Some of our favorite children's books are those in the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel. You and your children can see Lobel's beloved amphibian characters brought to life starting this Saturday, March 26, when the Bay Area Children's Theatre opens its song-filled production of A Year with Frog and Toad at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.
Share in the adventures of the outgoing Frog and his more reserved friend Toad as they awake from their winter hibernation, welcome spring, plant a garden, discover that "Toad looks funny in a bathing suit", rake autumn leaves, and take a scary winter sled ride. Along the way they learn about friendship, patience, compassion, loyalty, and love. This musical is suitable for all ages.
A Year with Frog and Toad, with music by Robert Reale and book and lyrics by Willie Reale, made its debut in children's theater before moving on to Broadway, where it was nominated for three Tony awards, including best musical. The Bay Area Children's Theatre production is directed by Mina Morita and stars Charlie Cromer as Frog and William O'Neill as Toad.
Share in the drama and danger of Amelia Earhart's groundbreaking solo transatlantic flight in Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic(40 pages, Paula Wiseman Books, 2011), written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor. This book presents a easily accessible but surprisingly detailed version of the story of Earhart's 1932 flight from Newfoundland to Ireland that made her the first woman (and only the second person) to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
Burleigh's eloquent text describes the loneliness, difficulty, and joy of the 15-hour journey in economical but descriptive verse, and Minor's colorful and detailed paintings capture the feelings and sights of the trip, from close-ups of the Lockheed Vega's cockpit and instrument panel to breathtaking panoramas.
The Paper Princess and the Piñata, a new musical theater production for children created by Youth in Arts and based on the popular Paper Princess books by Bay Area artist/illustrator Elisa Kleven, comes to the Marin Center Showcase Theater in San Rafael on Saturday, February 5, 2011. With performances at 2 and 4 pm, the show is intended for children ages 3 to 10 and their families. General admission tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. Order tickets through the Marin Center Box Office online or by calling (415) 499-6800.
Kleven’s Paper Princess picture books are gentle adventure tales, illustrated in the artist’s unique collage and watercolor style. The Paper Princess, created by a Little Girl, is carried away on the wind to explore her world. The new play was written by Youth in Arts Director Miko Lee, adapted from three Paper Princess books and a fourth Kleven title, Hooray, a Piñata!
The production captures the bright imagery of Kleven’s books using digital projections and original props and scenery recreated in three dimensions by Youth in Arts' professional visual artists. The Princess and her friends will be brought to life via live action and puppetry, with bilingual songs in Spanish and English highlighting themes of creativity, color, shapes, counting and friendship.
A Pacific Rim location and sizeable population with Asian heritage means that Chinese New Year is a significant holiday in the San Francisco Bay Area. A perfect book for young children to learn about the holiday and its many colorful traditions is Karen Katz's My First Chinese New Year (32 pages, Henry Holt and Company, 2004).
My First Chinese New Year follows the celebration of Chinese New Year as experienced by a young girl and her family. We see the preparations for the holiday, the New Year's Even banquet, and finally the exciting Chinese New Year parade, complete with traditional drummers, lion dancers, and a spectacular dragon.
Katz's illustrations are bright and colorful, and work with the simple text to convey some of the key customs and meanings of Chinese New Year, including the profusion of the color red; symbolic foods like tangerines, whole fish, and dumplings; and an altar to honor the family's ancestors. It's a fun overview of the holiday for children from preschool through first grade.
Marin Mommies is happy to present the first in a series of book reviews by guest contributor Todd Pratum, literacy expert and founder of the the Pratum Children's Library in Ross.
Could it be, that in certain fundamental ways, ways heretofore never imagined by modern thinkers—but well imagined and known in times past, especially in pre-medieval and indigenous cultures—that babies and young infants are more loving, more sensitive, more altruistic than adults? That they are, in the words of author and psychologist Alison Gopnik inThe Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life (288 pages, Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2009), “smarter, more conscious, more thoughtful than adults.”
Impossible? Preposterous? Delusional? Scientifically proven? This reminds of a famous line from Wordsworth, “The child is the father of the man.” While there are clunky dry passages where Gopnik is necessarily forced to present some particularly pedantic—but key experimental results, the bulk of this revolutionary book is wonderfully written, unveiling the most recent results of experimental child physiology, neurology and psychology, experiments most of which have only been conceived of in the last five years.
Stop by the Pratum Children's Library in Ross this weekend as it holds its introductory open house on January 22 and 23, 2011. Come visit the library, located on the expansive ground of the Marin Art and Garden Center, from 10 am to 6 pm Saturday and Sunday and browse their shelves, which contain everything from board books for babies to the complete Oxford English Dictionary to the very best books on education, parenting, and childhood.
Todd Pratum, proprieter and book and literacy expert, will give introductory talks at noon and 3 pm on both days. He'll also personally lead tours of this very special collection. Bring the children to come read some books, discover new ideas, and have fun exploring the eleven magical acres of the Marin Art and Garden Center. The library is located adjacent to the rose garden and directly across from the octagon house.
It's often fun to incorporate some movement into reading time, and Doreen Cronin and Scott Menchin's Stretch(40 pages, Atheneum, 2009) makes it easy to do just that! Join the yoga-minded dog and his animal friends as they encourage little ones to not only stretch their bodies, but to explore the definition of the word "stretch" itself. Cronin's rhyming text is clever and fun, and Menchin's simple, appealing illustrations that make use of both drawing and photo-collage.
Stretch is great for beginning readers and even better as a read-aloud book. If you like it, check out its companion books featuring the same active dog: Wiggle and Bounce. Doreen Cronin is also the author of the hilarious series of picture books involving the mischievous Duck and other subversive farmyard denizens, including Giggle, Giggle, Quack; Duck for President; and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type.
For our final holiday book review of 2010, we've chosen the appropriately festive and funny Christmas Tree!(40 pages, Katherine Tregen Books, 2005)by husband-and-wife illustrator-and-author team Wendell and Florence Minor. We were entranced Wendell Minor's evocative paintings in the book The Last Train, which we reviewed back in September. With that in mind, the vivid and imaginitive illustrations and text in Christmas Tree! did not disappoint.
Christmas Tree! poses the question
If you were
a Christmas tree,
what kind of tree would you be?
A mighty tree or a tiny tree?
A city tree or a country tree?
A tree with curious features or a tree
made just for creatures?
Young children seem to love Laura Numeroff's series of picture books about the somewhat demanding little mouse (or pig or other animal) who sets off a story that ends up going full circle. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies (40 pages, HarperCollins, 2000) doesnt' really sound like a holiday title, but when the energetic and enthusiastic mouse gets some popcorn at the theater, it sets of a chain of events that leads to the purchase of a Christmas tree, snowman—or rather, "snowmouse"—building, a monumental snowball fight, the crafting of ornaments, the singing of Christmas carols, the decoration of the tree, and, of in the tradition of this series of books, another visit to the movies.
Kids love to pore over Felicia Bond's charming illustrations and pick out all the little details hidden throughout the pictures. The chain of events that takes place in the story is, as usual, humorously far fetched, and if your kids are like ours, you'll be asked to read it multiple times in one sitting. Find it at your local library, bookstore, or Amazon.com.