Archive for the ‘age 0-3’ Category

Write a Review Wednesday: Bunny’s Lessons

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Out of Sight. This week we looked at another book from Blue Apple Books, Bunny’s Lessons (age 4-8), written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Barroux. I have to thank Crystal at Raincoast Books for my review copy.

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Charlie is a little boy, a little boy who Bunny belongs to. Bunny views Charlie has his friend and teacher. Everything Bunny has learned, he has learned from Charlie. Some lessons aren’t so fun, like jealous and scared and sad. But other lessons are wonderful, like pretend, all better and love. No matter what the lesson, Bunny and Charlie learn them together.

Like in Bunny’s Lessons, most kids have a stuffy, a companion that helps them through both scary and exciting times in their lives. My 4-year old has a rabbit friend just like Charlie. Growing up is full of new experiences: walking, the big bed, going to school, visiting the Dr. A stuffy is like an extension of a child. It gives them someone to confide in when they’re feeling angry or sad. It gives them someone to hug and protect them at night in the big bed. It gives them someone to celebrate the first day of preschool. The illustrations are colourful and warm, filling the page with life through Bunny’s perspective.

Kids don’t view their stuffies as just dolls but as real friends so it’s fitting that Bunny’s Lessons is told from the perspective of Bunny. Although my daughter’s stuffy is a bunny, just like Bunny in Bunny’s Lessons, the story would have just as much meaning to her (and I) if her stuffy was a bear or doll. Bunny’s Lessons does a great job illustrating the relationship between a child and their stuffie.

To add Bunny’s Lessons to your personal library visit your local bookstore or Raincoast Books. For other great books for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday.

Write a Review Wednesday: Out of Sight

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Mad at Mommy. This week, with Spring getting closer, we’re thinking about animals in the wild which makes Chronicle Book‘s Out of Sight, by Francesco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais. I have to thank Crystal at Raincoast Books for my review copy.

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Out of Sight combines a child’s love of animals with discovery in the form of a large lift-the-flap book. Although the term lift-the-flap may lead you to believe this is a book aimed at the youngest reader in your family, the content will be entertaining for anyone with an interest in animals.

Each spread includes flaps, revealing a portion of an animal. Some pages show the shadows of an animal, some show the coat, other pages give you a glimps of just the animal’s ears. Kids will love using these hints to try and figure out which animal will be revealed when they lift the flap.

Under each flap you’ll fine not only find an image of the animal being revealed but you’ll also discover an interesting fact:

– A group of lions is a pride, but a group of tigers is an ambush
– A male donkey is called a jack, and a female donkey is called a jenny
– Goats are very agile. They can even climb trees

Each animal name in Out of Sight is also bolded so there’s no mistaken what animal is being referenced. Each page only has flaps, no words. It’s under the flaps where you’ll find these interesting facts. The flaps are in varing sizes throughout the book and pages but they are all big. The pages in the book and the flaps are made of sturdy cardboard stock paper which is ideal as your kids will be flipping the flaps and pages over and over again.

To add a copy of Out of Sight to your own personal library visit your local bookstore or Raincoast Books. For other great book suggestions for kids, read through some of the past Write a Review Wednesday posts. What are your kids reading?

Write a Review Wednesday: Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed The Baby Boss. This week we pull out a new book from one of our favourite author/illustrators. Groundwood Book‘s Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth (age 2-5). written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay. I have to thank Trish at Groundwood Books for my review copy.

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Roslyn the rabbit woke up one morning full of excitement. She had a plan, a plan to dig the biggest hole in the Earth. With her father’s encouragement, Roslyn set off into her backyard to find the perfect spot. It seems finding where to dig was harder than digging the hole itself. Roslyn was hoping to dig her way to the South Pole so she could meet a real penguin. Instead she met a grumpy worm, a grouchy mole and a bone-hoarding dog.

In Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth, Roslyn’s enthusiasm and unstoppable spirit are qualities most of us adults wish we had retained from our youth, or at least I do. The thought of physically being able to dig all the way to China or the South Pole is far-fetched but kids don’t think that way; they think without boundaries. Roslyn’s dad doesn’t crush her dream either. Even at the end when Roslyn starts to feel discouraged about never being able to dig her big hole, her dad’s enthusiasm with the work she had accomplish makes her rethink what’s she’s done. A disappointing scenario is now turned into something pretty cool.

My kids loved the different animal encounters Roslyn had in her backyard. They loved her quest to not only dig the biggest hole (and whose child hasn’t wanted to do that) but also her adventure in finding the perfect spot to dig. My 6-year old was struck by the conversation between Roslyn and her dad. He commented that sometimes when a his younger sister makes something out of Lego, like a boat, and it didn’t turn out the way she wanted, he tells her that her boat has some really cool features making it better than other boats. Suddenly her disappointment is an accomplishment and she’s content. Encouraging others and looking at things differently are great qualities. Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth does a great job illustrating a child’s free spirit and imagination as well as disappointment. But it also does a great job showing the relationship with parents or others (such as a friend) and how a few simple words can help you change your perspective. I’m not sure if that’s what Marie-Louise Gay was trying to get across but that’s what we walked away with and that’s not too shabby for a story.

I also love the illustrations in Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth; they’re very organic feeling (and I’m not just saying that because most of the pages take place in the dirt in the backyard). The illustrations fill and weave around the pages with the text slotted into pockets here and there.

If you’re a fan of Marie-Louise Gay (you know, the Stella books) then be sure to visit her website www.marielouisegay.com for more on her books the new Stella and Sam TV show, downloads for kids and more. You can also visit Groundwood Books to get a peek at some of the inside pages of Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth.

You can add a copy of Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth to your personal library by visiting your local bookstore or at Groundwood Books. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Bob Books iPhone App: Experience Review

You may already be familiar with Bob Books, a reading series designed for the early stages of reading, when kids figure out letters together form words. The small books are leveled based on a child’s ability and include simple, short word sentences with line drawing illustrations to illustrate what’s being said. I actually picked up a few of these books for my 4-year old.

Now your child can enjoy a more interactive experience with the Bob Books Magic of Reading iPhone and iPad app ($1.99). Like the original book series, the app is designed in with built-in levels, enabling kids to progress at their own pace :

  • Level 1 – When you tap the picture, there’s audio to tell you what word your child is working on. The word appears below the image you’ll see letter hints, gravity helps you drop letters in the right place, and you can play letters in any order.
  • Level 2 – Now you have to place letters in left-to-right order. If you try to play a letter out of order it will just bounce out.
  • Level 3 – The letter hints are gone [in the space below each image] and so is gravity. You’ll also have to spell some words from the caption.
  • Level 4 – Now there are extra letters [that appear on-screen] that aren’t actually used in the word. You’ll need to remember how to spell the word to finish the game.

When you start the app, the first story plays. Each story processes to a little harder, adding more words to the caption and more words you have to spell. Each story opens with a black and white line drawing and a caption underneath. Elements in the picture shake inviting the kids to touch. When you touch on one of the pictures you enter into one of the interactive spelling screens. Only the image of what word they are working on appears on-screen and the letter titles used to spell the word are spread over the screen. If the child touches the image, the word is said again as a reminder. Like wise, if they touch the titles, the letter sound is made. In level 1, touching the letter spaces under the picture also makes the letter sound plus it will shake the corresponding tile to help kids find the letter needed. My daughter never touched the spaces under the picture so she never discovered this trick; she went right for the letter tiles and tried working on building the word.

Once a word is spelled out, the word is sounded out, given a visual emphasis on each letter sound. The image then transitions into colour and reappears within the original story. Images not yet in colour will shake to encourage kids to click and spell those words too. Once all the words are done and the whole picture is in colour, a background scene transitions in and a small animation plays supporting the caption below. As this happens, the caption is read out loud, highlighting the words as they are said. This is a great way to reinforce them as the child follows along.

During each story subtle navigational elements appear on the screen allowing you to skip a story to move on to the next story or to go to the story menu. The story menu is like a long film strip with pictures of each story so your child can easily revisit a story they enjoy or move forward if a particular story isn’t challenging enough (the stories increase in difficulty by adding more words, longer words, new words). The story menu also shows what level your child has completed for each story. As I mentioned above, there are 4 levels with each story. You can go through all the stories in level 1 and then repeat them again for the subsequent levels or you can keep repeating a particular story, moving up a level each time. The app remembers what level your child is on and will automatically progress him or her. There is an option of resetting the app to clear any progress you have saved. This is good if you want to start from level 1 again or if you want to share the experience with another child. There are some set-up options to that enable you to determine when music plays during the app, set levels automatically or to a specific level and use letter name or phonics for spelling tiles.

You can see my 4-year old as she experiments with the Bob Books Magic Reading app:

It’s no surprise my daughter was able to figure out how the program worked, without any assistance from me; many kids today have already been exposed to various forms of technology and are quick learners. The Bob Books Magic Reading app is designed to work with your child’s natural inquisitive nature, interacting as they click on things.

Although we do enjoy the Bob Books, the Bob Books Reading Magic app is much more engaging and keeps my daughter interested longer. She still gets excited and proud when she reads a screen on her own. The fact that the app remembers my daughter’s progress and that it’s portability makes it great for the Dr.’s office waiting room, grocery shopping or any other time when my daughter is with me, these elements are things I enjoy about the app as a parent. However there are a few things I’d love to see added to any updates (another great feature of an app, the ability to make updates for those who already own a copy). I would love the option of setting profiles so I don’t have to erase one child’s history so another can use it. Another great feature would be the option to replay the caption again after the audio has played it. Right now it just plays once and it happens at the same time as the animation on the screen. I found my daughter was distracted by the animation and would end up missing the words being highlighted as the narrator read it. To be able to play the caption again and see the highlights would be great, especially if the sentence has a few words and the child is getting muddled; they could play the caption over and over, seeing each word highlighted as it was read.

The Bob Books Reading Magic app was created by Learning Touch, the makers of the best-selling First Words series of learning-to-read apps. It marries First Words’ breakthrough learning-to-read interface with the beloved characters and stores of Bob Books. The app includes twelve scenes for a total of 32 words. For game levels provide increasing challenges to children as they play.

I want to thank the folks at Bob Books and Hopscotch Consulting for providing me with the app so we could experience it and share it with you.

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Best Christmas Books

I love the holidays, especially Christmas. Last week I talked about our Top 10 Christmas Albums we love to listen too. This week I’m thinking about books. We have a pretty big library of children’s books at home. There are so many great books out there but I have a real soft spot for seasonal books. We have 2 shelves on our children’s bookcase devoted to these types of books. This last month we’ve been enjoying a few classics and some new favourites. I thought with Christmas approaching I would share as part of Oh Amanada‘s Top Ten Tuesday blog, 10 of our Favourite Christmas stories, some which we’ve reviewed and others that are just part of our personal collection.

  1. Ten on the SledThis is a fun counting book, counting from 10 back to one, based on the rhyme Ten in the Bed. You can’t help but sing this story instead of reading it.
  2. The Great Reindeer Rebellion –  A fun tale about striking reindeer set to the rhyme of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
  3. The Nativity Story – This large sturdy board book is great for even little hands, with simply, rhyming text and shiny, uncluttered images.
  4. Peter Claus and the Naughty List – This is a great story illustrating that behaviour isn’t black and white and that doing something that might be deemed bad doesn’t make you an awful person (or child in this case).
  5. Olive the Other Reindeer – I love the work of J.otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh and this tale about a dog named Olive who offers to help Santa pull his sleigh is a delight to read and look at.
  6. Dream Snow – Eric Carle is another staple in a child’s book library and Dream Snow is a fantastic Christmas treat. The story is sweet, the illustrations in Carle’s trademark mosaic style and the surprise at the end is delightful
  7. Little Tree – Based on e. e. cummings’ poem, this is a beautiful story about love and belonging with wonderful whimsical illustrations.
  8. Santa Claus and the Reindeer Chase – This is a great interactive book as kids move a small cut-out Santa through various slots and openings on each page, trying to catch-up with his reindeer in time for Christmas Eve.
  9. The Present – Technically it’s about a birthday present but the concept of anticipation and charity hold true for Christmas also. Plus I just love this story.
  10. Christmas with Rita and Whatsit – Follow the adventures of Rita and her dog Whatsit as they prepare for Christmas as only a child (and child-like dog) would. I love the simple line drawing illustrations with just a splash of orange and green throughout. https://cabadov.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/warw-christmas-with-rita-and-whatsit/

Of course this is just ten of our favourites. There are so many other great Christmas books for kids out there. What are some of your favourites?

Write a Review Wednesday: Counting on Snow

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane. This week we looked at Tundra Books Counting on Snow (age 2-5), by Maxwell Newhouse. I have to thank Sylvia at Tundra Books for my review copy.

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From 10 Caribou Crunching in a wide open plain to 1 Moose, barely visible through the thick falling snow, Counting on Snow adds an Arctic twist to the classic counting book; perfect for the impending winter weather. Each page features an Arctic animal in the quiet, vast landscape they live in. As you turn the page, the animals you just counted, can be seen leaving the scene and a new set of animals appear. As you count down from 10 to 1, the snowfall increases, making it harder to see animals, like the white hares or polar bears, as they naturally blend into the white landscape.

Counting on Snow reinforces the numbers 1 to 10 as they are written numerically on the page as well as being represented visually in the form of the various Arctic animal groups. My 6 and 3-year old enjoyed counting the animals, especially as they got harder to see in the heavier snow images. Although the text is limited, focusing on counting the animals, the visuals have a way of telling a story about the Arctic winter too.

You can add a copy of Counting on Snow to your personal library by visiting your local book store or Tundra Books. For other great children’s books, checkout the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Doggy Slippers

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Star Wars ABC. This week we’re reviewing Groundwood Books’ Doggy Slippers (age 2-5), written by Jorge Lujan and illustrated by Isol. I have to thank Trish at Groundwood Books for my review copy.

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Inspired by the stories Latin American children had about their own pets, poet Jorge Lujan tried to capture their feelings in Doggy Slippers, a collection of short poems.

With four cats of our own, we know the affect pets can have on a family and specifically kids. There’s a magical bond between kids and pets; like a unique friendship. I didn’t realize that Doggy Slippers was a book of short poems. I was drawn to it because of Isol’s wonderful sketch illustrations. We loved  them in the book Petit, The Monster.

Even though we were expecting a story at first, the small poems to read were a delight; like a collection of mini stories. My kids loved the stories. It was like talking to another child about their pet versus reading poems about pets. I loved that. We smiled at the boy and his kitty (it was everywhere just like our cats). We laughed at the turtle’s fall down the stairs (you’ve never seen a turtle move so fast). Doggy Slippers covered a variety of animals too, including a monkey.

After reading some of the poems my kids would talk about their cats and how they would describe them; how would they compare to the animals from the kids in Latin America.

You can add a copy of Doggy Slippers to your own personal library by visiting your local bookstore or Groundwood Books. For other great book ideas for kids read through some of the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Star Wars ABC

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Boo Cow. This week my 3-year old is all excited about reviewing Scholastc‘s Star Wars ABC boardbook (age 0+). I have to thank Nikole at Scholastic Canada for my review copy.

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Now that my 3-year old has started junior kindergarten, she had developed an interest in ABC books. The new Star Wars ABC from Scholastic helps her learn and reinforce her letter recognition with the help Anakin, Boba Fett and Yoda.

My daughter, actually our whole family, is huge Star Wars fan. When I attended the Scholastic Bloggers Breakfast in New York this August (part of BlogHer) they had this book on display and I knew my kids would love it. This is a large format boardbook making it ideal for even the youngest Star Wars fans. The pictures are full colour photographs of both key characters and crafts, like the Millennium Falcon or the TIE Fighter. Each page has the letter printed large in the top corner with the corresponding name right below it. There is also a small amount of copy on each page describing the picture, adding emphasis on the key letter again.

My kids knew most of the characters but it was great to see them discover the spelling or the first letter of each character. My 3-year old isn’t familiar with all her alphabet but knowing the character name was a great way to work on the letter sound and the letter name. The only problem was stopping my enthusiastic son from shouting out the letters before my younger daughter had a chance to read them.

For kids who already know their letters, the simple sentence on each page is a great way to connect reading with those Star Wars fans. My son enjoyed ‘teaching’ his younger sister the letters and trying to read the words on the page. I should point out that since this is an ABC book, the sentences just help reinforce the letter on the page versus telling a story, but that didn’t bother my kids.

You can add a copy of Star Wars ABC to your personal library by visiting your local bookstore. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through some of the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.