Monday, July 28, 2008

The Tale of Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter was born on this day (July 28) in 1866. She was a woman of many talents--artist, naturalist, scientist, and author. She spent much time in the Lake District of Northwest England which, I believe, is the most beautiful part of the British Isles. Upon her death in 1943, she left the property she owned there to the National Trust, preserving it for all to enjoy.

We are all familiar with her darling little children's books, and I hope that you are introducing them to your youngsters. She wrote 23 books during her lifetime, and we have lots from Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes to The Tale of Two Bad Mice and those in between including The Tale of Peter Rabbit. We even have a little known chapter book entitled The Fairy Caravan.

If you enjoy listening to books on CD with your family, you might want to borrow Rabbit Ears: Stories by Beatrix Potter. It would be a fun choice for a long car ride. We even have a DVD suitable for a rainy afternoon that showcases ballet vignettes of Potter's stories.

To learn more about the remarkable woman, check out one of these biographies for children:
Beatrix Potter by Alexandra Wallner
Beatrix: Various Episodes from the Life of Beatrix Potter by Jeanette Winter
For adults and young adults, we have Beatrix Potter: a Life in Nature by Linda Lear

You can also get a glimpse into her life at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beatrix_Potter
The World of Peter Rabbit is a website worth exploring: http://www.peterrabbit.com/
It contains games for children, coloring pages, things to make, and more.

I, for one, am grateful to this woman for she has enriched my life and that of my family's with her stories, beautiful watercolors, and belief in conservation.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fly Me to the Moon...

...and let me play among the stars!

Yesterday (July 20) marked the 39th anniversary of the first moon landing. I remember listening to Neil Armstrong's famous words as he stepped onto the surface of the moon, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Buzz Aldrin was next, and Michael Collins remained in the mother ship Columbia. It was so exciting, and the feeling has been captured in the biographies of each of these men. You can find them in our children's collection:

One Giant Leap: the Story of Neil Armstrong by Don Brown
Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin
The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon by Bea Uusma (winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction in 2004)

And we can't forget about this book. After all, they didn't get to the moon by themselves!
Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catheine Thimmesh

We also have books about the moon:
The Moon by Seymour Simon
Moon Book by Gail Gibbons
Moon by Steve Tomecek

The next time you get a chance to gaze at the moon, think of the men who have traveled there and back. Maybe someday you will get a chance to play among the stars, too.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Get VERY Buggy with Eric Carle

Eric Carle has written and illustrated "very" many books that feature bugs:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Very Quiet Cricket
The Very Lonely Firefly
The Very Clumsy Click Beetle
The Very Busy Spider
(plus one not so "very" book: The Grouchy Lady Bug).

There are very many activities you and you child can do with these books. Make a very fine picture collage of one of the bugs using very colorful cut up magazine pages. Check how very clumsy you are (or aren't) by walking along a line taped to the floor or by balancing on one leg. On a very warm summer's evening, catch very many fireflies in a jar and release them very soon. Make a very large fruit salad using the very yummy fruits described in The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Guess the temperature outside by counting chirps from very loud crickets. Count the number of cricket chirps heard within 15 seconds and add 40. Compare your cricket temperature to the actual one to see how very close they are.

Have a very good time reading!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Let's Go Camping!

With summertime comes camp time. I really enjoy sleeping under the stars. We have lots of books that will help you and your chlid make the most of your camping experience.
Nonfiction titles include:
First Camping Trip by C.B. Colby
Follow the Trail by Jessica Loy
Let's Go Camping! by Jan Mader
Camp Out! by Lynn Brunelle

Perhaps you're just not the outdoors type or maybe the weather isn't cooperating. You can pretend to camp. Drape a sheet over a table or chairs, grab a flashlight, and a few good books.
Our camping fiction titles include:
Camping Out by Heather Amery
Stella and Roy Go Camping by Ashley Wolff
Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe by Vera B. Williams
Pig Pig Goes to Camp by David McPhail

Maybe you'd prefer to read American Indian tales. Here are a few written by Joseph Bruchac:
The First Strawberries
How Chipmunk Got His Stripes
Turtle's Race with Beaver

Scary stories are are always fun, too. There's Alvin Scwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. My favorite is Dark at the Top of the Stairs by Sam McBratney.

However you choose to camp, don't forget the s'mores. If you don't have a campfire at your site or if you're pretend camping, here's an easy way to make them. Spread marshmallow creme on a graham cracker square, place a piece of chocolate on the creme, and top it off with another graham square. You can also substitute a real marshmallow or two for the creme, put the sandwich together, and heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Yum, yum!!