Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Books Read To/By the Kids in April 2011

Reading aloud to the girls suffered dreadfully in April, but here are most of the library titles we managed to get to. And of course, they pored over our own shelves and re-read lots of favorites. I'm proud of Olivia for picking up my slack and taking it upon herself to read her 3 year old sister stories anytime she wanted them, while Mom was otherwise occupied. There's nothing that squeezes a mother's heart quite like the sight of one of her children reading a story to a younger sibling.

Written by Diana Hutts Aston
Illustrated by Sylvia Long
Non-fiction Picture Book; Ages 4 and up
(Published in 2006 by Chronicle Books)

  This beautifully written and illustrated book is a nature lover's dream. The rich, poetic prose discusses the physical qualities of eggs. And the incredible pictures featuring dozens of eggs had my 6 year-old Karina poring over this book time and again. I love them so much I plan on purchasing this book and the others Aston and Long collaborated on: A Seed Is Sleepy and A Butterfly Is Patient (not yet released).

I borrowed this from the library after I saw it featured on Janice Durant's blog Books of Wonder and Wisdom. Thank you, Janice.

Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
Picture Book; Ages 4 and up
(Published in 1988 by Philomel Books)

Every year old Babushka paints eggs to sell at the Easter festival. One day, when a wounded goose falls from the sky, Babushka takes her in, tenderly nurses her back to health, and names her Rechenka. When the goose accidentally breaks all of Babushka's eggs that she labored all winter to paint, Rechenka makes amends by providing a miracle.

(Again, thanks goes to Janice Durant for the book recommendation.

Written by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Young Readers; Ages 6 and up (Younger if read aloud.)

Ah, Mercy Watson, how my children love thee!
All the Mercy Watson books are perennial favorites around our house and get re-read every few months by both my older girls (ages 6 and 7). This is one series that they can both read themselves, and they are delighted to read them aloud to their little sister. This whole series of Mercy Watson books (there are 6) got a work-out this month. Literarily, the stories are pretty fluffy, but my girls bask in the marshmallowy yumminess. And the pictures, with their fifties retro feel, add greatly to the fun.

Mercy Watson is a buttered-toast obsessed pig, and an unwitting hero. She gets herself into and out of some silly predicaments and manages to come out smelling like roses butter.

In Mercy Watson Fights Crime (the 3rd book of the series), Mercy unwittingly foils a small would-be, cowboy wanna-be house burglar.
For some reason or other, this book was read the most this month by both girls. (I heard it read aloud to Susanna WAY.TOO.MUCH!)
(We've also borrowed the audio CDs before and they are well done. The girls like listening to them at night.)

Here are the other titles:

Written by Katherine Paterson
Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
Picture Book; Ages 4 and up

When a Japanese lord sees the beautiful plumage of a male mandarin duck, he orders his capture. In captivity, the male pines for his mate and begins to die. Appalled at his plight, a maidservant sets the duck free, and she and the Lord's one-eyed steward are sentenced to death for their perfidy. Help comes from unexpected quarters, and the two disgraced servants must flee for their lives. Find out what happens next in this beautifully told and illustrated story of compassion, courage, heroism, and loyalty.

Written by Sarah Stewart
Illustrated by David Small
Picture Book; Ages 4 and up
(Published in 1997 by Farrar, Straus, Giroux)

My girls and I so loved this Caldecott Honor book about a young girl who is sent to live with her uncle in the city because her father is out of work. Set during the Depression and told in the form of letters -first to her uncle and then to her parents and grandma at home in the country- Lydia Grace transforms her Uncle's drab life and bakery, one plant at a time, into a bower of blooming brightness.

Written by Munro Leaf
Illustrated by Robert Lawson
Picture Book; Ages 4 and up

It's hard to believe that this book about a gentle bull who only wants to sit "just quietly" and smell the flowers, was once banned by Franco of Spain. First published in 1937, a few months before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Francisco Franco saw the book as a message of pacifism directed at him and banned the book from Spain.
To me this book's timeless message is about being true to yourself and that being different is okay. I loved this story as a child and my girls love it, and enjoy re-reading it. They laugh hysterically when Ferdinand sits on the bee, and at the illustration showing his expression. And they laugh at the bullfight scene.


  1. I love An Egg is Quiet! And A Seed is Sleepy! So did my little one.

    Thanks for reminding me about the third book-I'd forgotten that one is coming. Although my boy had hoped for "A Stone is Still."

  2. I haven't read any of the Mercy Watson books yet. I must remedy that and soon! Thanks for the great list.

  3. Charlotte - Aren't they great?!? (Sigh)

    Catherine - Do try the pork! (Sorry, it's late; I'm getting punchy.) They are a quick read for adults.