Book Review: “Pinkalicious and the Pink Drink” by Victoria Kann

pink drink

A couple of weeks ago we visited another independent book store.  I have said that I always purchase something every time I go to one and this time was no different.  I let my three-year-old pick out something and she chose “Pinkalicious and the Pink Drink.”  Now, I am unfamiliar with the Pinkalicious book series.  I know that there are several because I have seen them around, but I always thought they were a bit gimmicky for a book (I tend to be a bit judgmental about books).  However, it was what my daughter wanted and the price was right, so there you go.  I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.  Here is my review…

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Eight Books to introduce Art to Preschoolers

 Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsRound Trip (Hardcover)

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Last week we had a really fun class involving art!  I love introducing new concepts and themes to kids!  I think that it challenges them in a different way and encourages other interests.  I needed books on the topic, so here is a list of a couple that I picked up with a brief description.  I was pleasantly surprised how many books there were about art that were geared toward preschoolers!!!

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Post Office Themed Books

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Tomorrow we are having a class revolving around the Post Office!  I am, of course, going to have several books to read and have available for parents and children to check out.

The book that I am going to read, for the most part, is entitled “What’s it like to be a Postal Worker” by Morgan Matthews.

Our class is filled with very young kids, so I do not think that I am going to be able to get through the entire book.  It is a very detailed account to what happens to a letter when you mail it.  Throughout the book, there are several labeled illustrations that exposes kids to new vocabulary.  For example, in the illustration of the counter, at the post office, the postal meter, rubber stamp, tape dispenser, and computer postal scale are all labeled.  The book teaches you who the people are that help your letter arrive at the right location.  It also teaches the different details that you need to include on your letter in order to mail something such as a stamp, all of the components of your address, and your return address.  The book gets into details of “first-class” and special deliveries and the different modes of transportation to send your letter wherever in the world you want it to go.  I recommend this book to preschoolers and lower elementary age children to teach them how the United Postal Service works!

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Here are a few more books that I am going to have on hand….

Post Office Themed Books

“Letter Carriers” By Alice K. Flanagan

“Mail Carriers” By Dee Ready

“The U.S. Mail” By Elaine A. Kule (This is a great book for learning about the history of postal service, with photographs)

“Out and About at the Post Office” By Kitty Shea

“To the Post Office with Mama” By Sue Farrell

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Books On Writing Letters

“Sincerely Yours” Writing Your Own Letter By Nancy Loewen

“Messages In The Mailbox” How to Write a Letter By Loreen Leedy

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“Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus” By: Mo Willems

pigeon bus

I have to admit that I have loved this book for quite some time.  The first time that I read it, I couldn’t stop laughing, I thought it was so cute and funny!  The book features simple language and illustrations.  It begins with a bus driver telling the reader not to let the pigeon drive the bus while he is away.  When done correctly, a book that speaks directly to the reader can be a really fun and engaging experience for the reader.  In this case, the reader is responsible for following the driver’s instructions to not let the pigeon drive the bus, no matter what the pigeon says or does.  The pigeon tries really hard to change the readers mind. He is very convincing.  He begs and pleads.  The author obviously has experience with begging kids, because the way that the pigeon begs is SPOT ON!

I read this book to my daughter and she like it.  She hasn’t fallen in love with it like I expect her to at some point.  I’m pretty sure that she sides with the begging pigeon and feels bad for him (go figure!).

Overall, I recommend this book for preschool to elementary school aged children.  It is a really fun read!!

Web Resources:

  • Here is a website for the book that has  links to the awards, sequels, and more information.
  • Here is an animation of the book with a child narrating (This would be really fun to do once the kids get a bit older)

Book Review: “Not A Box” By Antoinette Portis

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“Not a Box” is a simple tale of very few words.  A Rabbit has a box and the reader is asking him about it.  Instead of calling it a “box,” the Rabbit replies with different ideas of what it could be, such as a mountain.  It encourages the imagination in a child by using an object that they are familiar with and have probably played with before.  My daughter really liked it and I am sure that I am going to find her “reading” it to herself.

Some Thoughts and Extensions on “Not a Box”:

-It is a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. Check out my other post here for award info

-It uses an object that you can easily access and actually act out the suggestions in the book and have your child think of more

-This is an unique book in that it can appeal to both younger and older children.  My daughter, for example, is three and likes to look at the pictures where kids a bit older can appreciate and connect to the imagination of the little bunny.  I had to kind of explain  what the pictures meant to my daughter.

-I was going to suggest to use your child’s imagination with other objects around your house, but the author seemed to beat me to it!  She also wrote a book entitled “Not a Stick.”  You and your child could read both books and then choose a different object and create your own book and draw your own pictures-how fun!?!?  You could even extend the “Not a Stick” and “Not a Box” books with more ideas from your child.

-This book would make a great gift, just make sure you wrap it in a big box 🙂

Here is an animated representation of the book:

Other Resource:

Spotlight On: Patricia Polacco

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Patricia Polacco holds a special place in my heart because it was one of her books that first made me love picture books.  The book is entitled “Thank You, Mr. Falker.”  I discovered it during my first year teaching.  It is about a little girl who has trouble learning in school and is really embarrassed because her classmates tease her.  Eventually she ends up in Mr. Falker’s class.  Mr. Falker takes the time and effort to discover what is holding the little girl back.  This story is so real and touching.  I had a hard time getting through it for a while without crying, because I found the teacher so inspiring.  A lot of Patricia Polacco’s books are similar.  They are usually personal narratives that have a way of pulling the audience in by connecting them with the experiences and emotions of her characters.

According to her website, Polacco was born in Michigan and spent most of her time with her cherished grandparents on a farm.  She then moved a couple of different places before setteling in California.  Her parents divorsed and she would spend the school year with her mom and the summer with her dad.  The neighborhood where she grew up was very diverse.  Polacco had a very hard time in school and didn’t learn to read until she was 14.  The reason that all of this information is relevant is because the characters of her books have similar experiences.

Another aspect of Patricia Polacco that is important is her passion to help children learn to read and write.  She visits about 300 schools a year to help encourage students!

Here are a few examples of her work:

emma katelincoln's way RottenCover keeping quiltbee tree

  • “Emma Kate” is about a little girl with an imaginary friend
  • “Mr. Lincoln’s Way” features a boy, who is a bully,  and he has prejudice thoughts regarding his African-American principal
  • “My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother” is about siblings who learn an important lesson
  • “The Bee Tree” shows a close relationship between a little girl and her grandfather in an exciting chase around town.  There is also a lesson learned
  • “The Keeping Quilt” is another one of my favorites!  I used to read this to my class every year.  It is about a family’s effort to represent their family by creating a family tresure.  Here is Polacco reading the book at a school with the ACTUAL quilt!

Web Resources:

  • http://www.patriciapolacco.com/ – This is Polacco’s site.  It features write-ups on all of her books, her upcoming speaking engagements, an interview with her regarding her book “In Our Mothers’ House,” and more.  She has a lot of teaching connections to her books as well.

Christmas Book Review- Part Two

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“The Christmas Magic” By Lauren Thompson

My daughter just turned three so this is her first Christmas that she is starting to understand.  I am so excited about introducing the beauty and magic of the season.  “The Christmas Magic” fits the bill for books that portray Christmas in a loving, mysterious light.  It is a beautifully written and illustrated (watercolors, maybe?) book.

I picked it up at the library because I liked the cover (am I allowed to say that??).  The cover features Santa wrapped in a blue cloak looking up at the stars.   He has his reindeer by his side and star on his hat.   Inside, Santa has a pointed moustache and is wearing bunny slippers

The Scholastic Website characterizes the text as “quiet” and I completely agree.  The story takes the reader through Santa’s preparations as he waits for the magic of Christmas to arrive.  Santa prepares the gifts for the children “for Santa loved them all.”  I personally prefer the gifts being given to children out of love and not in a threatening manner.

Web Resources:

http://www.scholastic.com/browse/book.jsp?id=1275060 -This is the Scholastic Website that has the interest level listed at Pre-K-2.  It also features a book trailer if you would like to get familiar with the book

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“Auntie Claus” By Elise Primavera

“Auntie Claus” is a fun holiday book featuring a bit of mystery as well.  The story begins in New York City, with the “Kringle” family who is so obsessed with Christmas that they keep “a Christmas tree up all year round.”  The daughter, named Sophie, is the main character.   Sophie grows increasingly suspicious of her Auntie Claus who disappears after Halloween and returns on Valentine’s Day of every year.  She says that she is going on a business trip.  Certain events transpire and Sophie learns a secret about Auntie Claus and learns a lesson about Christmas.

This book is geared toward older children.  I read this one with my daughter and she really liked looking at the pictures, but I do not think that she understood the entire story.  Some of the vocabulary and humor are better suited for elementary-aged children.

Web Resources:

http://www.eliseprimavera.com/books/auntie-claus This is the author’s website.  It features interesting artwork, audio excerpts, and a quiz.  It also gives information on the sequels of “Auntie Claus.”

– Here is an interview with the author, Elise Primavera.

Book Review and Extensions for “Chester’s Way” by Kevin Henkes

My daughter absolutely LOVES this book!  There were a couple of parts that she was scared of at first (of course), but she has gotten over it.  In case you have never read or heard of “Chester’s Way” before, it is about a mouse named Chester who has a best friend named Wilson.  Chester and Wilson are exactly alike and do everything the same.  When they come across Lilly, who acts completely different than they do, they want nothing to do with her.  Certain events transpire and Chester, Wilson, and Lilly all become best of friends.  The moral, if I may, is to appreciate and learn from the differences in each other, no matter how strange they may seem at first. Henkes is able to teach this lesson in a way that it very kid-friendly.  His illustrations are simple-looking and although the characters are mice, kids are easily able to connect to the characters.

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There are a lot of really fun activities that you can do to go along with this book…..

  • Kevin Henkes wrote and illustrated several wonderful picture books and novels, in my opinion.  You can check them all out on his website: www.kevinhenkes.com
    • On his website, he has a video about him and how he created some of his illustrations.  This would be really fun to show older and younger kids.  It would be especially fun if your child is into art and/or writing stories.
    • I love a good food extension! Lilly asks for a special breakfast.  There is a picture of it in the book.  You could recreate it with your little one.  It looks like you need bread, cereal in the shape of an “o”, strawberries, and orange or tangerine slices.  My daughter keeps asking to make this and I will, it just seems like I am always missing one ingredient.  When I do I will post pictures.  Lilly also asks for her sandwich to be cut with cookie cutters.  This is an easy extension that you can do often.  Anything to keep the kids connected to books!

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  • Lilly loves disguises!  This extension was really fun for us to try!  Lilly likes to wear disguises.  You can wear them and read the book.  We happen to have some of those nose, glasses, and mustache disguises in our house and we read the book wearing them.  It was really fun!  I think that I saw these at the dollar store at some point, but you could really do any disguise.
  • To connect to “Chester’s Way,” you could read different Kevin Henkes books.  There are so many to choose from such as “Owen” and “Lilly’s Purple Purse.”  You can talk about and encourage your child to talk about how the books are alike and different.
  • Enjoy!

Getting Ready for The Nutcracker Ballet

This year, just after my daughter turned three, we decided to try adding to our holiday traditions by attending The Nutcracker Ballet.  My daughter loves dancing and music, however, she tends to get scared often (actually VERY often).  I thought that if I overload her with the story of The Nutcracker it would get to a point where she knew what was going to happen, making it less scary.  I decided to share some of the strategies and materials that I used, as well as some that I am planning to do in the future.

Ok, my first step was to go through all of my boxes and boxes of books that I have in my basement from my classroom.  I found an absolute gem that I forgot I bought.  It is called “The Nutcracker” by Susan Jeffers.  You can find it here.  This was by far the best component to our little Nutcracker unit.  This is a beautiful book.  I have a full review here.  My daughter and I fall in love with it!  I can’t even tell you how many times we read it (and it isn’t short by any means).  This started her obsession with the Nutcracker.  She loved him!  Yeah, this just might work out after all!

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Next, I went to the good ol’ trusty library to see what they had for us.  They had a lot of informational books that may be useful in the future or something that I would actually like to look through when I get the chance (HA!).  I do think that maybe next year, these can be books that I would leave in her room and she could look through them herself and see all of the different photographs and drawings that they have in them.  One was by DK Publishing book, entitled, of course, The Nutcracker.  I also picked up Auntie Claus: Home For the Holidays.  I am not familiar with the series at all.  It was a fun book about a little girl who is playing the Sugar Plum fairy in her school play.  Again it was fun to read, I think especially for older kids who may get some of the humor better, but it wasn’t what I was looking for.  I also picked up a few more books, none of which I feel are worth mentioning, either because they were not about the story of the nutcracker, or I just didn’t care for them.

nutcracker cd

At the library, I also checked out a couple of CD’s of the music from the show.  I played them in the background of our playtimes and the kids loved them!  Every so often they would just start dancing.  It was so cute.  One of my personal favorites is here.

At this point, my daughter really liked the music and understood a bit about the story.  Next, I wanted to introduce her to the concept of seeing a show in person and I also wanted to show her what a nutcracker was.  On my ipad, I found an app that is FREE (because I am super cheap and refuse to pay for apps) called The Oregon Ballet Theatre Presents The Nutcracker.  It seems to be part of their program that they hand out, but you are able to watch a couple of the performances.  This was really fun, yet a bit confusing for my daughter because one of the ballerinas wasn’t wearing a tutu (how dare she!!).

To take care of the actual Nutcracker, for whatever reason, was a bit more difficult.  I could not think of where to buy one.  I checked a couple stores that I happen to be at anyways and they didn’t have them.  We did venture to one of the large home improvement stores, and viola!  There he was, OUR NUTCRACKER, and all glittered up nonetheless!  We took that bad boy home and put him right on the mantel where he belonged.  I am sure that this time of year and after the holidays you can get great deals on these.  Maybe I will pick up one in a few weeks at a bargain for next year.  Upon further investigation, I found that there are some really funny ones out there!

Ok, so we read our books, listened to our music, and had our own Nutcracker, we were good to go!  My daughter was very excited for the show and she ended up loving it.  She seriously wasn’t scared at all!  It really goes to show the more you can expose and prepare children for certain situations through the trusty pages of books and such, the more prepared and successful they can be!  I use this method all the time with different experiences, such as going to the doctor, starting school, whatever it may be.  I will be sharing more of my ideas and resources on this matter with you, so stayed tuned!

Here is my little girl and some dude going to the show (just kidding, it's my husband!)

Here is my little girl and some dude going to the show (just kidding, it’s my husband!)

Here are some more ideas (I haven’t tried them yet) that I have tucked away for future use regarding The Nutcracker…..

-I’m thinking next year, because my daughter has some knowledge on the subject, we can get crafty!!  Here is a kit that you can buy, where you can paint a nutcracker yourself which would be fun.  I really like these ballerinas from goodideasforyou.com here.

-There are several coloring books and stickers and such out there that may be nice to have around the house.

-I do also believe that next year will include a movie of some sort.  We actually had one from the library, that we never got to, but next year I will probably be checking those out as well.