Kids Blog

Books that are Songs

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!

I like to sing. I don’t do it terribly well, but I don’t let that stop me! Especially, when it comes to books that are songs. They are fun to share with preschoolers who love to hear them. Even if you read them instead, they will enjoy the rhythm of the words. Here are some favorites.

Bless This Mouse by Lois Lowry

Bless This Mouse

Bless This Mouse, by Lois Lowry, is the heartwarming chronicle of the mice of St. Bartholomew’s Church. This community of church mice, led by Mouse Mistress Hildegarde, tries to live quietly, avoiding the notice of Father Murphy, the Altar Guild and other people of the parish. But as they consider preparations for the annual Blessing of the Animals on the Feast of St. Francis, which means cats in the church, they face an even bigger danger. They’ve been spotted. That means the Great X, something they fear even more than cats.

Hildegarde shepherds her charges on an adventure into the outdoors with the help of her friend and supporter, Roderick, and a former college library mouse named Ignatius. The characters are lively and well-developed from the ditzy mouse mother having her litters in the most inappropriate places to jealous Lucretia who envies HIldegarde her position as Mouse Mistress. Rohmann’s charming and whimsical illustrations bring the characters to life. 

Graphic Novels for Kids

Love that Puppy! The Story of a Boy Who Wanted to be a Dog

Remember comic books? They’re still popular, but so are graphic novels; stories told using the comic form, but published as books. They can be an original tale or a retelling of traditional fiction. “The Swiss Family Robinson,” for example, was recently published as a graphic novel. Well loved by all ages, these books are great for reluctant readers. The combination of minimal text and many pictures grabs their attention and makes reading more accessible. Try some of these with your elementary school students.   

 Peter decides to become a dog in “Love that Puppy! The Story of a Boy Who Wanted to be a Dog” by Jeff Jarka. Not everyone thought it was a good idea, but Peter was happy. Besides he was good at being a puppy. He knew how to sit, beg and perform simple tricks. There were some downsides. His schoolwork suffered and his excuse? He ate it. He also developed an unhealthy interest in the mail and the mailman! Finally, his parents had had enough. That made Peter sad, but he decided to do what they wanted. He hung in there for a while, but one day he couldn’t contain it any longer. Out it came. “Meow?” This laugh out loud book has vibrantly colored illustrations.

Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio

Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow

Jimi Hendrix was an iconic force in rock and roll.  His name is synonymous with music.  In the book Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow, author Gary Golio introduces us to the young Jimi.  The book begins in 1956 in Seattle, Washington, where Jimi was living with his father.  They were not wealthy, but Jimi's father recognized that his son had a love for music.  Jimi often practiced on his one-string ukele.  With it he recreated the sounds the raindrops made as they hit the roof and the windowpanes.  Even as a very young boy he interpreted the city sounds that he heard outside the boardinghouse where he lived with his Dad and turned them into melodies.

Boris and the Wrong Shadow by Leigh Hodgkinson

Boris and the Wrong Shadow

Boris the cat wakes up one morning and finds that his shadow has changed.  It no longer resembles him.  In fact, to his utter dismay, it resembles a mouse.  But he decides not to let something like this ruin his day in the book Boris and the Wrong Shadow by Leigh Hodgkinson.  However, he is ridiculed by his cat friends.  He is unable to scare the birds.  Now Boris begins to doubt that he is a cat.  Maybe he is a mouse.  Well, he catches a glimpse of himself and is reassured that he is still a cat, though he is a cat with a mouse's shadow.

Boris decides to quietly investigate this disturbing turn of events.  Actually, he is so quiet that he could be described as being quiet as a ..........don't say it.  Suddenly, he runs into Vernon the mouse and discovers that Vernon's shadow looks oddly familiar.  Vernon has a cat shadow.  Not just any cat shadow.  But Boris' shadow.

No Batteries Required: Serious Fun with String Games

People all over the world, from the Arctic to the South Pacific, love to play with string. They often use the pictures that the string suggests to tell stories from their ancient traditions. The Inuit might use sinews or leather from the animals they hunt, and the islanders might use tree bark fiber. You could use macrame or nylon cords or even simple, white string to show off your creations.

Art Books for Young Readers

Look! Look! Look!

 My week has been filled with art! Last weekend, my husband and I enjoyed the Picasso exhibit at the Richmond Museum of Fine Arts. This week, I have been working with colleagues on the 16th Annual Teen Art Show. Both are awe-inspiring and worth a trip! There is a charge for the Picasso, in Richmond through May 15th, but the teen art is absolutely free and runs through March 30 at the Headquarters Library. If you attend either event, or know a child who’s interested in art, there are books to enrich their experience. 

 Three mice find a postcard that was delivered in the people’s part of the house. “Look! Look! Look!” they cry, in this book of the same name. On one side is a beautiful painting of a woman. “They looked from top to bottom, side to side, bottom to top.” One mouse, cuts viewing frames out of pieces of paper. Using their frames they discover the painting in new ways. They notice the patterns on her dress and the way her hand looks so real. They see each individual color and notice which ones are missing. Inspired, they draw the lady using only lines, but soon they recreate her using shapes and before long, are making completely new art. This book, written and illustrated by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace with Linda K. Friedlaender, is a wonderful introduction to not just looking at art, but truly seeing it.
  

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

When the Brothers Grimm wrote their fairy tales in Germany in the early 1800s, they were scary.  Many of them were so scary, in fact, that they were considered unsuitable for small children.  As time passed, the stories have been altered to give them wider audience appeal.  In A Tale Dark and Grimm, Adam Gidwitz has brought the scary back to Grimm.  This is not a fairy-tale book meant for small children.  The author gives fair warning periodically throughout the story that the tale is going to get gory and it does!!!

Sally and the Purple Socks

One day Sally the duck is thrilled to get a pair of purple socks in the mail in Sally and the Purple Socks by Lisze Bechtold. They are lovely and so soft, but a bit small. However, there is something special about these socks: they will grow to the "size ordered." Once she airs them out, they fit just right.

Sally wears them all day - dancing, cleaning, and relaxing. After a while she notices something curious - the socks have grown to be too big.

But Sally is resourceful, and the purple socks become a soft purple scarf and cap....and so on. With each page, the socks grow larger and larger, and Sally deftly adapts to their new size and makes them into something totally new.

Meindert DeJong: A Gentle, Persistent Spirit

Newbery Medal-winning author Meindert DeJong (pronounced De-Young) immigrated to the United States with his family as a young boy. The family came to America so that his older brothers would not be drafted to fight in World War I. The DeJong family had a difficult time in their new country. The family was poor, and the children were sent to a private, religious school where the children were bullied for being immigrants. Meindert DeJong never forgot the experience of being a lonely child, and he wove that perspective into many of his books.