We live next to an old growth forest that is home to wild flowers and tall poplar trees, snakes, insects, a coyote or two, and all manner of birds including owls. I have been lucky enough to stand in our forest all alone with an owl in a tree just over my head. Just me and the owl, me looking up at him, he looking down at me. It is magical. The owl is such a beautiful bird, and when you get a chance to look into their knowing, round eyes, you understand why the owl is a symbol of wisdom. Here is a list of owl themed books for all the owl lovers out there!
Hi there! The moon is one of the most romanticized subjects in the world. The man in the moon. When the moon hits your eye. I see the moon and the moon sees me. So many classic songs, books, and movies are about the moon, and for good reason. Nothing is more enchanting than a glowing orange October harvest moon on a clear night.
Look At The Moon by May Garelick with pictures by Leonard Weisgard is a poetic look at the moon and everything is shines upon. The moon shines on the countryside with its wildlife and forests. The moon shines on the big city with its sky scrapers and traffic filled streets. It takes turns shining on the Western hemisphere and the Eastern hemisphere. I loved the picture of the sleepy koala about to tuck in for the night in his eucalyptus tree!
The illustrations are these black, white, and blue sketches that are really nice, and the language is written in poetic stanzas. We really enjoyed this.
recommended age: 3-6
Story Time Conversations:
- What are the different shapes the moon can take?
- What does the moon shine on in our neighborhood?
- Did you know that people used to think that the moon was made out of cheese? What is the moon really made out of?
Hi there! Happy Wednesday to you, and thanks for stopping by today. I think every little kid, especially every little boy, goes through a vehicle phase where every garbage truck, cement mixer, school bus, train, eighteen wheeler, and construction truck elicits a cheer from a kid. Here are seven great reads for the truck fan in your life!
Are you like me? Do you have a hard time letting your kids fail? Let me tell you what I mean.
When my fourth grader was younger, like in preschool, I never felt anxiety about letting him fail because the failures were so small. Giving him a regular drinking glass instead of a spill-proof sippy cup meant that he spilled his juice more often but he learned how to not spill faster because of it.
Natural consequences became the lessons that his failures taught him, and these lessons were much more effective than anything I could have done. But as he gets older, the natural consequences of his mistakes are much bigger than just getting the a kitchen rag to mop up the spilled juice. Like the other moring when he walked out of the house without his school bag and didn't realize it until we were already in the drop off line at his school. I could have/should have let him fail. I could have/should have said, "Oh, well. You forgot your school bag, and now the natural consequence is that you don't have your work. Your teachers will not be happy with you." Instead, I raced home, got the bag, and drove all the way back to bring it to him. It felt good. I was able to make my kid happy. I justified it by telling myself things like "He's still just a kid", "If he makes bad grades today, it will make us both look bad", and "His teachers will think I'm a bad mom if I don't do this". I had a nagging little thought in the back of my brain though, and it said, You've got to be okay with failure. Failing at something makes us stronger, smarter, and gives us that growth mindset that so many teachers and researchers are now saying is way more valuable in a student than smarts. I want to get better at this, and to start, I'm going to read 11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter.
In this picture book, you will not find famous scientists or explorers conducting epic experiments. 11 Experiments that Failed is about everyday kids activating their curiosity to explore their world. I love that about this book. It shows kids that we are all scientists who can test a hypothesis. The experiments include: can a person survive eating only ketchup and snow? (spoiler: no they can't), can I send a message in a bottle to the ocean by flushing it down my toilet?, and will a slice of bologna fly like a Frisbee? Like the title says, each experiment failed. You can't survive on ketchup, that message in the bottle will only clog your loo, and bologna will just splat on the floor when thrown. I love the way each experiment is approached with wild abandon and a spirit that shakes off the fear of being wrong. I also love that the parents of these young scientists didn't stop them from failure. Obviously, the mom and dad knew people can't survive on ketchup, but instead of lecturing their kid about nutrition, they just stepped back and let them find out for themselves. I really need to start doing that!
What do you think? Should we be there to solve our kids' problems, or should we give them the space to figure it out on their own?
My older son is a part of his chess team at school, and he has learned so much from participating in the tournaments - sportsmanship, challenging yourself, confidence, social skills. It has been a really valuable experience for him, and he can now officially whoop any family member any day of the week in a round of chess.
If you know a young reader interested in the game, this book list would be a great place to start!
Call me crazy, but I just love a good dreary day, I crave cool weather, drizzling rain, good socks, good tea, good books. This time of year when winter transitions into spring tends to bring a good bit of rain, and just because the weather is wet doesn't mean that all the fun needs to happen indoors! A rainy day can be one of the best times to play outside as long as sturdy rain boots can be found.
Here are eleven great picture books celebrating rainy day fun. Do you have any to add to the list?
At the end of each story, the prince rides off on his fair white steed. The princess polishes her tiara. The hero puts his or her trophy on the mantle. But what about the bad guys, huh? Where does the evil witch or the Big Bad Wolf go at the end of a long, unsuccessful day? Baddies are people too, you see, and in their evenings off, they need a relaxing place to call home.
Good Night, Baddies by Deborah Underwood and Juli Kangas is one of my new favorites. The story is written in bouncy, funny rhymes and the illustrations by Juli Kangas show where baddies like the giant from the beanstalk and the troll under the billy goats' bridge call home. All of the bad guys from all of your favorite fairy tales live together in a castle where they eat dinner together, talk about their work days, and read books by the fire.
This is such a cute story! We loved all of the pictures of bad guys in their pajamas and bunny slippers. recommended age: 3-6
Thanks for stopping by today! Do you have a book that you would like to share? I love hearing your recommendations!
Balls, bears, boats, ballerinas, and bicycles! So many great "b" words to read about and learn about. If kids in your house are learning about the letter "B", here are twelve great books to give inspiration to their lesson. This post contains affiliated links that I receive compensation for posting. However, I only share books and products that I love on my own. Thanks for supporting businesses that support this blog.
We all know and love Eric Carle, and his colorful Brown Bear, Brown Bear book is great for letter recognition because it has a nice repetition that brings lots of opportunities to find the letter B as you read.
The Berenstain Bears books are always reliable when you want a book that teaches a kids a life lesson, and The Berenstain Bears Kindness Counts is no exception. Brother Bear learns that good things come to those who share with others. He shares his prized airplane at the park even when he feels nervous about letting someone else touch it. He ends up making a kind new friend because of his good choice.
This pop-up book has everything! The letter B, counting, lift-the-flaps with cute little bugs that will get a laugh from kids.
We love how Richard Scarry's books are so detailed with tons and tons of vehicles to find and name. This book is all about boats of different shapes and sizes with different jobs to do.
Have you read any of the books in this series for preschoolers? If you click on the Amazon link, you will see that the Bear books have tons and tons of positive reviews from readers. They are simple, well-illustrated, and kids just love them. In Bear Wants More, Bear wakes up from his winter sleep in the Spring, and he is hungry! He needs lots and lots of food to fill his big bear belly.
A dad and his kids are going on a bear hunt in this bouncy, jolly classic. The rhyming words perfectly match the happy family's adventure into the woods.
This bear and this boy are best friends who do everything together, but there's just one problem. The bear has a crazy to do list that is a million miles long, and he drags the boy all over town. The boy got stressed out! In the end, he teaches the bear to slow down, relax, and enjoy life.
Three friends - a bug, a bear, and a boy - spend their days together playing games, planting a garden, and eating yummy food. Use this book for learning the letter B with preschoolers now, and keep it for later, when you need an easy-reader for elementary schoolers.
Author Tony Mitton is an award winning children's poet, and his story about animal critters sailing on different types of boats is filled with rhyming fun.
Do you find that some of the Berenstain Bears books are just a tad too lengthy for younger, preschool readers? I have to confess that I do too. This is the solution - a collection of Berenstain bears bright and early books. This one is all about - you guessed it - the letter b.
Author Sue Fliess is a preschooler-mastermind! She knows just what will engage readers ages 3-5. In her book I'm A Ballerina, a little girl takes the reader into her ballet class and show us what its like to perform her dance on stage!
A great learn-to-read book about Bess taking her first Ballet lesson. Dorothy Jane Mills is a fantastic resource for kids just learning to read. She has written so many great easy-reading books.
Do you ever have this problem? You buy a new book for your kid to read because it looks cute or was displayed in your local book shop, or maybe it won a lot of awards and has a lot of buzz. You take it home, read it once, and your kid never asks to read it again. Isn't that frustrating? Picture books aren't cheap! We want to invest in books that our kids will come back to again and again not ones that look good but aren't fun to read.
I think The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski is one of those books that looks good but also has a story that kids will love. We have owned our copy for over a year, and we still return to it and enjoy it.
The Whisper is a new release from artist Pamela Zagarenski, winner of two Caldecott honors, and it is beautiful. A young girl loves to read and loves getting lost in her books. She borrows a very special book from her school teacher, and when she gets home she is disappointed. The book has no words, only pictures. She has nothing to read. Just as she is about to put the book back on the shelf to read something else, she hears a whisper. It is coming from the book! The whisper tells her that she has the ability to create her own stories, to imagine them herself with the pictures as inspiration. She makes up story after story from the book's illustrations. The stories become so real that she feels that she herself is inside the story.
I liked the way this story promotes interaction and engagement with art. I didn't learn to really enjoy art on canvas until I was an adult, and it really is a skill. Because the girl has to create stories from the picture she sees, she learns to observe a piece of art and appreciate details. This would be great to read and then go to our local art museum. We could practice imagining our own stories from the paintings we see. I recommend this book for upper elementary school kids. The pictures would interest any age, but the story is very lengthy and uses a vocabulary on the level of third graders and up. Younger readers might not be ready to engage with this story.
Have you read The Whisper? Do you have any books that look good but also have stories that you can read over and over again? Any experiences where a book you thought would be good didn't deliver? Let me know!
What are you up to this weekend? My fourth grader has a chess tournament today, and honestly, I love that he gets the experience but I kind of dread them. They last for hours and hours and usually I have my four year old in tow. For some reason, watching people play chess in silence for six hours isn't his idea of a good time. BUT . . . Today I am not secretly dreading the chess tournament because it is being hosted by our city's annual India Festival! My fourth grader can play chess while we while away the hours shopping through the colorful wares and filling our bellies with awesome Indian food. Win/Win!
There were some interesting kid's book reviews around the web this week. Here is a selection for your perusal. Have a great weekend!
A Kids Book A Day writes about a picture book for upper elementary school kids that deals with nature conservation called The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk by Jan Thornhill.
Every year, Pragmatic Mom partners with bloggers to bring us Multicultural Children's Book Day. This year, it will be on January 27, 2017. Here is the poster for this year.
Hotel Bruce is out in US stores today, and Disney Books gave us an advanced copy to check out. We loved it! For our review of the book, go here. Bruce the bear loves to read food blogs and cook up fancy recipes with somewhat outlandish ingredients, so we thought it would be fun to create a dinner party menu inspired by Bruce and his love of tasty food.
Here is our forest-fun menu sure to make your little bears happy:
To get the party started on a sweet and sour note, let's make some lavender lemonade sweetened with plenty of a bear's favorite - honey! My kids aren't super adventurous taste-testers, but a vendor at our local farmer's market makes a version of this that they love. Add or subtract the amount of honey used based on your own taste preference.
recipe that serves two bears:
- brew lavender tea with two lavender tea bags and two cups of boiling water.
- squeeze 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice.
- combine in a pitcher.
- add preferred amount of honey (we used about 1/4 cup) and stir.
- add ice and enjoy!
For our main course, we made some super-easy but still tasty salmon.
each pouch serves one bear:
- Gather up parchment paper, a stick of butter at room temperature, dried Italian herb mix, salt, pepper, and one salmon fillet per person.
- blend two tablespoons of herbs with soft butter.
- tear parchment into 10x10 inch squares.
- place one salmon fillet on parchment square. place two pats of herb butter on top of fish.
- fold parchment like an envelope and place in 400 degree oven for fifteen minutes.
For our sweet grand finale, we have a fancy forest cake with lots and lots of chocolate! This is a traditional chocolate roll cake filled with chocolate ganache that we decorated with mushroom toadstools made from raspberries and a tube of marzipan that can be found in most grocery stores. Our gnome friends guarded the cake from little bear fingers until it was time to serve it up. This recipe serves either ten bears now or five bears now with the other half frozen for another day. I used the domestic goddess Mary Berry's chocolate swiss roll recipe. Her directions always produce flawlessly yummy results! You can find that recipe here.
Well, I don't know about you, but we're stuffed! Thanks for reading today and hopefully this sets you on your way to create your own beary good forest feast!
Hi there and welcome to the first Monday in October! Woohoo! October is the best, and we are kicking off our favorite month with a book list with a spooky theme - monsters!
Here are nine of the best books about there for ghouls, goblins, and creatures from the dark side. Enjoy!
Hi there! Welcome to the little corner of the internet where we share our favorite kids books - some new, some old. Here is an oldie classic from 1941 called Paddle-To-The-Sea by Holling C. Holling (I have some questions about the origins of the author's name. Holling Holling?? Interesting choice on the parents' part).
A Native American boy whittles a toy man sitting in a canoe out of a piece of wood (outdated-culture-note: the boy and the toy he makes are referred to as Indians. That isn't the preferred term today.) On the bottom of the toy canoe, he etches the words "I am Paddle-To-The-Sea. Please put me back in water." The boy sets his little adventurer to sail in the river by his house. The story follows the journey of Paddle-To-The-Sea as he makes it all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Each leg of his course is organized into separate chapters. Even though the story is lengthy, and there are chapters, there are still plenty of pictures to hold the attention of readers not quite ready for novels. Each page has colorful illustrations. This book reminds me of a "my-first-reader" version of other classic adventure stories like Swiss Family Robinson or Treasure Island. It has that free-spirited pioneer essence. The illustrations are so beautiful. You can see why this won the Caldecott medal.
In the 60s, this book inspired a short film, and I have included it below. Check it out!
Recommended age: 4-11
Here is the Paddle to the Sea short movie:
Weekend time! We made it through the week. Honestly, there were a few moments that I had my doubts- a certain fourth grader's lost homework assignment yet again, a three year old's art project that involved an entire roll of toilet paper unraveled on the floor, a possibly burned to a crisp Wednesday night dinner. But we made it just the same.
I just heard that one of the picture books featured here on Booktomato will be coming out with a second story! Mother Bruce by Ryan Higgins is a hoot (see our review here) and will be coming out with Bruce the bear's second story, Hotel Bruce, very soon. Look for it in stores!
Here are some of our fave bookish posts from around the web. Enjoy your weekend!
Kid Book Review has several book picks out this week: an artsy alphabet book here, the follow up work to the beautifully illustrated Animalium called Botanicum here, and an interview with illustrator Gus Gordon here.
Roald Dahl would have been 100 years old this week! Here is an article from USA Today with 10 quotes from his treasured books to celebrate.
Happy Monday! My kids are at school. I'm doing the dishes and vacuuming the floor while listening to some of my favorite podcasts. Do you have a favorite podcast? I try to save some of my faves for when I clean the house to motivate my to clean the house because I don't exactly love to dust and scrub!
I put together this list with back-to-school kids in mind, and I never realized how many classic books that we love revolve around school buses! When my younger son was just starting to talk, he went through a school bus phase and would scream "bus! bus!" from his car seat whenever one passed us on the road. School buses are nostalgic and cheerful with their sunny yellow paint job and wheels that go round and round. Is your favorite bus book missing from the list? Let me know!
With school getting back into swing, it's time for after school activities like clubs, dance, and sports! Here are some of our favorite books to inspire all of those little kickers out there! These are some of the best soccer books. Do you have a soccer book to add to the list? Let me know! I love getting book recs from our readers!
Are your kids like mine in that they ask a million questions?! One. Million. Questions. I want to encourage their little big imaginations, but sometimes with everything there is to do in a day, the question-answering portion of my brain gets tired. That's why I love to find books that answer questions!
Author and food critic Joshua David Stein has written a fantastic guide for little foodies everywhere, answering straight forward questions like "Can I eat sea urchin?" and more creative ones like "Do eggs grow from eggplants?" The narrative is funny and frequently plays with words to make for some pretty humorous food puns. Stein may specialize in food writing, but he also has a skillful eye for language. This paired with Julia Rothman's bright and perfectly stylized illustrations makes for a win!
Recommended age group: 3-8
Story Time Conversations:
- What is your favorite food?
- Was there ever a time when a new food's taste surprised you?
- What new food do you want to try soon?
- If you were a chef, what recipe would you be famous for creating?
Do you have any budding foodies in your life? They would really enjoy this book! My youngest loves to cook with me, and I am always on the lookout for great kids cookbooks and books about food like this one. If you have any food or cooking themed books that you love, let me know!
Hi Booktomato family! We are currently having a grand adventure across the pond in Ireland for summer vacation, and it has been amazing! We are travelling through Dublin county, in the city center and through the mountainous countryside, and this weekend, we are driving to the western coast for some rocky beaches and a feast of oysters. I am addicted to Irish brown bread and strawberries. They are some of the best strawberries I've ever eaten. Along with delicious food, Ireland is the home of the truly adorable book shop! Look at the two I have fallen in love with. The first is Hodges Figgis, the oldest and biggest book store in Dublin.
Look at that giant display of kids lit! So many kids books!
Here is a tiny, charming book shop that I found while wandering through Dalkey village, a suburb of Dublin that is positioned right on the beautiful Dublin Bay coast. I picked up a few nice additions to our picture book collection here.
Where is summer break taking you and your family? If you find a great book store in your travels, send in a pic! I would love to see it.
Hi there! Welcome to Booktomato! Today we are reading one of my favorite books as a child, Mirette On The High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully.
Mirette, a young girl, and her mother run a boarding house in Paris around the turn of the century. During the day, Mirette helps her mother with the household chores, and at night, she loves to listen to the boarders talk as they eat in the dining room. Most of the boarders are travelling show people - circus performers, dancers, actors - and they have the most exciting conversations about where they have traveled and where they have performed.
One day, a mysterious man comes to get a room. He says that he is a retired high wire walker and in dire need of quiet and rest. While Mirette takes the laundry outside to dry, she spies this mysterious man walking on a rope strung across the courtyard! When he leaves, Mirette can't resist trying the high wire act for herself. With a lot of practice, she walks across the high wire with ease. Mirette soon discovers the mysterious man's real identity, why he has stopped performing, and how to get him to walk the wire again.
This story is so powerful and hopeful. I love the illustrations. They embody the art being produced at the time with its oil painting look, bright colors, and romantic images. This would be a great book to teach bravery and overcoming fears. recommended age: 6+
I love Jan Brett! Her storytelling ability and illustration-prowess never disappoint. She is best known for her Scandinavian, troll-themed stories like The Trouble with Trolls and The Mitten. Today we read about a musical bear named Berlioz, his band, and their wayward journey into town to perform at the village ball.
Berlioz plays double bass in his town's orchestra, and tonight, the band will play at the village ball. When he tunes up his instrument, it makes a funny sound, and he can't figure out why. He and his band load up their wagon and head into town. Along the way, the wagon breaks down. With a little help from friends, they make it to town and Berlioz gets his bass to play beautiful music.
All of Brett's stories are set in a specific country, and this one is set in Germany with intricately carved wooden furniture and wagons, traditional dress, Alpine mountains, and a storybook village. I love the way every inch of the pages are filled with artwork, and that artwork works double time to add to the storytelling. The center of each page shows the main picture of the story, and the borders of each page show what is happening in town. The villagers are setting up for the party, bringing in chairs and food. These are the kind of pictures that you can spend a long time pouring over. They're great!
recommended age: 3+