Friday Favorite: B is for Bear- A Natural Alphabet

B is for BearPapercut artist Hannah Viano has another beautiful alphabet book publishing this month, and I recently received a promotional copy to review. (I previously reviewed “S is for Salmon: A Pacific Northwest Alphabet” here).

I usually don’t pay much attention to book dedications…unless they are as striking as this one. Viano’s book is dedicated “to all of those who let children run a little wild, climbing trees and splashing in puddles. It is worth all the laundry and lost mittens”.  With that statement, we turn the page to find the first letter, “A” for Acorn. This seems like a perfect intro for little readers and nature lovers, especially right now as my preschooler is coming home with pockets full of acorns he collects in the yard and on our neighborhood rambles.

O is for Otter

Each image is a work of art, at times reflecting movement and at other moments, still beauty. These mesmerizing images are “cut from black paper with an X-ACTO knife and soft colors are added digitally”. Each letter is accompanied by a short description or interesting fact. Some of them will be familiar, such as “G- Grass”; “M-Mountain”; “W- Wave”; but others will invite further investigation, such as “E- Egret”; “H- Herring”, “Y- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker”. I love that she chooses “K is for Kids” with this description: “What is another creature that belongs outdoors? KIDS!” Yes.  Our children need nature.  In today’s struggle to get kids regular outdoor time for unstructured play and exploration, this is a great reminder. Finally, she urges the reader to “dream of all the things that you must go investigate”- a perfect message for anyone who’s curious about the natural world whether you’re 3 or 93.

I highly recommend adding this title to your bookshelf.

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Friday Favorite: Laurie Berkner’s Ultimate Collection

Ultimate-Cover-Art-FINAL-980x856Laurie Berkner band

(Disclaimer: I received a promotional copy of this album for review)

Those of you familiar with Laurie Berkner’s music won’t be surprised to hear that her new album is full of lively, danceable music. I dare you to listen and try to sit still. Laurie Berkner has been described as “the undisputed queen of kindie rock” by USA Today. The Ultimate Laurie Berkner Band Collection, released last month, is a compilation of greatest hits and fan favorites from six previous albums.  She says the new album consists of songs “I’ve been requested to play over and over through the years and are classics at my concerts”. Berkner is very gifted at lyrically capturing kids’ interests through music; families, bugs, making messes, and driving cars are some themes you’ll find in this fun collection. Many of her songs encourage young kids to play with their imaginations, whether it’s riding in an airplane (The Airplane Song #9), reading a book with a purple dinosaur inside (These Are My Glasses #13), or trying to track down a missing birthday cake (Where is the Cake? #3) . Some of the tracks focus on movement. A song called “My Energy” (#8) declares “this is me, this is me and my energy…I’m gonna wiggle my legs, I’m gonna click my heels, I’m gonna stomp my feet, because I have energy!” Another song, “Shake Your Body Down” (#17) asks “Do you wanna to play a game?…Stand up tall…move from side to side…make your body wide…shake your body down, shake it up and down, shake, shake, shake it up and down!” These would work well in a music and movement themed storytime program. Three “never before released” bonus tracks complete the album with a total playing time just under an hour. I recommend The Ultimate Laurie Berkner Band Collection for both long-time fans and those who are just getting familiar with good kids music. I also recommend her previous album from 2010, The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band. I’m looking forward to seeing more from her soon.

Friday Favorite: The Perfect Quirk album

perfect quirk(Disclaimer: I received a promotional copy of this album for review.)

Described as his “quirkiest album yet” Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s latest album, The Perfect Quirk, is a family hip-hop album perfect for tweens. The feel-good, danceable mix of songs will appeal to kids and parents who are looking for good music packed with positive messages for kids (especially those not yet ready to embrace mainstream hip hop and rap music).

These tracks are all about familiar “kid” experiences, from imaginary friends and pillow fights to more serious issues like TV addiction. The song “Unwind” is one of my favorites, evoking memories of carefree summers spent with friends, exploring nature (“sky got more colors than a bug’s eye”) and playing games. Several tunes, “Pointed Back” and “Guess What” have lessons about making mistakes and being proud of yourself. This is an album worth checking out.

Friday Favorite: Larry Gets Lost by John Skewes

pdxabccovA while ago, Sasquatch books sent me copies of Portland ABC: A Larry Gets Lost book, written and illustrated by John Skewes as well as Larry Loves Portland in board book format. Both books feature an adorable brown puppy named Larry who explores the city and introduces young readers to all the important sights (the Willamette River, various bridges, the Rose Garden, Union Station, even Voodoo Doughnuts). Each story is a colorful delight with “retro-inspired” illustrations. The alphabet book has clear, bold letters, making it attractive to preschoolers. These books offer a fun, interesting way to introduce geography to kids, and they would be a special souvenir for children who are visiting Portland, or a unique book in your child’s collection.

If you happen to reside elsewhere, there may be a “Larry Gets Lost” or “Larry Loves” book featuring your own city or state. See the website for more info and additional resources, such as an activity kit and teacher guide.

Favorite Finds: Kids Book Storage

Hi, I’m here. I’ve missed you. It’s good to be back after a nice long spring break. And how time is flying- I keep meaning to blog more and the ideas are piling up in my head but life keeps pressing down on the accelerator pedal with little chance of letting up. So anyway….

I’m a firm believer in making books part of your child’s environment, no matter where they choose to play. Here are a couple of playful book-related storage accessories for kids that are fun, good quality, and will jazz up any young reader’s room (or living room, or wherever they choose to store stories).

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First, the P’kolino Book Buggee: it’s part toy and part storage- I love that it holds books and other prized possessions like my child’s favorite stuffed tiger, and his beloved Hot Wheels. There are four slots to hold bigger board books or picture books and it’s lightweight with a pull cord, so it’s easily transported to other rooms. It comes in a variety of colors and styles, and prices vary depending on where you purchase (I found mine recently at Target for $24.99 with just two color choices, purple and blue).

Second, The Hungry Caterpillar wooden bookends by Kids Preferred: I have a thing for Eric Carle, and one of my kids rooms already has a little theme going so these were a perfect addition (see photos below, the wall canvas is from Target and the alphabet flashcards can be purchased at a variety of places). They are lightweight, so if you’re looking for a heavier set of bookends that stay in one place and hold a bunch of big books, you won’t be happy with these; however since my 2+ year old is likely to move and throw anything he can reach, I wanted something that’s unlikely to cause injury or damage. He still has a fairly big collection of board books, and these work well for that format. (Available on Amazon for $25-30, but I found them at HomeGoods for $12.99 for the set).

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Do you have favorite storage items for your kids books? I’d love to hear from you!