This is my go-to song for when autumn approaches. I used a die cut machine to
make red, orange, yellow, & brown maple leaves to act out the verses at storytime.
Spread the love by making extras for families to sing all the way home with.
Kate DiCamillo just won her second Newberry Award for a story of a girl and her superhero squirrel. She created a cast of quirky characters that slowly rolls out through mishaps, dissappointments, as well as small victories.
Flora Belle Buckman is a bit of an outsider and self-proclaimed cynic living with her mother, an often preoccupied recently divorced romance novelist. She spends much of her time reading and throughout the book references her favorite superhero comic and a work of nonfiction titled “Terrible Things Can Happen To You!” The story begins at the start of summer vacation whereabouts on one afternoon her reading becomes disturbed by the sound of neighbors vacuuming their yard. Somethings strikes Flora as odd about this and she looks out her window just in time to see a squirrel being vacuumed up.
After the incident, we gain an unusual vantage that being the squirrel’s perspective. “His brain felt larger, roomier. It was as if several doors in the dark room of his self (doors he hadn’t known existed) had suddenly been flung wide.” Not only has the squirrel has gained in consciousness but also in super rodent powers. He is surprisingly now strong enough to pick up the out of control vacuum and lift it over his tiny head. Other abilities come into play with flying being the least remarkable.
Flora finds herself drawn to care for the injured squirrel and decides to name him Ulysses and likens his transformation to that of the hero in her beloved comic. We are introduced to William Spiver the (questionably) temporarily blind great-nephew of Flora’s vacuuming neighbor Tootie Tickham. And Mary Ann, an ornamental shepherdess lamp quite possibly treasured more than Flora by her own mother. We meet Flora’s socially anxious father George Buckman who bonds with his daughter by using comic book catchphrases that pepper the book such as “Holy unanticipated occurrences” and “This malfeasance must be stopped.”
Along the way Flora’s mother takes up a campaign to snuff out the squirrel and hands her ex-husband the shovel to do it with thus cementing her status as the villain of the book.
There is a lot of loneliness in this menagerie. And a lot of snacks. With sprinkles even.
Endearing pencil drawings of K.G. Campbell that “illuminate” Flora and Ulysses. They have a soft and kind quality that mirror the way the characters in the story slowly begin to interact with one another. Sometimes scenes are enacted in comic panels and othertimes small or full page illustrations accent DiCamillo’s writing.
It wasn’t until the very last page that I felt the overall effect. It wasn’t nearly the tearjerker that was The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane or as great an adventure as The Tale of Despereaux but it left me with a happy feeling and a definite tendency to look a little closer at the squirrels.
Alimrose Rag Doll available at http://www.peanutgallery.com.au
She would make a good companion while reading this fantastic take on the classic written by Melissa Sweet.
by Amy Krauss Rosenthal
“All my friends have it so much better than me.” Who hasn’t sang that song at least once or twice?
This feeling of incompleteness is at the center of our story, where young Spoon is in desperate need of someone to polish his ego. The illustrator provides a glimpse of the exciting times had by the other folks that share the cutlery drawer. We’re shown forks lassoing spaghetti, chopsticks that tango among the sushi rolls with precision, and knives happily spreading jam on bread. All culinary feats never, ever achieved with a spoon.
Lucky for him, Mama Spoon is around to reassure her boy that life is indeed grand for their kind. She helps Spoon work through his envy of the other utensils by pointing out what makes him special. “Your friends will never be able to twirl around in a mug or relax in a hot cup of tea.” And she’s right, you can’t eat ice cream with a knife.
Mama Spoon ponders to her son, “I wonder if you realize just how lucky you are?” Everyone needs someone to remind them of this time to time, and Rosenthal’s Spoon aims to tell parents that their children need to be tenderly polished not unlike little Spoon.
And of course, the book doesn’t end without some spooning.
by Kyo Maclear
Kids Can Press 2010
Spork stuck out. His mother a spoon, his father a fork, which made him one of a kind in the kitchen drawer they called home. He routinely gets asked, “What are you anyway?” an experience taken from multiracial author Kyo Maclear’s own life.
A sweet faced little guy. Too round for some, too pointy for others, but perfect in circumstances where nothing else would do. He’s like the kid who never gets picked at kickball. That is, until a new and very messy customer comes to the table giving Spork a chance to prove his utility.
With very similar messages and formats, it would be easy to confuse Rosenthal’s Spoon with Maclear’s Spork. Both books have style and endearing cartoonish leads, but the lovely mixed media illustrations in Spork make it my favorite to look through.
I had so much fun picking out gifts for the baby bee’s upcoming first birthday. He is heavy into bathtime since graduating to the regular tub, so I went for two from Kid O. Then thank heavens I came across this adorable whale spout cover from Skip Hop. Now I can stop being paranoid that he is going to bonk his head.
Baby’s first tugboat from Green Toys
And I looked and looked for a cute teddy bear, after reminiscing about my own childhood teddies, Brown Bear and Eggy. But upon finding Jeremy Fisher, a creation of Beatrix Potter I decided C might have a dandy froggie instead.