Archive for ‘Home Library’

January 5, 2012

The Gruffalo

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Title: The Gruffalo

Author: Julia Donaldson
Illustrator: Axel Scheffler

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books, 1999

Suitable for: Ages 4 – 8

Themes: Humor, Irony, Thinking on your feet

Opening Sentences:

A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good.
Where are you going to, little brown mouse?
Come and have lunch in my underground house.
“It’s terribly kind of you, Fox, but no–
I’m going to have lunch with a gruffalo.”


A sneaky mouse outwits various forest animals who are anxious to gobble him up by scaring them off with tales of the ferocious gruffalo. But what will the mouse do when the gruffalo actually shows up?

Activities: Visit the Gruffalo Activity Site for games, coloring sheets, and more.

Why I Like This Book:

This is just a great, fun read-aloud book. The rhyming text and meter is pitch-perfect. Descriptions of the gruffalo are reminiscent of the monsters in “Where the Wild Things Are”. Younger kids will enjoy the colorful light-hearted illustrations and the repetitive lines for each encounter with a predator. Older readers will enjoy seeing the mouse outwit the other animals and being in on the joke, as well as the irony that the gruffalo really exists!

I read this book to a Kindergarten class and had them show me their terrible claws and their terrible tongues, which they loved. They also enjoyed the repetitiveness and were finishing some of the lines for me.

If you like this book also check out other books by Julia and Axel: The Gruffalo’s Child, Room on a Broom, and Snail and the Whale.

December 2, 2011

Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Big Orange Splot

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site’s Perfect Picture Books to see the other books recommended.

Title: The Big Orange Splot

Author & Illustrator: Daniel Manus Pinkwater

Publisher: Scholastic, 1977

Suitable for: K-3

Themes: Individuality, Self-Expression

Opening Sentences:

Mr. Plumbean lived on a street where all the houses were the same. He liked it that way. So did everybody else on Mr. Plumbean’s street. “This is a neat street,” they would say. Then one day… A seagull flew over Mr. Plumbean’s house. He was carrying a can of bright orange paint. (No one knows why.) And he dropped the can (no one knows why) right over Mr. Plumbean’s house.

Synopsis: An orange splot on the house inspires Mr. Plumbean to transform his house into something of his dreams. The neighborhood is inspired to make their dreams too.

Activities: This story is perfect for teaching kids individuality and self-expression, that it is okay to be yourself. You can find numerous activity plans created by fellow teachers by doing a Google search. The link I have provided here is suitable for young kids. It involves the child drawing the house of their dreams on Mr. Plumbean’s street and writing a sentence about it. Here is a link to another activity plan which is more involved.

Why I Like this Book: This book teaches in a very creative and simple way, that it is okay to be yourself and that people will still like you. Heck you may even inspire others. The story teaches kids to be confident in who you are but without arrogance. Mr. Plumbean was brave in making his house into an explosion of color and disrupting their neat street. When the neighbor came over to discuss the house situation, Mr. Plumbean simply offered a glass of lemonade and good conversation, resulting in the neighbor transforming his house as well.

The story is illustrated with bright, bold, gorgeous colors done in a simple drawing style that mimics the art of kids. The writing uses colorful and funny expressions. “Plumbean has popped his cork, flipped his wig, blown his stack, and dropped his stopper!”

November 25, 2011

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Bear on a Bike

I’m joining in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site’s Perfect Picture Books to see the other books recommended.

 Bear on a Bike

Author: Stella Blackstone
Illustrator: Debbie Harter
Publisher: Barefoot Books, 1998

Suitable for: Birth to 3 years

Themes: Discovering new places, people, and animals by using different transportation means, a rhyming adventure

Opening Sentences:

Bear on a bike,
As happy as can be,
Where are you going, bear?
Please wait for me!

Synopsis: Bear shows the boy different places the market, forest, beach, island, and castle. They use different transportation vehicles to get to each of the wondrous places.

Activities: The best way to read this book, is with a kid in your lap or right next to you. Various question games you can play such as on question page spread “Where do you think the bear is going?” There is a hint in the pictures. On the answer page spread, ask the child to find various things in the picture for you or do the reverse where you point to a picture and have the child tell you what it is.

Why I Like This Book: I love this book for the rhyming text and the colorful, detailed illustrations. Every two page spreads covers a single place. The first page spread is the question page “Bear on a <bike, boat> .. Where are you going, bear?” The second page spread is the answer page “I’m going to an <island, castle>”. The second page spread is filled with so much detail, you could easily spend several minutes asking your young child to find things. My daughter’s favorite pages where the market and the beach.

This book was a favorite for my older daughter when she was a baby. She loved it so much that I used this book as an incentive to get her to crawl and walk.

Take a look at the page spread below, and fall in love with the book as I have.

September 13, 2011

Little Blue Truck

“Neigh!” said a horse.
“Quack!” said a duck.
“Beep!” said the friendly
Little Blue Truck.

Little Blue truck is driving along the country saying hello to all his animal friends. When suddenly a big mean Dump truck comes through pushing Little Blue truck and the other animals aside. But then the Dump truck gets stuck! Who will help him, not the animals who found Dump to be rude. But Little Blue truck will help, but then he gets stuck too. Luckily Little Blue has friends that work together and set both trucks free.

Charming short tale about kindness, friendship, and helping out others. The story is told in rhyme with beautiful cadence. I enjoyed reading this book aloud. Young readers will enjoy saying the different animal sounds. I recommend this book for young readers age 3-5.

Recommendation: Add to Home Library

Author: Alice Schertle
Illustrator: Jill McElmurry

Little Blue Truck

September 8, 2011

Ladybug Girl

“She thinks of the 59 letter L’s she found, and how she saved the ants. She wasn’t afraid of the shark at all, she built the perfect fort, and she balanced across the whole tree without falling — all by herself!”

Lulu is a free-spirited young girl in her ladybug costume looking for something to do. Mama and Papa are busy and tell her to go make her own fun. She asks her brother if she can play baseball with him and his friends, but he says “No, you’re too little.” Ladybug girl is sad, but only for a little bit. Bingo her trusty dog leads her outside, and there Ladybug Girl makes her own fun rescuing ants, repairing a fort, walking along a fallen log without falling. By the end of the morning Ladybug Girl knows she is definitely not to little.

This is a unique book, one that I think could become a classic as it has a number of great qualities. Any young child can relate to wanting time with a busy parent or older sibling, and remembers being told to go figure it out for themselves. The author does a great job conveying the various emotions of Ladybug Girl such as frustration when she doesn’t know what to do, empowered when she helps the ants, daring when she splashes past the shark, angry when her brother still won’t let her play, and enlightened when she realizes she is definitely not little. I love the message of this book that no one is too little and that you can create your own fun anywhere. It is refreshing to see this message in a realistic story that could occur in the most ordinary of backyards.

Currently, this is my three year old’s go to book. There are other books in the series which I look forward to reading.

Recommendation: Add to Home Library

Author: Jacky Davis
Illustrator: David Soman

Ladybug Girl

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