Homeschool Discoveries

Sharing a few things I've discovered along the way…

Book Discoveries this Week: Policeman Small and other Picture Books April 18, 2013

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 9:47 am
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Once every couple of months I try and share tidbits about some of the pictures books we find at the library.  Since Miss M and I are still in the middle of a very long read-aloud about the Civil War, it seemed like a good week to do just that.

A little over a week ago we took a trip to the Minneapolis Central library branch downtown.  Among their large collection of picture books, it’s always easy to find books by beloved authors and illustrators – including older books that may not be on the shelf quite so often at our neighborhood branch.

Lois Lenski has a special place in my heart as an author/illustrator–mainly because she illustrated the first four books in my all-time favorite children’s book series, the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. We own a couple of Lenski’s picture books, but there are many of her picture books we haven’t read yet.  I found a few of her “Mr. Small” titles on our trip to Central Library.

I read “Policeman Small” to the boys at bedtime last night.  Tony was out, so I was pulling policeman smallbedtime double-duty of reading to the boys and to Miss M.  Everyone enjoyed the rhythm of this old-fashioned story of a traffic officer’s day and all the people and vehicles he sees.  I was actually just thinking the other day about what city life was like before traffic lights – I’m sure there must have been a lot more traffic police men doing what Policeman Small was doing in this book.  J  He has a great “manual” version of a stoplight, in a manner of speaking (it’s two “stop” signs and two “go” signs on a pole that can be rotated so one faces each side of a four-way intersection). I’ve never seen a picture of one of these before, but I would have to imagine these were actually used in the days before stoplights.

Here’s another little tidbit about this book I found completely fascinating.  Policeman Small actually opens with “sheet music” for a song about the book’s namesake character.  The words were written by author/illustrator Lois Lenski, and the music appears to have been written by none other than prolific children’s book author Clyde Robert Bulla.  I had no idea he was a composer as well.  We’ve read and enjoyed several books by Bulla.

Here’s a few quick tidbits on a potpourri of other picture books we’ve read over the last two months:

When You Meet a Bear on Broadway The boys and Miss M all enjoyed this to some degree, but this was a favorite of mine in the stacks from the last couple months.  When you meet a cute little bear on Broadway…you should help it find its mama.  🙂

I Don’t Want a Cool Cat.  A favorite of both boys, who liked the clever and funny descriptions of all kinds of cats that a girl does not want for a pet.

Dirtball Pete A sweet story about accepting someone for who they really are – even if that means they are covered in dirt!

A Home for Bird. Thanks to Amy for this recommendation.  We all enjoyed this wonderful picture book and read it several times.  The first time, it was fun to try and guess what was going to happen.  Miss M correctly guess that it would end with a cuckoo clock. 🙂

Knit Your Bit – This World War I-era story is another recommendation from Amy that we all enjoyed.  I wasn’t sure if the boys would really be “into” it, but they liked it enough to request it to be read to them more than once.

The Great Doughnut Parade – this was another favorite of mine that the boys liked as well.  Mr. K (age 4) asked many, many times if he could REALLY tie a doughnut to his pants with a string after reading this book.

Two Sticks – A girl with a love for drumming drums her way out of a jam in a swamp full of alligators.  This was a favorite with Mr. E (age 6).

Wumbers.  I feel like I heard about this one from another Read Aloud Thursday post at some point, but I am not 100% sure.  This is a puzzle picture book where the pun-like puzzles come in the form of numbers melded with words. I love books like this, and Miss M really enjoyed it too.  I always find word-play picture books to be not quite as fun as I wish they would be with the boys though, since I have to explain so many of the jokes!  I also just realized that this book is by the same author of a picture book we really enjoyed a few months ago, This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations.

What Can a Crane Pick Up? A classic “truck” book, I heard the boys repeating lines from this book over and over again after we read it.

How Rocket Learned to Read – The boys thought this was okay, but I saw Miss M reading this cute picture book about a bird teaching a dog to read several times while it was in our library basket. 🙂

The Cobbler’s Holiday or Why Ants Don’t Wear Shoes.  This is one of those books that I thought was “okay” and I hoped the boys would only want to hear it once.  We, in fact, read it several times before it went back to the library.  I’m still not quite sure what appealed to the boys so much about this book, other than the ridiculous idea of ants wearing many, many pairs of shoes.  It seemed to me like it should have been a parable of some sort, only I didn’t know what the “moral” of the story was supposed to be – other than that you don’t need shoes to be fashionable.  😉

I’m linking up to Read Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!



Book Discoveries this Week: Ballerino Nate and other picture books March 8, 2012

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 9:34 pm
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A few weeks ago at a friend’s house, Mr E was a ballerino.  Luckily for his future teenage self, I won’t post the pictures here as he might not appreciate them!  Mr. E and his friend decided that since Mr E is a boy, he must be a “ballerino” instead of a “ballerina” when he danced in his friend’s tutu.  I thought this was a very clever word choice on the part of these 4-year-olds.

Then, much to my surprise, I ran across Ballerino Nate by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley while reading this post I found via Pinterest.  Of course, I had to request it right away from our library!

Ballerino Nate is a very sweet story about a boy who wants to dance.  But can he, a boy, learn ballet? And will he have to wear a pink outfit in order to do it?  Nate’s older brother tries to convince him at every turn that dancing is for girls.  Even all the other kids in his first ballet class are girls.  But, as you might guess by the title, Nate’s parents help him to see that these stereotypes about ballet aren’t so true after all.

While I don’t think Mr. E is really all that interested in being a ballet dancer (I think he dressed up in ballet garb mostly to be a good friend), I do think most kids need reminders every now and then that activities, interests and careers need not be limited by gender. Mr. E thought it was a “nice story”, and it was certainly a change of pace from most of the books he selects for himself.

Here’s a few quick takes on some other picture books we’ve enjoyed recently:

Mary Had a Little Lamp by Jack Lechner features illustrations by Bob Staake, who also wrote and illustrated Donut Chef (a book we enjoyed a few weeks ago).  The style is so similar that Mr. K kept asking me if the Donut Chef was in this book too! Imagine what might happen if Mary brought a lamp everywhere instead of a Lamb, and you get the concept of this book.  Simple but funny, and we read it many times over the past two weeks.

I really enjoyed the illustrations in Tugga-Tugga Tugboat by Kevin Lewis, with Illustrations by Daniel Kirk.  This sparked a really great discussion with the boys about tugboats.  Are they real? Can a little boat really pull a big ship? Why do they do that?  We watched a few videos on youtube about tugboats after reading this book!

Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman is a short, silly little story that had us laughing as chickens solve problems big and small on the farm.  There are lots of fun little details to see if you take the time to look at what all the chickens are doing.

Finally, this week I actually remembered to read a book to Baby J.  He is on my lap or eating while I read for many, many books every day.  But he is getting to be a bigger baby now…my little guy is not just a newborn bump on a log any more.  🙂  I got out one of my favorite Usborne board books to enjoy with him: “That’s Not My Puppy“.  I totally love the “That’s not my…” series.  They all have the same predictable format, but they are super cute and each page has a fun texture.  Baby J enjoyed his first just-for-him story time experience too.  He was entertained with grabbing at all the textures in the book for quite a long time!


I’m linking up with Read Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!