Saturday, January 29, 2011

Books of the Week – January 29, 2011

Here are our favorites from the past week (other than our ongoing obsessions – Ivy and Bean, Skippyjon Jones, and Harry Potter):

Tintin, age 8

Binky to the Rescue
Author/illustrator: Ashley Spires
Publisher: Kids Can Press (September 2010)
Source: Public library

In this second Binky graphic novel  (the first is Binky the Space Cat), Binky still thinks he's a space cat that must save his space station and his humans from intruding aliens. It turns out, however, that his space station is really his house and the aliens are flies buzzing around his house. While trying to fight off the aliens, Binky accidentally falls out of the window of his spaceship into outerspace (aka "outside" to those of us who aren't space cats). While outside, he spots his favorite stuffed mouse, Ted, and tries to rescue him from a warship full of stinging aliens that bear a strange resemblance to bees. Unfortunately, he's not successful and ends up back in the house, where he devises plans to outsmart his humans and sneak back out into outerspace to save his friend.

Tintin's note: I liked Binky to the Rescue when the bees sting him and when he farted. I liked when he saved Ted.

Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework
Author/illustrator: Nadja Spiegelman/Trade Loeffler
Publisher: Toon Books (April 2010)
Source: Public library

Zig and Wikki are two alien friends who accidentally end up on Earth while flying their spaceship to Zig's grandmother's house, where Zig was going to find a pet for his class zoo. Instead he must make do with finding a pet on this strange new planet. Fortunately, Wikki has a screen that turns on every once in a while and spouts out information about the creatures they meet during their search. So, for instance, we learn that flies taste with the hair on their feet and spit on their food to turn it into liquid so they can suck it up again. Unfortunately, Zig and Wikki have a little trouble catching a pet to bring back with them and must get back to their spaceship before they end up being eaten for lunch.

Tintin's note: I liked Zig and Wikki because when they went to Earth they thought they found aliens, but they were really animals.

Johnny Boo, age 5

Bunny Days
Author/illustrator: Tao Nyeu
Publisher: Dial (January 2010)
Source: Public library

This is a cute and whimsical book about the mishaps of six bunnies and the bear who comes to their rescue. Split into three very short stories, the bunnies find themselves in need of a washing, thanks to Mr. Goat's mud-splashing tractor; a dusting, thanks to Mrs. Goat's super-sucking outdoor vacuum cleaner; and a little sewing on of tails, thanks to Mr. Goat's careless hedge-trimming. Luckily, Bear knows just what to do and everyone ends up happy again. Johnny Boo's favorite part was when the bunnies were hung on the clothesline to dry, but he did get a tiny bit sad when their tails were cut off during a game of hide-and-seek.

Johnny Boo's note: I liked Bunny Days because they're cute and marvelous, and that's kind of it.

Curious George Around Town Boxed Set
Author/illustrator: H.A. Rey
Publisher: HMH Books (October 2010)
Source: Home library

This six-book set includes Curious George and the Puppies, Curious George at the Aquarium, Curious George Visits the Toy Store, Curious George Makes Pancakes, Curious George Goes to the Chocolate Factory, and Curious George's Dinosaur Discovery. Not only does this set have a book about a chocolate factory (I've convinced Johnny Boo that he wants to work in a chocolate factory when he grows up), but it also has a carrying case with handle, which makes it perfect for carrying around the house and taking in the car. Johnny Boo loves reading these books and yesterday got an extra-special treat when his big brother read all six books in a row to him.

Johnny Boo's note: I liked Curious George because he's curious and he gets into trouble.
Tintin's note: And he always gets prizes at the end.

We're linking this post up with Feed Me Books Friday, Kid Konnection, and What My Child Is Reading.

Disclosure: We are an Amazon affiliate, which means that if you click on most of the links in this post and purchase anything, we will earn a small commission through our relationship with Amazon.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our New Reading Spot

My boys are big on reading. We have books in every room. Tintin and Johnny Boo didn't really need an excuse to read more, but I found one anyway. In the living room we used to have a basket next to the couch overflowing with library books, as well as their current faves piled up on the coffee table. After reading a post on Book Loving Boys, I was inspired to take the Target-bought toy baskets that were in Tintin's room and instead use them as part of our new reading spot. The beanbag chair used to reside in our office and was mostly something on which to jump. Now, however, as you can see from the above picture, the boys are relaxing with their Ivy and Bean books, or whichever books grab their attention; they've got lots of bookmarks nearby from which to choose and, if they want, our family journal and our sketchbook are close by as well. Now, the first thing Tintin does in the morning and when he gets home from school is head straight for the reading spot, and when Johnny Boo sees him there he says, "Hey, I know, I'll read too!"

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Books of the Week – January 22, 2011

Here are our favorites from the past week:

Tintin, age 7

Sir Seth Thistlethwaite and the Soothsayer's Shoes
Author/illustrator: Richard Thake/Vince Chui
Publisher: Owlkids Books (September 2010)
Source: ARC from giveaway at Journey of a Bookseller

Sir Seth and Sir Ollie are really just plain old Seth and Ollie, 10-year-old kids with big imaginations. With tinfoil armor, a broom for a sword, and his trusty steed (or a golden retriever in the real world), Sir Seth and his friend travel to High Dudgeon to retrieve the magical soothsayer's shoes and bring right and honor to the kingdom. Along the way, they meet a helpful sloth, fire-breathing bats, bog runners, a jolly ghost-king and, finally, a selfish prince. Tintin loved the story and the rhyming and tongue-twistery text. This is a great book for independent reading and read-aloud enjoyment.

Tintin's note: I like Sir Seth because it has adventures.

Johnny Boo, age 5

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Fables to Read Together
Author/illustrator: Mary Ann Hoberman/Michael Emberley
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company (November 2010)
Source: ALA Midwinter 2011

Full of short stories with morals, this book is part of a collection that helps young readers gain more confidence. Each fable is divided into color-coded verses between two and eight lines (but usually two or four), so that parent and child (or, as in our case, brother and brother as well) can take turns reading. The other books in this collection end their stories with "You read to me, I'll read to you," but this one instead ends each fable with its moral. Although Johnny Boo is a fine, upstanding young man who would never hurt anyone other than his brother and of course doesn't need lessons on how to act properly, he really enjoys this book. In fact, he's obsessed with it and with the others in the collection that we already own. He would have looked in the library for the two that we don't own, but in his excitement over finding Ivy and Bean books on the shelving cart, he forgot. Next time. He reads this book all by himself, with me, and with his brother (who also likes these books). He even brings it in the car with him. When we read it together, he loves being able to pick which color he gets to read. Although Johnny Boo is a good reader and loves books, he still sometimes gets overwhelmed by the length of chapter books and will only read a little bit at a time. I've found that being able to take turns really helps Johnny Boo with the transition to chapter books.

Johnny Boo's note: I like this book because it has different fables to read together. I like all of the fables and stuff because they're great.

Tintin/Johnny Boo

Ivy and Bean Books 1-5
Author/illustrator: Annie Barrows/Sophie Blackall
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Source: Public library

Ivy and Bean are two 2nd grade friends who come up with some very interesting plans, like using magic to make Bean's sister dance forever and setting a world record by seeing how many straws Bean can fit in her mouth. We've written about Ivy and Bean before, and we've had books 1 and 2 out for a while (actually, we brought them back and then had to get them back out a short time later). This last time, however, we just had to get books 3, 4 and 5 out as well. Johnny Boo was the first brother to take a liking to this series. At first he would read a few sentences at a time and then he'd just want me to read the books to him. But something happened this week. Maybe it had a little to do with the You Read to Me book or maybe it was because he got to pick out a bunch of free bookmarks from the library and I explained to him that he could stop whenever he wanted, put the bookmark in, and not have to feel as though he had to read the whole book at once, but he read the first chapter of book 3 on the way home from the library and read some more at the grocery store. He's only on chapter 3 right now, but he's also on chapter 3 of book 4. He likes to go back and forth. And finally, after having seen the Ivy and Bean books lying around for the past several weeks, Tintin started, and finished, book 1 yesterday and is now on book 2.

Tintin's note: I like Ivy and Bean because it has magic and a ghost.
Johnny Boo's note: I like Ivy and Bean because there's different pages to read and different chapters.

Proof that they both like Ivy and Bean:

Disclosure: We are an Amazon affiliate, which means that if you click on most of the links in this post and purchase anything, we will earn a small commission through our relationship with Amazon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Little Mouse Gets Ready

Review by Johnny Boo, age 5

Little Mouse Gets Ready
Author/illustrator: Jeff Smith
Publisher: Toon Books (September 2009)

Little Mouse Gets Ready is about a mouse who talks. He put on clothes and his mother said, "What are you doing? Mice don't wear clothes!" I liked this book because it's bookyish. My favorite part is when he takes off his clothes and goes running to the barn. I would recommend this book to silly kids who like mice.

Editor's note: Little Mouse Gets Ready is one of 11 beginning graphic novels put out by Toon Books that are aimed at the preschool and early elementary crowd. This is one of the easier ones (the other Level 1 books are Jack and the Box and Silly Lilly), and although Johnny Boo can read the Level 2 and Level 3 Toon books all on his own, he still loves the little mouse's story, and also enjoys taking turns with me reading the mommy part and the kid part.

To find out more, go to the Little Mouse Gets Ready page at Toon Books, and be sure to check out the Professor Garfield Toon Book Reader, which includes all 11 Toon books, and the Cartoon Maker, which helps your child create his or her own cartoon using Toon Book characters.

And to add to our "bookyish" adventure, we made a felt "Little Mouse," complete with clothes (underwear over pants is funny to 5-year-old boys, for some reason), for our flannel board:

Disclosure: We are an Amazon affiliate, which means that if you click on the first link in this post and purchase anything, we will earn a small commission through our relationship with Amazon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Betty Meets Marco

A story by Johnny Boo, age 5

Betty was with his family and then he saw his friend Marco. And then he liked Marco. And then he freaked out Marco. He freaked out Marco with a spider, like in Ivy and Bean. Marco went to his family and they freaked out too. And then the baby came and the baby freaked out too. Betty was scared because the baby was mean. He almost made Betty die by using his yoki power. Yoki power makes everybody die by pressing Spanish language buttons. Betty was freaking out.

The End

The picture below has nothing to do with the story, but I'm adding it anyway. Johnny Boo made it using Pick and Draw (shown in the picture), a drawing game that shows you how to make cartoon faces.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Books of the Week – January 15, 2011

Here are our favorites from the past week:

Tintin, age 7

Falling Up
Author/illustrator: Shel Silverstein

Tintin has liked Shel Silverstein since Kindergarten when Poem in Your Pocket Day (in April) turned into Poem in Your Pocket Until the Last Week of School (early June) and he brought in the poems of Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, and others to read to his classmates. My post about that is at our other blog, Mother Is Not Concerned. Anyway, Falling Up joined our other Shel Silverstein poetry collections (Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Runny Babbit) this Christmas and is just as loved as the others. Tintin will sit and read the poems and laugh at the drawings (especially the ones in which body parts are not where they would normally be) for very long periods of time. The other day I had to dress him for school because he refused to put the book down, and when he came home from school he picked up right where he left off.

In the Night Kitchen
Author/illustrator: Maurice Sendak

Another classic, In the Night Kitchen tells the story of Mickey and his very surreal dream. Mickey falls out of bed and out of his clothes (Tintin's favorite part) and meets three bakers who mistake him for milk and try to mix him into their cake batter. Mickey, however, is clever enough to find a way out and to help the bakers find their missing ingredient. Tintin's second favorite part is when Mickey is inside a gigantic milk bottle, although Tintin says he would have swum around in the milk a little longer and had more to drink before helping the bakers. In the Night Kitchen is a frequently challenged book because of Mickey's nudity, but my boys just think it's funny that he's naked and of course don't see anything other than that it's a fantastical, well-illustrated story. For more information on the book's controversy, see the Wikipedia article.

Johnny Boo, age 5

Bed, Bed, Bed
Author/illustrator: They Might Be Giants/Marcel Dzama

Bed, Bed, Bed is a collection of four They Might Be Giants children's song lyrics: Impossible, Happy Doesn't Have to Have an Ending, Idlewild, and Bed, Bed, Bed, and comes with a CD. Both boys have been They Might Be Giants fans for a while (they dressed up as the lead singers for Halloween in 2009), and this book comes out every once in a while. Each time it does, Johnny Boo carries it around, sings the lyrics over and over again, and examines Dzama's surreal illustrations. I'm not sure if it's typical for children to enjoy reading song lyrics, but both of my boys learned to read by memorizing their Music Together songs and then reading the songbooks that came along with the classes, and they both like reading CD liner notes. If you'd like to learn more about They Might Be Giants music for kids, please check out this review by Tintin and Johnny Boo's dad.

The Snow Bear
Author/illustrator: Miriam Moss/Maggie Kneen

Johnny Boo had to get this book from the library after his teacher read it to his class. It's about a polar bear cub who loses his mother and, with the help of some other animals, builds a mama snow bear to rest with until his own mother's return. This is a sweet book, with wonderful embossed illustrations that Johnny Boo never tires of touching. It even helped to calm him while waiting for the check at a sushi restaurant a few nights ago.

Other books we've enjoyed (or are still enjoying) this week:

Picture books

Chapter books

Chapter book/graphic novel

We're linking this post up at What My Child Is Reading at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns and Kid Konnection at Booking Mama.

Disclosure: We are an Amazon affiliate, which means that if you click on any links in this post and purchase anything, we will earn a small commission through our relationship with Amazon.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Fantastic Mr. Wani

 Review by Tintin, age 7

The Fantastic Mr. Wani
Author/illustrator: Kanako Usui

Mr. Wani is about a crocodile who is invited to the froggies' home. He met some animals along the way and the animals helped him get to the party. He gets to the froggies' home and has a  thrilling  time. I liked this book because it's funny and  the pictures are beautiful. My favorite part is when Mr. Wani bumps into an elephant and there is smoke puffing out of his trunk. I would recommend this book to kids who like madcap books.

Editor's note: Both boys love this book and think it's hilarious. We've read it several times and each time we read about Mr. Wani bumping into the elephant's behind or acting as a sled for the penguins, there are many giggles. By the way, I've introduced the thesaurus to Tintin, in case you couldn't tell.

Here is Tintin's crocodile (or crocolator, actually), drawn the Ed Emberley way*:

* We used Ed Emberley's Big Green Drawing Book.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011 Reading Challenges

Here are the reading challenges Tintin, Johnny Boo and I are participating in this year:

The Read to Me – Picture Book Reading Challenge is hosted by There's a Book. We're entering this at the Growing level and will read 120 picture books together this year.

The 2011 Graphic Novels Challenge is hosted by Vasilly at Graphic Novels Challenge. We're entering this one at the Expert level and will be reading at least 10 graphic novels.

For the 2011 Goodreads Reading Challenge, I'll be reading 50 books, including adult books and children's chapter books.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Books of the Week – January 8, 2011

Here are our favorites from the past week:

Tintin, age 7

Babymouse #13: Cupcake Tycoon
Author/illustrator: Jennifer L. Holm/Matthew Holm

The latest installment in the Babymouse series, Cupcake Tycoon is, according to Tintin, the best one yet. Babymouse accidentally destroys the school library and participates in a cupcake fundraiser to help replace the damaged books. Unfortunately for Babymouse, it's a little rough going at first, what with her nemesis coming up with better plans and outselling her. Along the way, however, Babymouse uses her imagination to press on and even realizes that the grand prize maybe isn't the most important part of this whole fundraising thing. Once again, we loved Babymouse's daydreams, plus, cupcakes! And, at the very end of the book, we find out that coming in May are Babymouse #14: Mad Scientist and a new Holm graphic novel series about an amoeba named Squish. Tintin can't wait!

The Adventures of Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy
Author/illustrator: D.J. Steinberg/Brian Smith

This week Tintin read Sound Off! and Game On! (numbers 1 and 3 in a series of 4), more than once each. Daniel Boom is a boy who lacks an inside voice and learns to use this to his (and the world's) advantage. Loud Boy and four others – his sister Chatterbox, Destructo Kid, Fidget, and Tantrum Girl – soon find that the things for which they usually get in trouble are their biggest strengths. They try to conquer the evil "Old Fogey," who can't stand noisy children and of course is in search of world domination. Johnny Boo picked these out for Tintin and, when Tintin got home from school, these were the library books he went to first (keep in mind, we usually have 50 out at a time).

Johnny Boo, age 5

Astroblast! Code Blue
Author/illustrator: Bob Kolar

Radar the monkey issues an emergency warning and must get his animal crew back to the snack shop before the surprise emergency occurs. Along the way, the reader (if he's in the mood for interacting instead of just listening to the story) must help the crew get back by matching, finding differences, and navigating through mazes. Johnny Boo loves the cute animals and the surprise ending.

I Can Read! The Chronicles of Narnia
Author: Jennifer Frantz

We've got a bit of a Narnia obsession here (and a little crush on the youngest Pevensie, Lucy). Johnny Boo has little Lego people that stand in as the four children and a wardrobe we made from a box. Occasionally he turns the rest of us into Pevensies (he's Lucy, Tintin is Edmund, Daddy is Peter, and I'm Susan). He's read all of the books in this I Can Read! collection and got the newest ones, adaptations of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, for his birthday this week. We saw The Voyage of the Dawn Treader a couple of weeks ago, so it's fresh in his mind, again. These books are based more on the movies than on the books by C.S. Lewis, and are full of photos from the movies. There are words in these that you wouldn't think a preschooler would know how to read, but I think since he's so into Narnia, the books have helped him master them. Also, it's cute to see him read these while his big brother reads the originals.

Other books we've enjoyed (or are still enjoying) this week:

Picture books

Toy Story: Ride 'em, Cowboy!, by Kate McMullan and Lorelay Bove
I'm Bad!, by Kate and Jim McMullan
It's Hard to Be Five, by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell
The Fantastic Mr. Wani, by Kanako Usui
Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!, by Dr. Seuss
Thesaurus Rex, by Laya Steinberg and Debbie Harter
Skippyjon Jones in the Doghouse, by Judy Schachner
The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story, by Lemony Snicket and Lisa Brown

Graphic novels

Ed's Terrestrials, by Scott Christian Sava and Diego Jourdan
The World of Quest, by Jason T. Kruse
Little Mouse Gets Ready, by Jeff Smith

Chapter books

Ivy and Bean (books 1 & 2), by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall
Sir Seth Thistlethwaite and the Soothsayer's Shoes, by Richard Thake and Vince Chui
How to Train Your Dragon Book 1, by Cressida Cowell

Chapter book/graphic novel

Pirates of Underwhere, by Bruce Hale and Shane Hillman

To see what other kids have been reading this week, go to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.