Friday, February 13, 2009

Are You a Biscotti Hottie? a.k.a. Good Books for Kids

Reading plays a big part in our household. It seems that at least one of the three of us has a nose in a newspaper, book or magazine at any moment. (We are all very worried about the so-called death of print. We prefer holding things......) We all read before falling asleep in bed - even if it is only a few pages. I'm always on the look out for good books for Julia to read - those that I enjoy the message from and ones which I think she will enjoy just as much. Here's a few we have stumbled upon lately that you might want to check into for your kids.

Holly Hobbie's Fanny

Holly Hobbie has had an incredible career as an illustrator and a children’s book writer. How she does it amazes me. She lives in the Pioneer Valley (where we also live) and Julia and I have met her at book signings at our LBS World Eye Bookshop. She is as wonderful as her children's books (most recently the long running series Toot and Puddle about two adorable pigs).

Her new book Fanny (I’m guessing it will also become a series) is about a little girl who desperately wants a “Connie” doll and her mom says “no.” Instead of weeping in her cereal, Fanny pulls out the resourcefulness within her and actually sews her own little doll. To say the lesson is lovely is an understatement. For any of you moms and grandmoms (or anyone who likes to make things and is looking for a book for a little girl), I would check this one out.

Linda Urban’s A Crooked Kind of Perfect

I first found out about A Crooked Kind of Perfect when I checked out a blog by a commenter. The commenter turned out to be the children’s book writer Linda Urban. I made a mental note that the book she has written for older kids about Julia's age (10) looked like a great read for Julia. The next week at the Scholastic book sale at Julia’s school, lo and behold, there was a book with a little girl’s legs in a pair of toed socks. Being a knitter, the book cover immediately caught my attention (socks play a bit part in the book but there is no knitting). The book was Linda’s A Crooked Kind of Perfect and Julia and I bought it for the school library. She borrowed it first thing and did her first fiction book report on it.

It’s a great story about a 10 year old girl named Zoe who wants to play the piano at Carnegie Hall. Instead, her parents buy her an organ. Her Mom is an over achieving accountant who works all the time. Zoe's Dad is quite the character – he is terrified to leave the house. To keep himself busy, he takes living room university classes including scuba diving in the bathtub, flying a plane at the kitchen table, and becoming a cookie baker. He bakes a mean cookie and Zoe dubs him a “biscotti hottie.” If you’ve got a 10 year old – boy or girl – they will love this book. There is a great message at the end but I won't spill the beans. The chapters are very short which makes it less daunting for kids to read. I read it and loved it too.

Susan Marie Swanson’s To Be Like the Sun

For the younger set, and all you fans of sunflowers, Susan Marie Swanson’s To Be Like the Sun is based on a poem she wrote to a sunflower. She expanded it and it became a children’s book illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine. It is a lovely tale about the life of a sunflower and how it grows and dies within the four seasons. Sure would brighten up this long winter if you read it to a small child today.

I met Susan Marie last winter in Minneapolis when I was speaking at The Textile Center. She knits – how cool – a children’s book writer, poet, and knitter all rolled up into one. We had a lovely conversation about color and sunflowers during the dark days of winter in Minneapolis. It's funny but all I remember about that night was color and happy knitters.


Pungo River Days said...

Thank so much for the heads up on these books. I always loved buying books for my kids and now my grandchildren get the benefits of grandma loving children's books. Smile and Happy Valentines Day

Linda Urban said...

What a surprise to pop over expecting lamb snaps and see my book cover!
I'm so glad that you and Julia liked the book.

spangle said...

What an awesome blog!! My friend just shared it with me and now I am forwarding your link to more friends! I love the sheep and the kittens, and I know there is more to explore here. Plus, it looks like I must have your book now too!
Thanks for sharing. :)

Lois said...

No lambs for two days—I'm going into withdrawal. 8~(
And it's a Friday! Please post lots and lots of lambs on Monday, K? Or even sneak in a little weekend post? And thanks for your awesome blog!

Lauri said...

Thanks for the book reviews! I have seen "Fanny" out there, but just haven't gotten it that I know there is sewing a doll involved, I'll HAVE TO get it ASAP! The other's look great, too!

Elizabeth Psyck said...

This is a super late comment (I'm behind on my reading...) - but...

don't worry about the death of print - they've been predicting it for decades and it hasn't happened yet. I'm in library school/working in a library right now, and people discuss it, but none of us actually believe it'll happen. Holding a book is too tactile and too relaxing (to say nothing about how bad it'll destroy your eyes)