Fall is here, and what is a better way to celebrate its arrival than with a good book? My kids and I love to go to the library and pick out some great seasonal children's books to share, and fall is definitely one of our favorite times of year. Here are some of our favorites that we've enjoyed over the years. You can look to see if your local library has these titles available at marinlibrary.org.
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert: Fall is here, the wind is blowing, and Leaf Man is on the move. With a body made of leaves and acorns for eyes, Leaf Man soars with the wind above the orchards, meadows, ponds, ducks, and cows. The illustrations in this charming book are made from actual fall leaves and die-cut pages on every spread curve and arc to reveal beautiful landscapes. It's a playful and whimsical look at fall and the changing of the seasons.
The Apple Dollby Elisa Kleven: Lizzy is a shy little girl who loves the apple tree in her yard and ends up making a doll out of an apple and twigs that she names "Susanna". She ends up getting teased by other kids for carrying around her apple-and-sticks creation at school. Ultimately, Lizzy's mom takes Susanna and makes an apple doll out of her, which inspires a class apple doll project and friendships and happiness ensue. This is one of my daughters's favorites, and we end up making an apple doll every fall.
Now that school is almost out and summer vacation is just around the corner, it's a good time to start looking for fun activities to do with the kids. One of our favorite summer activities is the summer reading program at the Marin County Library. It's a great way to discover new books and revisit some old favorites. Children are awarded prizes based on the number of books they read—books that are read to them count, too, so even younger children who can't read yet can get involved in the fun.
This year the Marin County Free Library sponsors its “Dream Big, Read!” reading program from June 9 through August 11. Prizes include rainbow gel pens, magnetic bookmarks, Round Table Pizza coupons, and a "Dream Big, Read!" T-shirt. To claim their prizes, your kids can take their reading logs to the children's librarian at your local library branch. Check with your local library for details.
Any parent who's been through the challenge of getting a small child ready to go in the morning will appreciate the new children's book by Sausalito author Bethany Murguia, Zoe Gets Ready (40 pages, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2012). It goes without saying that children will love this book, too, since it looks at the whole situation from a child's eyes, too!
For parents, the question "What will I wear today" usually isn't that complicated to answer, but for kids it can be pretty complicated, as Zoe Gets Ready demonstrates. The book delves into the myriad different decisions—is it a pocket day or a twirling day, for example—a child has to make before finally deciding what to wear today.
With delightful and colorful illustrations, this book is sure to be a hit in your house, especially if your kids have a hard time deciding what's appropriate to wear today.
Marin Mommies presents a book review by guest contributor Barbara McVeigh. Meet Me at the Moon will be available March 29, and Gianna Marino will be at Book Passage in Corte Madera April 20 at 10 am.
Local author Gianna Marino’s new children’s book Meet Me at the Moon honors the quintessential dance between a mother’s love and a child’s need for reassurance. Vibrant textured hues of reds, greys, oranges and greens set the tone while exquisite elephants, zebras and giraffes move along sun drenched landscapes, under starry skies, in rainstorms and more upon the African plain.
Mama Elephant tells Little One she must go away for a while. The land is dry and she will climb the highest mountain to ask the skies for rain. Little One is worried and grips Mama’s trunk “I don’t want you to go.” Will Mama return?
Chinese New Year takes place this year on January 23, and one way you can get ready for the Year of the Dragon is by reading Oliver Chin's new book of the same name with your kids. The Year of the Dragon: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac (36 pages, Immedium, 2012) is the seventh book in this series by Chin, a local San Francisco writer and dad, and follows the adventures of Dominic the young dragon as he meets the emperor and empress, befriends a boy named Bo, and enters a paddle boat (a literal "dragon boat") race with a crew made up of Bo and the other 11 animals from the Chinese zodiac.
The Year of the Dragon does a great job introducing kids to the dragons of Chinese lore, and offers a gentle tale of friendship, teamwork, bravery, and acceptance. The illustrations by illustrator and cartoon character designer Jennifer Wood, who's done work for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, are colorful and dynamic and add a lot of appeal for both kids and grownups.
As a lifelong Tintin fan, I greeted the news that Steven Spielberg was making The Adventures of Tintin, a computer-animated movie version of the boy reporter's escapades, with a mix of delight and dread. Like many Tintin fans, I feel a sort of irrational protectiveness for the stories and characters, and was worried about Hollywood making a mess of things. If you're new to Tintin and wonder what it's all about (he's unfamiliar to many in America), read my earlier blog post about him here.
I've made a point of introducing the Tintin graphic novels to my kids, who are now 8 and 6, and together we've read most of them. They were also excited at the prospect of a Tintin movie, and have been bugging me to take them since they heard about it.
So last week we finally made it to the theater to see The Adventures of Tintin. The Adventures of Tintin is ostensibly based on The Secret of the Unicorn, but it's actually a pastiche of that, another Tintin story The Crab with Golden Claws, and a lot of stuff that's pure Hollywood. Although I had a hard time shaking my feeling of dread, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the movie. (By the way, there may be spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk if you haven't seen the movie yet.)
As Halloween nears, kids love to read spooky (and not-so-spooky) stories about ghosts, goblins, witches, and pumpkins. Actually, in our house, we read some of our Halloween books year-round. If you're looking for some great Halloween reads to enjoy with your family, here's a list of some of our current favorites, arranged by age/reading level.
Since many kids (ours included) have a love/hate relationship with the spookier aspects of Halloween, you'll probably want to check and make sure some of these books are appropriate for your children, especially the ones listed for older readers.
The book links below take you to Amazon.com; search for them online in the children's catalog of the Marin County Free Library here.
My five-year-old daughter must love the book The Apple Dollby local Bay Area author and illustrator Elisa Kleven (40 pages, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007). She checked it out from the library no fewer than two times last year and got it again a few days ago. It's easy to see why it's one of her favorites: The Apple Doll is a charming book, and it's another great read-aloud story (with an added activity) for the fall season, especially if you happen to have an apple tree nearby.
The Apple Doll tells the story of Lizzy, a shy little girl who loves the apple tree in her yard and ends up making a doll out of an apple and twigs that she names "Susanna". She ends up getting teased by other kids for carrying around her apple-and-sticks creation at school. I know this sounds a little odd but the book handles the situation in a much better and sweeter way than I'm describing it here. Ultimately, Lizzy's mom takes the now long-in-the-tooth Susanna and makes an apple doll out of her, which inspires a class apple doll project and friendships and happiness ensue.
In her last book for children, Marin author Jeanne Walker Harvey chronicled the journey of a Marine Mammal Center patient inAstro: The Steller Sea Lion, In her latest work, My Hands Sing the Blues ($17.99, 40 pages, Marshall Cavendish Children, 2011), she shares the story of African American artist Romare Beardon's childhood move with his parents from North Carolina to New York City, where Bearden would go on to become a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance.
Inspired by her work as a school group docent at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Harvey has created an evocative book, with text influenced by the rhythms of jazz and blues and by Romare Bearden's painting titled Watching the Trains Go By. The colorful illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon pay homage to Bearden's distinctive collage style. Kids will love the pictures and the unique rhymes of the text, and it's a fantastic introduction to the work of one of America's important 20th-century artists.