SING…SING A SONG… BY JOE RAPOSO & TOM LICHTENHELD

5483895Wordless to begin as three baby birds begin testing their singing ability.  Musical notes float into the air and the first two birds take off in flight as they utter song.  The third bird sits silent and discouraged.  It sits alone until a boy with a guitar sits beneath the bird in the nest.  His musical notes from his songs float up and around this little bird until the bird can utter the notes that give it flight.

This book is based on Joe Raposo’s song, “Sing” from “Sesame Street”, sung by The Carpenters in 1973, by Barbra Streisand in 1972, by Lily Tomlin to the Muppets, and many, many others .  Bestselling children’s book illustrator has brought a special song from years gone by to a today’s young ones.  He has placed the song onto a visual plate of color with plenty of room for the reader to smile with each turn of the page.  Music is an avenue for creativity, for discovering the voice that we just might come to know as our own, and for patience.  One line in the song and book is “Don’t worry that its not good enough for anyone else to hear.  Just sing.  Sing a song.” 

“A CD with three songs is included: “Sing!” “Somebody Come and Play,” and “One of These Things.” Music by Joe Raposo.  Songs performed by Becca Kauffman with The Midnight Sun Ensemble.”

Reading Level: 4 – 8 Years

“Joe Raposo was a celebrated composer, songwriter, pianist, television writer, and lyricist best known for his work on Sesame Street. He served as musical director for Sesame Street from its inception through the late 1970s. He also wrote songs for Frank Sinatra and many television shows, such as Three’s Company.”  The website for Joe’s life and works can be found @  http://joeraposo.org/ 

Tom Lichtenheld is a New York Times–bestselling illustrator, living in Illinois.  His website is @   http://tomlichtenheld.com/

Book Information:

  • ISBN-13: 9780805090710
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co./Books for Young Readers, a division of MacMillan Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/2013
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

I originally reviewed this book in August, 2013.

I would like to share a YouTube video from MacMillanChildren about this book:

THE WEE HOURS BY STEPHANIE WATSON

4915562The Wee Hours come out while the little girl is sleeping and dreaming.  Yes, the Wee Hours are characters and not just those hours that we would like to be sound asleep during each night.  Each Wee Hour corresponds in age to the hour in the wee hours of the night that he or she comes out.  They do things like pulling down books, stacking shoes, jumping on and off things creating some havoc in the child’s room.  They also pull characters out of the girl’s dreams and play with them around the room.  They have a lot of fun in those wee hours of the night while this child sleeps through it all.  Her white cat, though, is wide awake and keeping watchful eye on all of this action.  As the night moves closer to the early morning, the later Wee Hours are more mature and begin cleaning up the mess as those little ones begin to get sleepy.  These older Wee Hours read a story and sing lullabies to lull those very early Wee Hours, the little ones, along with the dream animals, to sleep.

This is an especially fun book to read with your children.  And while reading may take precedent, time must be given to look for the clocks as they change time, for numbers scattered around, and for other fun things to find and look at.  It is an especially sweet nighttime story for those that are not afraid in the night.  It also might be a way to help those that are afraid get over any fears while you, the comforting parent, reads this story and sings lullabies to one’s own child.

A WARNING though:  Parents, read this book first and make sure your wee ones can handle this for if they worry about things in their rooms while they sleep, you will need to be prepared and prepare them.  In most cases, I think it might help, but there will always be some who may become even more afraid.  Just a warning.

I love the pastel artwork of Mary GrandPre in this book.  She uses interesting colors like plum, turquoise, rose, various shades of greens, blues, and reds, making those Wee Hours and the other characters seem to come right off the page.  As you can see by the cover, Ms. GrandPre is very talented.

Reading Level: 3 – 6 Years

Author:
Stephanie Watson is the author of two middle-grade novels, Elvis & Olive and Elvis & Olive: Super Detectives, both Junior Library Guild selections.  She teaches writing workshops in schools and libraries, and teaches and performs theater improvisation.  She  lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she is from.
You can find her @ www.stephanie-watson.com.

Illustrator:
Mary GrandPre is the illustrator of numerous children’s books, the best known of which include the Harry Potter series. “When creating the artwork for The Wee Hours, she was inspired by the glowing, fantastical images in one of her favorite picture books from her childhood, Peter Pan.”  She lives and works in Florida.
You can find Mary @ http://www.marygrandpre.com

Book Information:

  • ISBN-13: 9781423140382
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 8/27/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Originally, I reviewed this book in December, 2013.

THERE WAS A TREE by Rachel Isadora

213866Do you remember the song “And the Green Grass Grew All Around” or “There was a Tree”?  It was originally published in 1912 by William Jerome with the melody written by Harry Von Tilzer.  The song has been sung by many, to name just two: Barney and Captain Kangaroo.

This colorful Rachel Isadora book is based upon that song, but the setting is Africa.  Ms. Isadora lived in Africa for a period of her life and saw the Umbrella Acacia tree (or Umbrella Thorn tree) everywhere she went.  She noticed that the tree was a home and source of food for many animals and birds.  The enormous array of beasts and birds, the brilliant colors of Africa, along with the familiar song, “The Green Grass Grew All Around,” inspired this children’s book.
As illustrator, Ms. Isadora adorns each double page layout with a border of colorful African fabric filled with scenes from Africa in vibrant colors as well as the words to this delightful cumulative song.  She also uses rebus icons to illustrate repeated words, making it fun and easy for children to follow along and to read the story.

At the end of the book, there is a “Rebus Key” showing the picture and the written word for that teaching moment.  Plus, she has included the music and words for playing along while singing.

Reading Level: 3-5 years old

Rachel Isadora received a Caldecott Honor for Ben’s Trumpet. She is the author and/or illustrator of over 150 books, many of which are set in Africa or centering around dance.  She lived in Africa for ten years, and grew up dancing from the age of six.  She studied ballet at the George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet and has danced professionally.  Just a few of her children’s books are Say Hello!Peekaboo Bedtime, and the Lili at Ballet series, along with several classic tales set in Africa, including The Ugly DucklingHansel and Gretel, and The Princess and the Pea. She lives in New York City.  You can find more about Rachel Isadora @ http://www.rachelisadora.com/Asset.asp?AssetID=40423&AKey=T8LNTX4L

Book Information:

  • ISBN-13: 9780399257414
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books, a Division of Penguin Young Readers Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/11/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Originally reviewed November, 2013

THE NAPPING HOUSE BY AUDREY WOOD & DON WOOD

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Audrey Wood wrote this fun book in 1984.  The illustrations are by her husband, Don Wood.  It has sold over 1.6 million copies since then.  This latest version (the cover above) is the Happy Birthday – 25 years version.  It has a CD with a reading and six original songs.  The new book cover utilizes digital technology.

This cumulative tale is one of my favorite read-aloud story time books.  Catching the rhythm as the reader, this story just grabs me, making it such fun to read.  The listeners are loving it too.  We all end up with smiles on our faces just like the characters on the pages of The Napping House.

Don Wood’s illustrations fill each page with expressions of Grandma snoring, Grandson smiling while he naps, lively colors, deep folds in the sheets and clothing, plus twists and turns in the way each naps atop one another.  There is a grandmother, a grandson, a dog, a cat, a mouse, and a flea.  Once the flea enters the bedroom scene, and after it has napped a bit, the havoc begins.  Not only am I reading this silly and entertaining book out loud with enthusiasm but I am looking for that tiny flea from page to page.

After twenty-five years, it is still on the top of the reading list and will be a favorite for another generation or three, I am sure.

Awards:
ALA Notable Children’s Book
New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year
Golden Kite Award winner
California Young Reader Medal winner
Booklist Editors’ Choice

Reading Level: 4 – 6 Years

Audrey Wood and Don Wood, a wife and husband team, often collaborate on books for children.  Audrey writes; Don writes and illustrates. They have written Piggies, Heckedy Peg, Silly Sally, King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, a Caldecott Honor Book, Piggy Pie Po, and many more.  The Woods live in Hawaii.  You can find them both @  http://www.audreywood.com/

Book Information:

  • ISBN-13: 9780152567088
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/28/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 9.38 (w) x 10.36 (h) x 0.34 (d)

9471003_origThis book jacket was the original cover from 1984 until the 25th birthday version came out (which is the one at the top).

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This review was originally published on my first blog in September, 2013.

THE GREATEST GIFT by Ann Voskamp

2979095“Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas” is the subtitle of Ann Voskamp’s Advent devotional.

As we wait with expectation for Christmas Day, Ann Voskamp takes us on a genealogical journey from Adam to Jesus Christ through daily devotionals for the first twenty-five days of December.  Each day has a reading based upon Scripture from the Bible, a brief section called “Unwrapping More of His Love in the World” where she gives us something to do in our own world…something that would bless another or give us room to ponder more of Him.  A quote from a Christian, a current author to a Puritan follows. Each day is completed with “A Moment for Reflection” where she asks three questions with lines for our answers.As we journey through this lineage, we are reminded of the promise of Christ.  We look forward and upward with each day’s reading and time to ponder.

“The Jesse Tree” ~ tracing the family line and heritage of the family of God is also a way for the family to read this together, making a Jesse Tree with the lovely, delicate ornaments seen throughout the book.  Ann has made them for downloading at her website, www.aholyexperience.com, using the code Jesse.  She explains the Jesse Tree in detail in the beginning of this book.

Ann Voskamp is the Bestselling Author of One Thousand Gifts – A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.  She is also a writer for DaySpring, a contributing editor to Laity Lodge’s The High Calling, and an advocate for Compassion International. With an educational background in psychology and education from York University and the University of Waterloo, Ann lives with her farmer husband in the Mennonite countryside of southwestern Ontario, Canada, raising and homeschooling a half dozen kids.  She writes daily at her website, A Holy Experience.  You can read more about Ann @ Tyndale House Publishers – http://www.tyndale.com/Ann-Voskamp/bio

Book Information:

  • ISBN-13: 9781414387086
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/30/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Originally read and reviewed December, 2013.

NORA’S CHICKS by Patricia MacLachlan

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From the author of Newbury Medal winning Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patricia MacLachlan shares a sweet story of emigration.  A simple tale told through the heart of a sweet Russian child brings a piece of American history to life.  This would make a good story to introduce emigration and immigration to younger children.

Nora’s family emigrates from Russia to the new American frontier (we would call our midwest today).  Nora’s family consists of her parents and her baby brother, Milo.  Nora cries when she sees no hills or trees, is lonely in the stretching landscape of the American prairie, and would so like a friend.  A stray dog comes, becoming attached to Milo.  Nora’s father is a farmer, having cows and horses on the farm.  He sings Russian lullabies as he milks the cows, making Nora sad, missing her homeland.  One day, Nora’s father brings home chicks and geese to raise for eating.  But Nora loves them and feels that they are too beautiful to eat so her father gives them to her.  She names them.  They follow her around.  At last, she has something she can call her own.  One day a chick becomes lost.  A distant neighbor girl and her father come with the little lost chick in hand and a friendship begins to develop.  Change may be hard, but patience and time can bring delight and sweetness to what once was hard and sad.

The illustrations by Kathryn Brown are filled with the softness that watercolors can bring to paper.  Ms. Brown brings in clothing patterns from their Russian homeland, the loveliness of the prairie, and the life of living in a more simple period of American history.

Reading Level: 3 – 7 years

Patricia MacLachlan is the Newbery Medal–winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall. She has published many, many books, including Journey and Skylark. Patricia MacLachlan lives in western Massachusetts.  The following website has an interview with Patricia MacLachlan about Nora’s Chicks:  http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/qa-wmaclachlan/

Kathryn Brown is the illustrator of many children’s books, including My Little Grandmother Often Forgets by Reeve Lindbergh and Kisses on the Wind by Lisa Moser. Kathryn Brown lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.  You can find her illustration here: http://www.rmichelson.com/Artist_Pages/Brown/Kathryn-Brown.html

Book Information:

  • ISBN-13: 9780763647537
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Product dimensions: 8.82 (w) x 10.36 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Originally reviewed by me in November, 2013

JUMANJI by Chris Van Allsburg

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This story is a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat story, has been read by many, and does not grow old.  It was even made into a movie and still, we want to read and reread this surrealistic tale.

As the tale begins, Judy and Peter are left at home while their parents go out to the opera with a parental reminder of rules to obey and that they will be bringing home guests afterward.  The two children venture out to the park across the street only to find a game entitled “Jumanji.”  A note is taped to the box with these words: “Free game, fun for some but not for all.  P.S. Read instructions carefully.”  Thus the adventure begins!  Peter and Judy have no idea where this game will take them nor what kind of extraordinary events will happen, nor does the reader on the first reading!  Just remember what that note said as you read this great book!

The sepia-tone drawings are done by Mr. Van Allsburg.

Thirty-plus years of readers have been right there with Judy and Peter as a whole new generation joins them on this most intriguing adventure.  The book cover pictured above is the thirtieth anniversary edition which includes a CD by Robin Williams reading this incredible piece of fantasy.  What fun to listen to Robin Williams reading Jumanji.

Reading Level:  6 – 8 years old

Awards:
Caldecott Medal Award
National Book Award finalist
New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year
Boston Globe Horn Book Honor Award
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
American Library Association Notable Book for Children
Booklist Editor’s Choice
International Reading Association/Children’s Book Council Children’s Choice

Author and Illustrator:
Chris Van Allsburg is the winner of two Caldecott Medals, for Jumanji and The Polar Express, as well as the recipient of a Caldecott Honor Book for The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. The author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children, he has also been awarded the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children’s literature. In 1982, Jumanji won the National Book Award and in 1996, it was made into a popular feature film.   Mr. Van Allsburg began his career after graduate school as a sculptor, but delved into drawing.  His wife encouraged him to illustrate his own children’s book and thus the tales began.  He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and two children.  You can find more about this great author/illustrator @ http://www.chrisvanallsburg.com/home.html

Book Information:

  • ISBN-13: 9780547608389
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/4/2011
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition number: 30
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 11.20 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Originally reviewed by me December 3, 2013.