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I had a blast at the SLV Fiber Festival this past weekend in Monte Vista, Colorado. I had storytimes with kids, demo’ed cat’s cradle string games, and sold the best and most fun kid’s books related to sheep, llamas, yarn–)and one chicken book ’cause it’s my favorite).

If you’re in the San Luis Valley and are interested in purchasing some books before I ship them back, shoot me an email at babette(dot)reeves(at)gmail.com. You know you’ve got birthdays, holidays, baby showers, and other special occasions coming up! And there’s nothing better than a book! 🙂

Here’s a list of what’s still available:

  • Feeding the Sheep–a little girl follows her mother’s activities through the year, learning along the way where her warm and lovingly made sweater came from.
  • Sheep in a Jeep (book & CD)–silly sheep try to drive a jeep, great rhymes and pictures, good for reading aloud or for beginning readers.
  • Where is Green Sheep–a Mem Fox classic with more silly sheep doing silly things (skiing down a sliding board?!), available in board book bilingual version.
  • Extra Yarn–brand new story about a magical yarn box and a girl who transforms her grey world with it, I think we’ve got a classic in the making with this one.

 

  • Tillie Lays an Egg–I am ga-ga over this book, Tillie lays her eggs all over and kids get to hunt for it in the photos created with retro farmhouse collectibles.
  • The Shepherd’s Trail–a cultural treasure, fabulous photos and just enough text to capture the dying art of the shepherd with the sheep in the back country, a real treasure. Only one copy left!
  • The Surprise–gives me giggles to even think about it and elicits an “awwww” every time at the ending, and don’t you want to see a sheep on a bathroom scale, with a blow dryer, and on a motor scooter?

 

  • The Dogs of Bedlam Farm–I generally despise children’s books written by adult authors (because they are usually just dreadful) but Jon Katz pulls this one off with just the right combo of photos and text to introduce children to Katz’ four farm dogs and their individual personalities and jobs.
  • The Littlest Llama–an overlooked gem, the littlest llama in an Andean herd can find no one to play with, wanders off, escapes trouble only to hurry home and discover she’s not the littlest any longer, bonus points for being told in well-structured rhyme.

 

  • Llama Llama Red Pajama–first in the series of Llama Llama books, if you don’t have this one yet for your little one, you need it (especially for bedtime “llama dramas” at your house).

If your budget necessitates getting these at the “big A,” I understand. Getting books to your kids is the most important factor.

But for now, you can get them from me with no shipping and only a dollar or two more. (And you’ll be supporting a local business with this mission).

Read on,

Babette

 

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All children’s books do not have to address a “growing up” issue. Some books are teetotally just for fun, for imagination, for the story, for the pictures. Children’s books “exist” for a million reasons.

Yet I am a complete pushover for books that capture a child’s view of themselves and the world. Why Do You Cry? by Kate Klise is my latest fave in this category. (Red Is Best by Stinson is another; I’ve been having a blast reading it at storytimes the last few weeks.)

Little Rabbit is turning five and planning the guest list for his birthday. Since when he turns five, he is going to be too old to cry, he doesn’t want anyone else coming to his party who cries. Of course, he finds out everyone cries, no matter their age, even his mother.

The premise is very much a child’s way of measuring “growing up.” And it’s a true discovery each time he talks with someone and finds out that they still cry. Life is still new; Little Rabbit is still learning. (And here’s a bonus: Notice how his mother helps him.)

The list of reasons people cry is well done and covers a nice gamut of reasons without being cloying, melodramatic, trivial, or overdone and scary. Each reason is stated as just a fact–which each is.

Adults often forget that emotions are high on the agenda of “things to learn” in a child’s life. We come “pre-programmed” to experience feelings but not to know what they are, what to call them, how to live with them, how they are a part of us and our relationships with others and the world. Why Do You Cry? gracefully helps little ones in its own little way with that part of “growing up.”

It’s all life!

Babette

What’s the latest news today in the world of encouraging literacy and discouraging obesity? The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the American Academy of Pediatrics have made your friend and mine, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the poster child for obesity prevention. (Read more here.)

Yeah for fighting the evil twins, illiteracy and obesity, let’s all stand up and cheer, right?

Wrong. AHG and AAP–you blew it. Here’s how:

While children are not adults in miniature, they are still rational beings. Using TVHC to talk about obesity doesn’t make sense. Why? Because by the end of the book, despite having one tummy ache, the caterpillar does what caterpillars are supposed to do after eating LOTS. The caterpillar makes his “house” and then comes out of it a beautiful butterfly.

Do you see the incongruency when you pair THAT message up with the message of “don’t overeat” and “don’t eat unhealthy foods like lollipops and cake”? That’s what the caterpillar did and look how things turned out for him–SPLENDIDLY!

Children are smart. They are going to know that the message is mixed. The message sent by the book (caterpillars eat a lot and then they become beautiful butterflies) and the message from AHG and AAP (eat healthy food in moderation) do not go together.

Kids may not be able to figure out what’s wrong, that the messages don’t mesh, but they will pick up the disconnected vibe–and that will drown out the intended message.

When we work with kids and with kids’ books, we’ve got to give them both more credit than that.

A better choice? How about Little Pea by Amy Rosenthal? Like TVHC, it’s an all-around fun read. And it would be a great conversation starter about food and good eating habits.

Other ideas?

Here’s to thoughtfully thinking like a kid,

Babette

“Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa. She lives in a big white house with many rooms and balconies.”

Thus begins each chapter in the Juvi novel, Anna Hibiscus, one of the most delightful books I’ve read over the last year. Four chapters tell four stories of Anna Hibiscus’ life with her very large family in a very large city in Africa. By the end of the book, I was ready to move to Africa and into that big, happy family.

Everything is not perfect but everything is manageable. A trip to the beach becomes overwhelming until the whole family arrives; “‘It is not good to be alone,’ Anna heard them whisper…’A husband and three children is too much for one woman alone.'” Anna learns compassion and hard work when she sells oranges instead of the street children. The family frets over a daughter returning from Canada for a visit; will she have forgotten the African ways? And Anna shows initiative and gets to visit Canada–and see snow!

Great elements in Anna Hisbiscus?

  • Family is the central focus and what a great family they all are!
  • Each story is written from a child’s point of view, expressing a child’s feelings and showing how children can grow and learn when supported by family.
  • Each story shows a realistic view of modern Africa with a blend of the traditional and the modern.
  • Each story just feels so natural even though the setting and culture will be so different for many children here in the US.

I can’t wait to add more in the series to my collection!

Hope you enjoy too!

Babette

 

Winters are long here in the San Luis Valley. We get lots of cold weather but not much snow (it’s actually a desert up here at 7600 feet). So storytimes on winter, the cold, animals, and the exciting times when we do get snow tie right into a child’s daily experience here.

Here’s what I’m currently doing for wintertime storytime. The kids and I are enjoying it!

Books we are reading include:

  • Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
  • Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep by Maureen Wright
  • Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara

Before I start reading Tacky, I show the kids my penguin stick puppet. He’s simply made out of black and white foam with a yellow beak (some kids love pointing out that he has no eyes). We talk about his colors and what he is covered with–fur? feathers? scales? hair? Once we’ve figured out penguins have feathers, we can talk about other animals that have feathers–birds! And then we can talk about birds that fly–and birds that swim like penguins!

Lots of talking happening, and of course, only for as long as the kids are interested. It’s easy talking, though, and easy for the kids to join in with their thinking and ideas and words.

Then my puppet acts out this rhyme (pardon the bullet points, WordPress inserts double spacing otherwise):

  • Little penguin black and white,
  • On the ice, what a sight!
  • See them waddle, see them glide.
  • Watch them as they slip and slide.
  • Little penguins black and white,
  • On the ice, what a sight!

Then we read Tacky with lots and lots of expression! After Tacky we talk about what other animals do in the winter and bears and sleeping come up. Before reading Big Bear, though, I tell the kids I’m going to tell the same story two different ways (a great way to build narrative skills, btw).

First I do this rhyme to the tune of  “Up on the Housetop.” As a sing through it, I place first a picture of a brown bear, then of a blue cloud with a face drawn on it (like Old Winter in Big Bear), and finally a bear sleeping in a cave onto my makeshift flannel board (I use pictures printed in color from MS Publisher and place them on a white memo board with double sided tape).

  • There once was a bear who love to play (Put up brown bear)
  • In the woods most every day.
  • But then the winds began to blow (Put up winter wind picture)
  • And soon the ground was covered with snow.
  • Oh, oh, oh, ice and snow,
  • Oh, oh, oh, I better go-o
  • Into my cave to sleep all day (Put up bear in cave picture)
  • Until the cold winter winds go away.  Jean Warren

I’m amazed at how much the kids love this! Then on to the Big Bear book. We follow it with some snow fingerplays (see the left hand side bar for those) and wrap it up with Jack Frost. Don’t let this book fool you though! It looks far too simple to hold a bunch of squirmy kids attention but it works like a charm. And they love puzzling out the ending!

There you go, lots of conversation, vocabulary, print awareness (especially in the final pages of Big Bear, narrative skills,  and phonological awareness through rhymes. All wrapped up in one winter package.

Stay warm,

Babette

I’ve had folks ask for specifics on the storytime that turned into such a great moment for developing the early literacy skill of print awareness (read more here).

I start off with a picture of a real sheep; her name is Miss Molly. And I have a bag of her wool. While the kids pass around and feel some of it (you may have to teach them “passing around” :-)), we talk about what wool is and what it’s used for. Then we read stories about sheep!

Here are the books we read:

The Surprise by Van Ommen: This is the wordless book I start with. The first spread is great for beginning to discern whether the kids have a sense of print awareness or not. It shows a sheep standing on a bathroom scale–and nothing else! The entire background in solid yellow. No distractions. Can they recognize that there are no words on the page?

Where is the Green Sheep? by Fox: If they can’t “see” that there a no words in The Surprise, show them Green Sheep and read a few pages. What’s neat about it is that you’ll have page with words and picture, another page with words and picture, another page with words and picture–then! boom! page with only words. Can the kids “see” the words on the picture-less white page?

The two books were just made for each other and made for highlighting print!

After reading both, we read Snow Lambs by Gliori. It takes a little preparation; show them the map on the end papers. Point out the house and river and tree on it. Various pages through out the story need some pointing, highlighting something in the picture, just a few extra words of explanation. But don’t overdo it. The kids may start off squirmy, but it’s a good story, well told, and they will be quietly engrossed if you give them time. They all want to know what happened to Bess!

Songs we sang:

  • Baa, baa, black sheep
  • 1 little, 2 little, 3 little lambies
  • Cows on the the farm (go moo, moo, moo) to the tune of Wheels on the Bus

This is one of my favorite storytimes! The kids love it, the teachers love it, and I love it! Try it with your groups!

Babette

And the prize goes to Zoopa by Gianna Marino! What’s Zoopa?

Zoopa is a yummy looking bowl of tomato based alphabet soup that attracts first an ant to the table–and then a whole alphabet’s worth of animals! And it’s the “funnest” alphabet book I’ve seen in ages.

Each double page spread shows a bowl of soup on a placemat. Each new spread shows the next alphabet letter floating in the soup. For each letter, there is a picture of an animal whose name begins with that letter. None of the animals leave the pages so as the story progresses, things get a little chaotic and crowded.

And did I mention Zoopa wordless? So you and your kiddos can find lots and lots to talk about from page to page. What’s that letter? What’s that animal? What’s he doing? What’s she carrying? What’s different? (On one spread the baby elephants that decorate the edge of the soup bowl come to life and start spraying each other with tomato soup.) Where is the (blank) now?

Something new catches my eye every time I look at this book. Hope it catches yours too!

Babette

I’ve got a million topics that have been screaming to be blogged. It’s been weeks since Bird finished the Top 100 Children’s Novels run-down. I convinced myself the  time was past for blogging anything about it (especially when these other things are wanting their time).

And then I made the mistake of looking over her “Everything Else” list, the one’s that didn’t make it. And I just couldn’t resist.

Before moving on there, though, let me say that I love the Top 100 list. I could spend hours and pages telling you why I love its books. And why I would put them in different orders.  🙂 But suffice it to say I have very few disagreements with any book on the list (except Holes; I’ve never understood why anyone, kid or adult alike, thought Holes was so fabulous).

But the “also-ran’s” tug at my heart–and remind me of some of my all time favorites that didn’t make any of the lists. So here they are!

Voyage of the Dawn Treader by Lewis: This is the Narnia book that my boys loved. We even had a stuffed animal mouse, big and fuzzy with red ears and tail, that was named Reepicheep.

Homer Price by McCloskey: I loved all the fixes Homer got into but especially the doughnut machine.

Rascal by North: Everyone should read Rascal. There weren’t many books that made me want to live in another place and time, but Rascal was one of them. I thought it was a perfect life.

Soup by Peck: Got a boy that doesn’t like to read? Soup made readers out of both of mine.

Clementine by Pennypacker: One of the best kids’ books I’ve read in years! I love Clementine–and her parents. Funny, touching, and so spot on from a child’s view of the world.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Park: Fun and funny–and it gets the Christmas story right with no one even noticing (at least not at first ;-)). Forget the movie though; it’s horrid.

Secret of Hidden Creek by St. John: This one’s not on the also-ran list but it’s a companion to the Ghost Next Door which was. Another all time favorite of 10 year old self, probably the first mystery that really grabbed me and made me want to have a similar adventure. And they were so much more realistic than Nancy Drew. These stories had the delicious feeling of  “this  could really happen.” And I couldn’t figure it out–and the ending was so cool! I was terribly disappointed as an adult to discover that no one else knew of  these wonderful books by St. John.

The Cricket in Times Square by Selden: Another one that I am truly heartbroken to see did not make the list. This book taught me (and later my own boys) what it means to be a friend, again with no preachiness. It’s up there with Charlotte’s Web in my estimation.

Encyclopedia Brown by Sobol: I read everyone, multiple times, and had a blast! Glad to see they are being reprinted for a new set of kids!

Treasure Island by Stevenson: Must be read aloud but if it is, kids love it!

Farmer Boy by Wilder: My boys loved the first two Little House books but then that was enough–except for Farmer Boy! This really is our favorite of the series. I love the ending; it’s just right.

Now a few more of my favorites that didn’t make any list. 😦

The Hundred Dresses by Estes: I’m appalled this book did not make it. Again, it catches life as a child so well. Not a bit preachy but one that stayed with me forever. I still remember the ending in my gut.

The Witch Family by Estes: I was entranced and enamored and enraptured by this book. I can still see the pencil drawings in my head. I didn’t own a copy but I alone probably wore out a library’s copy. Also The Moffats, Rufus M. (my boys loved both), and Ginger Pye. Well, maybe everything by Estes. I’m so grateful that her books are being reprinted. They are just about kids and their life as kids, nothing more and nothing less. Just what a child wants to read about.

Gentle Ben by Morey: This was a “read and re-read” favorite of mine. I can still “feel” this book when I think about it.

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Latham: I stumbled on this one for my oldest son and wondered how I had missed it as a child. It captured the imagination of both my boys around age 9-10–as a read-aloud. Not an easy book but well worth the time and effort especially for boys.

Dolley Madison by Nolan: I loved this book so much that I tracked down an old copy to read to my boys. I wanted to be Dolley Madison after reading this book (still would in the broadest sense). Her story single-handedly cinched my love of history as people’s stories, (rather than events). Anyone looking for strong heroines needs to find this book (yeah, this particular one :-)).

Whew! That’s long! Thanks for indulging me!

Do you have faves that didn’t make a list?

Babette

I don’t know how often this has happened to you, as parent or teacher or librarian, but it’s happened to me more and more over the last several years. I pick up a new book. It is the size, shape, and thickness of a picture book for little kids. It has gorgeous or cool illustrations like a picture book for little kids. It might even be shelved in the little kids’ picture section of the library.

It walks like a duck, sounds like a duck–but heads up, folks! It ain’t no duck.

It’s a picture book for elementary kids–and not just the youngest ones of even that set! 🙂

I love these books! Most are so well done. Most tell such awesome stories. And they all give us the chance to read aloud to an older kiddo, something that read-aloud experts like Jim Trelease say older kids still need. But they often get lost in the little kids’ picture book section and never reach their intended audience, the older kiddo.

How do you find them? Well, unless your library does some special cataloging for them (mine does ;-)), it’s not easy. You have to keep your eyes open for them. Check the new shelves. Ask your children’s librarian. Often the title will give it away. You’ll think, “That doesn’t seem like a topic for a four year old.” Or you’ll flip through them and see looooots of words on each page. Or you’ll read it and think, “That’s a really (thought provoking, heavy, subtle, different kind of humor, pick your phrase etc.) book for a four or five year old; maybe it’s not meant for a four or five year old!” Voila! You’ve found one!

Here’s a list of a few to get you acquainted with this breed. Once you find one, you’ll start spotting others!

Molly Bannaky by McGill
The Goat Lady by Houle
Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation by Sherman
Abe’s Fish by Bryant
One Candle by Bunting
Rabbit Pirates by Cox
The Pirate meets the Queen by Faulkner
A Big Cheese for the White House by Fleming
Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Krensky (I’ve read this one aloud to 6th graders!)
An Outlaw Thanksgiving by McCully
Little Flower by Rand
Mailing May by Tunnell
Wolf Wanted by Machado
Summer Birds by Engle
Bird by Elliott

I’ll try to post some more of these in the future as well.

Read on (even to your 1st-6th graders who can read on their own!),

Babette

OK, so mostly this blog is about little kids. But I am a librarian for babies up through young college aged folks. And I love reading YA (when I have the time) especially nowadays when I think some of the best ficiton writing for anyone is coming out of the YA camp.

So “life” and teaching in the last weeks, things were too crazy for me to get my top ten list into Persnickety Snark’s polling for the top 100 YA novels. But I did make a list and here it is. It’s  in no particular order (ranking things I love drives me nuts and I don’t need that right now).

Antsy Does Time by Shusterman

The Outsiders by Hinton

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Mortal Engines by Reeves (the whole series! although the first part of two really drags, you’ve been warned)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee

The Once and Future King by White

A Day No Pigs Would Die by Peck

The Crucible by Miller (I know it’s a book–but it’s soooo right for YA)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood

And number 11 I throw in for good measure unofficially. I truly love this book. I’m terribly interested to see if it ever gets the readership it deserves (from guys and girls)–and what its staying power will be over time.

Crazy Beautiful by Baratz-Logsted

I have this horror of posting and then remembering all kinds of terrific books I’ve forgotten to include! But if that happens, I may do list #2. 😉

Happy Reading,

Babette

You’ve probably already seen the final countdown, (my life has been really crazy as far as trying to get this posted), but this is primarily a shopping list, not an announcement list. 🙂 So happy shopping!

25. Little Women by Alcott

24. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by Rowling

23. Little House in the Big Woods by Wilder

22. The Tale of Despereaux by DiCamillo

21. The Lightning Thief by Riordan

20. Tuck Everlasting by Babbitt

19. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Dahl

18. Matilda by Dahl

17. Maniac Magee by Spinelli

16. Harriet the Spy by Fitzhugh

15. Because of Winn-Dixie by DiCamillo

14. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by Rowling

13. Bridge to Terabithia by Paterson

12. The Hobbit by Tolkien

11. The Westing Game by Raskin

10. The Phantom Tollbooth by Juster

9. Anne of Green Gables by Montgomery

8. The Secret Garden by Burnett

7. The Giver by Lowry

6. Holes by Sachar

5. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by Konigsburg

4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Lewis

3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by Rowling (yeah, the first one)

2. A Wrinkle in Time by L’Engle

1. Charlotte’s Web by White

Thanks to Bird for putting together such a terrifically fun project! And Happy Reading!

Babette

And here’s the other parts of the lists:

#25-50

#51-75

#76-100

One area of children’s books that often gets overlooked by parents and librarians is the emotional. Being a kid and growing up have never been easy. Trying to help a kid be a kid and navigate its particular waters has never been easy.

We forget as adults how hard it was to figure it all out. We forget that it’s all new for kids. And we forget that learning takes time and takes multiple tries. What is this feeling I feel? What do I call it and what do I do with it? If there’s a problem here to be solved, how do I do that? If it’s not something to be solved, how do I live through it? How do I process, understand, and make some meaning out of what’s happening to me?

It may be as “simple” as learning all the in’s and out’s of potty training (think about it, it involves way more than just getting it in the pot–there’s hand washing and door closing and seat lifting and on and on).  It might be as “complex” as learning to cope with the death of a parent.

To a child, it’s all new, it all takes time, and it all can be supported by a book.

I’m always on the look-out for books that are authentically supportive of kids and their learnings, transitions, and struggles. I discovered the blog, Books That Heal, yesterday and look forward to following its reviews and tapping it for ideas for books for my library’s collection and my community’s kids.

Be Aware,

Babette

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Contact Info for Babette

email babette(dot)reeves(at)gmail(dot)com
snail mail
73 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101

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