Book: Artichoke Boy

~ We will add this book to our Favorites Page ~

We live in an area perfect for growing artichokes…so pretty much, if we drive to go anywhere, especially on the way to Tae Kwon Do practice, we see fields with rows upon rows of artichokes.

And so with the boys already familiar with artichokes, it was fun for them to read a book about an artichoke boy and his artichoke-loving family.

The artichokes show up in the pages as ears, eyeballs, hair, knees, and there is even an artichoke bath and an artichoke bed.

But of course, being 4 and 6-year-old boys, the favorite artichoke boy picture page was the when artichoke boy was at the beach — and showed a little of his artichoke derriere.

Seems boys this age laugh out loudly at anything having to do with derrieres, or as they call it, but-buts.

The book is the first written and illustrated by artist Scott Mickelson.  Published by Boyds Mills Press.

Scott is a member of the San Francisco based alternative rock/folk band, Fat Opie, www.FatOpie.com.

Bob Staake’s Look! A Book!

~We are adding this book to our Favorites Page~

Look! A Book! By Bob Staake

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (February 1, 2011), 48 Pages.

My grandsons — especially 6-year-old Jun — are currently into “I Spy” types of books.  The boys really liked this book…and with a subtitle  “A Zany Seek-and-Find Adventure”,  I could see why.

Right from the start, the boys were intrigued by the page style.  It starts out with 3 rhyming word lines and 3 punched holes on the page– that peeks into the next page.

They liked putting their fingers through the holes, then flipping the pages back and forth before settling in to search for the item they were supposed to find.

The pictures were terrific and there were many details — as you would expect — to make the find challenging.  This is the first book we have read by the writer / illustrator Bob Staake, who won a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book award in 2006.

The structure of the book kept 4-year-old Gabriel engaged to the very end…and both boys were disappointed that the book ended.

So it’s a good thing the author included another “finding” exercise at the end!  Which we did not have time for –but was a nice enticement to continue looking again the next day.

I remember when my daughter was a little girl, the “Where’s Waldo” book series were very popular and she had a few of those books—though I don’t remember the Waldo books having the fun rhyming words.

Great rhyming words are always a good feature for beginning readers — so in that sense, (plus the interesting punch through holes) this is a definite improvement from the Where’s Waldo series.

Book – Little Pea

~~We added this book to our favorites page~~

We read this book about 1 year ago, and it still comes up in conversation for the boys, so we recently read it again.

It is by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Illustrated by Jen Corace.  Published by Chronicle Books.

It is about a Pea (as in the vegetable) family — the Papa Pea, Mama Pea and Little Pea.

The Little Pea liked many things except for CANDY.  And that is what Little Peas had to eat …candy.  Candy on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on.

We enjoyed the simple illustrations, and especially the various candies Little Pea had to eat before he could have his dessert — which was his favorite, SPINACH.

The pages that shows Little Pea reluctantly eating his candy, one by one, and the accompanying word sounds, Yuck… Blech… Plck, Pleh… made the boys laugh.  They liked repeating the funny sounds Little Pea made.

The boys do love eating spinach too, so that was a plus…and a little book about a little pea that makes all of us laugh, is a plus too!

Here is the link to author Amy’s (very cool) website.

City Dog, Country Frog

I think by now I have read hundreds of books to my grandchildren.  This book is one of my all-time favorites for its pictures. 

The beautiful water colors capture touching expressions from the dog and the frog.

The story ventures into territory not often explored in children’s books — the life cycle, and yes…even the loss of a friend.

The book is about a city dog who goes to the country and finds a frog for a friend.

The story spans all seasons, from Spring to Winter, then Spring again.

It is a story that was understood by the little guys, and still had a happy ending.

The picture of frog holding a leaf over dog during a Summer rain was so precious, as well as in the Fall, of frog telling city dog about  “remember-ing games”

This book does have a sad part, but its message of fun and friendship overall is heartwarming. Families with pets are confronted with the cycle of life at some point, especially when a family pet dies.  This book presents a valuable lesson in that sometimes friendships may end, but you will also find new beginnings —- and new friends.

Some of the page pictures were so beautiful I wanted to frame them!

Words by Mo Willems and pictures by Jon J Muth.  (Hyperion Books for Children-2010)