Archive for November, 2013

chapter books on moon for kid, picture books on moon for kids, moon books for kids

Top 10 Moon Themed Books for Kids

I just got the lastest Red Knit Cap Girl picture book, a sequel with an environmental message and this inpired me to create this list.  I had hoped the first one would win a Caldecott but alas no. It did win a New Times Best Illustrated Book award but here’s hoping that Red Knit Cap Girl To the Rescue gets a Caldecott nod this year!

What are your favorite chapter books, picture books, folk tales, graphic novels or non-fiction books about the moon? Please share!


6 Multicultural Moon Themed Books for Kids

6. Bang Bang I Hurt the Moon by Luis Amavisca and Ester G. Madrid

Did Nicholas shoot the moon out the sky? There is it, in their garden and it needs help to get back into the sky. Working together with the ants and the sparrows, Nicholas and his brother and his mom get the moon back just in time for daybreak. No more playing with guns for Nicholas! [picture book, ages 4 and up]

5. Red Knit Cap Girl To the Rescue by Naoko Stoop

Red Knit Cap Girl is back and when she finds a young polar bear cup, she asks the moon how to get it home. She and White Bunny go on a charming adventure that speaks to our fragile eco-system. Stoop uses found materials to illustrate using both paint and collage work which supports the eco message in subtle and beautiful way. [picture book, ages 2 and up]

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Christmas Crafts for Kids

Christmas Crafts for Kids ebook GIVEAWAY

I am just not good at crafts. I wish I was but I’m not. This is why I am so excited for a Christmas Crafts for Kids book. I can really use it. I’m also excited that the author is a fellow blogger, 123 Homeschool 4 Me, Beth Gorden. Her eBook contains more than 100 activities, crafts and recipes based on children’s books (which makes me deliriously happy!). But more than that, it is a labor of love that took Beth more than one year to write.

Christmas Craft eBook for Kids Giveaway

She has wonderful books, crafts, activities, recipes and and ideas for celebrating 24 days of Christmas. If you wanted to use some of her ideas for Advent, she also has them organized by the day. Her book makes me want to move in with her for the holiday season!

If you are looking to start a holiday tradition (or two) for your kids, this is a wonderful place to get ideas.

Day 1: Elf on a Shelf

Day 2: J is for Jesus

Day 3: The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Higgs

The Pine Tree Parable tells the heartwarming tale of a farmer and his family who nurture tiny seedlings into fragrant Christmas trees.

When the trees are tall enough to offer to their neighbors, the farmer’s wife plans to keep the most beautiful pine tree for her family, until one snowy December night when a child teaches her the true meaning of Christmas.

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Remembering the Veterans in My Life

Remembering the Veterans in My Life on Veterans Day

At first I thought that we didn’t have any veterans in our family but then at lunch today with my son, his friend and my husband, we all thought about it.

There’s my uncle Arthur Takahashi who served in the 442nd Infantry Regiment during WWII. As a Japanese American, he enlisted despite his family — including my mother —  being forced to relocate from their home and losing most of their possessions as a result.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army was a regimental size fighting unit composed almost entirely of American soldiers of Japanese descent who fought in World War II, despite the fact many of their families were subject to internment. The 442nd, beginning in 1944, fought primarily in Europe during World War II. The 442nd was a self-sufficient force, and fought with uncommon distinction in Italy, southern France, and Germany.

The 442nd is considered to be the most decorated infantry regiment in the history of the United States Army. The 442nd was awarded eight Presidential Unit Citations and twenty-one of its members were awarded the Medal of Honor for World War II. The 442nd’s high distinction in the war and its record-setting decoration count earned it the nickname “Purple Heart Battalion.”

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team motto was, “Go for Broke“.

image from Battle Story

image from CaliSphere

Photographer: Mace, Charles E. — Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

I chose Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki in his honor. While my mother did not end up in an Internment Camp because she had relatives in a remote part of Utah, most of her neighbors in San Francisco’s Japantown did. Baseball Saved Us tells the story of a Japanese American boy and his family who build a baseball diamond in their internment camp.

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seahorse facts for kids, seahorse books for kids

Seahorse Facts: Seahorse Fathers Do Get Pregnant!

Do you think seahorses are magical too? There is something about having a head like a horse, a tail like a monkey, and skin color that can change like a chameleon. It doesn’t surprise me that Poseidon is the father of horses in Greek Mythology!

Seahorse Facts

Did you know that father seahorses hatch the eggs?! Male seahorses have special pouches for the eggs and part of the courtship routine to win a female includes inflating their pouch by pumping water through it to display its emptiness in order to entice the female to deposit her eggs in it.

The eggs develop in the pouch for two to six weeks, depending on species and temperature, until they become fully formed juveniles called fry. When the male seahorse is ready to give birth, he has muscular contractions to expel the young from the pouch. I wonder if the contractions are as painful as human ones? Read more…

runaways in children's books

Top 10: Runaways in Children’s Books

The joy of children’s books is reading about things, and thereby living vicariously, without actually having to experience the discomforts or stress of it. Herein lies the beauty of runaways in children’s books. I remember two runaway chapter books that made me jealous for such a wonderful adventure. They bookend my list.

And these runaway kids were not even angry at their parents. It’s these independent adventures that fascinated me as a child reading these chapter books. My Side of the Mountain made me want to live in a burned out gigantic tree, subsiding by foraging off the land with a pet falcon, no less. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler made art museums suddenly interesting.

Not all runaways are so lucky. Some run from domestic violence; others can’t control their violent tantrums. Either way, these runaway experiences are more traumatic.

Do you have a favorite children’s book with a runaway? Please share!


10. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Sam Gribley just wanted adventure so he took off for his grandfather’s abandoned land in the Catskill Mountains, thus starting the greatest runaway adventure in children’s literature! He made it sound so enticing that other envious readers besides myself were moved to action. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was also affected:

“…I thought the Craigheads might be the only family in America that was having more fun than the Kennedys. Obssessed with falcons as I was from birth, I read My Side of the Mountain in 1964. … I entered Millbrook upstate New York drawn by its informal falconry program….My experience as a young falconer accounts in large part for my lifelong devotion to raptors and my continued interest in natural history….My years as a falconer helped drive my own career choice as an environmental lawyer and advocate. The knowledge and experience I acquired from falconers have marked my life and made me a far more effective advocate on nature’s behalf.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

[chapter book, ages 8 and up]

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Books for Kids Set in the Appalachia

Top 10: Books for Kids Set in Appalachia

I remember when I received my first letter from my soon-to-be college roommate. I looked at the envelope and tried to fathom where she was from. WV. What state was WV? I had no idea. I had to look it up.

WV: her postal code state, stood for West Virginia. It was my first encounter with Appalachia. (Yes, I led a pretty sheltered childhood and did not travel much!).

I learned snippets about her region from living with her.

  • She was the hardest working person I know. Hands down. Makes me look like a total slacker. I have a feeling that people from Appalachia are like that.
  • Her father was a optomistrist and he would sell kids eyeglasses that were big enough for them to grow into. I wore glasses too (but had switched to contacts by college) and the idea of only being able to afford a single pair of glasses in a lifetime was sobering.
  • My roommate was also the most socially talented person I ever met. She could sit  down at table of a dozen awkward teens and get everyone talking without feeling like she was hogging the conversation. And no one works a room better! This is before I had even heard of social emotional intelligence and I was able to see it in person.
  • In case you were wondering, who is this roommate? She’s the person managing the U.S. budget. I think she had a tough week during the government shutdown but there is no one better to do this job!

The stories of Appalachia are often sensationalized around moonshine, clan feuding, coal mining and poverty so. While endowed with abundant natural resources, Appalachia has long struggled with and has been associated with poverty and the region itself lacks specific defining boundaries. The region defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission currently includes 420 counties and eight independent cities in 13 states, including all of West Virginia, 14 counties in New York, 52 in Pennsylvania, 32 in Ohio, 3 in Maryland, 54 in Kentucky, 25 counties and 8 cities in Virginia,29 in North Carolina, 52 in Tennessee, 6 in South Carolina, 37 in Georgia, 37 in Alabama, and 24 inMississippi.

In creating this booklist, I dedicate this to Sylvia Mathew Burwell, the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (my freshman college roommate).  And, of course, to everyone living in District 11.

Can you please help me out by adding your favorite books for kids set in  Appalachia? Thanks so much!

p.s. I got an assist after I tapped out at around 7 books from Carol Hurst’s excellent blog.


Best Books for Kids Set in Appalachia

10. Catch Rider by Jennifer H. Lyne

You don’t have to be a horse-y person to appreciate this gritty but uplifting chapter book. It hits on all the stress points of Appalachia: factories destroying the pristine natural environment, haves vs have-nots, and the equestrian legacy where this story unfolds.

14-year-old Sid has more natural riding ability than the rich girls who have $1000 custom boots, Equitarian horses that cost more than houses and the best trainers available. After her father, a horse trader,  dies in a car accident, she’s hoping that training and selling horses with her uncle will help put her family back together. When she takes a job at fancy barn to earn money, she comes firsthand into the fancy world of the Equitation championships and if she can pull off a good showing at Madison Square Garden, she could achieve her  ultimate dream, a show rider that can ride anything. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

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Sponsored Fun Toy Fantasy Video

Every Child’s Dream! Sponsored Fun Toy Fantasy Video

Marnie from Carrots Are Orange pointed out that the initial message in this video that forest = boring is not a good a message for parents or kids. I agree. I wish the lead in was different. There really is no need to send a message that a field trip to the woods isn’t fun. We did a really successful book club for 3rd grade girls doing just that! And going to the woods to make stick toys is the only thing practically that keeps my little son off screens. Please rethink that Toys “R” Us.

I have to say that I was mesmerized by the joy of the kids rushing into the toy store that I bliped over the forest field trip part. Mea culpa.

When you were a kid, did you ever fantasize about being able to go to a toy store and pick out anything you want?! I did but it never happened. Toys arrived, of course, for birthdays and Christmas, but never that wild shopping fling of racing through aisles to find that perfect, extravagent toy that your parents would never get you.

There are other toy store fantasies too. Toys coming alive. And that is so wonderfully depcited in the movie Toy Story and in chapter books like The Doll People trilogy.

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Retold Fable by Caldecott Illustrator as Nearly Wordless Picture Book

I think that Jerry Pinkney is one of the finest watercolor illustrators ever to grace a children’s book. I would include Alan Say in that category as well. There is just something magical about Pinkney’s storytelling abilities when he puts brush to paper. Even as he conveys an old and well known fable, he brings his own spin to the story. I don’t want to be a spoiler but there’s a subtle surprise ending that kids seem able to easily interpret. It’s a good message for kids, particularly those who compete in sports.

I also like his wise elder message to adults, and it rings particularly true for me. Slow and steady wins the race but also remember to enjoy the journey. There are so few  words are in this gloriously illustrated practically wordless picture book set in the American Southwest, and yet he manages to convey several story threads. I guess that is why he is a Caldecott honored illustrator!

What is your favorite Jerry Pinkney book? Or your favorite watercolor children’s book illustrator? Please share!


Picture Book of the Day

The Tortoise and the Hare by Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney

Pinkney says in his artist’s note, “‘Slow and steady wins the race’ was particularly meaningful in my youth, since I often struggled in school beause of dyslexia, but the moral rings truer than ever today. As the pace of our lives continues to speed up, many yearn for a less hurried approach to life. The tortoise proves that it can be wise to have a goal, but one should relish the process of getting there.” [nearly wordless picture book for ages 2 and up]

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