Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is another book that needs no introduction and is utterly wonderful. Though there are many hints of the darkness to come (gulp), the tone is largely playful and the story and setting are as imaginative as ever. And it is here that Ms. Rowling, through Dumbledore, quietly states a message that goes to the heart of the series: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
About a year and a half ago, after we enjoyed reading the first book in this series together, I read half of this second book to my oldest before he lost interest. Now a number of his friends are reading the series and he decided to give it another try. He raced through the rest of the book (mostly by himself) in a matter of days and then hopped straight into the third and fourth books in the series (more on them to follow).
Author: J.K. Rowling
Illustrator: Mary Grandpre
Posted in Chapter Books
Tagged Animals, birthday, England, food, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling, knitting, Machines, Mary Grandpre, series
Unlike most of the books I feature here, this is not a book for reading aloud from cover to cover. Instead, this is a book for dipping in and out of, admiring the extensive illustrations and learning myriad new things. Chapters on land, barns, tools, planting, animals, food, and crafts provide an entry point for just about any range of interests and this book would make a wonderful present for just about anyone of any age.
Randomly opening the book to a section on poultry, in four pages we learned: the anatomy of an egg, how to identify (by their footprints) predators that could attack the flock, the average number of eggs one hen lays each year, two ways to tell how old an egg is, and the type of duck my mother had as a girl (a Call duck).
My oldest loves to read through this book on his own and is lobbying for us to try some of the recipes (especially the maple fudge).
Author: Julia Rothman
Illustrator: Julia Rothman
Posted in Non-fiction, Picture Books
Tagged Animals, farm, Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of Country Life, food, garden, Julia Rothman, knitting, Machines, science, series
Genius squirrels follow wintering birds to a tropical paradise. Will their grumpy friend Old Man Fookwire be far behind?
Like the first book in this series, Those Darn Squirrels!, it is difficult to read this book once; as soon as it is done, the boys ask me to read it again. Since they are laughing their heads off for much of the book (no matter how many times we read it), I’m happy to comply.
Author: Adam Rubin
Illustrator: Daniel Salmieri
Posted in Picture Books
Tagged Adam Rubin, Animals, beach, Daniel Salmieri, food, knitting, Machines, Mexico, series, Those Darn Squirrels Fly South, Those Darn Squirrels!, USA
On Market Street, vendors of items from apples to zippers all wear (or are made of) their wares. I’ve loved this beautiful alphabet book from the first time I saw it as a child. The boys prefer The Racecar Alphabet, but this is the week when I share some of the books that I currently enjoy more than they do, in honor of Mother’s Day.
Author: Arnold Lobel
Illustrator: Anita Lobel
Posted in Picture Books
Tagged alphabet, Anita Lobel, Arnold Lobel, Caldecott Honor, Christmas, food, Frog and Toad, I read this as a kid, knitting, Machines, Mama's Choice, On Market Street, The Racecar Alphabet, toys
This rhyming book reminds me a bit of The Snatchabook. But just a bit. Instead of one cute little (albeit book snatching) critter flying into a town called Burrow Down, here four million (not at all little or cute) wasps swarm a town called Itching Down. And instead of concluding with understanding and acceptance, this tall tale ends with a mighty squashing. The residents lure the wasps into the giant sandwich of the title and then:
What became of the sandwich? Well,
In Itching Down they like to tell
How the birds flew off with it in their beaks
And had a feast for a hundred weeks.
Author: Janet Burroway
Illustrator: John Vernon Lord
All the birds had laid an egg.
All except for Duck.
Then Duck found an egg!
He thought it was the most beautiful egg in the whole wide world.
Well after all of the other birds’ eggs hatch (in a sequence making clever use of paper engineering), Duck keeps faith in his egg. Ignoring the other birds’ overt skepticism, Duck waits and waits until his very special, surprising, hatchling makes a grand entrance. The boys really enjoy this book; it is sweet, short, and very funny.
Author: Emily Gravett
Illustrator: Emily Gravett
While the story of the Frog Princess is not as well known as that of the Frog Prince, it is a classic tale and my youngest has taken to this version like, well, a frog to water. A queen realizes her three rather foolish sons need “sensible wives,” so she has each shoot off an arrow, telling them they will find their bride where their arrow lands. Two of the princes find brides suited to their interests (food and clothing), but the youngest (a dreamer) finds only “a little green frog.” When the queen declares the son with the cleverest bride will become king after her, does the youngest stand a chance? (Of course he does.)
Author: Emma Chichester Clark
Illustrator: Laura Cecil
The quest for a missing green sheep leads to lots of opposites, colors, and rhymes. The illustrations are cheerful and playful (did you notice the Singin’ in the Rain visual reference above?). And finding out what the green sheep is up to just might inspire a toddler to nap.
(Our copy’s text is just in English, but the version currently in print has Spanish text too.)
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Judy Horacek
This classic story is beautiful, disturbing, and hopeful. It is also, unsurprisingly, a great read aloud and not to be missed.
“But now,” says the Once-ler,
“Now that you’re here,
the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear.
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
Author: Dr. Seuss
Illustrator: Dr. Seuss
There was once a good shoemaker
who became very poor.
At last he had only one piece of leather
to make one pair of shoes.
“Well,” said the shoemaker to his wife,
“I will cut the leather tonight
and make the shoes in the morning.”
The story that follows is full of craftsmanship, thoughtfulness, generosity, good fortune, and magic. I loved this book as a child (my mom bought it from someone going door-to-door pulling a wagon full of used books, if I remember correctly) and the boys really enjoy it now.
Author: Freya Littledale/The Grimm Brothers
Illustrator: Brinton Turkle