Friday, August 19, 2011

The Little Island

Margaret Wise Brown 1946
illustrated by Leonard Weisgard
Soon we leave for the Thousand Islands in upstate NY.  It's one of our favorite places and also where my dad's side of the family is.  So we'll get to see our country cousins and boat and swim.

There really are over 1000 islands in that stretch of the river and the whole area is very beautiful.  Chris and I always come home dreaming and scheming how we can afford to buy a house on an island up there (we can't!).  Some islands are quite big (even with a road or two), but most are smaller with only one or two houses on them and are accessible only by boat.  And I've seen plenty like the island in this book, with only enough room for a few trees and shrubs.

This little island is in the ocean (I always imagine someplace in the Pacific along the coast of California or Oregon).  It's a character all it's own in this story- a home for seals, and gulls, and even a visit from a kitten.  Nothing exciting happens, but it's a sweet story to read and the illustrations, like paintings, have won a Caldecott. 

Night came to the little Island
dark and still
And seven little fireflies
flashed in the darkness.
A bat flew around and around the pear tree
and woke up the owl.
The wind whistled.

If anyone is wondering about the author's name- Golden MacDonald was the pen name for Margaret Wise Brown of Goodnight Moon fame.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Dark Emperor

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night (Booklist Editor's Choice. Books for Youth (Awards))
Joyce Sidman 2010
illustrated by Rick Allen

There's something about a summer night.  We stay up late and listen to all the lush insect sounds, the sky gets dark and cool and everything smells sweeter.  How perfect then to sit out by the fire, or lay in bed and read such things:

it is midnight,
the trilling hour,
and all I want
is to feel the thick heat
on the hard case of my body
and sing,

Joyce Sidman writes some really wonderful poems about nighttime and the creatures that inhabit it.  No wonder this book won a Newberry award!  Each poem is accompanied by a column of information.  I even learned about trees and how they use the night to heal their bark and stretch their roots.  The block print illustrations by Rick Allen are fantastic. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rain Makes Applesauce

by Julian Scheer and Marvin Bileck 1964

We've had plenty of rain these days.  All the better for our gardens and grass!  And it was time to pull out this book to read over and over.  I love the whimsical pictures- you could sit and look at them for hours.  The text is silly, nonsensical fun.  Sometimes that's just what kids like to listen to best.  Things like:

Dolls go dancing on  the moon and rain makes applesauce
The wind blows backwards all night long and rain makes applesauce
Candy tastes like soap soap soap and rain makes applesauce
Monkeys eat the chimney smoke and rain makes applesauce

I wish our copy didn't smell so musty, but maybe that adds to the charm!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Last month we had a week of unrelenting heat. And after a day full of swimming (Charlotte has just started to swim underwater!) we all fell exhausted onto our cool beds. Charlotte brought this book up and since it's quite a few pages (and I was quite tired) we only read some of it. 

illustrated by Eric Carle 1999

All wonderful pictures of animals by Eric Carle (if you're a fan of his) and fun fitting poems by the likes of Emily Dickenson, Ogden Nash, T.S. Elliot and more.  Charlotte informed me that "Octopus are my favorite."  Mine too.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Oh, What a Busy Day

Even though it's the lazy days of summer we seem to be fairly busy with the very best of things. We visited the Arboretum and stayed in the shade for an hour playing along the banks of a creek. We biked to church Sunday morning and stopped for water ice on our way home. And we packed our nature journals for a day at the Wissahickon where we caught crayfish in nets and waded in the cool water. I was afraid that in the heat we would all plop in front of the tv and not move. But surprisingly our tv has hardly been turned on. Whole days have gone by and we've never even missed it.

Gyo Fujikawa 2010

I love Gyo Fujikawa.  Her cute illustrations always include kids of all different colors and nationalities.  In this book there are rhymes on each page as the children wake up and fill their day with jump rope, hide and seek, imaginary games inside, gardening, helping others, picnics by the beach, etc...   It's a busy day indeed!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild!

Mem Fox 2003
illustrated by Marla Frazee

This book could very well be titled "Charlotte, You'll Drive Me Wild!" The little girl in this story is so very much like Charlotte, full of exuberance and curiosity. She doesn't mean to make such messes, and is always truly sorry afterwards but her patient mom can only hold it together for so long. All of my kids have heard me shout (in a half joking/half frustrated voice), "Ahhh, you're making me crazy!"

One morning at breakfast, she knocked over a glass of juice, just like that.
Her mother didn't like to yell, so instead she said, "Harriet, my darling child."
"I'm sorry," said Harriet, and she was.

Before lunch, when Harriet was painting a picture, she dripped paint onto the carpet, just like that.

Her mother didn't like to yell, so instead she said, "Harriet, my darling child.  Harriet, you'll drive me wild.  Harriet, sweetheart, what are we to do?"
"I'm sorry," said Harriet, and she was.

After Harriet is supposed to be napping and a feather pillow gets torn apart, her mom finally loses it and yells and yells.  There's hugs and smiles at the end though.