Who Is Coming To Our House? by Joseph Slate is one of those books I can’t believe I haven’t already featured here at Hope Is the Word. We purchased this in board book format for our girls on Lulu’s third and Louise’s second Christmas. Now the boys are enjoying it just as much as the girls ever did, and it’s a sweet and familiar walk down memory lane for the girls. Like any good preschooler story, this one is full of rhyme and repetition. The title question is repeated on every few pages, and the stable animals answer with what they’ll do to prepare for the visitors. Mouse answers with a very mysterious “Someone, someone,” so when the last two page spreads reveal that it is indeed Mary and Joseph who are coming to “our house,” it’s a very sweet resolution. It’s one of those books that is easily memorized, so the DLM loves for me to ask him the question so he can answer in his quietest Mouse voice–”Someone, someone.” Ashley Wolff‘s illustrations are just right for the story and audience; some of them even favor woodcuts. Highly Recommended. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1988)
I’m making more of an effort these days to share some of our picture book picks, mostly because of the Armchair Cybils challenge. My girls and I are still making our way through chapter books and longer stories, too, though our read-aloud time right now is almost completely limited to morning Circle Time. Here’s what we’ve read together and I’ve reviewed since last month’s Read Aloud Thursday:
- Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack–The DLM loves this almost-wordless picture book!
- Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy–This is a delightfully rollicking rhyming picture book.
- The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt–My girls called this one “weird” and “cute” when I asked their opinion; the DLM simply asked me to read it again and again when we had it from the library. For the right kid, this one is a shoe-in winner.
- If You Want To See a Whale by Julie Fogliano–My children didn’t fall in love with this one and neither did I, as much as I wanted to.
- Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner–Another almost-wordless picture book by a multi-award winning author and illustrator, this one will appeal to older children and sci-fi lovers.
- What Floats in a Moat? by Lynne Berry–This super fun picture book about Archie (short for Archimedes) the goat introduces even the youngest listener to an important scientific principle. This one is another big hit for the DLM.
- The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin–We read this one for a Mother-Daughter Bookclub we hosted last month at the library, and it was a hit for everyone. It also inspired lots of paper doll making.
- The Peterkin Papers by Lucretia P. Hale–C.S. Lewis is reported to have said or written, “It is a good rule after reading a new book, never allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” The Peterkin Papers was that palate-cleansing old book for us, and what a fun one it is!
Not a bad showing, I suppose. We’re currently reading Nurse Matilda: The Collected Tales and Pagoo, both of which I hope to finish and share here before Christmas. We shall see if that works out.
What have you read together this month? Please link up your RAT posts below!
I chose to read The Peterkin Papers by Lucretia P. Hale to my girls because it’s a year four Ambleside Online free-reading selection, it’s free online, and we had read a picture book adaptation of one of the stories a few years ago (a Thanksgiving story, no less!), and I remembered it being very, very funny. Too, we had spent several weeks on modern novels (The Magic Half and The Doll People) as our read-alouds, so I was hankering for something written before I was born. The Peterkin Papers were published as a magazine serial and collected in book form in 1880, so they certainly fit the bill. I think that reading aloud work written long ago requires so much more of my children in terms of attention and vocabulary that it’s definitely worth the trouble. In the case of The Peterkin Papers, the “trouble” is rewarded hundredfold with laugh-out-loud moments of foolishness. The chapters are all stand-alone installments in the episodic tale of a very silly family. Common sense runs AWAY from this family instead of in it, so all of their scrapes are so silly, and their solutions for their problems are even sillier. Take, for example, the story “About Elizabeth Eliza’s Piano.” In this little vignette depicted on the cover above, Elizabeth Eliza is given a piano, but when the movers set the piano with its back to the middle of the room, close against the window, what are the Peterkins to do? Well, simple–Elizabeth Eliza simple puts her piano stool out on the piazza and plays through the window! (An aside: the movers are called by their old-fashioned name carters in the story, which is but one example of the great vocabulary expansion opportunities this book provides.) Their silliness knows no bounds, and while my girls didn’t get it every single time, they did get it more than they didn’t. And I laughed out loud again and again! The Peterkins are rescued from most of their silliness by asking the advice of “the lady from Philadelphia,” a woman who makes a near-constant cameo appearance and is obviously a font of wisdom. All in all, The Peterkin Papers is a fun, fun read and one that I’m very glad we invested the time in. You can read a couple of really fun excerpts that I’ve shared over the past few months here and here. Highly Recommended!
I try to add a book or two to our Christmas collection every year, and I think The Peterkins’ Christmas might be the one this year!
I love sharing nonfiction titles with my children, but I love even more when I can read them a story through which they learn something. My only complaint is that often these titles are overlooked because they’re classified as simply fiction picture books, when in reality they relay some sort of information far better than a textbook or an informational text could. What Floats in a Moat? is just such a story. Lynne Berry has written a story that grabs the reader’s attention, so it imparts information about scientific principles without succumbing to dry-and-boring definitions and descriptions. It’s the story of Archie (short for Archimedes) the Goat who is trying to find a way across the moat. He decides he must “build a contraption to float,” so he puzzles, ponders, doodles, draws, sketches, scribbles, and scrawls until he figures out that a barrel might float. He first fills the barrel with buttermilk, and when that doesn’t work, he attempts to send an empty barrel across the moat. He finally realizes that a half-filled barrel (appropriately christened S.S. Ballast) is the answer and exclaims “Eureka!” Skinny the Hen plays straight man and beleaguered assistant to a mad scientist/absentminded professor Archie. The story itself rolls off the tongue thanks to lots and lots of rhyme. Matthew Cordell‘s illustrations are comic book-like and very funny. If you need a fun introduction to Archimedes, this book is it. I read it no fewer than three times in quick succession to the DLM on Friday, so it’s even good for preschoolers. Highly Recommended. (Simon & Schuster, 2013)
This first one is a winner for sure. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt is one of those conceptually unique picture books that kids usually really enjoy. It’s a series of letters written to an unseen boy named Duncan by his crayons, many of which are miffed at him for one reason or another. The perpetually neat purple, for example, is angry because Duncan uses him to color outside the lines. The beige crayon is unhappy because it is only used to color boring things like turkey dinners and wheat (“and let’s be honest–when was the last time you saw a kid excited about coloring wheat?”). Green is happy over all the exciting things he gets to color: crocodiles, trees, dinosaurs, and frogs; however, green crayon asks Duncan to mediate an argument between orange crayon and yellow crayon. The story ends with Duncan really exercising artistic license and very creatively coloring the last two-page spread of the book, thereby earning an “A+ for creativity!” Oliver Jeffers‘ illustrations are exactly what you’d expect in such a book: similar to those of an eight or ten year old, with the crayons taking on personalities of their own. (The publication data at the back of the book includes this line: ”The art for this book was made with. . . um. . . crayons.”) I’ll be honest: this is a hard book to read aloud, and it’s not my favorite. The DLM, however, LOVES it (especially the NAKED peach crayon!), and I won’t be a bit surprised to see it shortlisted for a Cybils award. (Philomel, 2013)
If You Want To See a Whale by Julie Fogliano is a book I really want to love because, well, it’s written and illustrated by the same duo that brought us And Then It’s Spring. It’s no secret that I love Erin E. Stead‘s illustrations. Somehow this one doesn’t quite do it for me, and none of my children are enamored with it, either. It’s one of those quiet picture books that isn’t so much a story as it is an observation of things you will have to do or won’t be able to do if you want to see a whale. The star in this book, in my opinion, are the illustrations–quiet and detailed and perfect for the patient observation required for the text. I may be missing something here, but I think this is one that adults will like more than children. (Roaring Press, 2013)