Posts Tagged ‘Animals’

Last week I started my list of my top ten children’s books. Now, on to the top five!

5. I’m As Quick As A Cricket. Author: Audrey Wood, Illustrator: Don Wood. Publication Date: 1989.

This book is on my list in the top five not because the story is overly memorable (it’s not) or because the illustrations are fantastic (they’re not) but because this was the first book that I ever read on my own. I remember I was four years old, sitting up in my bed reading with my mom and my dad and I told them that I wanted to read the book to them..so, I did. Of course they thought I had memorized the story and matched it up to the pictures so they kept skipping pages around and opening other books and viola! I could read! And I hadn’t stepped foot into a Kindergarten classroom. 3 out of 5 stars!

4. Officer Buckle and Gloria. Author & Illustrator: Peggy Rathmann. Publication Date: 1995.

This book is just fabulous! Another of my animal picks I love the loveable Gloria. The story is of a police officer who has a sidekick in the form of a puppy dog. The pair goes to schools all over town to present safety tips to the students. The best part of this book (besides the handy safety tips “never lick a stop sign in the winter!”) is the illustrations. Most of the story is told through the pictures. The reader gets to see what Officer Buckle does not- Gloria cutting up and getting some laughs. The story tells a valuable tell of friendship and honesty and it does that while also giving us a tickle. Plus, Gloria is SUPER cute! 4.5 out of 5 stars!

3. The Skippyjon Jones Series. Author & Illustrator: Judy Schachner. Publication Date: Since 2005. 

I can not express over the interwebs just how much I truly love, love, LOVE the Siamese cat who thinks that he is a chihuahua! That Siamese cat is none other than Mr. Skippyjon Jones. I could not choose one Skippyjon book to put in my number 3 spot so I’ll just gush all over this post about how great ALL the books are. Since 2005 Judith Byron Schachner has been blessing the reading world with her Skippyjon books and she’s now up to 11 books featuring the loveable troublemaker. The cat has an imagination as big as his ears and each of his books takes him on a rhyming rocket ride through different scenarios that he has imagined. If you want a silly book that will get the adults and the kids laughing, this is IT! 5 out of 5 stars!

2. The Zen Series. Author and Illustrator: Jon J. Muth. Publication Date: 2005 (Zen Shorts), 2008 (Zen Ties) , 2010 (Zen Ghosts)

So it was the whole “Zen” series that got me started thinking about my favorite children’s books in the first place (see last weeks TTT post).  I love everything about these books. I love panda bears, I love the messages that the book  relates to the readers about kindness and love and compassion, I love the beautifully exquisite watercolor paintings that Muth has done for the illustrations. When I worked in an elementary school library I did a whole unit on China, haiku, panda bears and watercolors using these three books. The children LOVED the story and they begged to hear each book again and again. This is a series of books that are timeless; they will be just as loved 100 years from now (though no one will have a CLUE what a panda bear actually is then) as they are today. These are books that adults and children can all adore. Each of the books in this series has something extra in it. By that, I mean that one book is filled with haiku poems and a panda is named “Koo” so whenever someone says hi to him it comes out “hi koo” or “haiku”.  Zen Ghosts is full of stories within the story. There is always something new and different to discover each time you read a book in this series. Great job to Jon J. Muth and if it hadn’t been for a sprightly redhead I met when I was a little girl then these books would have been numero uno on my list! 5 out of 5 stars! 

1. Madeline. Author & Illustrator: Ludwig Bemelmans. Publication Date: 1939.

When I was a little girl my mom read the story of Madeline to me and I fell in LOVE with this crazy girl! I had to have  everything Madeline after that. I bought and read (and re-read) all of the books, and watched the television show cartoon religiously. I even had a little Madeline doll that I carried everywhere with me and she had a yellow hat AND an appendix scar (because remember when she woke Miss Clavel in the night and gave her a fright and she said ‘Something is not right’ and she had appendicitis?!). Bottom line: I LOVE Madeline. If I ever have a daughter (or if I get a cat) I think I will name her Madeline and I will hope that she is as spirited as her namesake and I hope that she has red hair. A perfect 5 out of 5 stars!

Read Full Post »

“…if you expect people to try to do things your way, you’re going to have to give some hints as to what that way is.”

I’d like to apologize to Bruce Springsteen for changing Billy to Jacob. I loved Water For Elephants. I loved how the story was told in flashbacks and dream-sequences. Jacob Jankowski is a nintey-something year old man who has been abandoned by his family in a retirement home. One day Jacob sees a circus come to town through the windows in his retirement home. This circus coming to town forces his aging and forgetting mind to remember a time in his life when he had lost everything and ran away to escape it. He ends up jumping onto a circus train and joining the Benzini Brothers as the circus doctor. On his journey he meets many friends and enemies. The story then alternately goes from present day to depression-era 1930s. While he is working for the circus, the ringleader Uncle Al picks up an elephant from another circus who has just gone broke. I absolutely adore the relationship that forms between Jacob and Rosie (the elephant). Anyone who knows me knows how deeply I care about animals. To see this character stand up and take such responsibility for an elephant in the 1930s was nothing short of heartwarming. This is a book that I recommend. This is a book that I was able to breeze through and I was so sad when I turned to the last page. Speaking of the last page, I adored the ending of this book. It was uplifting and it told me that no matter how old you are, you still have room and time to continue chasing your dreams.

Something that I noticed at one point in the book was how parallel Jacob’s geriatric life was to Rosie’s circus life. There was one quote in particular that I wanted to recall, but it was a library book so I didn’t dare mark in it and I returned it prior to writing this. It had something to do with Jacob being friendless, in his nursing-home cage, being poked and prodded. The quote that I selected to open the post with also shows that relationship. This was said to Jacob by Rosemary the nurse. However, this could be also said to the awful August who continually expects Rosie to do the tricks that he wants without giving her any indication whatsoever what those tricks are. I’m sure that with a second reading I could pick up on many other things as well.

As I was reading about the book online a lot of people had made comparisons to the HBO series Carivale which I never saw. I’m not sure that I could. I found several of the scenes of animal violence hard to read. One scene in particular still haunts me. In this scene two horses throats are slashed very violently.

I am intrigued to see what this time period in the circus did look like which is why I am excited for the movie to be released. I am so excited for Hal Holbrook to be the olde Jacob character and I’m a big fan of Reese Witherspoon however, I do not quite agree with Robert Pattinson being cast as a young Jacob. When I read it I imagined more of a James Franco character. However, perhaps R.Patz can step out of his brooding Eddie the Vampire mode and do an excellent job. We shall see…

Read Full Post »