Book Weekend – Stanley the Mailman

William Bee has created a series of charmingly simple picture books featuring a friendly hamster named Stanley.  Each book features Stanley in a different community helper role. As a mailman, he gets to ride the cozy little mail-scooter and deliver packages.  But will everyone be as delighted to received as he is to give?

STanley

The simple bright illustrations make this an easy book for toddlers and early preschoolers to follow.  Adults will enjoy little details like the addresses on each package and the British flair of the design.

Look for these other books about Stanley the Hamster: Stanley the Builder and Stanley the Farmer.

Celebrating Art

There’s something for everybody in the world of art: mystery, drama, comedy…And there are some pretty wonderful stories about art as well. Check out some of these stories, where art and writing intertwine.

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Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
When a book of unexplainable occurrences brings Petra Andalee & Calder Pillay together, strange things start to happen: seemingly unrelated events connect, an eccentric old woman seeks their company, & an invaluable Vermeer painting disappears. Before they know it, the two find themselves at the center of an international art scandal. As Petra & Calder are drawn clue by clue into a mysterious labyrinth they must draw on their powers of intuition, their skills at problem solving, and their knowledge of Vermeer. Can they decipher a crime that has left even the FBI baffled?

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
In this winner of the Newbery Medal from E.L. Konigsburg, when suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere–to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant.

Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away…so she decided not to run FROM somewhere, but TO somewhere. And so, after some careful planning, she and her younger brother, Jamie, escaped — right into a mystery that made headlines!

The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock
Vasya Kandinsky was a proper little boy: he studied math and history, he practiced the piano, he sat up straight and was perfectly polite. And when his family sent him to art classes, they expected him to paint pretty houses and flowers–like a proper artist.

In this exuberant celebration of creativity, Barb Rosenstock and Mary GrandPré tell the fascinating story of Vasily Kandinsky, one of the very first painters of abstract art. Throughout his life, Kandinsky experienced colors as sounds, and sounds as colors–and bold, groundbreaking works burst forth from his noisy paint box.

Who Was Frida Kahlo by Sarah Fabiny
You can always recognize a painting by Kahlo because she is in nearly all–with her black braided hair and colorful Mexican outfits. A brave woman who was an invalid most of her life, she transformed herself into a living work of art. As famous for her self-portraits and haunting imagery as she was for her marriage to another famous artist, Diego Rivera, this strong and courageous painter was inspired by the ancient culture and history of her beloved homeland, Mexico. Her paintings continue to inform and inspire popular culture around the world.

Art & Max by David Wiesner
Max and Arthur are friends who share an interest in painting. Arthur is an accomplished painter; Max is a beginner. Max’s first attempt at using a paintbrush sends the two friends on a whirlwind trip through various artistic media, which turn out to have unexpected pitfalls. Although Max is inexperienced, he’s courageous–and a quick learner. His energy and enthusiasm bring the adventure to its triumphant conclusion. Beginners everywhere will take heart.

Put your artistic skills to the test and try out this really cool art craft: Fun with Matisse!  Instructions courtesy of Playful Learning.

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Book Weekend – Flora Returns

FloraFlora and the Peacocks written and drawn by Molly Idle.

Flora, appealing and expressive,  first attempted to dance with a haughty bird in Flora and the Flamingo.  Without using words, the simple page turns and lifting flaps, told the story of glances and growing friendship.

In this book, Flora attempts to befriends a pair of peacocks.  While one is curious, the other feels nothing but disdain – and perhaps jealousy.

Young children just learning to identify emotions can work with caregivers to narrate this story aloud.   Others can enjoy the limited color palette, here summery mix of yellow, greens and teal.

For those with a love of the cold, check out her second book, Flora and the Peguins, for an icy blue burst of ice-dancing delimas.

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Creepy, Crawly, BUGS!

July has it all – sunshine, warm weather, and, naturally, a whole lot of insects. Embrace the buggy outdoors with these books exploring all kinds of creepy, crawlies found in our own backyards!

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Ugh! A Bug by Mary Bono
What would you do if you saw a fly? A spider? A flea? Mary Bono’s rhyming book explores your options when confronted by all kinds of insects in funny, rhyming text. Read along as wide-eyed children consider what they would do if there was a beetle in their way or a centipede slithering by them. In the end, this buggy book is all about sharing space and remembering that, even if they bother us, bugs are here for a reason and, mostly, just want to be left alone.

Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi
Bright, colorful illustrations take center stage in this book on all the different things that bugs like to do. Watch at ground level as bugs sing, glide, and even fight their way through this book. In the end the reader is reminded that even as all types of insects do these amazing things – most can be found in our own backyards! With inviting text and all of the insect illustrations labelled in a two-page spread at the back of the book, Some Bugs begs for readers to explore the world around them in a whole new way.

Bug Faces by Darlyne A. Murawski
While some children will prefer the friendly faces of cartoon insects, this book is for the kids who want the real deal! Go eye to eye with the big-eyed bloodsucker known as the deer fly. Get up close and personal with a daddy-longlegs. See every detail of a cockroach’s face. Each magnified image of a familiar (or frightening) insect is accompanied by a brief summary of the bug and its unique features.

The Icky Bug Counting Book by Jerry Pallotta
This book lets you start with zero – zero bugs on the first page! From there, read and count along all the way up to 26. Each number is accompanied by illustrations and facts regarding a specific insect. An excellent read-along for children of varying ages as younger readers can brush up on their counting skills as more advanced readers explore trap-jaw ants and question-mark caterpillars alongside one another, this book has something to offer everyone.

Bug Safari by Bob Barner
“The events described here actually happened to me,” the narrator tells us, “…so very long ago – well, last summer.” And just like that, the reader is off on a great, safari-style adventure alongside a young narrator who finds himself following a long line of black ants through his own backyard. The ants guide the boy, and the reader as well, along a path, passing by other backyard bugs on their way to an unknown destination. Watch as they battle red ants, narrowly escape the dangerous tongue of a frog, and find themselves in the clutches of a giant green mantis, all before reaching the end of their journey. Will they make it? Read to the end to find out!

Hey There, Stink Bug! by Leslie Bulion
Take a closer look at all kinds of creepy crawlies with this book of bug poetry. Learn about spider silk, the flash of fireflies, and even why stink bugs stink, with quick, rhyming text. Each poem is accompanied with a brief explanation of the science it explores. Bright bug illustrations and a glossary of terms add to the reader’s experience.

Done reading? Keep things buzzing with this yarn-wrapped bee craft; instructions courtesy of Housing a Forest.

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Hats Off to Reading!

Baseball caps, top hats, sun hats, party hats… there are so many kinds of hats! These stories celebrate hats and the people who love them!

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Hat by Paul Hoppe
A boy and his mom happen upon a lone hat in the middle of the park. It’s bright red, and fits Henry just right. Turns out, Hat has a ton of important uses! It shields the sun. It doubles as a sled or a boat. It even fights crocodiles in Africa. . . . But what about Hat’s owner? Maybe he or she needs Hat even more than Henry does. Henry’s imagination may have run away from him, but in the end, his heart knows the right thing to do. An arty picture book about a boy and his imagination, Hat inspires readers to revel in the power of creativity.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear’s memory and renews his search with a vengeance. Told completely in dialogue, this delicious take on the classic repetitive tale plays out in sly illustrations laced with visual humor– and winks at the reader with a wry irreverence that will have kids of all ages thrilled to be in on the joke.

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
This story about a peddler and a band of mischievous monkeys is filled with warmth, humor, and simplicity and teaches children about problem and resolution. Children will delight in following the peddler’s efforts to outwit the monkeys and will ask to read it again and again. Caps for Sale is an excellent easy-to-read book that includes repetition, patterns, and colors, perfect for early readers.

Do You Have a Hat? by Eileen Spinelli
What do Spanish painter Francisco de Goya, Russian-American composer Igor Stravinsky, South American entertainer Carmen Miranda, African-American cowboy Nat Love, and President Abraham Lincoln have in common? HATS! Unique, distinctive, wonderful hats! And this bright and cheerful picture book from best-selling author Eileen Spinelli and colorful newcomer Geraldo Valério will have you thinking twice before going outside without yours!

I Had a Favorite Hat by Boni Ashburn
The narrator of this charming picture book loves her summer hat, but as the seasons change, her hat isn’t always appropriate for every occasion. She must use her crafting skills to turn the hat into a work of art, perfect for every season and holiday. Featuring the same characters from the first book, I Had a Favorite Dress, along with the hip, eye-catching art style that won it so many fans, this book is perfect for young crafters and their stylish parents.

Brimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin
A lonely hat maker uses quirky creativity to make friends in this delightful picture book that will charm readers young and old. Brimsby is a happy hat maker–until his best friend goes off to find adventure at sea. Now Brimsby is a lonely hat maker, unsure of what to do. But since making hats is what he does best, perhaps his talents can help him find some friends… Filled with whimsy and wonder, Brimsby’s Hats is a celebration of creativity and friendship.

Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won
Elephant wakes up grumpy–until ding, dong! What’s in the surprise box at the front door? A hat! HOORAY FOR HAT! Elephant marches off to show Zebra, but Zebra is having a grumpy day, too–until Elephant shares his new hat and cheers up his friend. Off they march to show Turtle! The parade continues as every animal brightens the day of a grumpy friend. An irresistible celebration of friendship, sharing, and fabulous hats.

After reading these books, it’s time to make your own hat! Young children will enjoy creating and decorating this simple hat from East Coast Mommy, while older kiddos will delight in a more challenging project from Krokatak.

 

Book Weekend – Airport Book

airportAirport Book by Lisa Brown

Follow a family through the complexities of a modern-day airport. From checking bags and watching them disappear on the mysterious conveyer belt, to security clearance and a seemingly endless wait at the gate to finally being airborne.

But wait! There’s more! The youngest family member’s sock monkey has gone missing. Follow it at the bottom of the page as it makes a journey as memorable as that of the humans above.