Posts Tagged ‘Children’s Literature’

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!


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In an effort to update more consistantly I will be changing things up a little bit on the old blog here. This summer I hope to do absolutley nothing but read and then blog about what I’m reading. The first change I’m hoping to implement is a feature I’ve seen on a few blogs I follow called Top Ten Tuesday where bloggers will have a list of ten book-related somethings each Tuesday.

Last week I interviewed for a Children’s Librarian Position at a public library. This is a job I would LOVE to have. For this particular interview I did I was instructed to develop a presentation as if I were talking to children. I picked a storytime and I used one of my favorite children’s books ever: Zen Ties by Jon J. Muth.

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I feel like the interview went really well. I should hear one way or another by Friday.
So! As I was preparing for and giving this presentation it hit me just how much I truly love children’s literature. The first exposure I ever had to literature was through these easy board books. I was so fortunate to have parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles who knew the value of reading and who shared it with me often and so I was reading before I ever went to school. Books were always a constant in my house and luckily for me right down the street from my childhood home was a branch of the local public library!

Top Ten Tuesday: Tuesday June 5, 2012: Top Ten Children’s Books 10-6 (stay tuned next week for 5-1):

10. Hey, Al. Author: Arthur Yorkins. Illustrator: Richard Egielski. Publication Date: 1986

Hey, AlAs we move through this list you will notice that I have a tendency to pick out books with animals in them. I have loved animals all of my life and books about animals were my absolute favorites growing up. That being the case, I didn’t read, or even hear of Hey, Al, a book of beautiful birds and one sweet pup, until I was doing my student teaching in an elementary school. As soon as I read it, I fell in love with it and knew that I was going to have to include this book in a lesson soon! This story is about a custodian named Al and his beloved Dog, Eddie. The two have a very hard life so when a bird mysteriously shows up and offers to take them to paradise, the two readily agree. They soon find that paradise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and venture back home, but the journey home isn’t going to be accomplished easily. The illustrations are beautiful and colorful and the best part of the book.The illustrations are so amazing that Hey, Al won the Caldecott in 1987. 4 out of 5 stars!

 9. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Author: Judith Viorst. Illustrator: Ray Cruz Publication Date: 1972

Book CoverWhen I was in first grade my school librarian read this book to us on our first visit to the library. What a coincidence because it just so happened that I was also in the throes of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day myself. I don’t remember what all had made my day so bad but I remember listening intently to the story. As the librarian read the book to us I found myself laughing out loud and found my own personal bad day melting away. This was one of the first times I discovered that a great book can take you out of your own life for a little while and help you escape from reality. The book became very popular over the years spawning a television show and a musical theater show. It also was named one of ALA’s notable children’s books and produced a sequel in which Alexander has a very good day. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

8. The Giving Tree. Author & Illustrator: Shel Silverstein. Publication Date: 1964
Cover to The Giving Tree, depicting the tree giving away an apple
How much did I cry when first I read The Giving Tree? A lot. I love this book, but I find myself resenting the boy. The book is about a boy who discovers a personified tree. The tree loves the boy so that he provides anything the boy asks- shade, food, wood, companionship.. and yet the boy never seemed to give anything back to the tree. I like this book because I feel like it was a book that shaped who I am as a person today in a huge way. I was so ashamed of the boys behavior and how he took the tree for granted that I never wanted to do that to anyone or anything in my life. As I read the book when I was older, through my tears, I discovered that to me, the tree is a metaphor for God (“and she loved a little boy very, very much- even more than she loved herself”) and the boy is representative of the human race as a whole. But that’s just me reading in to everything. The illustrations are typical Shel Silverstein drawings which is to say unique and adequate. There’s nothing overly special about them, they’re simple and to the point which is what makes them special.  4.5 out of 5 stars. Some people disagree with me about the illustrations though. Check out what I found online:

7. Stellaluna. Author & Illustrator: Janell Cannon. Publication Date: 1993.
Stellaluna is the story of a sweet fruit bat named Stellaluna that gets seperated from her mother and her siblings. She stumbles into a bird nest and becomes convinced that she is also a bird! The story shows Stellaluna trying to fit in as a bird, but there’s no changing it, she’s a bat. The illustrations are very vibrant and colorful and in my experience they hold children’s attention very well. This is another one of those animals stories that I just love. I had a hard time choosing which of Cannon’s books to include on this list (she also has Pinduli about a heyena and Verdi about a snake) but I went with this one because I remembered seeing it on Reading Rainbow as a child! Cannon won the Bat Conservation Award from the Organization for Bat Conservation in 2005 for this story! 4 out of 5 stars!

6. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. Author and Illustrator: Mo Willems. Publication Date: 2004.

I laughed out loud as I read Knuffle Bunny the first time. I instantly fell in love with Mo Willems and devourered everything he’s written since then. Knuffle Bunny tells the story of Trixie and her dad who make their way through the city to the laundromat where Trixie has a great time. On the way home though she starts to get a little fussy and Dad can’t figure out why.  Upon their return home Mom immediatley knows what’s wrong- KB is MISSING! The book is awesome and I was so thrilled when two more KB books were published in the series. Through the three books we get to see little Trixie grow up and we watch her relationship with KB change and evolve. It was so reminiscent of my relationship with my stuffed dinosaur, Gunther, who was so loved that in the process of sleeping with Gunther nightly I broke his neck and pulled most of his fur out. The story is fun and fast paced but what really makes this book a gem is the illustrations. Willems blends photographs of NYC with hand-drawn pictures to create a realistic reading experience. 5 out of 5 stars!

Check back next Tuesday to see which books came in fifth-first place!

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