by Ogden Nash (“Tell Me, O Octopus, I begs, / Is those things arms or is they legs? / I marvel at thee Octopus; / If I were thou, I’d call me Us.”)  And of course, a great poem about a farm where the animals all make the wrong sounds, inspiring the musical creativity of my little boy.

In short, I couldn’t imagine a more awesome book.

Follow-up with the kids:

Well, I couldn’t imagine a better one than the version of Old MacDonald my son invented.  So try it yourself and see if it catches on just as quickly in your household!

September 25, 2010

Dee-dee-dee, Dee-dee-dee, Dee-dee-dee

I love the chickadee.  It’s so small, so wonderfully cute, and it sings such a beautiful song.  When my toddler asks, “is that a chickadee?” when one comes into our yard, I am as excited and proud as when he took his first steps or said his first word.  “Yes!” I want to shout, knowing that somehow inside him that simple identification has touched his heart to the outside world, has connected him to his planet.

My son requested this book tonight.  He wanted to read the “book about the chickadee and the moon.”  And who wouldn’t?  The lyrics in this book (and I use the word lyrics purposefully—it reads like a beautiful song) are so perfect they seem to fly off the page, turning the sleepy-eyed parent bedtime reading into a dramatic performance.  Go ahead—try not to read this book without emphasis, whisperings, and emotion.  It’s not possible.

Title: The Longest Night
: Marion Dane Bauer
lllustrator: Ted Lewin
: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Summary and Review:

The night is long, the sun has been away.  The animals in the forest want the sun to return, and each one thinks they have the power.  The moose is so strong–certainly he can bring back the sun.  But the animals are wrong, and the wind tells them so in a beautiful whisper.  Only the chickadee can bring back the sun, and so she does, with a song and the colors on the page.

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

The illustrations in this book are absolutely gorgeous–a deep but bright blue brings the winter time to life, makes us believe we are there, in the snowy forest with the animals, cold, waiting for the sun.  When the sun does finally come at the end of the book, the color almost takes your breath away.  Just reading this book with an infant or toddler will teach them about the forest.  Ask them what they see, what the animals are, if they can see the snow, the trees.

With an older toddler or preschooler, talk about the colors–why does the illustrator use blue?  Does it make it feel like the middle of a cold, dark winter?  What if the illustrator had used red or pink or yellow instead?  What would that have looked like?

But really, the beauty here lies in the words.  Really get into this book when you read it.  The voice of the crow—make it sound like a crow.  The voice of the wind—whisper it and draw it out like the wind.  Let your child hear the beauty of words on the page and how they can come alive when they are so well written (and so well read).

When your child is old enough to read some of the book with you, let them practice.  What does the crow’s voice sound like?  What about the moose?  The fox?  Read them in different pitches, tones, voices.  Channel your inner forest animal.  And then the chickadee?  Sing the song together.  What does it sound like?  Practice.

And our toddlers and preschoolers, they are small children—let them feel the power of that little chickadee, singing its sweet song and bringing out the sun.  The larger animals couldn’t do that.  Help them celebrate that fact.  Help them understand their own power.