Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Christmas Giant by Steve Light

A giant and an elf make wrapping paper. Then Santa gives them a new assignment: the christmas tree for christmas town. I particularly love the artwork in this book. It's also about bringing your own special skills to the tasks you are assigned. I hope that doesn't give away the ending.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Part-Time Princess by Deborah Underwood

She's a regular girl by day but a princess by night. Did you know that princesses often serve as fire fighters to save their kingdom? Then, instead of locking up the dragon who caused the fire, she finds he's just grumpy because his little brother melted his crayons. They become friends. This book is perfect in almost every way -- I just didn't like the introduction of the handsome prince she might marry some day. Can we just skip that part? Maybe I'm being too picky.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Every-Day Dress-Up by Selina Alko

Instead of always dressing up as a princess, a little girl dresses up as great women from history: Amelia Earhart, Ella Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Marie Curie, Julia Child, Maria Tallchief and Frida Kahlo. My daughter recently discovered princesses and pink; so, books like this are just what we need. Of course, my daughter is particularly interested in Ella and Maria because they look prettiest in the pictures, but you can only do so much.

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.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

This book arrived at our birthday book exchange, but my friend pulled it out and hid it for us. "This is a really good book, " she said. "You need to keep it."

The name speaks for itself. The fun part comes in when you observe that the dragons represent the child audience. Your child likely loves tacos but will have a complete meltdown if they taste anything spicy. In this case, I think it's OK for me to share this part of the story, the dragons accidentally burn down the house. Sound familiar? It does to me too, unfortunately.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Play Dough Recipe

2 cups flour
1/2 cup still water
1/3 cup salt
2 teaspoons canola oil
Add color, glitter and scented oils at desired

Friday, July 3, 2015

Lottie Paris by Angela Johnson

We got two Lottie Paris books from the library recently, and my daughter particularly loves them. They are:
Lottie Paris Lives Here, and
Lottie Paris and the Best Place.
One is about a little girl living across from the park, having fun, getting in trouble and getting time outs. The other is about making a friend at the library.  Both are honest and real, we can totally relate to them. Plus, she seems to have a single dad, and non-traditional families always get bonus points with us.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Hermelin, the mouse detective as told to Mini Grey

A mouse named Hermelin can read and write. He uses these special powers to solve mysteries such as missing fish, glasses, and pearls on his dense city street. He even saves a baby! But when the people throw a party at the corner sausage shop to thank him, they are shocked that a vermin mouse shows up. This causes Hermelin to realize that he is a pest, which hurts his feelings. Fortunately, a little girl who lives on the block, a bit of a detective herself, figure out that Hermelin has been solving the neighhorhood crimes and invites him to be her friend and partner detective.

I love this book's depiction of city living and close neighborhoods. The illustrations are also fantastic, and the narrative fun.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Man in the Moon by William Joyce

We've attempted this book a couple times now. At first, my daughter said it was too scary. The part where the adoring parents die is upsetting. But the artwork is beautiful, and the story romantic. The Man in the Moon is the guardian of childhood, and the actual moon is the children's nightlight to ward off nightmares.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

a bus called heaven by Bob Graham

As a city planner with a grassroots leaning, this book is the type I want my daughter to remember from her childhood. A bus is abandoned in the neighborhood, and people turn it into a sort of community center. It hosts parties and meetings and other rendezvous. But it's blocking the sidewalk and gets towed away. They get it back and park it in the vacant lot behind their house.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Cat and Fish illustrated by Neil Curtis and written by Joan Grant

Cat and Fish are unlikely friends. This book describes how their relationship begins in sweet words and stunningly beautiful images. I wish I had created these images. I've held on to this gorgeous book from the library for far too long.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Crazy Hair by Gaiman and McKean

My daughter worried this one would be too scary too. It depends on your perspective. The artwork combines images of real hair with drawings, and I dig it. The words are a sort of rhyme poem. The story is ... unusual. Unusual enough that I both want to blog about it, but also don't want to give it away.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil Ering

Initially, I was drawn to the art, and my daughter was turned off by it. She was afraid the story would be scary. When she finally let me read it to her, she told me she had looked at it on her own and realized that it isn't scary. The artwork is dark and weird. The words displayed in odd lettering. It is the story of a little boy seeking treasures in Cementland. I am always a little sensitive about cities being depicted as bleek, but sometimes they are. I agree with the book about the goodness of friendship and plants.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Wild Berries by Julie Flett

This is another just beautiful book where the artwork takes my breath away. A little boy and his grandma pick berries in the forest. Some words are also provided in the Cree language.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Molly Who Flew Away by Valeri Gorbachev

For us, this books has a few winning points: friends, fun, yellow balloon.... It's just a good fit for us. We like it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Billy's Bucket by Kes Gray

Billy requests the unusual gift of a bucket. At first his parents don't take him seriously. But eventually they agree to get him one. The bucket turns out to have magical powers, and of course the parents don't take it seriously at first... until it becomes a crisis.

I don't know what to think about stories where parents are dismissive of their kids. Parenting is hard work, and we all need to be respectful of each other. If my daughter told me not to borrow her bucket... well, first I would ask her to say it in a nicer way. Then I would probably respect that request.  There's a nuance to this issue that I'm struggling to get my mind around. But I do like the ecological subtext of this story -- I won't tell you what it is and give it away.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Giant Hug by Sandra Horning

We recently went to the Riot Grrrl exhibit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. In it, Miranda July posted to send a personal interaction, through others, to a designated person elsewhere. I don't know which came first -- The Giant Hug was published in 2005. A little pig sends a hug through the USPS to his grandma. The postal workers each hug each other along the way, and it involves a lot of links in the chain getting to grandma.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Construction Kitties by Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges

My daughter loves this book; so, I feel compelled to list it here even when I don't completely understand her feelings. It's a nice book. Some kitty construction workers construct a playground together. Cute, right? She slept with the book for a month she loved it so much.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Willoughby by Greg Foley

We recently took the two Willoughby books from the library:
Willoughby and the Moon
Willoughby and the Lion
and completely loved them both. One thing about children's books that has struck me is what a wonderful way they are for artists to share their creative visions with the public. These books are perfect examples of that. They are BEAUTIFUL and they have wonderful, sweet stories too -- about true friends and being afraid of the dark. It's no surprise the author went to RISD.