Saturday, November 28, 2015

Claire and the Unicorn by B.G. Hennessy

A little girl named Claire and her unicorn stuffy conduct social research in her dreams on what makes people live "happily ever after". They ask a fairy, a princess and a prince, Fairy Godmother, and the Wishing Well. They find out that it depends. But I can't help but think that they were asking the question wrong. While they wanted to find out what makes people live "happily ever after" the answers they were getting were regarding what would make people happy now. In any case, it's a cute story, and I like the idea of kids conducting social research on fairy tale characters.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sally Jean the Bicycle Queen by Cari Best

"I can ride a whistle, I can fix a flat...."
This book has it all: girl power, bicycles, recycling. This story is awesome.

My daughter loves it because in the beginning the little girl rides on the back of the bike with her mom. I love it because it is positive and about so many things I value. I think I'm going to send a copy to all my planner friends with daughters.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Lily Brown's Paintings by Angela Johnson

This is a wonderful celebration of life and art. The artwork alternates between a childish and apparently more adult style, and describes how a little girl loves to paint the world around her. We really enjoyed it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Lunch Ideas

When I first had to pack my daughter's lunch, I was freaked out. I wanted her to have something she would eat. I wanted it to be healthy and nutritious, and I don't want her to be the kid with the crappy lunch. As a working single parent, I also needed to be able to pack it in advance, preferable all at once at the beginning of the week.

I surfed the internet a bit -- there are a lot of resources on this. Most of them were unrealistic for me. I did some note taking and diagrams, and I came up with two categories:
  • Protein and carbohydrates (usually combined, thus one category)
  • Fruits and vegetables
Generally, she gets 1 container of the first category and 2-3 of the second category depending on portion sizes and content. I buy everything organic.

Protein and carbs:
  • pasta with cheese... and sometimes some vegetables in there too.
  • (usually half a) sandwich with meat and/or cheese -- use frozen bread(1) to keep it fresh until lunch time.
  • (usually half a) sandwich with nut/seed butter and jelly, honey or sliced banana
  • yogurt mix (yogurt, flax meal, nut or seed butter, and sometimes honey/jam/apple sauce for sweetening (2)) 
  • cheese and crackers (very unusual)
Fruit and vegetables:
  • blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • peas (usually frozen)
  • half a banana
  • apple slices -- she requires the peal be removed too. 
  • apple sauce
  • orange (pealed and sectioned)
  • grapes (cut in half)
  • cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
  • olives
These are in order of use. I have these little metal containers I fill with frozen peas and blueberries every week or so. They stay in the freezer until I pack her lunch.

I asked her the other day if her lunch was as good as the other kids. She said "no, my lunch is usually better than the other kids' lunches." So, the system seems to be working.

(1) I check bread content and choose one with a higher than average serving size of protein and fiber. I also often choose one with flax meal for omega 3s.
(2) This concept is inspired by the Super Babyfood books.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning

This story appears to take place in Victorian London (to me) which is a bit of cliche (IMO). But I love its celebration of the urban.

A little boy finds a scarf. So, instead of cleaning people's shoes like he is supposed to be doing, he spends the afternoon looking the scarf's owner in one of the apartments on either side of the street where he found it. It's cool (but totally unrealistic) how he scales between the buildings along the laundry lines. He meets people with a broad rang of backgrounds (Italian, Polish, Yiddish, Jamaican, Chinese, Ukrainian....), and finally finds the scarfs owner on the roof.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Mud Fairy by Amy Young

My daughter just recently became obsessed with princesses and fairies. I don't know why I thought I could circumvent the inevitable. She told me she wants to be a princess when she grows up. I told her being a princess is boring because you always have to be polite and sit quietly and you can't fart really loudly. It's way cooler to be a Biologist. She was compelled by this argument. My friend took another approach. She told her daughter that princesses have to know a lot of stuff like science and math, and that her daughter would have to study really hard to earn the right to be a princess.

So, what I love about this book is that it enforces my friend's approach. The story has fairies that are pretty and can make rainbows and open flowers. But the protagonist is into frogs, that that earns her her wings too. A wonderful antidote to an inevitable obsession for little girls.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins

Like lots of other books, this one provides a series, in this care of people who may seem scary but really aren't. It shares fun details about both why they are scary (e.g., demanding a hall pass at school) and why they are not (e.g., dancing). What I love about this book is that it teaches empathy, and that each person is dynamic and complicated. The natural temptation to see others and our interactions with them as one dimensional ("that person is mean") is significant. The sooner we teach children empathy, the better.