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Archive for the ‘life experiences’ Category

I own several books by Amy Welborn, all prayer books geared toward women. A while back I came across her blog and have been keeping up with it ever since. But recently I was looking through my Amazon wish list and realized that I had put one of her children’s books on there and promptly forgotten about it. Unfortunately I still don’t own it but I wanted to highlight it here anyway, because it looks just so lovely and I want to spread the word! Welborn teamed up with illustrator Ann Kissane Engelhart to capture for children a conversation that Pope Benedict XVI had about the Eucharist. Friendship with Jesus records some of the questions and answers from that conversation with children who had made their first communion. I think this would make a lovely first communion gift or one given to help a child prepare for the special sacrament. Unfortunately, the book is not yet available from Amazon. But you can get it directly from the Catholic Truth Society. If you want to read more about the book you can read Amy Welborn’s blog post about it.

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I have a 2 year old.  Which means I am often called upon to read books over and over and over and over and…you get the idea.  It means that we go through waves of obsessions with books then suddenly, they will be over and we’re on to something else.  For instance, today I found myself making up a new song, to the words of Marvin K. Mooney Will you Please Go Now? And the best part was that my 2 year old was no where around, he was in fact napping.  Which proves to you that I’ve been reading that book over and over and over…

So I’m not too fond of my 2 year old’s current book obsession.  However, there’s one book that he has consistently enjoyed since about 8 months, asking for it a few times a week.  It’s a board book and I haven’t reviewed a board book in a while, so I thought it was time.

No, No Noah! is a fun board book about a monkey who is very reluctant to join Noah and the other animals on the ark.  He is worried that there won’t be trees to swing from and that he has to leave behind his home.  He finally jumps aboard and finds that life is ok, and eventually God puts an end to the flood.

The story is written as a poem, filled with rhyming words and a good flow to the phrases.  While it’s a toddler book, I found myself often being thankful for the time to sit and read this to my son as it was a good reminder to me.  Noah says,

“Monkey, you must trust the Lord.”

And the message at the end…

When your day brings something new,
Think of Noah’s floating zoo.
Pray like Monkey swinging low,
God stays with you as you go!”

Author: Dandi Daley Mackall

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My just-turned-5-year-old read a book to me today.  He’s been reading on his own for a while, but mostly easy reader type books.  Today he read a book to me that no one has read to him in a long time, I was shocked at how much he has improved!  At the same time I was reminded how much I enjoy the book, Edward the Emu.  This is a short picture book for ages 3-6 by Sheena Knowles and illustrated by Rod Clement.  Edward the Emu is about, yep, you guessed it, Edward the emu.  Edward lives at the zoo and decides one day that he doesn’t like being an emu.  He thought it was boring.  So one night he slips out of his cage and tries to pass himself off as a seal.  This works well until a zoo-goer comments how the seals are not his favorite animal to see.  Then Edward is off each night, slipping out of his cage trying out life as a different animal.  Each day  he hears that such and such animal is better.  So the next day he tries something new.   At the end it turns out that being an emu is likely the best and it turns out that’s where he belongs.

I know this story line is not a new concept, there are many books for children in which a character decides he doesn’t like him/herself and decides to change himself in a silly way.  In the end, the character realizes that it’s ok to just be who he is and enjoy his life. So the story line has been done before, and likely it will be done again .

But it’s a story that kids don’t get tired of hearing.  It’s good for them to know that sometimes we all wish we could have the characteristics of someone else.  But at the end of the day, we are unique and loved and we need to be happy with who we are.

Knowles does a great job of simply telling the story in a fun way.  Each page has about four lines and the story is written more like a poem.  There are many rhyming words, but it doesn’t feel too sing-song.

Rod Clement’s illustrations are great.  They are pencil drawings and as you can see from the cover, they only show the animals.  There is very little setting or background in the pictures.  Just a white page with the animals on them.  It’s a neat style because it helps the kids to focus on the subtle changes that Edward is making to try to fit in with the animal he’s bunking with at the time.

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For my own fun reading, I recently finished Tracy Chevalier’s Remarkable Creatures. I won’t go into details about the book here since it is not a children’s book.  It’s a novel, however, many of the characters were real people and it tells about many real things they contributed to society.

While searching for more information on the setting of that novel, I came across a children’s book in our library based on one of the main characters in Remarkable Creatures…Mary Anning.  Mary Anning did in fact hunt for fossils on the shores of Lyme Regis, England.  Her family sold them in a shop for tourists.  Mary Anning was a young girl who, through her daily hunts on the beach ended up finding some remarkable fossils.  It was highly unusual for women to be interested in this pastime but Mary spent her life finding fossils.  She found the first plesiosaur in England.

Jeannine Atkins has written a beautiful story about young Mary Anning, called Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon. It’s an inspiring story of Mary and her dedication to finding fossils despite the townspeople’s objections.  With the encouragement of her mother and her own desire to carry on something her deceased father had started, she keeps looking and finally finds an enormous ichthyosaur.

Michael Dooling is the illustrator and his paintings are truly incredible in this book.  I love the pages of gray water and sand mixing, giving us a taste for the cold rainy winters that Mary had to endure to keep up her task of fossil hunting.

As it turns out there are several other children’s stories based on Mary Anning.  I hope to get some from our library to review them.  Atkins, though, has done a wonderful job capturing who Ms. Anning must have been and paying tribute to her work for all time.

This would be a great story to read especially if you have a child who is into fossils.  It would also be a nice supplement to various history or science units on fossils or learning about how people dealt with the discovery of extinct animals and reconciled that with their faith.

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Of course the logical follow-up to an All Saints Day post would be the All Souls Day post.  I thought I’d pay tribute to another favorite childhood book of mine, Nanna Upstairs and Nanna Downstairs by Tomie DePaola.  It’s the story of a boy who through the years watches his grandma and great-grandma age and pass away.  It’s a simple story not cluttered with fluffy emotions or excessive words.  It is a sad story, but can be a great starting point for kids who are dealing with grief or have a friend who is.  It talks about death and grief from a child’s perspective and leaves plenty of room for families to include and teach their own views on what happens to people after they die.

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