What We’re Reading Wednesdays: Riley And Rose in the Picture

In the coming weeks, you will be introduced to the amazing, articulate, and enthusiastic group of women who will make up the Simple Kids What We’re Reading Wednesdays Review Team.  The last of the details are being worked out, so before the team officially takes over this weekly feature, I thought I might take a moment to share with you a beloved book from our home library:

Riley and Rose in the Picture by Suzanna Gretz

rileyroseWe happened upon this book completely by chance – it was on clearance at Amazon, and I think I chose it so we could meet the minimum purchase requirement to qualify for free shipping on an order I was placing.  What a complete and utter delight this little surprise book has been for us!

Riley and Rose in the Picture is the story of two friends – Riley the dog and Rose the cat.  This particular day finds them in the house because it is raining.  Riley suggests they stay indoors and draw pictures, but evidently this has caused some scuffles between them in the past because Rose immediately reminds Riley that “we mustn’t fight.”

When Riley and Rose each begin drawing, it becomes clear that their approaches to art are very different.  Riley likes straight lines and identifiable shapes.  Rose is more of a free-spirit, and she takes a more imaginative direction with the art she creates.  Riley becomes increasingly agitated with Rose’s insistent elaboration of his shapes (for example, turning Riley’s circles into bugs “with legs and spots”), and Rose gets more and more frustrated that Riley won’t join her in her whimsical creations.

Eventually – you guessed it – they fight about it.  But the best part of the story unfolds after the big fight when these two friends realize that even though they disagree about how to draw, they can still draw together and have lots of fun.

Susanna Gretz’s text is a joy to read aloud (and I can still say that after having read it aloud many, many times) and her illustrations are bold, fun, and inspiring.  We first got this book when my oldest was two and a half, and it is still a favorite of hers at age four.  It has become even more meaningful in the time since her younger sister came along because the two of them are very different.  Riley and Rose show in a concrete way that just because two friends (or siblings) express themselves very differently doesn’t mean they can’t have fun playing together.

Do you have a favorite book that encourages cooperation and understanding amongst differing personalities?  I would love to hear about it!

(OH! And speaking of reading . . . there has been such a fantastic response to the Handmade Home giveaway. If you haven’t already, make sure you read Tsh’s interview with Amanda Blake Soule at Simple Mom where you’ll find another chance to win a copy of Handmade Home!)

What We’re Listening To – August 2009

music1Not long after we launched the What We’re Reading Series feature, SK reader Jennifer emailed to suggest a monthly feature on music that would inspire and delight the SK audience.  I thoroughly agreed that a feature like this would be wonderful, and so I am excited to launch the newest regular SK feature today: What We’re Listening To Monthly!

When I saw Megan’s recent call for book reviewers for “What We’re Reading Wednesdays” I was inspired to share our family’s love of good quality music through a monthly music review.  In our house, we are passionate about finding music the whole family can enjoy!  I’m always on the hunt for exceptional children’s music that won’t drive parents crazy.  Through my search we’ve managed to also expand our repertoire of what we’re listening to, and I wanted to do the same for you.  So with that, I would like to welcome you all to “What We’re Listening to Monthly.”

For my first month’s selection, I’m going to tempt your ears with some ABCs and 123s compliments of They Might Be Giants.  Some of you may remember this band from their success in the 80s and 90s on the alternative scene.  Since then, they have gained a whole new generation of fans with their entrance into the world of children’s music in 2002.  One of those fans happens to ride in the backseat of my car; singing along with catchy tunes like “Go for G!,” “The Vowel Family” and “Seven Days of the Week.”  Parents will enjoy the witty play on words and creative learning techniques for introducing letter and number concepts.  My personal favorite is “Alphabet Lost and Found” (and yes I can be found singing it without a child nearby).  I honestly never tire of listening to either of these albums; they’re fun, original, easy to listen to and well produced.  They also pass the extended family test—parents, children and grandparents can and will enjoy these songs together.

I also want to note that “Here Come the 123s” has a companion DVD, as well Friday Family Night Podcast by They Might Be Giants is listed on iTunes (it however only contains three episodes).  In fairness to my review, I wanted to disclose that we received “Here Come the 123s” as a gift and the companion videos were included.  While our family loves the music, I don’t particularly care for the video animation and would encourage anyone thinking of buying them to preview first to see if it suits your taste.

“Here Come the ABCs” and “Here Come the 123s” by They Might Be Giants are two award winning albums your family’s music collection shouldn’t be without.  Visit their “kid friendly” website GiantKid.net for a listening sample and to learn more.

Our monthly music reviewer, Jennifer, is a stay at home mom to a energetic, fun loving 2 1/2 year old boy who fancies finding music that connects her to the past & keeps her grounded in the present.  She can often be found dancing the 5 pm hour away in her living room.

image courtesy of shankar, shiv