Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Curious George

As a child, I was not very interested in the Curious George books.

But now, as a parent, I understand that I was too old for them.  Curious George is meant for toddlers and their parents.


Because toddlers find themselves in the same kind of situations all the time.  They lean over too far and fall into a lake.  They decide they want to play hide-n-seek with a baby bunny and are surprised when the bunny runs away.

Totally toddler behavior.

Occasionally I get so completely overwhelmed by her activity level and her curiosity that I start to sweat profusely.   There are times when I catch her at the last possible second as she is about to do something totally dangerous.  She is just so prone to spontaneous bursts of mischief.  And so is George.

Here are my favorites:
Curious George's Opposites and Curious George and the Bunny.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Naked Mole Rats.

Okay, so this blog is not going to turn into a Mo Willems fanpage, I promise.

But, let's talk about one more wonderful Mo Willems book:
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed

Blame this post on the Washington Post and their wonderful column today about the amazing naked mole rat. So it turns out that there are a few discrepancies between actual naked mole rats and the ones in this delightful book.  Shocking, right?

Allow me to quote the article from today:
"Their social structure is the mammalian equivalent of an ant colony. There’s a queen who takes two or three male consorts and is the only female to reproduce. She lords over the rest of the realm — which can be as large as 200 animals — so that the other females cease ovulating and the males give up."  (Hopefully you are not reading this post aloud to your children.)

So after reading this book, if you are thinking it would be cool to be a naked mole rat, and you happen to be female, then it's only cool if you are the queen.  

Alright, now all I can think is "Don't be a drag, just be a queen." 

But this book doesn't talk about the queen, it talks about a young man named Wilbur that is different.  He likes clothes.  Drama ensues.  Resolution occurs.  Then there's a party.  Which seems quite likely now that I know more about the species from the WP article.  Since they live long lives and seem to have a complete resistance to cancer, why not party?

Prepare yourselves.  I'm about to turn from this ALL MO WILLEMS lovefest to another wonderful and prolific author: Leo Lionni.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Author Alert: Ian Falconer

Let me be clear: I bristle at stereotypes of girls.  I dislike all things Princess (with the exception that I accept my nieces to whom they mean the world).  I dislike words like "diva" being projected on normal and spirited young girls.  And I am wary of anything that stereotypes girls into a type.  I believe strongly that children should be allowed to be whomever they please, and they should be allowed to change that person regularly and with flourish.

So, I have a guilty pleasure.  My daughter has a guilty pleasure (although since she does not yet feel any guilt, it's just pure pleasure).  The Olivia series by Ian Falconer.  Olivia borders on a stereotype.  Her behavior is over the top.  She lies.  She is not nice to anyone.  She is selfish and boorish (pun intended).

But, they are so clever.  They are so fun to read.  They have little jokes and surprises that reveal themselves slowly after many reads.  I kind of like them.  Okay, I'll admit it, I kind of love them.

Well, two of them: Olivia and the Missing Toy and Olivia Saves the Circus.   I do not particularly care for the original Olivia and I really disliked the Olivia Goes to Venice book.

But the other two are quite magical.  My daughter loves the drama of them.  She reenacts several parts of them daily.  And it's hard to be mad at a book that creates so much joy in both parent and child.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Girl Effect.

This blog is about me reading to my baby.  It's about education.  It's about the love of illustrations and the love of words.

Or is it?

Is it really about a girl.  My girl.  The girl that I adore, that I cherish, that I treat with respect.  The girl that I left my job at a local college to teach.  The girl that I would do anything to protect.

That is one lucky girl.  She is not yet 18 months old and she can count, she can recite books, she can sing the ABC song, and she can recognize letters on command.  She owns books and is on her way to reading them herself.  In some countries that puts her ahead of 75% of the population of women.

And there is a fact that we try to push away, that we can do something to change that.  That we have resources to help, not just here in this country, but all over the world.  Many of us work hard to provide educational tools to our children.  I just received a catalogue that had some beautiful educational toys for $60 each.  That toy might teach a new skill and be cherished for a year or two, but in the developing world, that same $60 might change the whole course of a young girls life.  She might live.  She might be educated.  It might allow her to find a way to sustain herself and her family.

But I'm not asking for money.  Just start by watching this video.  Start by caring and wanting to do something.  Start by wanting things to change, and then when the opportunity arises, when you see a young girl and  you have the means to help her, do it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Safari Animals by Simms Taback

We love animals around here.

Well, we love the idea of animals around here.  We have a zoo membership and go often.  We read animal books with frequency.  It's just that neither my husband nor I want pets.

But back to the books.  We read tons of animal books.  A new favorite is Simms Taback's Safari Animals.

This book is a delightful cross between a cootie-catcher, an animal quiz, and a do-it-yourself Microsoft Paint experiment gone horribly wrong.  While the individual elements might not work separately, together they are fun and cute.

So you start out by opening the book.  You get a quarter of the illustration and a clue as to what animal it is.  You open the flap up and you get another quarter and another clue.  The last turn of the flap gets you the rest of the image and the name of the animal.  It's huge!  It's fun!

My daughter has a bit of a cold right now, so imagine a snotty little kid with a raspy voice wandering about saying "I can RROOOOAAARRRR! I'm a Lion!"  And you'll have a bit of insight into this book.

It's not long, so it's best for younger kids.  I bet by age 4, these animals and this style of illustration would be too over-the-top.  But there is a lot of black and white, so I bet young babies might really enjoy this book.