Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Books of the Week: Disney's Storybook Collection; The Companions; Fortunately, Unfortunately; Ricky Vargas: The Funniest Kid in the World

Here are our favorites from last week:

Tintin, age 8 & Johnny Boo, age 5

Disney's Storybook Collection
Editor/designer: Nancy Parent/Todd Taliaferro
Publisher: Disney Enterprises, Inc. (1998)
Source: Public library

Disney's Storybook Collection includes 23 Disney stories, starting with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and ending with "Three Little Pigs." With colorful illustrations and gilded pages (a plus for Johnny Boo), the collection makes for a great read-aloud, although both boys insisted on reading it themselves.

Tintin's note: I like Disney's Storybook Collection because it has lots of good adventures and it's cartoony.

The Companions
Author/illustrator: Lygia Bojunga-Nunes
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (November 1989)
Source: Public library

Three animals meet and become fast friends. One has been abandoned and the other two have run away. The rabbit is afraid of being alone again and can hardly believe his luck when he finally finds others who want to be around him. But the animals' fun doesn't last long--the dog is found and brought back to her owner and the bear is caught and brought back to the zoo, where he falls in love with a selfish zebra. The Companions is a touching story of friendship that shows just how much these three friends will risk to stay together.

Tintin's note: I like how they became friends, and it shows a lot of friendship.

Johnny Boo, age 5

Fortunately, Unfortunately
Author/illustrator: Michael Foreman
Publisher: Andersen Press (January 2011)
Source: Public library

A monkey named Milo is asked by his mother to take an umbrella back to his grandmother. Unfortunately, several things go wrong along the way to Granny's house, such as when it begins to rain and when Milo falls off a cliff, gets swallowed by a whale, lands in a lost world atop a volcano, etc. But fortunately a lot of good things happen to Milo, too, and he finally ends up at Granny's house. The umbrella's a little beat up, but at least he gets to eat cake and enjoy it with some friends he made on his adventure. Johnny Boo had me read this over and over again. Fortunately, it was so good that I didn't mind.

Johnny Boo's note: I think the whole book was good and marvelous.

Find it: Amazon, IndieBound

Ricky Vargas: The Funniest Kid in the World
Author/illustrator: Alan Katz/Stacy Curtis
Publisher: Scholastic (June 2011)
Source: Scholastic book fair/home library

Ricky Vargas is a funny kid. Funny enough to make kids snort milk out of their noses, even when they're not drinking milk. Ricky is funny at the spelling bee, during class picture time, and when he creates a new language, but he quickly learns that it's not always good to be funny. With three short stories and illustrations that take up much of each page, Ricky Vargas is perfect for readers who aren't quite ready for (or are sometimes intimidated by) longer chapter books.

Johnny Boo's note: I liked it so much that I laughed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Word of the Week/Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist

It's time for our Word of the Week feature here at LitLad. Here's how it works: Every Sunday the boys and I read a book from which they pick their favorite-sounding unfamiliar word. They each write the word that night and we try to use it in conversation as much as we can throughout the week. According to The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, "the only words children learn having heard them only once are the words you wish you had never said in front of them."

This week's word is flabbergasted, an adjective meaning "shocked; surprised."

And we're reading Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist, in which Lester's family is flabbergasted when he wins a blue ribbon for his bubble-gum art.

Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist
Author/illustrator: Ruth Spiro/Thor Wickstrom
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (August 2008)
Source: Public library

Lester's family is full of artists: Winslow and Cornell, Vincent and Claude, and on and on. Lester's artwork pales in comparison to that of his talented cousins, aunts, and uncles. He wants to be an artist, too, but the only thing he's good at is blowing bubbles. When Uncle Edgar gives Lester some advice, Lester listens, and all of a sudden he realizes that he can turn his bubble-blowing into an art form. Lester practices his newfound art, but when his tooth falls out during his rendition of Rodin's The Thinker, his bubble bursts and his confidence goes with it. After a visit and some reassurance from the tooth fairy (Edgar Degas in a tutu), Lester is ready to face his family and impress them with his bubble-gum art.

Tintin's note: I liked how he blew all the bubbles. They were like artists' paintings.

Johnny Boo's note: It was good and I freaked out.

Find it: AmazonIndieBound

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Books of the Week: Chicken Butt!, Chicken Butt's Back!, Kindergarten Rocks!

Both boys are still obsessed with Maurice Sendak's Nutshell Library books (see our review), and with the Carole King album that goes with them. Here are our other favorites from the past week:

Tintin, age 8, and Johnny Boo, age 5

Chicken Butt!; Chicken Butt's Back!
Author/illustrator: Erica S. Perl/Henry Cole
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers (April 2009; April 2011)
Source: Public library

These books are about one of the boys' favorite topics: butts (with a few other body parts and some underwear thrown in). In Chicken Butt!, a boy tells chicken jokes (starting with the classic "You know what? What? Chicken butt!") to get his dad's attention, pestering him until he practically loses his mind. In Chicken Butt's Back!, the same boy tries again at the grocery store with his mother, who is by now familiar with his jokes and is already annoyed with chicken butts. Fortunately for the boy, he finds a new way to trick his mom into listening to his jokes, and all sorts of animal butts are mentioned. Fortunately for me, my boys were happy enough to read the jokes in the books and not repeat them too often.

Tintin's note: I liked when his mom got confused about all the butts.

Find them: Amazon (Chicken Butt!, Chicken Butt's Back!), IndieBound (Chicken Butt!, Chicken Butt's Back!)

Johnny Boo, age 5

Kindergarten Rocks!
Author/illustrator: Katie Davis
Publisher: Scholastic (2011)
Source: Home library/gift from preschool teachers

Dexter is about to enter kindergarten, but his stuffed dog, Rufus, is a bit scared and nervous (of course, Dexter is completely calm). Rufus and Dexter are lucky, though, because Dexter's big sister, Jessie, has already been to kindergarten and tells them that kindergarten rocks. Whenever Dexter brings up something that Rufus is nervous about, Jessie is there to reassure them. Johnny Boo took this out of the library, and shortly after he received it from his teachers. He was so excited, he read it on the way home from school and a few other times that day. And the day after. And the day after that. He was so excited, he had to go to the library just to find more books by Katie Davis, and we ended up bringing home Who Hops? and Who Hoots?, which he read in the car on the way home. Also, this Kindergarten Rocks! video didn't hurt.

Johnny Boo's note: It was good and useful and great and fantastic.

Find it: Amazon, IndieBound

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Books of the Week: I Saw Esau, Mercy Watson, I Broke My Trunk, The Nutshell Library

Here are our favorites from the past week:

Tintin, age 8

I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild's Pocket Book
Editors/illustrator: Iona & Peter Opie/Maurice Sendak
Publisher: Candlewick Press (October 1992); first in 1947 by Williams and Northgate as I Saw Esau: Traditional Rhymes of Youth
Source: Public library

I Saw Esau is a collection of 174 rhymes chanted by generations of children. As Iona Opie says in her introduction, these rhymes "pack a punch" and are "a feast of laughter." Ranging from insults and teasing to counting-out and game rhymes, the book is a great resource for bullies everywhere, and a humorous read for everyone else. Sendak's illustrations add to the fun. And, for the adult interested in folklore or etymology, the notes section explains the origins and variations of many of the book's rhymes.

Tintin's note: I liked it because it has different levels of rhymes and it's silly.

Find it: Amazon, IndieBound

Mercy Watson Books 1-6
Author/illustrator: Kate DiCamillo/Chris Van Dusen
Publisher: Candlewick Press (2005-2009)
Source: Public library

Thought of as a porcine wonder to some, Mercy Watson is a pig who likes toast with a great deal of butter on it. Her love of buttered toast sometimes gets her into trouble, as it does when she consumes a great amount of other people's buttered popcorn at the drive-in in Something Wonky This Way Comes, and it sometimes helps her solve problems, as it does when she wakes up to find toast to eat but instead captures a thief stealing her precious toaster and other kitchen appliances in Mercy Watson Fights Crime. The Mercy Watson series is a hit with both boys, and it was the obsession of the week for Johnny Boo last week. They're easy reads for 2nd grader Tintin, but they're so hilarious to him that he doesn't care.

Tintin's note: I think it should be a movie.

Find them: Amazon

Johnny Boo, age 5

I Broke My Trunk!
Author/illustrator: Mo Willems
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children (February 2011)
Source: Public library

Gerald the elephant has broken his trunk. He can't wait to tell Piggie how it happened, but it's such a long, crazy story and Piggie gets a little frustrated waiting for the end of it. When Piggie finally hears what happened, she gets as excited to tell others as Gerald was to tell her and ends up with an equally crazy story of her own. Johnny Boo loves reading the part of Gerald while I read Piggie's lines, and we both think the illustrations are especially funny.

Johnny Boo's note: It was good and useful. My favorite part is when Elephant and Piggie broke their trunk and snout and the squirrel said, "What happened to your snout?" and Piggie said, "It's a long, crazy story."

Find it: Amazon, IndieBound

The Nutshell Library (Alligators All Around: An Alphabet; Chicken Soup With Rice: A Book of Months; One Was Johnny: A Counting Book; Pierre: A Cautionary Tale
Author/illustrator: Maurice Sendak
Publisher: Harper & Row (1962)
Source: Public library

In these four small books, Sendak teaches the alphabet, the months of the year, counting, and the importance of caring. They are amazing books on their own but even better accompanied by Carole King's Really Rosie CD, which includes the four Nutshell Library books in song. Get them all--after a couple of weeks of reading the books and listening to the songs, we haven't tired of them. And check out our Word of the Week post on Chicken Soup With Rice.

Johnny Boo's note: They were good writing. I like it because there was lots of freakin' out.

Find it: Amazon, IndieBound

Monday, May 9, 2011

Word of the Week/Squirrelly Gray

It's time for our Word of the Week feature here at LitLad. Here's how it works: Every Sunday the boys and I read a book from which they pick their favorite-sounding unfamiliar word. They each write the word that night and we try to use it in conversation as much as we can throughout the week. According to The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, "the only words children learn having heard them only once are the words you wish you had never said in front of them."

This week's word is succulent, a verb meaning "juicy; moist and tasty."

And we're reading Squirrelly Gray, in which Hungry Fox says to Squirrelly Gray, "Are you in need of assistance, my succulent young fellow?" 

Squirrelly Gray
Author/illustrator: James Kochalka
Publisher: Random House Children's Books (August 2007)
Source: Public library

Squirrelly Gray lives in a boring, colorless world where his only entertainment is the static on his TV. He's so bored that he thinks wiggling his teeth is fun. When those teeth fall out, he hides them under his pillow and tries to go to sleep. But then he hears someone calling for help and finds the Tooth Fairy stuck in a spider web. Squirrelly rescues her, and in return she gives him a magic acorn. With no teeth to crack open the acorn, Squirrelly tries to think of a way to find out what makes this acorn so magical, but can he figure out just what to do before Hungry Fox eats him? Bonus: This book is by the author/illustrator of Johnny Boo, one of our favorite graphic novel series! 

Tintin's note: My favorite part is when the hungry fox cracked the magic acorn and there was a rainbow.

Johnny Boo's note: I liked it because it was great and awesome, and I liked it because there was freakin' out.

Find it: AmazonIndieBound

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Free Comic Book Day 2011

We scored most of our loot at our local comic shop (although I think I'm going to have to go back to get this year's Mouse Guard), but they were already out of the main reason for our outing by the time we got there. So we drove a bit more to get this:

It features our favorites (Owly, Korgi, and Johnny Boo) and a few new-to-us comics (Upside Down, Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken, and Okie Dokie Donuts). And on the back are pictures of Johnny Boo Does Something!, which comes out in November, and all of the other Top Shelf Kids Club books. So, now that my Johnny Boo knows there's a new Johnny Boo book coming out, he is of course very excited.

If you missed Free Comic Book Day this year, the free Top Shelf Kids Club comic book will be available on the Top Shelf website in June. And, you can sign up to receive a free poster, which of course I just did.

We also got a Yoda drawing from an artist at Keith's Comics in Dallas:

And a couple of Lord of the Rings action figures:

And some secret things for Father's Day.

For more info on Free Comic Book Day, go to freecomicbookday.com.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Learning Touch Apps: Bob Books, FirstWords: Deluxe, and a Giveaway!

Reviews by Johnny Boo, age 5

Bob Books #1: Reading Magic
App developer: Learning Touch
Price: $1.99
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad

Bob Books is great and it also is stupendous. My favorite part is when the pig digs in the mud. I would recommend this app to people who like Bob Books and to people who don't know how to read. I like Bob Books 100%.

LitLass's note: Johnny Boo has long been a fan of Bob Books. They were passed down to him from his big brother when he first started reading at 3. Two years later, and although he knows all of his first grade sight words, Johnny Boo recently insisted on buying Bob Books: Sight Words--First Grade. He still loves looking through the boxes and reading the books in order. That being said, he also loves Bob Books as an app, and even though he knows all of the words in the first set, he enjoys interacting with this app, especially since each page has four levels. Johnny Boo loves levels. I only wish he'd had this app as a toddler.

FirstWords: Deluxe
App developer: Learning Touch
Price: $.99 on 5/4/11; usually $4.99
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad

FirstWords: Deluxe is an app about words. You have to spell words and sound them out. I like when you get to spell out words. My favorite words are the color words. I would recommend this to people who like words. I like this app infinity.

LitLass's note: FirstWords: Deluxe includes 174 words for animals, vehicles, colors, shapes, and at home. Children can play with letter hints turned on (see picture above) or off, as Johnny Boo usually does. Again, this would have been a great app to have a year or two ago while waiting for big brother to get out of martial arts or piano lessons, but Johnny Boo still loves dragging letters to spell out words. Words are as short as three letters or as long as eight.

And now for the giveaway.

To celebrate FirstWord's 1 millionth download, not only is app developer Learning Touch bringing down the price of all FirstWords apps (FirstWords: Deluxe, FirstWords: Animals, FirstWords: Vehicles, and more) to 99 cents for Wednesday, May 4, but they are also giving LitLad the opportunity to give away three promo codes for FirstWords Deluxe!

All you need to do is comment. I'll pick three random winners by the end of the day on May 4.

You can also like Learning Touch on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, or search for the hash tag #FirstWordsParty for more chances to win a FirstWords promo code (a list of all FirstWords apps can be found on the Learning Touch website). Good luck!

Oh, and comment. Now. Before the fourth of May is over.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chicken Soup With Rice: A Book of Months

It's time for our Word of the Week feature here at LitLad. Here's how it works: Every Sunday the boys and I read a book from which they pick their favorite-sounding unfamiliar word. They each write the word that night and we try to use it in conversation as much as we can throughout the week. According to The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, "the only words children learn having heard them only once are the words you wish you had never said in front of them."

This week's word is concocting, a verb meaning "preparing by mixing ingredients."

And we're reading Chicken Soup With Rice, in which it says, "In May I truly think it best to be a robin lightly dressed concocting soup inside my nest."

Chicken Soup With Rice: A Book of Months
Author/illustrator: Maurice Sendak
Publisher: HarperCollins (1962)
Source: Public library

In Chicken Soup With Rice, each month gets its own poem about chicken soup with rice and a picture to go with it. The little boy in the book imagines how he'll eat or serve chicken soup with rice for each month of the year: He eats it while sliding on ice in December and swimming under water in July; in June he pours chicken soup over his roses to pep them up; and he imagines himself as a whale spouting hot soup in November. All we need now is the song by Carole King to go along with the book.

Tintin's note: My favorite part is when the boy was eating chicken soup with rice with a snowman who was eating cake.

Johnny Boo's note: It was good and I liked it so much that I freaked out. I recommend this book to people who like freak-out stuff. 

Find it: Amazon, IndieBound