2015 Missouri Building Blocks: Row, Row, Row Your Boat by Jane Cabrera

Have you ever taken a song and added your own words? Jane Cabrera does this with “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”  As her characters row down the stream, they spot a vBook cover for Row, Row, Row Your Boatariety of animals, each making a noise. Have your child make the noise, too. Animal noises are a fun way to practice sounds. This is an early literacy skill—something that lays a foundation for reading readiness.

Children love to move. You and your child could sit on the floor, bottoms of your feet touching the bottoms of his feet. Hold hands and gently pull back and forth as you “row” and sing the song.

Your child could act out the story by pretending that a box or a laundry basket is a boat.  Does she have some stuffed animals she could set beside the “boat” and tell her own story? This activity helps with narrative skills and reading comprehension.

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Books We Love: Jinx

Jinx coverJinx” is a juvenile fiction book that was first brought to my attention when participants in DBRL’s own Heavy Medal: Mock Newbery program decided it their winner last year. Its win nudged me into giving it a read, and I am so glad I did.

Jinx” is the story of an orphan (of course he is an orphan, you have to get those pesky parents out of the way so that our young characters can have any sort of adventures, right?) who lives in a magical world with fantastical facets presented though humorously matter-of-fact narration. The story kicks off with a stepfather attempting to leave young Jinx in a dense and dangerous forest, called the Urwald, that surrounds all of the cities in Jinx’s world. After an unlikely rescue by a grumpy old wizard named Simon, Jinx finds himself a wizard’s apprentice and gathers some sidekicks along the way. Adventure naturally ensues, and the story does a lovely job of examining the fact that “good” versus “bad” is not always a black-and-white concept. Jinx’s internal ruminations on the subject are particularly touching. Continue reading

Check It Out: Battle Bunny

Book cover for Battle BunnyRecently I have found several books that I feel are as much for adults as for children. One such book is a recent addition to the collection called “Battle Bunny” by Jon Scieszka. This is the (heavily edited) story of a young rabbit on his birthday. Countless are the stories about a young person who feels forgotten on his birthday, only to be surprised with a party thrown by his friends. We’ve been there, done that. At the outset, “Battle Bunny” is such a story. However, with the help of an additional author/illustrator, only known as Alex, the story takes a drastic turn. Birthday Bunny becomes Battle Bunny and receives special powers, which he will use to put his evil plan into action!

What I love about this book is how it looks. Each page has been altered to look as if a young mind has taken the story into his own hands and not only changed the text, but also added to the illustrations with his number two pencil. You can still see the original text and illustrations, so reading both versions is possible. In my opinion, the story of Battle Bunny is more exciting than that of Birthday Bunny. Check out this clever book and see if you agree!

Check It Out: Fortunately, the Milk

Book cover for Fortunately, the Milk by Neil GaimanI love Neil Gaiman’s books, and his new one, “Fortunately, the Milk,” is no exception. What I love the most about this story is that it’s about a dad, a really great dad, as told by his son. Orphans and absent parents abound in children’s literature, but silly books about amazing parents are rare. It seems like even fewer books are about dads.

This story features a father’s quest to bring milk home for his little children’s breakfast cereal. Kids will love this crazy tale. There are pirates, aliens, volcanoes and tinkering with the space-time continuum, all complemented by Skottie Young’s super expressive and crazy line drawings. After I read this story, I went into the kitchen and said to my husband, “Guess what! This book could be about you!” Then I read it to him while he made dinner. (He’s also a really great dad.)

No Damsels in Distress

I realize there are lots of kids out there that love a feather boa, tiara and a sensible pair of heels. I understand that tons of boys and girls enjoy a fairy tale with a prince rescuing a princess and living happily ever after.

But on behalf of all the independent girls who hate pink, I object. I don’t need to be rescued, thankyouverymuch, and I don’t want to make young girls think they need to sit around waiting for a prince or a party or permission to be creative.

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses” by Ian Falconer was my whole inspiration for this article! In this latest book in the Olivia series, there are too many ruffly, sparkly princesses around, and Olivia has had quite enough. She needs to stand out! I loved Olivia’s smart and unconventional ideas of what she could grow up to be. Continue reading