Monthly Archives: June 2013

Friday Favorite- I Dare You Not to Yawn



There’s been alot of yawning this week as my schedule has amped up a little, trying to juggle more work hours, more projects, time with family, time with friends, and of course, time to read. I Dare You Not to Yawn by Canadian author Helene Boudreau is the perfect antidote to a tiring week. It’s an entertaining story all parents and kids can relate to.

The narrator is an articulate little boy who knows if he yawns he’ll have to go to bed, and it’s clear he’s had plenty of practice with stalling. He describes what happens after yawning: “Next thing you know, you’re being sent upstairs to get your pajamas on! Pajamas lead to bedtime stories. Bedtime stories lead to sleepy-time songs. And sleepy-time songs lead to good-night hugs and kisses. Before you know it, you’re tucked into bed, snug as a bug, and wondering…”How did I get here?” The full circle reasoning here is similar to Laura Numeroff’s popular “If You Give A Mouse” series.

He shares this advice:
“Stay away from huggable stuffed animals, soft cozy pajamas, and your favorite blankie…Avoid bedtime stories about sleepy baby animals like tiger cubs arching their backs in one last stretch…Don’t sing sleepy-time songs about twinkling stars or baaing sheep…And WHATEVER YOU DO, don’t think of droopy-eyed baby orangutans holding their long arms out for a hug from their mamas…their little mouths forming perfect o’s–oh…oh…oh!”

Dubbed a “cautionary fable”, this is a creative and hilarious new picture book. The lively illustrations by Serge Bloch are expressive, cartoonish and bold. The author uses language (“rawr”, “baaa”, “ohhh”) to play with the contagious nature of yawning; in an interview, she discusses the writing process and how she purposely chose words to force a yawn reflex while reading aloud. I can’t wait to feature this one in a preschool or family story time. It’s my new favorite- a story that gives us a great excuse to stay up an extra ten minutes to read, then say ‘goodnight’ with grins on our faces.


Friday Favorite- Jamberry

JamberryJamberry by Bruce Degen is a perfect story for summer and one of my favorite books in general.

Reading Rockets, a reading website, has a great interview with Degen. He grew up in the city but spent summers in rural upstate New York where he picked wild berries with his grandparents. Later, as an adult, he and his wife took their two sons berry picking. He dedicates the book to “my special Berry Picker and the two Little Berries” which makes it even more special.

Degen describes the experience that inspired this book: “It was green. It was soft. You could walk around in bare feet, and we used to go out and pick lots of berries that grew wild. I always thought of the world as being particularly generous and joyful. And when I was searching my memories, trying to write a book for very young children about being joyful, that popped right up…So, I wrote this whole story about berries, and it turned out that I was writing too much. And a very good editor said to me, “Why don’t you just focus on the berries?” I took the names of the berries, and I just started making silly rhymes that go along with the name of the berries: oneberry, twoberry, hatberry, shoeberry, canoeberry. And I wrote this nonsense poem, which was a lot of fun. The writing comes first. Then I had to illustrate this nonsense poem, and the illustrations give it kind of a rationale. You take a nonsense poem and you illustrate it, and it seems like, “Oh, yeah. That could happen.”

Jamberry will make you want to grab a few containers and find the nearest place to go berry-picking. It is geared towards all ages and is available in board book, picture book, and audio formats. It’s rich in vocabulary (although some is made-up but there’s plenty here for the youngest of readers to absorb) and promotes phonological awareness with its wonderfully rhyming text.

Here are some ideas for extending this story to enhance those early literacy skills:

-act it out with using props around the house or flannel/paper cut-outs

-think of words that rhyme with berry, or make up your own silly “berry” language putting different names in front of berry (bathberry, momberry, etc)

-do this Jamberry activity to learn about compound words

-look closely at the illustrations and name the other food and types of hats found in the book

-tell and/or write a story about a favorite summer activity or your own berry adventure

-schedule a berry-picking outing or visit your grocery store and talk about the types of berries

-buy different flavored jams and do a “taste-testing”

-find a good recipe and bake a berry cobbler or pie

-form your own “Berry Band” with silly costumes and musical instruments

-read other stories: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, Sweet Strawberries by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood, The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord, The Berry Book by Gail Gibbons, Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, and Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Julie Andrews- acting, singing…and children’s books?

I grew up loving Julie Andrews. Let me just get that out of the way. The Sound of Music is one of my favorite films, and I may even own a Sound of Music piano book. And though I’m not a huge fan of the film Mary Poppins, I can appreciate it. Julie Andrews is not only a British icon, but a huge reader and book lover. I also love poetry (Hello, 811’s!). So when I saw Julie Andrews’ Treasury for All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year, selected by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton I had to check it out.

The book is divided into sections by Seasons, and then by months, with an additional section for special occasions like new babies and birthdays. It includes poetry from a wide variety of writers- Emily Dickinson, John Updike, Rupert S. Holland, Jack Prelutsky, and more. The index in the back is helpful because it lists the poems by holiday. The illustrations are delightful; vibrant, flowing paintings by Marjorie Priceman frame the words, making you want to linger on each page a little longer. This is a book for all ages, as various age groups will appreciate different poems about different topics. It has something for everyone. This collection is a treasure, unlike her Dumpy the Dump Truck books which I just can’t seem to get through without yawning. Some of my favorites include:

Emily Dickinson’s poem “Bee, I’m expecting you!” on page 71.

“Good Hot Dogs” by Sandra Cisneros on page 116- This one makes me hungry every time.

“little tree” by e.e. cummings p.150

On page 101, there is a wonderful poem called “Reading: Summer” by Myra Cohn Livingston

I love that she included a Joy Harjo poem, called “Remember” which concludes like this:
Remember you are all people and that all people are you.
Remember that all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
(p. 91)

Spending the Day with Daddy!


During work on the reference desk this week, I discovered a couple picture books that focus on young boys and daddies (I have two young boys so I tend to gravitate toward these, but there are many other books about daddies and daughters–“Baby Dance” by Ann Taylor is one of my favorites).

Kevin and His Dad” by Irene Smalls and “I Am a Backhoe” by Anna Grossnickle Hines are very different but both reflect a special relationship between father and son by showing favorite activities enjoyed together.

Kevin tells us all about his day with Dad: “On Saturday, with Mom away, Dad and I work–then we play. First we take the vacuum and railroad the rugs- choo, choo, coming through! I love cleaning up with you” They end the day with seeing a movie and getting a snack before walking home, hand in hand.

The illustrations by Michael Hays are colorful and warm, and the text has wonderful rhyming and rhythm- “We clean, clean, clean the clothes. Hurry, hurry, hurry–shake a leg. Last one done is a rotten egg!” This book is great for preschool, kindergarten and beyond.


The second book “I Am a Backhoe” by Hines is also told from the perspective of a little boy, but he is pretending to be various construction vehicles, such as a backhoe, bulldozer and flatbed truck. There are wonderful actions throughout that accompany his pretend play- “I stretch my arms into the sky, way up high. Bend, hook, lift. Swooooshhhh. Swing. Drop. I am…a crane truck”

This book requires active participation between reader and audience as you make the sounds and turn the page to discover which machine the boy is pretending to be. In the final pages, we discover the boy’s father is in the room playing along, reading a truck book with his son. The illustrations, also by Hines, are big, bold, and vibrant. This one is great for phonological awareness and vocabulary with pre-readers, and is perfect for ages 2 and up (a shout-out to my coworker Jenny for showing me this one! Thank you!)

Friday Favorite: Ziggy Marley



The Fall-like weather is really getting me down this week- how about you? I know that summer in Portland doesn’t really start until July, but C’mon, SUNSHINE! One of the things that makes the rain bearable for me is music. When we’re cooped up inside staring at a downpour out our windows, my boys and I get movin’ to music in our living room. The album I want to feature today comes from the son of a famous musician, and it’s always a mood-booster for my family.

Ziggy Marley is the eldest son of reggae musician Bob Marley, and a father of six children. He was born in 1968 in Jamaica and began his musical career playing with his father and his siblings on “Children Playing in the Streets” in 1979. The siblings became known as Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers and they released several successful albums together. Ziggy later began his solo career and his album “Love Is My Religion” won a Grammy for “Best Reggae Album” in 2007.

Ziggy Marley’s “Family Time” is one of my favorite family albums and perfect for rainy days, sunny days, and all the other days between. Released in 2009, it won a Grammy for “Best Musical Album for Children” a year later. It features over ten songs and contributions from musicians such as Elizabeth Mitchell, Jack Johnson, Paul Simon, and Willie Nelson. The title track, “Family Time” begins with “Lift up your hearts with a smile, Lift up your feet with a dance, Lift up your spirits with a song, It’s family time,” and the whole album carries that warm and loving vibe throughout. One of my favorite songs is “Cry, Cry, Cry” and though the theme of early morning crying will be very familiar to parents of young children, it’s told from the child’s perspective: “Wake you up at 5 am, Before the sunrise I’ll be your friend, and you know I don’t like for you to take too long, Just come running when you hear this song, I’m gonna cry, cry, cry, Set the children free” The song “I Love You Too” is a love letter from parent to child, or child to parent, and is absolutely beautiful. Inspired by his 3 year old daughter, it has been recently published as a children’s book this year. I could mention other favorites from this album, but each and every song is catchy and dance-able and both musically and lyrically lovely. Rain or shine, this is one you’ll want to add to your personal music collection and treasure over and over.

Want to check out a live performance? Ziggy and his band will be in Oregon the end of this month, performing on Sunday, June 30th at an Oregon Summer Zoo Concert — based on his performance last year, it should be a family friendly, relaxing event!