Recent Readaloud: Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the PoohWinnie-the-PoohWinnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest Shepard by A. A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest Shepard

My Sonlight Core includes the second Winnie-the-Pooh book, The House at Pooh CornerThe House at Pooh Corner (Winnie-the-Pooh) by A. A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard, but not the first one*. So I added it myself, especially since we’re not having any trouble keeping ahead of the schedule as far as readalouds goes.

I was surprised to discover how familiar the stories in this book were. I’ve seen some of Disney’s version of Winnie-the-Pooh, and I’d assumed they’d taken a lot of liberties and just used the characters and made up the adventures. At least with the first book, I recognized many (most?) of the events. How unexpected, and how fun!

The illustrations are lovely, and added to the gentle feel of the stories. This would work well as an early chapter book, especially since each chapter stands alone.

Highly recommended, although I have trouble imagining that that’s a surprise to anyone, it’s such a classic.

My verdict:
So much fun. I loved the illustrations, and I loved the familiar stories.

The kids’ verdict:
They loved it!

Publisher’s Description:
More than sixty years ago, Christopher Robin took his friend Edward Bear—who came to be known to millions as Winnie-the-Pooh—by one chubby paw and brought him unceremoniously downstairs. Pooh has endured, still slightly rotund, a Bear of Very Little Brain, but very generous of heart: the immortal creation of A. A. Milne, who wrote this book for his only son, Christopher Robin, and Ernest H. Shepard, who lovingly gave Pooh and his companions shape.

The adventures of Pooh and Piglet, Owl, Tigger, and the ever doleful Eeyore, are timeless treasures of childhood. These tales still speak to all of us with the freshness that distinguishes true storytelling.

Book Details

Title: Winnie-the-PoohWinnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest Shepard
Author: A. A. Milne, illustrations by Ernest Shepard
Category: Children’s Fiction

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

* And it looks like the 2015 catalog has swapped out The House at Pooh CornerThe House at Pooh Corner (Winnie-the-Pooh) by A. A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard for Winnie-the-PoohWinnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest Shepard. So now it does have the first book, instead of the second one. No idea why they originally included the second one, but it does seem to make more sense to have the first included. Perhaps it’s because Tigger doesn’t appear until the second book? And the website still shows book #2 as being in the core, but my new catalog shows book #1, so I think they haven’t gotten around to updating their website. 🙂

Recent Readaloud: Surprise Island

Surprise IslandSurprise IslandSurprise Island (The Boxcar Children Mysteries #2) by Gertrude Chandler Warner by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Boxcar Children was the first true chapter book that kept my children’s attention and interest, and we’ve since read it through several more times. Enough times that I was ready to move on from it, and maybe try an additional title from the series. Perhaps continuing with the same four children would keep my son happy, and something new would keep me from having to reread that exact same book.

Up next in the series was Surprise Island. Touted as having a mystery, I was skeptical. As I should have been – perhaps for the kids it’s targeted towards might be surprised by some of the events, but I can’t imagine any adult would be.

My verdict:
It’s fine. It’s not one I’d recommend an adult reading for their own entertainment, but as a readaloud for kids somewhat new to chapter books it works.

The kids’ verdict:
Not as awesome as the first, but after finishing the last chapter my son immediately requested that I read it again, so it was still a hit.

And, if it sounds like I’m too harsh on these books, I’m not really feeling that harsh towards them. I’m going to get the third book in the series too – my kids like them, and they’re still not quite ready for me to read just any chapter book. These are working nicely to help develop their listening skills.

Publisher’s Description:
Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny used to live alone in a boxcar. Now they have a home with their grandfather and are spending the summer on their own private island.

There’s a mysterious stranger on the island who must keep his identity a secret. And that’s not the only surprise in store for the Boxcar Children on Surprise Island

Book Details

Title: Surprise Island Surprise Island (The Boxcar Children Mysteries #2) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Author: Gertrude Chandler Warner
Category: Children’s Fiction

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Recent Readaloud: Jenny and the Cat Club

Jenny and the Cat ClubJenny and the Cat Club: A Collection of Favorite Stories about Jenny LinskyJenny and the Cat Club: A Collection of Favorite Stories about Jenny Linsky (New York Review Children's Collection) by Esther Averill by Esther Averill

My verdict:
Very sweet and gentle stories. They worked well as a read-aloud for newer listeners as each chapter stands on its own. While the stories do build on each other a bit, it’s not a true chapter book requiring the same sort of attention to an overall narrative. I’ll look for more at the library, but wouldn’t go out of my way to track them down if my library doesn’t have additional tales featuring Jenny Linsky.

The kids’ verdict:
They liked it but didn’t love it. The last chapter was definitely their least favorite, but until that one they’d asked for more after completing each chapter. It did get them both talking about the book and events that take place in it – they were very interested in a couple of Jenny’s exploits in particular, like leading the cat parade. [Read more…]

Recent Readaloud: Dinosaur Trouble

Dinosaur TroubleDinosaur TroubleDinosaur Trouble by Dick King-Smith, illustrated by Nick Bruel by Dick King-Smith, illustrated by Nick Bruel

I grabbed this because of the author – Dick King-Smith has written lots of books that I’m seeing listed as good readalouds for younger kids. My son chose to listen to this one instead of his more famous title, BabeBabe: The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith, because of the dinosaurs on the cover. DINOSAURS!

My verdict:
It’s not one I’d recommend if you’re new to reading aloud. Or maybe it was just that I don’t know my dinosaur names well enough and so I felt like I was always stumbling over pronunciations. The mom pterodactyl also has an extensive vocabulary, and for some of her dialogue I was also guessing at how to say things. I know what the words mean, but I don’t necessarily know how they’re pronounced.

I’d also caution you depending on your family standards for readalouds. This one talks about poop/pooping a tiny bit, and dinosaurs being killed and eaten. I was a bit caught off guard by the poop talk, and tried to skim over it as my son is just hitting that stage where anything like that is HILARIOUS and I was attempting to fend off an afternoon of giggles and repeating the sentences that made him laugh. The mentions of the dinosaurs being eaten didn’t phase my two, nor did the talk about other dinosaurs being killed by the book’s antagonist: the dreaded T. Rex. Apparently my kids are not especially sensitive. 😉

My other big issue with the book is how the dad pterodactyl is portrayed as so dumb, especially in contrast to the mom who is so smart. Why can’t both of the parents be smart, and let mom skip the snide asides about how dense the big guy is? That all went over my kids heads as well fortunately.

The illustrations are nice and fit the overall feel of the book well. There are lots of them scattered throughout the text – not quite on every page, but close, and my kids enjoyed looking at all of them.

The appropriate age range for this book is hard for me to peg. In many ways I think it’d be better as a reader instead of a readaloud, but it’s not ideal because of some of the vocabulary choices. They’re all defined, but even reading them initially I can see being a challenge for less confident readers. I think it could work for kids ready to move beyond the earliest of chapter books if the content issues aren’t a concern.

And, a big spoiler to the end if your kids are sensitive: Highlight the area below to see the hidden text, but it does give away the ending to the book.

In their attempt to scare the T. Rex so he’ll go away and not be a threat to the young apatosaurus any longer, they end up killing the T. Rex instead of simply frightening him. It’s not glossed over or hinted at either – he’s definitely dead, and the little apotosaurus and pterodactyl know that. My kids were not bothered at all by this, but I can easily see it being an issue for others.

The kids’ verdict:
It was fine. They weren’t crazy about it, but they listened to the end as they wanted to know what would happen. They didn’t ask for me to repeat it after completing it, which they definitely do for books they like more.

[Read more…]

Recent Readaloud: The Boxcar Children

The Boxcar ChildrenThe Boxcar ChildrenThe Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, No. 1) (Boxcar Children Mysteries) by Gertrude Chandler Warner by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Reading true chapter books to my kids has been a work in progress. We’ve read longer picture books. We’ve read some beginning chapter books (Bink & Gollie and Mercy Watson were favorites). But a true chapter book, without pictures on every page? Not so successful.

So I did lots of browsing and found various book lists with suggested titles to try. I put several on hold from the library, but before my next visit to pick them up, I had a night when I was on my own with the kids for the entire afternoon/evening and we had had a LONG day, and I was desperate for something new to try.

Enter The Boxcar ChildrenThe Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, No. 1) (Boxcar Children Mysteries) by Gertrude Chandler Warner, a title I found on many many many lists of suggested early chapter books. I hadn’t planned on reading it until we started Sonlight Core A (it’s one of the first readalouds in that Core), but see above paragraph about being desperate. I figure I can always swap something else (like a sequel) in where this one should have been.

As bad as the evening was going, trying the book couldn’t hurt after all, and just might help. I got the big kids pj’d and into bed, and told them I’d read as long as they were quiet. If they started fighting or yelling or otherwise misbehaving, the lights would go off and it’d be bedtime.

The threats might have been necessary for the start, but by the second page my son was HOOKED on the story. He kept begging for one more chapter, one more chapter. My daughter fell asleep somewhere during chapter 8, but G would have kept going until the book was over. My voice was giving out, and the baby needed to be fed and put to bed, so we called it quits after chapter 9.

And the success at listening to that one longer story has carried over – we’re currently reading The Milly-Molly-Mandy StorybookThe Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley, from Core P 4/5, and he’s happily paying attention to the story. He’s even asking for more of it (not quiet as enthusiastically as he asked for more Boxcar Children, but still.) And I’ve since picked up those library holds, so I’ve got 4 or 5 other titles to try with him. I’m excited to see what else we find that he might love!

My verdict:
I wouldn’t pick it up for myself (unlike some kids’ books), but it seems wrong to complain too much about that when it’s not written for me. 🙂

The kids’ verdict:
Love. Love love love love love. Well, for G anyway. H liked it but not with the same extreme enthusiasm as her brother – the difference between 5 and 3 perhaps? She did still listen to it all, except for when she fell asleep. 🙂

Publisher’s Description:
Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny, four orphaned brothers and sisters, suddenly appear in a small town. No one knows who these young wanderers are or where they have come from. Frightened to live with a grandfather they have never met, the children make a home for themselves in an abandoned red boxcar they discover in the woods. Henry, the oldest, goes to town to earn money and buy food and supplies.

Ambitious and resourceful, the plucky children make a happy life themselves–until Violet gets too sick for her brothers and sister to care for her.

This story will delight any child who has fantasized about being on his or her own and overcoming every obstacle.

Book Details

Title: The Boxcar ChildrenThe Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, No. 1) (Boxcar Children Mysteries) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Author: Gertrude Chandler Warner
Category: Children’s Fiction

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Recent Readaloud: Dinosaurs Before Dark

Dinosaurs Before DarkDinosaurs Before DarkDinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House, No. 1) by Mary Pope Osborne by Mary Pope Osbourne

I can’t remember if I found this on a list of recommended read-alouds, or if it was just that the author was familiar to me, or if someone recommended it specifically.

No matter how it came to my attention, I’m glad that the series did. While this entry in the series wasn’t the best fit for us (something about outer space would have likely been more appealing), the overall format seems like it’ll be a success, and it’s another good bridge between picture books and longer chapter books. This one is a chapter book, but the chapters are all short and there is one illustration for each chapter.

Anyone who has read it, does it make a difference if you read it in order, or can you skip around to pick titles covering specific topics? This one was the first in the series which is why I started with it, and if I was just going on content the next one I’d try would be #8.

My verdict:
It’s fine, but a different topic would probably interest my kids a bit more. Dinosaurs aren’t their favorite.

The kids’ verdict:
H liked the pictures, but got bored by the story. G liked the story, but it hasn’t been one that he’s desperate to have me reread again and again. [Read more…]

Recent Readaloud: Mr Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea

Mr Putter and Tabby Pour the TeaMr. Putter & Tabby Pour the TeaMr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea by Cynthia Rylant & Arthur Howard by Cynthia Rylant & Arthur Howard

Another readaloud recommended in the comments to a previous post (thank you Sarah!). This is a super gentle book with a much calmer pace than some of our other recent readalouds (such as Mercy Watson). I appreciated that, as it allowed me to pace myself and my voice, and time this one for winding-down periods, such as before quiet time. 🙂

My verdict:
Very sweet story, and charming illustrations. I’ll look for additional ones in the series at the library, as it’s a nice balance to some of the more frenetic books we also read. I’m looking at you, Mo Willems.

The kids’ verdict:
They liked it – not as enthusiastically as some others, but they’ve asked for it again a time or two, so it’s a success.

Publisher’s Description:
Mr. Putter is tired of living all alone, with no one to share his morning English muffins or his afternoon tea. He has many wonderful stories to tell, but no one to tell them to. What Mr. Putter needs is some good company. But good company is hard to find. This first adventure in award-winning author Cynthia Rylant’s popular series introduces readers to a pair of friends who are just perfect for each other.

Book Details

Title: Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the TeaMr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea by Cynthia Rylant & Arthur Howard
Author: Cynthia Rylant & Arthur Howard
Category: Children’s Fiction

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Recent Readaloud: Bink and Gollie

Bink & GollieBink and GollieBink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile

This would be an excellent bridge from picture books to chapter books. Technically, it’s a chapter book, but the three chapters are all short and quick to read, and every page includes great illustrations. Let’s just call it an “advanced picture book.” Or perhaps a “beginning chapter book.”

The characters are very cute, but not overly sweet and adorable. The depictions of friendship in all of its ups and downs served to lead to a discussion on getting along with your little sister/big brother. Don’t let that make you think the book only works as a teaching tool – not at all! I was perhaps just looking for any opportunity I could to reinforce some points on cooperation and kindness that day. 🙂

I’m looking for more Bink & Gollie (there are two more apparently), and to try more by McGhee. DiCamillo is already on my radar to look for everything she’s ever written, or else I’d be adding her titles to our reading list as well.

My verdict:
Two thumbs up!

The kids’ verdict:
They both loved it. Fun story line, fun illustrations = a big winner with my two.

Publisher’s Description:
Winner of the 2011 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award!

In a brilliant collaboration, best-selling authors Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, along with acclaimed illustrator Tony Fucile, introduce an outrageously funny pair of friends.

Meet Bink and Gollie, two precocious little girls — one tiny, one tall, and both utterly irrepressible. Setting out from their super-deluxe tree house and powered by plenty of peanut butter (for Bink) and pancakes (for Gollie), they share three comical adventures involving painfully bright socks, an impromptu trek to the Andes, and a most unlikely marvelous companion. No matter where their roller skates take them, at the end of the day they will always be the very best of friends. Full of quick-witted repartee, this brainchild of Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo and award-winning author Alison McGhee is a hilarious ode to exuberance and camaraderie, imagination and adventure, brought to life through the delightfully kinetic images of Tony Fucile.

Book Details

Title: Bink and GollieBink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile
Authors: Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile
Category: Children’s Fiction

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Recent Readaloud: Mercy Watson to the Rescue

Mercy Watson to the RescueMercy Watson to the RescueMercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Last month I wrote about a recent attempt at reading chapter books to my children, and their disinterest in the one I picked. In the comments to that post, I got two suggestions for other books to try, and I quickly put those books on hold at the library.

So, to Alison who recommended Mercy Watson? Thank you! What a fun story, and it kept their attention so well. Perhaps best of all, it’s opened up a slew of additonal books to read – there are six Mercy Watson titles published, and it’s reminded me to look at what else Kate DiCamillo has published.

My verdict:
Cute story, and great illustrations. Very readable!

The kids’ verdict:
They LOVED it. I thought we’d just read a few chapters at a time, but they demanded I continue each time I asked if they wanted me to stop. We finished the whole thing in one sitting, and H especially asks for it again regularly.

Publisher’s Description:
To Mr. and Mrs. Watson, Mercy is not just a pig — she’s a porcine wonder. And to the good-natured Mercy, the Watsons are an excellent source of buttered toast, not to mention that buttery-toasty feeling she gets when she snuggles into bed with them. This is not, however, so good for the Watsons’ bed. BOOM! CRACK!

Book Details

Title: Mercy Watson to the RescueMercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Author: Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Category: Children’s Fiction

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!