Posts Tagged ‘Children’s Picture Book’

Yes, this book has been around FOREVER, but please bear with me.  I chose to review it because, 1. a great experience inspired me, and, 2. I may be able to introduce the book to readers (youngsters!) who aren’t familiar with it.  Plus, 3.  I’d like to ask your opinions on a gift related to the book.  Read on:

Who can resist Robert McCloskey’s Caldecott Honor classic tale of Sal and her mother, picking blueberries to can for the winter?!  Originally written in 1948, the story features a mother and daughter said to be modelled after the author’s wife and daughter.  Other McCloskey books in our library include Make Way for Ducklings, One Morning in Maine and Lentil.  He also illustrated the Homer Price series for middle readers.

In Blueberries for Sal, Sal drops her blueberries into her tin pail – “ker-plink, ker-plank, ker-plunk!”, she pulls them out and eats them, then begins collecting again – “ker-plink, ker-plank, ker-plunk!”  High on Blueberry Hill, deep in Maine, Sal and her mother head in opposite directions around a large bush. 

Sal and her mother are not alone; a mother bear and her cub are also visiting Blueberry Hill, to prepare for winter by filling up with berries.  They too head in opposite directions around the bush.

Mother spots the cub, the mother bear spots Sal,  and there are happy surprises.  The encounter isn’t frightening to the characters, simply startling.  The children are reunited with their own mothers, and the afternoon winds down.

We were inspired to re-read this favorite after a blueberry-picking excursion today. (For those of you in New England, this week and next are peak season; we visited Blueberry Bay Farm, about an hour north of Boston).  We used plastic pails, so instead of “ker-plink, ker-plank, ker-plunk”, I just heard my 3-year-old “little man” saying “mmm, mmm, mmm” (a yummy sound!) as he sampled the berries.

We have a new neighbor, and I thought a gift of homemade blueberry cobbler and a copy of Blueberries for Sal would be an appropriate way to welcome the family to the neighborhood.  I like to give books for new baby gifts, and they’re perfect for the “big brother” or “big sister” in the family as well.  I tend to not give books to my adult friends and family (unless I know a specific title that interests them), because I find it much more risky than buying for kids.  Who do you give books to?  For a special occasions, or “just because”?

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  • The Rabbit and the Snowman by Sally O. Lee
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (June 19, 2008 )
  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Paperback: 36 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1419656252
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419656255
  • The Rabbit and the Snowman is a sweet picture book that came into our house this week.  Written and illustrated by Sally O. Lee, the book tells the story of a snowman who was built by a group of (multicultural) children one winter day.  The children leave the snowman, presumably to head home;  the snowman feels sad and wonders if he did something to offend them, or if he was perhaps not good enough to be their friend.  “Maybe his carrot nose wasn’t straight enough … maybe his stick arms were too skinny.”

    Shortly thereafter, along comes a rabbit who befriends the snowman.  The two spend the rest of the winter together, talking about all the wonderful sights and sounds of the forest, “how the sun trickled through the trees to make streams of light … how the stars lit up the sky when it was dark.”  As winter turns to spring, the snowman disappears.  Rabbit is left wondering, as snowman did earlier, if he has done something wrong. 

    Rabbit manages to enjoy the next few seasons, but the ache for his friend snowman comes again when other forest animals leave in the fall.  Winter arrives, and rabbit finds the snowman back in the field.  The two pick up their friendship right where it left off in the spring, and “talked until the sun went down and all the stars sparkled in the sky.”

    The text is accompanied by pen and ink and watercolor illustrations.  The colors are vibrant and engaging, allowing a non-reader to re-tell the story after only a few readings.  Aside from detailed pictures that mimic the text, Lee adds nice filler and background drawings around blocks of text (a frame of carrots, or sticks and coal for example).  We like the detail of “the end” written in sticks on a field of snow at the end of the story.

    This is a lovely story about the ebbs and flows of friendship.  Children learn that it’s OK to feel sad when a friendship fades, and that it isn’t a reflection of a personality flaw.  Having moved with young children several times, I appreciate the reminder that people come in and out of our lives; some we stay connected to, other relationships fade away.

    Takeaway from my 6-year-old “Little Woman”: It’s cool to read about a snowman on such a hot day.  You don’t have to read this book only in the winter.”

    Takeaway from my 3-year-old “Little Man”:  I like that the snowman hugs the rabbit; how does he do that with stick arms?”

    Sally O. Lee segued into writing after many years of painting and drawing.  She has authored 18 children’s books and two novellas.  More information about the author/illustrator and her work can be found on her website.

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    I’m introducing Children’s and Young Adult book reviews to She Is Too Fond of Books.  Some will be authored as guest posts by my older children, I’ll collaborate on others with my younger children.  In keeping with the theme of my blog, loosely based on Louisa May Alcott, we’ll refer to them as “Little Women” and “Little Men”.  The reviews will appear on this home page, and will be indexed on a separate “Children’s Book Reviews” tab at the top of the page.

    We start today, appropriately for the U.S. Independence Day, with a review of a children’s picture book titled Yankee Doodle.

  • Yankee Doodle by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
  • Reading level: Chidren’s Picture
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers (April 28, 2004)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0316145513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316145510
  • SheIsTooFondOfBooks Rating: 5 stars
  • Like a fractured fairytale, Mary Ann Hoberman’s rendition of Yankee Doodle modifies a traditional story with unconventional twists and turns.  Hoberman creates several new verses for the familiar song, which add a girl, a poodle, a toad and a rooster to Yankee Doodle’s entourage.  They open a restaurant, aptly named “Yankee Doodle’s Noodles” which serves yummy apple strudel along with oodles of noodles.  Hoberman’s new verses flow with an even rhythm and cadence.  The revised lyrics offer a fun and funny adventure.

    This is one in a series of “Sing-Along Stories” that Hoberman has collaborated on with Nadine Bernard Westcott.  Westcott’s pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations delight the young reader with action-packed details that  expand on Hoberman’s lyrics – the poodle balances a dozen bowls as he serves the hungry customers in the macaroni-shaped restaurant while Yankee Doodle and the others cook up steamy vats of tasty treats.


    Each book in the series opens with a copy of the musical score; readers are encouraged to sing each verse to the melody.  Following the story is a page of activity ideas that continue the fun – simple counting and rhyming games, craft suggestions (in this case, make a feathered cap), gross motor games (plan a parade, march to the rhythm), and questions that stimulate further exploration (why is the Fourth of July important to our country?).


    This is an excellent book that I didn’t tire of reading to my children when they asked “one more time?”.  During the second reading they joined in reciting some of the rhymes with me, and were “reading” to themselves soon after.  Highly recommended.


    Are there patriotic-themed children’s books that you’d recommend?

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