Friday, February 12, 2010

What are your Favorite Childhood Books?

What were your favorite books as a child? Which ones stick out in your memory? Why? Share your memories and thoughts, but please limit to no more than five books. Thank you.

I'll get things started. The books that stick out most in my memory are, : "Nothing at All," "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel," "My Book about Me," "A Bear Called Paddington," "Choose Your Own Adventure Books."

"Nothing at All" - I don't remember who the author is for this book and I know that it is out of print. This simple book has a very soothing rythym and repetitive nature to help children learn and recognize words. We used to read this one before bed.

"Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel" - Virginia Lee Burton's classic story about a guy and his best friend, their adventures, accomplishments and pride in your work. Still love this book.

"A Bear Called Paddington" - Michael Bond introduced us to a bear from darkest Peru. Paddington also happened to be my first stuffed bear, so I had a special affinity for paddinton stories.

"My Book About Me" - As I got a little older and could read and write on my own, Dr. Seuss's "My Book About Me" became a favorite. Just fill in the blanks and you have a story that is all about the most interesting topic... you.

"Choose Your Own Adventure" - R. A. Montgomery wrote a series of books that put middle readers in charge of  the stroy. Think of it as the predecessor to interactive stories online.

What are your favorites? You can also take part in this on the Facebook fan page for Chapter One Reviews, Twitter (Chapter1Reviews), or

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Acting Up? Try "Acting Out."

There is no doubt that all the snow and cold is beginning to put a damper on things. Kids are at home driving parents nuts. The general noise level is approaching all time highs and everyone is a little edgy. Okay, maybe your home isn't quite that bad, but the more snow days you have the closer this scene is to becoming a reality. Kids begin acting up and the amount of guff parents will put up with dwindles. So we look for things to break the monotony. We look for activities. This made me remember a book I read last year. It's perfect for good readers. It's also perfect for families looking for something to do during all the snow days. When your children begin acting up, see if you can redirect them to act out.

"Acting Out'
By Sharon Creech, Patricia MacLachlan, Susan Cooper, Katherine Paterson, Richard Peck,
and Avi
For Ages 8 – 12
"Acting Out" is a fun way to introduce children to theater, reading with emotion and several authors new authors. Rated 5 (humor, variety, content)
Six Newberry award-winning authors come together in "Acting Out" to provide six very entertaining one act plays. This book is a great way to introduce young readers to the world of theatre and reading with emotion. It also turns out to be a smart way to introduce children to new authors.

The authors began the process of writing their one act plays by choosing a single word. The inspirational words for "Acting Out" were "dollop," "hoodwink," "Justin," "knuckleball," "panhandle," and "raven." Each play includes young characters and most are humorous.
My personal favorite is Creech's satire on the publishig world. It foolows a young Edgar Allen Poe as he attemps to sell his famous poem, "The Raven." My children preferred "The Dollop," Susan Cooper's morality play about overdeveloment which included a talking rock. Patricia MacLachlan adds some humor to detention with "The Bad Room." "The Billionaire and the Bird" is Katherine Patterson's twist on a fairytale. Richard Peck's "Effigy in the Outhouse," follows schoolboys trying to scare a spooky substitute. Avi plays tricks with words in "Not Seeing is Beleiving."

Each author offers notes on staging, character development and production hints. This book is perfect for homeschoolsers, classrooms, and families looking for activities and fun educational opportunities. It also works well as a casual read for intersted children.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snow Day! Story Time for a Winter's Day

It's been snowing here on and off for a couple days. Nothing compared to what the mid-Atlantic states have seen this past week, but snowing none-the-less. All the snow brought a couple books to mind: "Here Comes Jack Frost" and "Snowflake Bentley."

"Here Comes Jack Frost"
By Kazuno Kohara
For ages 3 – 8
The holidays are over and Jack Frost is here. Many children get tied, bored and a little depressed by the grey of winter. In “Here Comes Jack Frost” a lonely boy is befriended by Jack Frost and learns to appreciate the winter. They pirouette on skates across the pond, sled down the hill and build snowmen versions of themselves. The boy forgets that he is bored by winter and enjoys the fun the season has to offer. Jack can stay and play as long as the boy never mentions anything warm, which isn’t a problem until the boy notices the first bud of spring. Not to worry, Jack promises to return next year.

Kohara illustrates the tale with white silhouettes. The hard, crisp edges pop from the crystal blue backgrounds adding an enchanted wintry ambience. "Here Comes Jack Frost" is a great selection for a wintery, snow day, story time.

"Snowflake Bentley"
By Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Illustrated by Mary Azarian
For ages 3 – 8
Published in the winter of 1998, and winner of the 1999 Caldecott medal, "Snowflake Bentley" is the biography of a self-taught scientist who photographed thousands of snowflakes so that he could study the unique individually snowflake formations.

The book shows Bentley's fascination with snowflakes and ice crystals beginning from a young age. He was determined to share his belief that they were little miracles by capturing them on film and sharing the formations with everyone. Few people understood his passion, but his patience and determination helped him develop the technique for microphotography which allow the camera to capture ice crystals' hexagonal shapes. He also proved that no two snowflakes are alike. 

Martin is very lyrical in telling Bentley's story, which is very fitting to the beauty and artistry of Bentley's photography. The text has several sidebars with interesting bits of information about Bentley and his techniques. Azarian's woodcut illustrations use bold black lines to anchor the images and provide a visual contrast to the delicate snowflake patterns. Tinted with watercolors the illustrations offer a heartwarming feel to the story.

The cherry on top of this sundae are three of Bentley's black and white photographs of snowflakes. The inclusion of his remarkable photography helps children and parents alike better understand his artistry.