I have been looking forward to introducing my son to the favorite books of my childhood, and I’m delighted to find he is finally old enough to appreciate them!
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar (originally published 1978) is a perfect chapter book for young readers. The chapters are less than five pages, the stories are compact and yet still inter-related, and the silliness factor meets the needs of a child. My son loved the time we spent reading these together, and as soon as we finished it, he took it from me and informed me he was going to read it again to himself. He is more than half way done.
As an adult, I still enjoyed it. It is silly and yet it does play off of realistic challenges: adults telling you to do things that seem impossible (going to take a note to a non-existent teacher), falling asleep when you should be awake, getting along with other kids, and overcoming stereotype, for example. I really enjoyed revisiting it as an adult. (more…)
It’s fall! Although I’ll be the first to tell you that I love spring, summer, and fall equally well throughout the year (I could do without winter and the month of August), once the leaves start falling and crunching under my feet and the weather gets cool enough to pull out my sweaters, I consider autumn the best season of all . I’m not a Halloween fan per se (I hate scary costumes and horror and greedy kids wanting candy) but I love pumpkin pie and pumpkins and fall colors on the trees. I love watching the world change in to a new one.
Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Chad Cameron celebrates the favorite things about the season — but somehow, is descriptions of the season have gotten a bit confused. From “Septober” and “Octember” to geese hibernating and squirrels flying south, it’s a rather silly book about a favorite season. The text reveals a number of mixed up autumn things, and Chad Cameron’s detailed and bright paintings capture the confusion by making the impossibilities come alive. Raisin and I loved finding the silly things on each page. As we were reading, Raisin stopped me at one point and said with delight, “Mom, there’s something wrong on every page!”
If you and your child are fans of autumn, you too may love the silliness of Fall Mixed Up. My favorite pages were those with the leaves falling up, the children jumping in piles of sticks, and the Thanksgiving table filled with sweets. I also loved the image of the squirrels flying south. I asked Raisin for his favorite pages and he could not settle on one. How could he, when each page had many treasures of silliness to enjoy? How silly the world would be if this season were “Fall Mixed Up!”
Fall Mixed Up was published September 2011 by Lerner Publishing, Carolrhoda Books. I read a digital galley for purposes of review via of netgalley.com.
Because of my disappearance from blogging in the last few weeks, I haven’t posted about all the wonderful children’s books Raisin and I have discovered. Here are a few that we’ve enjoyed, from Greg Foley and Jan Thomas to two newer books. I’ll talk about more another time. (more…)
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn has the apt subtitle “A Novel in Letters.” Through a series of epistles between friends and family members, we learn of the tragedy most recently befalling (literally) the fictional small island-country of Nollop.
The tragedy is this: Slowly but surely, the letters are falling off of the national memorial:
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Unfortunately for Ella and her friends, the local government believes that this is a sign from the God-like Nevin Nollop, the native-son who created the pangram (the sentence above, which uses each letter of the alphabet). Therefore, when the first letter falls, it is decreed that no one in Nollop is to implement said letter in speech or in writing: Nollop himself is challenging the citizens of the country from beyond the grave to better express themselves.
Fortunately, that letter is “z.” No one will miss “z,” will they? But when the “Q” and “D” and “J” also fall, writing and speaking to each other becomes a little more difficult.
At first glance, Ella Minnow Pea is what you’re probably thinking:
A quirky novel with pages of zany, jumbled lexicon.
But at second glance, this is a story of a dystopia, and a reminder to all word-lovers of the significance and influence of each letter, A to Z.
Ella Minnow Pea has its faults (limited setting; predictable plot development; superficial characterization). But I believe it meets its goal (satiric commentary on religion and totalitarian dystopias) in a delightful way that resonates with me, a word-lover. (more…)
Sandra Boynton’s children’s books are new classics. I first discovered her delightful picture books via my sister-in-law, who had an entire shelf of Boynton’s books for my nephew. Now, with my own little boy, I’m really enjoying them. Her books all claim “serious silliness” on the back cover. I’d agree: we all enjoy the light-hearted silliness, but a child may still learn something. (more…)