Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Guess How Much I Love You by: Sam McBratney & Bunny My Honey by: Anita Jeram

With the Easter holiday right around the corner I decided to talk about two books today, one my son already has, one he will be getting in his Easter basket, and both star bunnies or hares as their main characters!

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney is about Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare and how much they love each other. Sounds pretty simple right?

Little Nutbrown Hare starts off by spreading his arms wide and telling his Daddy that he loves him "This much!" while spreading his arms out as wide as he can manage! Of course, Big Nutbrown Hare, being a big nutbrown hare, has bigger arms and can spread his arms even wider, which he does while telling his baby "But I love you this much!"...which sends Little Nutbrown Hare thinking...

There follows a competition of sorts between Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare, as Little Nutbrown Hare keeps thinking of ways he loves Big Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare keeps telling him that he loves him back. As tall as he can hop, as far as he can see, as tall as he can reach...and even all the way to the moon!

I have read reviews that say it is a unhealthy, competitive book that teaches children that love is a competition and that their love for their parents is not enough. I can truly say that I can see how people would see it like that, and if that is the attitude you have while reading it to your child, how a child could feel that way while listening. I didn't see it that way the first time I read it however, instead I saw a baby and their parent playing a game that I have heard many children and parents play...the "I love you more game"...which I have never seen as competitive but more as a way of expressing something in words that can't possibly be expressed. Like most parents, in the end, Big Nutbrown Hare lets Little Nutbrown hare fall asleep thinking he has won, whispering to his sleeping son that he loves him to the moon...and back, expressing one of the great truths in life. That parents will always love their children more than anything, and that our children will never understand this until they have children of their own.

While I can see why people wouldn't like this book, I love it. The illustrations by Anita Jeram are beautiful, though not with a lot of color or contrast, which might not hold the attention of younger readers who like more color and flash. It is still a book I highly recommend, but you will have to know your child to know if they will be interested in it or if it will be better to wait until they are a little older.

If you would like to know more about author Sam McBratney please feel free to read more here or visit his page on the Harper Collins website

Bunny My Honey, which was written and illustrated by Anita Jeram (who illustrated Guess How Much I Love You) is about another long eared family, Mommy Rabbit and her baby, Bunny. Bunny, who Mommy Rabbit calls Bunny, my Honey.  

Mommy Rabbit, as mommy rabbits do, taught Bunny all the things little rabbits need to know. She taught him to hop and twitch his nose and stomp his big old feet. And sometimes, when Bunny's games with his little friends ended in tears, Mommy Rabbit was always there to wipe away his tears as mommy rabbits (and humans) do.

One day, quite without meaning to, Bunny gets lost in the woods, and no matter how hard he tries he can't seem to find his way out again. Scared and alone he starts calling for the one person who is dearest to him, the person who calls him her Honey...his Mommy. Mommy rabbit does just what a mommy rabbit should, and finds and comforts her scared little Bunny Honey.

It is a cute story with beautiful illustrations, which is why it made its way into my son's Easter basket this year. I think that it might bore older children because it really is a simple little tale without too much detail and "fluff", but it is a book I think that my son and other young children will adore. The pictures are beautiful and colorful and the story is sweet for a mother and child to share together. It is one I would recommend reading yourself before spending the money, just in case you feel it will not hold the interest of your child.

If you want to know more about Anita Jeram or her beautiful illustrations, please visit her website.

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Marshmallow by: Clare Turlay Newberry

Once upon a time, there was a little 5 year old girl. Every week her first grade class took a trip to the school library. Every week the little girl returned the book she had taken out the week before and returned it. After the librarian put all the returned books away, the little girl made her way over to a very special shelf and took down a very special book, the very one she had just returned in fact. (In fact, 21 years later, that little girl could find the exact same spot in that exact same shelf if the library in question had never been rearranged.)

 The book, Marshmallow, was written by Clare Turlay Newberry in 1943, and as a result was impossible to find in the stores, though the little girl above searched for it for years!!! In the Spring of 2009 the littler girl, now 25 and expecting a baby of her own, was delighted to find it in a book store, displayed with the Easter books and a new pale pink/peach cover. (It had been gray way back once upon a time.) Alas, the poor little girl, now a woman, didn't buy it right then and instead went back to get it tor her unborn child the following week, by which time it was gone! 

Now, Spring 2010, again looking through the children's Easter displays, I (for I am the little girl previously mentioned, in case you didn't know.) found it again, this time in paperback. I grabbed it up happily and immediately, proud of the prize I have now for my son's first Easter basket! I have re-read it several times, and am delighted to share that I am as enchanted by the story and illustrations as I was when I was a happy little first grader who eventually had to have it suggested to me that I should give other children a chance to check out the book.

Marshmallow is a true story about Oliver the cat, who is very used to being the center of attention in his house. That is until one day when his owner brings home a white little ball of fluff...the bunny, Marshmallow. Oliver is not happy about this new arrangement at all. At first he is scared of the trusting little unknown creature, but eventually his natural instincts start to kick in...Can little Marshmallow's natural affection overrule the ages long relationship between cats and bunnies?

Not only a wonderful storyteller, Clare Turlay Newberry was a very talented artist! Her beautiful hand drawn black and white images with gentle touches of color bring the story to life! In her life, Mrs. Newberry swore that her story and images were drawn and taken from real life, even a picture of Oliver and Marshmallow laying in each other's arms. 

I love, love, love this book and highly recommend it to any and everyone!It makes me desperately want a bunny, but since the hubby says no, I guess I'll just have to wait until I can convince him that it would be a good investment. (It will teach the kids about responsibility and taking care of other creatures...right?) *sigh* Oh well. Until that day I will just have to enjoy sharing the story of Marshmallow with my own son!

Mrs. Newberry had a life long love for cats that is apparent in not only Marshmallow, but some of her other children's books as well. Many of then, like Marshmallow, are winners of the Caldecott Honor! I suggest that you look up not only Marshmallow, but many of Mrs. Newberry's other works. 

If you are interested in Mrs. Newberry and her books, please feel free to read more about here here or here

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Green Eggs and Ham by: Dr. Seuss

Since last week was Dr. Seuss' birthday, I thought it only appropriate to talk about a Dr. Seuss book this week. Green Eggs and Ham happens to be one of my favorites. 

Seuss books are amazing for children of all ages. The manner in which he writes, his rhymes, his silly words, and his funny illustrations catch the attention of even the youngest of babies. It is almost impossible not to get into a cheery rhythm while reading, and I have yet to meet an adult that doesn't get almost as much pleasure out of the books as a child does!

And they all have a message and moral, which I love in a book! Sometimes it's hidden and sometimes not, but books with a moral are high on my list of favorites!

Green Eggs and Ham isn't one of the more preachy moral messages that Dr. Seuss wrote about, but it is one that is important for young children to learn. (For adults to learn too for that matter.) Try New Things.

In Green Eggs our friend, Sam, is trying very hard to get his friend to try Green Eggs and Ham! Despite the fact that Friend of Sam has never tried Green Eggs and Ham, he stubbornly insists "I do not like green eggs and ham! I do not like them, Sam I Am!". Sam pleads with his friend to try a house, with a mouse, in a box, with a fox...just to try them, for he might like them. Still, Friend of Sam insists that in no place and no way and with no one will he try them because "I do not like them, Sam I Am!"

How many times in a lifetime does a person, child and adult alike, decide that they won't like something or someone far before giving them a chance? We refuse to try food because of how it looks or smells, refuse to read a book because the cover looks silly, refuse to go to a new place because we have heard bad things...How many times in a lifetime do we miss out on something possibly wonderful without even giving it a chance? I certainly know that I have been guilty of this more than once, and more than once when I have finally been convinced to give it a try, I end up liking what I was 100% sure that I would not. I am sure that I am not the only one who has committed this folly, whether anyone else will admit it or not. Certainly Friend of Sam, stubbornly digging his heels in against trying the odd looking dish, might be missing out on something that is actually very yummy!

In my opinion, Green Eggs and Ham is one of Seuss' most enjoyable works. It is certainly one that I enjoy,  (My husband even read it to me on our of my favorite memories!) and I hope my son enjoys it as much as I do one day, along with all of Seuss' other works!

I highly, highly, highly recommend not only Green Eggs, but all of the works by Dr. Seuss! Every last one of them will be a wonderful addition to your child's library! 

If you are interested in learning more about the work of Dr. Seuss, please join his characters in the wonderful world of Seussville

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by: Beatrix Potter

There is nothing I like more than a story with a lesson to it. I don't think that all books need to have some kind of deep moral message, but it is nice when they do. Even more so when you don't feel like you are being preached to...something no child, or adult for that matter, enjoys.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit is one such story. Little Peter, the only boy in a family of females, has a rebel streak that I for one find endearing. (Even as a child I felt that his sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail were goody-two-shoes. This is terribly unfair, but I have a thing for rebel bunnies!) 

Despite being warned away from the gardens of horrible Mr. McGregor, the very gardens in which Peter's father met his untimely end as a rabbit pie, Peter runs there strait away while his mother is out at market and his sisters are off being good and picking blackberries. Apparently, Farmer McGregor's lettuce, French beans, and radishes are just too tempting to be resisted by the little rabbit!

But oh, woe for our little misbehaving Peter, he is spotted by the angry Mr. McGregor and the chase is on! He loses his shoes and he loses his jacket and he can't find his way back to the garden gate...the only way out and to avoid being made into a yummy rabbit pie! Poor, poor Peter! What kind of evil man wouldn't want such a cute bunny in his gardens?

This was always a favorite of mine as a child, and I still very fondly remember my Grandmama telling me the story over and over of my beloved little Peter! I was thrilled add the book to my son's library in both board book and a little hardback copies! he will also be getting a little Peter this year in his Easter basket! If you are unfamiliar with Peter Rabbit, or the other amazing works of Beatrix Potter, I would suggest that you find a book store immediately and become familiar! 

Beatrix Potter is arguably one of the most well known children's authors of all time. She wrote and illustrated over 20 short stories about Peter and his many friends and fellow forest animals! If you are interested in Beatrix Potter and her works, check out The World of Peter Rabbit
If you want to know what happens to Peter...well, you'll just have to find the book to share with your child. (Or yourself...I do sometimes read my son's books to myself just for a few moments of quiet respite...And I am quite unashamed of the fact too!)
Thank you for reading!


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