Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's Raining, It's Pouring

Miss Nancy at The Storybook Shoppe recommended It's Raining, It's Pouring, performed by Peter, Paul and Mary and illustrated by the supremely talented, Christine Davenier.  In short: it did not disappoint and we loved it. 

My 4-year old daughter immediately recognized the illustrations, which I was impressed by but not totally surprised.  Christine Davenier is the author of dozens of critically acclaimed books for children such as Miss Lina Ballerina and The Fairy Princess series.  I adore the artistic, sketchy yet refined style of the characters she creates. She uses a combination water color and pencil and every stroke is visible. It's art perfection! 

So what does it mean to be "performed by" Peter, Paul, and Mary? The words of this book are familiar, it's all nursery rhymes you've heard as a kid, strung together in a series.  And of course, this dynamic and legendary trio also recorded it.  Watch it here but a copy of this performance is on CD in your purchased book.   There are three songs on the CD that comes with your book purchase! 

Beautiful, isn't it?  My daughter, Molly, absolutely loved the song and the illustrations in the book.  If you are looking for a great gift, or keepsake for your shelf, we recommend this one!  You can buy it now, right here on the blog, for 10% OFF.  It will ship directly to your door, just check out with PayPal below. 

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Jazz Age Josephine

The Storybook Shoppe is honoring Black History Month with dozens of interesting choices in store.  My daughter, Molly, and I were in the store on Friday. Miss Bonnie recommended Jazz Age Josephine by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. We grabbed a seat upstairs in the store and began reading... 

Molly liked this story instantly, starting with this page where it introduces a familiar rags to riches princess tale.  It's about a poor, young African American girl growing up in Louisiana during the Jazz Age (post WW1, 1920's.)  Much to my dismay, Molly saw the crown and said: "She's going to become a princess!" 

The girl has dreams of making it big -- dancing, singing and performing -- in the big city! So she heads to New York. 

With persistence her dreams are realized, but not fully. She plays a "blackface", a characterized, stereotypical African-American who white people make fun of, and thankfully decides this is not the way to follow her dreams. So off to grand ole Paris!

It's only in Paris where she can truly become the star she wishes to be! Happy ending.  

I found this book very interesting.  For one thing, its rare that you find a "time piece" book for children - a story set in the 1920's proves interesting.  It's written in a "jazz" rhythm, too.  It's challenging to tackle subjects like poverty, inequality, and "black face" with a 4 year old, but certainly you can approach them. What better way then with a catchy, beautifully illustrated book to open the conversation? 

At the end of the day, this is the beauty of children's literature.  It opens our children's minds to new worlds, topics, the unfamiliar, the uncomfortable and allows parents to answer questions.  Thanks to Miss Bonnie for recommending this one - we really enjoyed it. 

Buy Jazz Age Josephine without leaving your computer, right here on our blog.  Just check out using PayPal.  We will give you 10% OFF! 

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Show Way

If you are a parent, perhaps you have taken a few minutes to sit down and write down things you hope for your children.  Almost 4 and a half years into my daughters life (and 21 months into my sons), I'm just getting to this one.  Here's what I wish specifically for my daughter: 
  1. To be outstandingly intelligent by working hard, having a curious mind, and a love of learning.  Keep an inquisitive mind.
  2. Be confident, self-assured, and assert herself.  
  3. Know that her parents will always be here for her, no matter what she does. 
  4. Live in a world of peace -- without the threat of Al Qaeda, worry of a bombing while she is at work in a tower, or while traveling the world. 
  5. To see the world.  Develop a desire to experience different cultures, understand different religions, appreciate food and music from everywhere. 
  6. Respect the wisdom of older generations.  Listen and learn from them. 
  7. Live in a United States with equality for all. Fight for those who are discriminated against, show that love conquers all.  Treat everyone -- black, white, rich, poor, gay, straight, Jewish or Catholic -- with respect. 
It all sounds so idealistic, too lofty, even pompous.   Could all of my dreams for my daughter really happen? Am I hoping for too much?  One of the reasons I love children's literature so very much is that I truly believe we are building a foundation -- a passion and curiosity for learning, a bonding activity, an introduction and education to the world, cultures, and subject matters. 

We read "Show Way" upon Miss Bonnie's recommendation on Friday at The Storybook Shoppe.  This story is one about slavery, segregation, Civil Rights, and one families journey through it all told through quilting. 

Slavery is a topic I haven't discussed with Molly before, though she knew who Martin Luther King, Jr. was from school. 

We talked about what it would be liked to be "owned" and what it means to be "free."  I am quite sure she did not understand the concept at all -- I am not sure anyone can translate it easily to a 4 year old and Miss Bonnie recommends it for students ages 7 - 12.  Molly understood that I thought it was a sad topic and something I didn't approve of, but that it had an uplifting message.  But did she understand there's still inequality? It's not yet a happy ending because there's still work to be done. 

If this is a subject matter you are interested in exploring with your children, I recommend it, too!  It's beautifully illustrated and tells a fabulous tale about the power of family.  You can buy it here, on our blog, without leaving your computer.  Check out below using PayPal and it will be shipped to your door within days. 

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Love Waves

Rosemary Wells is one of the only children book authors that my 4 year old daughter, Molly, knows by name. The author and creator of the beloved series Max and Ruby is now in its 6th season on Nick Jr. While I fight the TV battle, the fact that the TV shows are also books sometimes works to my advantage, as Molly loves to read the books of episodes she's seen on TV..... And stories about a bossy sister and a curious brother, well, they are actually quite fitting for our family. 

When I was in The Storybook Shoppe the other day, I spotted "Love Waves" by Rosemary Wells and I didn't even have to read it before buying it.  In our house anything Rosemary Wells writes is a winner.  We got home to read it and found out she didn't disappoint.  Love Waves is a lovely story about the power of love and how it can travel across space and time.  Love will travel anywhere to find it's target. 

This story is wonderful for younger children perhaps starting daycare or preschool who are unsure of leaving Mom and Dad.   It's a great way to share the message that if Mom and Dad go away, you are still loved. My favorite part? "When we are far away or only down the hall, we will send you love waves, let them fall..."

The loving message is loud and clear!  And the bunny illustrations that Molly is so familiar with from Max and Ruby kept her very interested.   There's also a beautiful blue foil printing effect on each page that looks like the wind blowing to illustrate "love waves." 

The O'Regans highly recommend this book to Max and Ruby lovers, even though it's not part of the Max and Ruby series.  We recommend it to anyone looking for a loving and safe message for kids.  It also makes a great keepsake book for Valentine's Day!  You can buy it here on our blog for 10% OFF and we will ship it to your door. 

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