Monday, October 28, 2013

Picture Book Review: Everything Goes by Brian Biggs

One of the blogs I follow, MotherReader, has a great feature titled (currently) "150 Ways to Give a Book". I say 'currently' because she is always adding to it. Of course, we all love to give and receive books, right? We can make them even more special, though, by pairing them with other items (by which I do NOT mean the spin-off merchandise that makes the book seem like an afterthought.) For the rest of this year, when I review a book, I will try to also offer some gift suggestions to go along with it.
I already know who will be getting these two, the latest in Brian Biggs' Everything Goes series:
Everything Goes: Santa Goes Everywhere!
In this nice, chunky board book, Santa travels by everything BUT sleigh - with a single trusty reindeer behind the wheel, or perched on his handlebars. Kids will get a giggle out of some of the facial expressions of both Santa and his sidekick, and the passers-by.
Everything Goes: By Sea
Bright, cartoony drawings follow a young boy and his family in their hot pink car, as they leave the crowded traffic to board a ferry. Definitely meant for a slightly older audience, the boy's questions about why the boat doesn't sink are answered in fairly simple text bubbles with cut-away views. Other types of boats are explored (this busy river makes the roads look empty) throughout the pages. Trying to read from beginning to end in one sitting may prove to be a bit much, but it won't ruin the book at all to take it in pieces - or, just let your little one explore the pictures on his own, and use the text to answer questions as they come up.
Of course, anything involving transportation is a pretty safe bet for gift-giving. Toy cars or boats come to mind immediately, but consider some other options as well:
- If the little one already has a million toy cars, what about something to carry them in? Soft-sided lunch boxes are just the right size for a toddler to tote around, and can take a lot of punishing use.
- Do you live near a marina or bridge? Tuck a coupon inside the pages good for a day trip together to watch the boats go by. Better yet, have a friend with a boat that will take you out for a cruise?
- Look for related puzzles, like this sturdy one from Melissa and Doug:
Transportation Peg Puzzle - 6 Pieces
- Is this a crafty kid? Look for big car-shaped beads to string, or a paint-by-numbers, or a wood car or boat that can be painted.
- Finally, boats just scream bath toys!
What other gift ideas could you put together with these titles?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

And a Frightfully Good Time Was Had By All!

We held our annual Family Fright Night this past Thursday evening. Outside of Sumemr Reading, it is probably the event that takes the most planning and prep work, but it's also the most fun!
Decorations were fairly simple this year, since I make ladders a bit too top-heavy:
Yards and yards of black cloth are invaluable.

This is where I sat to read stories to anyone interested.

This guy greeted people at one door, while a screaming ghost waited at the other.
Hooray for purchase orders and day-after-holiday clearance sales!
This is the beginning of the food-holiday-season, so we had fun with that:
Dried Skin (potato chips), Witch's Teeth (candy corn), Secret Message Crackers (Scrabble Cheese-Its), and a pumpkin with fruit-and-cheese skewers for 'hair'.
Miniature Jack-o-lanterns (orange Oreos), Severed Fingers (pretzel rods) in a Delicate Earwax Sauce (queso), Dried Blood Drops (red hots), Honey Roasted Teeth (peanuts)

I was especially happy with these, but the fruit and cheese were the biggest hits! To drink we had Pumpkin Blood, Chilled Blood, and Goblin Goo (bug juice of varying colors)
We do ours as a come-and-go event. When trying to get kids into costume, it's hard to be anywhere at a specific time, so this has seemed to work best. There were two craft stations:

Make your own treat bag (which then gives you something to hold prizes in, so we tried to steer kids here first),

And Make Your Own Monster. I got big people shapes from Oriental Trading on sale, and just spread out some generic craft supplies.

And imaginations.
There were some very friendly-looking monsters,

some absolutely adorable,

and some I wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley.

Notice the blood? I asked him what is monster had been eating, and the answer was something along the lines of, "Everything."
It was a popular spot!

Both crafts were presided over by Pirate Clara, who came here straight from work.

She is awesome at quietly keeping large amounts of children, glue, and stickers under some semblance of order, and very crafty. She is never allowed to grow up and leave me.
There were also three games to play as many times as you like:
Eyeball Bowling
See, I told you we couldn't throw those old cassette cases away, and that I would find a use for them!
You got to pick a prize for each one you knocked down. Prizes were a mix of candy and toys. This game was run by another one of our teens.
Her sister ran the Feed the Monster game:
Toss the bugs in the monster's mouth, pick a prize for each one that makes it in.
The most popular game, though, was run by Mr. Cliff. You had to stick your hand in a bowl of cold green Jell-O, and pull out an 'eyeball' (ping-pong ball).
The eyeball had a number on it, telling you how many prizes you could pick. S. was the first to break the surface:
followed by L:
Hey, I like this!
In fact, I like it so much, I'm going to refuse to pull an eyeball out, because then they will make me stop!
The sliminess did not deter many kids.
In fact, I was very proud of D., here:
She does not generally like to get messy, but kept going back to this game. She also brought me this adorable Rice Krispie monster, which so far I have not been able to bring myself to eat:
Of course, seeing all the costumes was the highlight for me. The shy soldier,

or the never-shy-a-day-in-his-life Scooby.

This young man was talking away to me, and I finally had to shake my head and say, "Honey, I can't tell who you ARE!" Awesome costume, Mom!

Definitely winning the award for attitude, though:

I love that these girls were discussing a book in the middle of the chaos:)

Cutest. Punkin. Ever.

These two friends got seperated at different schools, so they were happy to hang out here.

Costumes weren't required, though, and those without had just as much fun!

Huge thanks to all the parents who brought kids, and to the awesome volunteers who helped out (including the two who hadn't signed up to help, but took over when others had to leave - and then stayed to clean up!)


Friday, October 25, 2013

New Junior Readers, Part 2

Charlie the Ranch Dog: Where's the Bacon?
I think Drummond's writing styles actually works better for junior readers than for picture books (of course, it works best of all for grown-ups, her blog being one of my first stops every morning!). Charlie is trying to be a good host to visitor Rowdy, but oh my goodness, he is a handful! Any child who has tried to entertain a friend who just didn't play the way he wanted him to will be sure to identify with Charlie here. And, don't forget to look for the chipmunk!
Lulu Goes to Witch School (I Can Read Book Series: Level 2)
Before Fancy Nancy, there was...Lulu the witch? I did a double take when I read the author's name. I was unfamiliar with the original (published in 1990), but I'm glad to have made its acquaintance now. Lulu is NOT so happy to have made the acquaintance of Sandy Witch, a little girl in her class.
"Maybe you will like her better tomorrow," said Mama Witch.
Lulu Witch did not like Sandy Witch any better the next day.
This edition has adorable new illustrations by Bella Sinclair, and I officially want to snatch up the baby brother on page 23 and squish him!
Pony Scouts: Blue Ribbon Day
Horse books are generally a sure thing, and there really aren't many junior readers or picture books about county fairs, so I think this will do well on our shelves. Kids (and parents) who are not familiar with some of the terminology will definitely need the glossary in the back, though.
All three of these are available on our library shelves or in book stores now. Thank-you to Harper Collins for the review copies!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

New Junior Readers

Today we have a few new titles for your beginning readers:
Dixie and the Good Deeds
Emma got a little overenthusiastic with her class project on good deeds, and signed up to do half a dozen all on the same day. Wonder how many moms will relate to this? Dixie tries to help her out with each one, but only succeeds in making a mess - until the very end, when she saves the day. I think kids will enjoy the story (if Mom is able to bite her tongue), but I was expecting something to come of the culminating mess Dixie would surely have become.
Fancy Nancy: Apples Galore!
In the Fall, even the leaves are fancy! (Excuse me - I meant, in Autumn, the foliage is more colorful.) Our little village just celebrated its annual Apple Festival, so this was well-timed. Nancy's class is going apple picking, and she is determined to bring home her father's favorite, a Gala. Unfortunately, her field trip buddy seems more determined to play trick after trick on their class, ending in a boy-who-cried-wolf lesson. One of O'Connor's better junior readers, I think - and, of course, Fancy Nancy titles never stay on the shelves for long!
Digger the Dinosaur
Okay, now he's just a cutie. Look at that face! How can Momasaur be too mad when he 'forgets' to listen? Silly and short, a perfect read-together with the little one that has you shaking your head and trying to hide your smile. We'll look forward to seeing more of Digger!
Thank-you to Harper Collins for the review copies.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oh, Dear...

How did

tiny thing
get to be


At least she still fits in small spaces:)
Happy birthday to my favorite teenager!