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Always, Always Reading Books, Recipes, and Life Kitschy Witch The Herb Gardener

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving Story Time Books

I had hoped to have a fun Thanksgiving story time today, but none of my kids showed up! I've decided to just write a brief blurb on the following books that I might have used.

In I'm a Turkey! by Jim Arnosky, Tom the Turkey introduces us to himself, his parents, and his flock in a delightful rhyme. He tells us about a day in the life of a turkey and says, "When you live in a flock of that many birds, you've got to communicate, but not with words. We putt and peep and squawk and squabble - talking turkey, gobble, gobble." He closes the story by asking the reader to make gobbling sounds the next time the reader sees a turkey because it just might be him!

In Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson, which is another story set in rhyme, Bear decides to have a feast. But there's a big problem - his cupboards are bare! His friends stop by with food for everybody to share. Mouse brings a huckleberry pie, Hare brings a big batch of muffins, Badger brings fish, Gopher and Mole bring warm honey nuts, and Owl, Raven, and Wren have "pears from the tree and herbs to brew tea!" But Bear has nothing. His cupboards are bare! Mouse squeaks, "Don't fret. There's enough dear Bear. You don't need any food, you have stories to share!"

Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell is a story that children can count along with you as you read the story. The story describes a trip to the grocery store and cooking in numbers. For example, they pick among other groceries, "8 eight ripe tomatoes and 9 plump potatoes." "Ten 10 hands help to load the car. 2 two will look and 3 three will cook." This is a good interactive story and a story that you can use to help teach numbers.

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr features a list of everyday things, places, and people that children can be thankful for such as pets, music, colors, fall, winter, hugs, kisses, and holidays. This is a short sweet inspirational book.The story is also a good way to get the children to think about what they are thankful for.

In Thelonius Turkey Lives! by Lynn Rowe Reed, Thelonius is convinced he is going to be the main course for Thanksgiving dinner. After all, isn't that why Felicia Ferguson is giving him three square meals of special seeds? Why is she plucking his feathers? To better determine his size? Thelonius decides he's not going to give up without a fight and enlists the help of his friends for some crazy antics. Thelonius and the cow change the plumbing so that Felicia is taking a shower in milk! Thelonius paints a sign on the barn that says "pinch me" and all of the geese pinch Felicia. Thelonius even convinces the pigs to take a nap in Felicia's bed! Finally, Felicia loads a terrified Thelonius in her truck and heads toward town not to the chopping block, but to a hat factory! Felicia has been using Thelonius's feathers to make hats! On Thanksgiving Day, Thelonius fixes a feast for Felicia and all of his friends. In addition to the story, I also really enjoyed the collage style of illustrations in this book.

In Gobble Gobble Crash! A Barnyard Counting Bash by Julie Stiegemeyer, five wild turkeys flew above the apple tree and crashed into a chicken coop where "Mama Hen grew angry, and she scolded loud and quick, turkeys, can't you calm yourselves? Think of my six chicks!" The turkeys continue to wreck havoc throughout the barnyard startling seven baby mice, eight little goats, nine baby pigs, and ten baby robins. When the farmer wakes up, he yells "I'm gonna have a turkey feast!" However, the animals hide the turkeys and save them.

In Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvana, Turkey is in really big trouble! It looks like he's going to be the main course for Thanksgiving! To stop this from happening, he tries to disguise himself as a horse, cow, pig, sheep, and rooster. His most successful disguise is as a rooster, but Turkey worries that a rooster might be the farmer's next choice for a Thanksgiving dinner. Finally, Turkey disguises himself as a pizza delivery boy and the farmer and his wife enjoy pizza for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Rules of Magic

In The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman, three siblings exhibit remarkable magic powers. Vincent is so magnetic and mesmerizing that a nurse in the maternity ward tried to kidnap him. Jet can read the thoughts of others. And birds come to sit and perch on Franny's hand. But this magic is not without its drawbacks. Their ancestor, Maria Owens, placed a curse in the 1660s on her descendants - that love would be a curse and cause harm to anybody whom her descendants loved. Why? She loved a man who accused her of witchcraft. The accusation lead to her death.

In spite of the curse, it can be argued that the loves of the siblings' lives merely succumbed to tragic accidents or a disease that effects many people - cancer. Is losing your loved ones a curse or simply a fact of this life on Earth? As the siblings' cousin April said, "I'm fated to lose everyone I ever love. I already know that." "Of course you are," Jet responded in her calm, measured tone. "That's what it means to be alive."

As well as magic, the themes of family and being true to yourself are equally important in this story. At the age of seventeen, Franny receives an invitation to go and live with her Aunt Isabelle. Jet and Vincent decide to accompany her. Isabelle tells them the sad story of Maggie Owens, a cousin who came to stay for the summer. Maggie told tales about her own family in order to fit in with the locals. The family told Maggie to go back to Boston. When Maggie left the house she started cursing. With every curse, she became smaller and smaller. She went to sleep in the grass as a woman and when she woke up she was a rabbit. Isabelle told the siblings, "Keep your eyes open. You may see her in the yard. This is what happens when you repudiate who you are. Once you do that, life works against you, and your fate is no longer your own."

This is a beautiful mesmerizing tale of love, loss, tragedy and hope, as well as magic.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cat Story Time!

Today's story time theme was cats! The first book that I read was Cat Tale by Michael Hale. This story introduces us to three delightful cats: Lillian, Tilly, and William J. This story has a charming way of introducing words with double meanings to young readers. For example, the cats "flee a steer". Then, "they steer a plane". The cats "plane a board" and then "board a train".

The story goes on in this fashion until the three cats mix up their words:

They knew a rock could squash a berry ....

No. No.

They know a rock can squash a berry ....

They use a rock to squash a berry ...


They use a squash to bury a rock?

They pause ...

They use their paws to rock a squashberry!

Rock a squashberry?

The author states that "the words are jumbled!" and "they've lost their way". But they quickly get back on their way and "they tail a bear"; "they bear some hail"; and "they hail a giant purple whale".

The next book that I read was You Are Not a Cat! by Sharon Flake. This book was the children's favorite! This story features a duck that insists he is a cat and he keeps on meowing. The cat tells him that he is a duck and he should quack! The children enjoyed meowing with the duck and quacking with the cat. The cat calls the duck a parrot when he repeats what the cat is saying and the duck squawks. The duck tells the cat that yesterday he was a squirrel and last week he was a rooster. What will you be tomorrow? the cat asks the duck and the duck replies "moo".

The last book I read was Counting with Tiny Cat by Viviane Schwarz. The children and I enjoyed counting the balls of yarn that tiny cat had. He started with zero balls of yarn, then he had one, two, three, four, five, and so many more! Too many to count! I love the illustrations in this book! Tiny cat has so many different facial expressions! The illustrations were done in ink and crayon and colored digitally.

I had some other books that I pulled for this story time, but did not read. These books are as follows:

The classic story of Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes features a kitten who thinks the full moon is a little bowl of milk in the sky! She tries various methods to get it, such as: reaching out with her tongue, jumping from the top step of the porch, chasing it, climbing a tree, and jumping into a pond! But she doesn't get the bowl of milk. The tired kitten returns home where a bowl of milk is waiting for her.

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel features illustrations that show how the same cat is viewed differently by a child, a dog, a fox, a fish, a mouse, a bee, a bird, a flea, a snake, a skunk, a worm, and a bat. The illustrations are absolutely amazing! This book is a great way to introduce young readers to different perspectives and to explain how different people can view the world differently.

The delightful story of A Castle Full of Cats by Ruth Sanderson is told in rhyme. The cats are loved and spoiled by the queen. But the king? Not so much. The cats try to persuade the king to love them by giving him gifts such as a dead mouse and a fish skeleton. They get on time of his favorite chairs ahead of him to warm them. They sing lovely serenades to him because the king loves music and art. Finally in frustration, the king leaves and comes back with a huge dog!

The story ends like this:

Is this the end of all our games?

The end to all our fun?

Or could it be, quite possibly ...

Yes! The games have just begun!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dinosaur Story Time!

Today was dinosaur story time and dinosaurs are a huge hit with the preschoolers!

The first book that I read was Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein. The children absolutely loved this book! The story features Dinah, a young dinosaur who has just hatched. She stomps, chomps, and then she sees two small animals kissing! So, she decides to try that next. However kissing proves hard to master as Dinah whomps a small animal, chomps a big dinosaur, and stomps on a little fish with legs that has just started to walk on land. She tries to kiss another animal, but ends up eating him instead. "Whoops," said Dinah. "Not good." Another dinosaur hatches out of an egg and together the two dinosaurs chomp, stomp, and whomp. The children had a lot of fun chomping, stomping, and whomping!

The next book that I read was Rex Wrecks It! by Ben Clanton. The children loved this story as well. Rex, the dinosaur, wrecks all of the lovely things that Gizmo, Sprinkles, and Wild have built. He wrecks Gizmo's out-of-this-world rocket, Sprinkle's magical heart, and Wild's wooden wonder of wisdom. When Rex wrecks the biggest, strongest, most awesomerific block castle ever, Gizmo gets an idea. His idea is to have Rex help them build their next project. At the end, after everyone admires their project they all wreck it together! The children enjoyed "rawring" along with Rex.

Instead of a third story, I presented a flannel board about ten dinosaurs. Ten dinosaurs are crowded together in a cave. They toss and turn and push and shove and roar! And roar some more! Each time this happens one dinosaur rolls out of the cave (disappears from the flannel board). The children and I had fun counting down the dinosaurs.

I had two more stories that I had set aside for story time, but did not read. These books are as follows:

In Dinosaur vs. The Library by Bob Shea, Dinosaur is on his way to the library and roaring as he goes. On his way, he meets a cow, baby chicks, a shy turtle, and sad owl. He roars at them and wins! Now Dinosaur will roar where no one has roared before ..... the library! The librarian asks Dinosaur to use his inside roar and he does. But here comes the ultimate test - can Dinosaur not roar for a whole story in story time? Dinosaur stays quiet and both Dinosaur and the library win! This book is great for a story time book or a one-on-one read aloud. The children love to roar right along with Dinosaur!

In If I Had a Triceraptops by George O'Connor, a young boy imagines what it would be like to have a triceratops as a pet. He would take her on walks so she could meet new friends, play fetch with her, and train her tricks like sit up, roll over, play dead, and high five! Of course, she might get into trouble for eating his homework or chasing the neighbor's car, but it would all be worth it when she greeted him after he came home from school. This book is great for a story time book or a one-on-one read aloud.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Farm Animal Baby Lap Time!

I had so much fun having baby lap time at the Covenant House/The ARC in Washington, DC! Today's theme was farm animals and I read two board books.

Because I had a small group of seven babies I was able to read Farm by Charlie Gardner and give each of the babies a chance to feel all of the textures: the soft fluffy ducklings, the hairy goats, sheep with woolly fleece, pigs with pink shiny skin, horses with shiny silver buckets, and more! All of the babies loved this book.

I didn't read the next book Old MacDonald Had a Farm by James Dean, instead I sang the book along with the babies and their caregivers! In this revised version of Old MacDonald had a farm by James Dean, Pete the Cat sings the traditional verses and adds a few verses of his own. Everybody loved this book!

The rest of the baby lap time consisted of songs, rhymes, bounces and finger plays.

Because they were teaching the babies about farm animals, I left the following board books for them to read together:

Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown

Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker

How kind! by Mary Murphy

Farm by James Brown

Baby cheep! cheep! by Dawn Sirett

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

One Dark Throne

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake is one of the most amazing and thrilling books that I have read in a very long time. The plot had so many twists and turns that reading the book was like driving a race car on a track where you had no idea where you were going. I can't recommend it strongly enough! I will endeavor to tell you as much as I can without giving too much of the plot away or creating any spoilers. Make sure that you read Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake before you read One Dark Throne. One Dark Throne is the sequel and it won't make sense if you haven't read Three Dark Crowns.

The Quickening is behind our queens and the Ascension Year has begun. Who will claim the throne? After all two must die, so that one may live and rule. Will it be Arsinoe, who thought she was a naturalist, but is actually a poisoner? Nobody knows her secret except Jules. Arsinoe now has complete control of her great bear even though it was summoned by low magic.

Will it be Katharine, the queen who is supposed to be the poisoner queen? She hasn't been the same since Pietyr threw her into the dark and bottomless pit of the Breccia Domain - a place where former queens were left to die. She's crawled her way out of the pit and instead of being the sweet pliable girl that she was she is now strong, mean, and cruel. Once she did her best to avoid poison. Now she throws poisoned knifes, poisons birds and rodents, and sends a poisoned glove and dress to Mirabella's priestesses.

Everyone in Fennbirn is convinced that Mirabella will be crowned queen and sit on the dark throne. After all, she is the strongest sister and an elemental. She can control waves and the sea, start fires, and cause lightning to strike. Willa, the old midwife, knows that the former queen told her that Mirabella will be the one to rule.

To find out who will sit on the dark throne, read One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake.

Halloween Story Time!

Happy Halloween! To celebrate Halloween today, I presented a special Halloween story time that both the children and I enjoyed.

To introduce this story, The Hallo-Wiener by Dav Pilkey, I asked the children in the group who were going trick or treating tonight to raise their hands. Then, I asked them to raise their hands if they were going in a costume. This story features Oscar, a dachshund who is made fun of because of his unusual shape and size. "Wiener Dog! Wiener Dog!" the other dogs call him to tease him. Oscar finds out that his mother has made a hot dog bun Halloween costume for him and he is so disappointed. However, he doesn't want to hurt his mother's feelings, so he decides to wear the costume. Oscar could not keep up with the other dogs as they ran off to go trick-or-treating because of his awkward costume. So there were no treats left for Oscar as he went from house to house. When trick or treating was over, the other dogs were scared of a huge monster with a jack-o-lantern head that rose out of a graveyard! Only Oscar could tell that the monster was just two cats in disguise. He tugged at the monster's outfit until it ripped and there were two cats! The cats ran off and the grateful dogs changed Oscar's nickname from "Wiener Dog" to "Hero Sandwich".

In Mouse's First Halloween by Lauren Thompson, Mouse is afraid of everything! Mouse and the readers go through the story together and find out that the following actually aren't that scary at all: swooping bats, tumbling leaves, a waving scarecrow, falling apples, scampering kittens, a glowing jack-o-lantern, and trick-or-treaters. The children enjoyed guessing what Mouse was afraid of and most of their guesses were correct!

In Minerva Louise on Halloween by Janet Morgan Stoeke, our favorite clueless and hapless chicken, Minerva, provides plenty of laughs again. Minerva doesn't know what Halloween is and can't figure out that the farmers are putting fake gravestones in the yard (not planting a garden); the farmer with a shovel is actually a skeleton on the door; why the pumpkins have been turned into jack-o-lanterns; why the laundry is on the farmers (the farmers are dressed as ghosts); and why candy corn is so sweet. The children enjoyed laughing with Minerva and explaining to me what was really happening in the story.