Three timeless, lovely, and adventurous books have been chosen by the Simple Kids Book Review team for this week’s What We’re Reading Wednesday:
from Amy (Girlfriends Get Real)
At Christmastime we are always looking for new books for our girls. Last Christmas we came across the book You’re All My Favorites by Sam McBratney. With three girls in the house trying to get attention from Mom and Dad, this book was perfect.
In the book three baby bears want to know, “Which one of us do you like most? Who is your favorite? We can’t all be the best.” Mommy and Daddy Bear try to explain that they are all the most wonderful baby bears in the whole world. However, the baby bears start to doubt that they can all be a favorite. In the end Mommy and Daddy bear explained that each of the bears is different and they love them equally.
This book illustrates how each child in your family can be unique and different, but our hearts are big enough to love each one the same.
from MJ Wieland (turnitupmom)
The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (and an Even Smaller Ant) is an amusing chapter book that chronicles the adventures of Avon, a small snail, and Edward, an even smaller ant. Newberry Award winner Avi writes with such wit and wisdom that even the most reluctant reader will want to journey with these entertaining characters.
Avon, the snail, has never been on an adventure of his own; he has only read about them. And adventures, he concludes, are the key to a happy life. So, he sets out on a journey with his neighbor, a small but self-assured ant. Along the way, the spirited pair gets lost, writes poetry, encounters a “dragon,” and meets other wise and weird creatures, including a worm who cannot determine his front end from his back end.
Avi writes with a dry sense of humor that appeals to all ages. When Avon reluctantly fights a famous “battle” (against another ridiculously slow snail), and Edward asks if he’s won, Avon replies, “I don’t know. It all happened so quickly.” Avi’s play on words and clever use of language leaves both kids and adults giggling their way through these silly adventures.
While this story is humorous and at times nonsensical, it is also philosophical and profound. Avi gives deeper meaning to the ordinary and even dull events that transpire, and the more mature reader will experience this tale on a different emotional and intellectual level. Embedded in this adventure are thought-provoking statements such as this: “Getting yourself lost is easy. Happens all the time. It’s finding yourself that’s hard.”
Ultimately, the end of the beginning is the start of a beautiful friendship between two unlikely adventurers. Tricia Tusa’s pen and ink illustrations are the perfect complement to this charming little tale. If you’ve enjoyed Frog and Toad, I think you’ll find this pair to be quirky and oh, so lovable!
from Diana (Holes in my Shiny Veneer)
My pick for this month is a seasonal one – Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston. I say seasonal because it has just the right amount of macabre and fantasy for the upcoming Halloween festivities. Fans of The Series of Unfortunate Events will delight in this tale which finds Katrina Katrell, our luckless heroine, being pursued by her guardian for a lobotomy. The impetus for this impromptu brain surgery is Katrina’s sighting of Morty the Zorgle in a subway tunnel—such “imagination” is intolerable to the narrow-minded Mrs. Krabone.
Yet Katrina was not imagining. She really did see a Zorgle, whom she eventually encounters again. As she joins Morty’s reluctant quest to discover what happened to the missing Zorgles of Zorgamazoo, the two of them are eventually kidnapped and taken hostage on the moon with all sorts of other fantastical creatures that have gone missing from our world: griffins, yetis, dragons, and more.
Katrina’s tale of cunning and escape is quite a remarkable novel. Remarkable not only because it is Weston’s first, but because the entire novel is written in verse! Imagine Dr. Seuss writing nearly 300 pages and you’ll get an idea of how incredible this is. Naturally, Zorgamazoo is the perfect candidate for a read-aloud. In fact, it was given a 2009 E.B. White Older Reader Honors award. You can hear the first few chapters read aloud on Weston’s site if this little tidbit isn’t enough:
So if you’re a person who’s tired or pooped
if the edge of your mind has been drearily drooped,
then of course you’d ignore any zorgally face,
that perhaps you would see in some shadowy place.
So if you’ve no time for the whimsical things,
for pirates and gadgets and creatures and kings,
if you spurn the fantastic to never return,
then PUT THIS BOOK DOWN…for it’s not your concern.
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“My favorite cooking memory with my mom as a child was making rice crispie bars. Our recipe used the microwave rather than the stove so she would let us do most of it ourselves encouraging us all the way. My favorite cooking memory with my dad is helping him make scalloped potatoes and ham from scratch which was a huge treat. We would help measure out all the ingredients, and he would have us 1 1/3 the recipe or 1 1/2 the reicpe just to test our math skills. My favorite new memory with my little ones is our tradition of making breadsticks every Sunday night. Great fun and they help with everything!”
Thanks to everyone for such wonderful comments. I hope you’ve been inspired to add Rae Grant’s lovely books to your home library!