Month: November 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Glamourpuss!

Perfect Picture Book Friday looks at, Glamourpuss, by Sarah Weeks. Having grown up with cats, (cats we assumed were all girls and thus named appropriately until…the fated trip to the vet when we were told we had boys in need of quick name changes…) I couldn’t resist this wonderful book. Although none of my cats worshiped themselves to the degree Glamourpuss does in this charming fairytale-esque story, they all came quite dangerously close.

Title – Glamourpuss

Written by- Sarah Weeks

*Illustrated by- David Small

*Published by- Scholastic Press – 2015

*Suitable for ages – 4  – 7 (but I think this is a book for all ages.)

*Topics/theme – friendship, jealousy, and compassion

*Opening – Once upon a pillow sat a glamorous cat named Glamourpuss.

Jacket copy  –Glamourpuss loves being the center of attention. So when an unwelcome guest (a dog, no less!) steals the spotlight with some tasteless bow-wowing and undignified tail-wagging, Glamourpuss worries that she’s going to fall out of fashion.  Is there room for only one superstar in this mansion? When Glamourpuss makes her most majestic move to find out, the result is pure purrfection.

Kirkus Review – A lighthearted twist on the traditional antagonism between cats and dogs takes place in an over-the-top upper-crust world.

Weeks includes several nods to fairy-tale conventions in her slyly amusing text. The saga begins “Once upon a pillow,” and the eponymous heroine turns to her mirror for confirmation that she is the “most glamorous of all.” Meanwhile, classic films are clearly the inspiration for Small. Created with ink, watercolor, pastel and collage, illustrations include a flat-screen TV showing Theda Bara as Cleopatra, a scrawny Chihuahua with Shirley Temple, Carmen Miranda and Scarlett O’Hara costumes, and a setting that evokes the glamour of old Hollywood. Bluebelle, the dog, is a visitor in the home of Glamourpuss’ owners and, in the cat’s eyes at least, a rival for their affections. Well-pleased with her luxurious lifestyle, cheerfully cataloged in scratchy, energetic artwork, Glamourpuss tries her best to sabotage Bluebelle. While her efforts don’t pan out, and the dog definitely has her day, young listeners will likely be pleased with the (not entirely) unexpected rapprochement between the two pets.

Sophisticated vocabulary and pop-culture references may well fly over the heads of children, making this fizzy, exuberant entertainment a treat that is best shared by an adult with a penchant for screwball comedy. (Picture book. 4-7)

Why do I like this book? The marriage of text and illustration is purrr-fection. The story opens with the introduction of an excessively pampered cat who thinks quite highly of herself. Children will learn new vocabulary words with ease as they are clearly and humorously defined both through text and illustration.  The illustrations offer a wealth of details to keep young listeners entertained as they endure  the frustration Glamourpuss feels when a talented dog in tacky clothes comes to visit. Enter…Bluebell. Upon discovering that Bluebell despises entertaining and parading about in ridiculous outfits, Glamourpuss steps in to offer a few lessons of her own, helping Bluebell become the kind of dog she deserves and wants to be, thus creating a lasting friendship.

Author – Visit Sarah Weeks here.

Illustrator – Visit David Small here. 

Interview with Sarah Weeks about Glamourpuss here.

Lear to draw a cat for children here.

Perfect Picture Book Friday looks at 'Extra Yarn'

Extra YarnPerfect Picture Book Friday looks at the Caldecott Honor book, Extra Yarn, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen. And, as a fun addition, I have included a link at the end of this post to help you learn to knit as well as a link that teaches you to make a fun DIY yarn bowl.

When I was twelve, my mother decided I was old enough to learn how to knit. After receiving a marvelous wardrobe of patterned ski sweaters, pants, and jackets for my Barbie dolls over the years, I was eager to learn at my mother’s side. I watched as she quickly cast on. Her fingers did what I fondly refer to in knitting as ‘the dance’. The yarn moved slowly, smoothly, and steadily over her fingers as the piece grew longer and longer. When it was my turn, I took the knitting needles in hand and created something quite extraordinary. I made a creation that fell somewhere between a cobweb and a hairball. Mom gave up and I returned to sewing, a skill I had far greater success with.

As the years passed, and I grew up and married, I came by a yarn shop with a poster in the window, advertising their Saturday Afternoon Knitting Class. I decided to give knitting another chance. Since the teacher would be paid to teach me, maybe she’d have more patience…

The process was different from my mother’s. I learned there are many ways to knit, and the method taught in this class made sense to me. Before long, I had knit scarves for the family, knit and felted purses and house slippers and stuffed animals. My husband, who often sat beside me, watching as I knit, surprised me one day.

“I’ve been watching you,” he said. “And I think I know how to knit.”

“Sweetheart,” I said, “don’t get discouraged if your first attempts look like a cross between a cobweb and a hairball.” I gave him yarn and a set of knitting needles. Sure enough, he cast on like a pro. Before the week was out, my darling husband had knit himself a beautiful scarf. Then he went on the learn how to make those challenging cable knits and tackled a sweater!

All this talk of knitting leads me to the lovely picture book I’d like to share with you this Friday.

Title – Extra Yarn

Written by- Mac Barnett

*Illustrated by- Jon Klassen

*Published by- Balzer + Bray,  2012

*Suitable for ages – 4  – 8

*Topics/theme – Sharing and friendship

*Opening – On a cold afternoon, in a cold little town, where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys, Annabelle found a box filled with yarn of every color.

Summary  – With a supply of yarn that never runs out, Annabelle knits for everyone and everything in town until an evil archduke decides he wants the yarn for himself.

Synopsis from Amazon – Extra Yarn, a Caldecott Honor Book, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, and a New York Times bestseller. It is the story of how a young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community.

With spare, gently humorous illustrations and a palette that moves from black-and-white to a range of color, this modern fairy tale has the feel of a new classic.

Why do I like this book? Annabelle finds a box filled with yarn and sets out to knit herself a sweater, and because she has yarn left… she knits a sweater for her dog, too. But when people see her creations, they laugh and tease. Instead of feeling discouraged, Annabelle performs a most wonderful and unexpected act of kindness… She knits sweaters for those people, too. And…because she still has more yarn left…Anabelle warms her town in cozy sweaters–literally. I won’t spoil the ending, but let me say that Annabelle loves her yarn and all she can do with it sooo much that she wouldn’t part with it for two million dollars. That’s love!

Author – Visit Mac Barnett’s web page here.

Illustrator – Visit Jon Klassen’s here.

Learn how to knit here.

Now for a fun DIY project you can do with children. Make a fun, usable yarn bowl with children. Instructions here

To find other perfect picture books please visit Susanna Hills blog.

If, after reading this book, you are wondering what else Annabelle could have made with her yarn, as children for their thoughts. Their answers are guaranteed to surprise and delight you.

Perfect Picture Book Friday looks at 'Sharing The Bread'

sharing the bread

For this Perfect Picture Book Friday, I’d like to visit a marvelous Thanksgiving book by Pat Zietlow Miller. Sharing The Bread.

Thanksgiving has long been one of my most favorite holidays. In many ways, it’s much like Christmas–minus the gifts. It’s a time when family and loved ones come together to enjoy each other’s company over a lovingly prepared meal which has completely filled the house with a myriad of delicious, nose-tickling, heart-happy smells. And with Thanksgiving so near, I felt it the perfect timing to share my new favorite picture book (in plenty of time to buy a copy to share on Thanksgiving with your family).  And…if you read down to the bottom of this post, I will share one more fitting addition to Thanksgiving…. My best ever, totally yummy, pass me another heaping spoonful, cranberry cherry sauce.  But first…. Sharing The Bread.

Title – Sharing The Bread – An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story

Written by- Pat Zietlow Miller

*Illustrated by- Jill McElmurry

*Published by- Schwartz & Wade Books – New York – 2015

*Suitable for ages – 4  – 8 (That’s what the jacket flap says, but personally, I think they could say this book is suitable for ages 4 – 100.)

*Topics/theme – Family. Togetherness. Holidays.

*Opening – Mama, fetch the cooking pot. Fetch our turkey-cooking pot. Big and old and black and squat. Mama, fetch the pot.

Jacket Flap Copy – Journey back to nineteenth-century America and watch a family prepare a delicious Thanksgiving feast together–one that’s not so very different from what we eat today. Here’s a mouth-watering read-aloud filled with spirit and perfect for families to share.

Why do I like this book? The rhymes are not only fun to read aloud but easily pulled me into a cozy, nineteenth century home with warm, welcoming hands. Page after page, as the family works together to make the day special, I could smell the turkey baking in the large cast iron stove, I longed to dip my spoon into the sweet cranberry sauce, bubbling in a pot, and I wanted to pull my chair close to the dinner table and share bread with this family that loves Thanksgiving traditions as much as I do.

Pat Zietlow Miller’s carefully chosen words combined with Jill McElmurry’s talented, Americana illustrations come together to create a Thanksgiving book no home should be without this holiday season.

Author – Visit Pat Zietlow Miller’s web page here.

Illustrator – Visit Jill McElmurry’s web page here.

Learn about the history of Thanksgiving along with classroom and art projects here.

To find other perfect picture books please visit Susanna Hills blog.

A writer’s prompt:  Set a timer for 5 minutes and without stopping, describe what a perfect Thanksgiving would be like.

And now…for the cranberry sauce recipe I promised you!  Brace yourself, this gets a little boozy, but because you’re going to boil it, the alcohol goes away (darn), and the flavor stays (yippie).

Traditionally, most families cook cranberries with water and sugar. In my recipe, the only ingredient in common is cranberries. That’s right, zero water and zero white sugar. Are you ready for this?

Leslie’s Totally Yummy, Pass Me Another Heaping Spoonful, Holiday Cranberry Cherry Sauce

(It’s a long title, but once you taste it, I hope you’ll agree.)

illustration by Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

illustration by Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

1 bag of fresh, washed cranberries (not canned).

1 bag of pitted, frozen cherries (fresh cherries are nearly impossible to get at this time year)

1 cup of real maple syrup (no imitation syrups, please – maple syrup adds a cozy flavor that surpasses white sugar)

1/2 cup of brandy (Yes, you read that right, and don’t worry about the alcohol getting your family tipsy, when it’s boiled, the alcohol disappears and the flavor is left behind.)

Place all ingredients in a pot and stir while ingredients boil until the cranberries have popped. Then you can pour the sauce into a large serving dish. I make the sauce the day before Thanksgiving to give it a chance to thicken up slightly in the refrigerator. Since the year I substituted brandy for water and maple syrup for white sugar, we’ve never had leftover cranberry sauce.

Do you have a memorable Thanksgiving you’d like to share?