Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Read Aloud #61. Frog Went a Courtin'

Frog Went a Courtin' by John Langstaff
Illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky

Finished: Nov. 24, 2007
Reason for Reading: we "rowed" this using the homeschool share unit.
First Published: 1955
Awards: Caldecott Medal
Genre: picture book, folk song
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:
Frog went a courtin' he did ride.

Comments: Simply wonderful, timeless classic picture book. The text is from the traditional folk song and if you know the tune you will find yourself singing instead of reading this book. In fact, we borrowed a CD from the library with the song and have been singing ever since. Lots of fun! Rojankovsky's illustrations are amazing. I've always been fond of his work. He uses a colour palette consisting of the primary colours (red, yellow, blue) with some green and black. These bright bold pages are alternated with a more subdued green and black palette and the effect is marvelous. A wonderful book to experience!

In other reading news, Dad has been reading The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater which they both enjoyed.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Read Aloud #60 - The Story of Doctor Dolittle

The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Illustrated by Michael Hague
First of the Doctor Dolittle books

Pages: 159
Finished: Nov. 16, 2007
Reason for Reading: a favourite of my childhood, I hoped ds would enjoy it.
First Published: 1920
Genre: children animal fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

Once upon a time, many years ago -- when our grandfathers were little children -- there was a doctor; and his name was Dolittle -- John Dolittle, M.D.

Comments: Doctor Dolittle is an impoverished doctor who is very friendly with animals. After he gives up his human practice and becomes an animal doctor, he receives a cry for help from the monkeys of Africa who are experiencing an epidemic sickness. I have fond memories of reading all the Doctor Dolittle books as a child. This is my first time to re-read one and I was not disappointed. Lofting was a master storyteller and this book enchants from start to finish. Each chapter is packed with action, adventure and humour. There are many endearing animal characters, each with their own distinct personality. I loved Gub-Gub the pig who was frequently reduced to tears, while my 7yo loved Polynesia the wise and rather bossy parrot. This was a fun and quick book to read aloud and the 7yo enjoyed it immensely. The second book in the series has already been placed on our up-and-coming read-alouds pile.

We also finished another book in the Animal Behaviour series for our non-fiction reading. Animal Senses by Patricia Hickman. Here's my review I wrote for LibraryThing.

This is our favourite entry in the Animal Behaviour Series. There are many hands-on demonstrations (ie experiments) using simple items found around the house. (The only thing we had to buy was a party blower from the $ store.) Interesting text, colourful pictures and hands-on fun make for a enjoyable book that 7yo really enjoyed.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Read Aloud #58. Secret Seven on the Trail

Secret Seven on the Trail by Enid Blyton
Fourth in the Secret Seven mysteries

Pages: 88
Finished: Nov. 14, 2007
Reason for Reading: reading this series,in no particular order.
First Published: 1952
Genre: children mystery
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

"Mummy, have you got anything we could have to drink?" asked Janet.

Comments: The Secret Seven are on the trail of robbers. Goods are being stolen from trains and the Seven accidentally overhear as the gang of robbers plot their next heist. These books are very formulaic and now that we've read a few of them I've lost the nostalgic feeling and my interest in waning. However, the 7yo is still enjoying them very much. He gets very excited following the daring exploits of this group of children and I expect we'll be reading more in the series.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Read-Aloud #57: Poppy

Poppy by Avi
Illustrated by Brian Floca
First* in the Tales of Dimwood Forest

Pages: 147
Finished: Nov. 2, 2007
Reason for Reading: we enjoyed Ereth's Birthday so much we decided to start the series from the beginning.
First Published: 1995
Genre: children, animal fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

A thin crescent moon, high in the sky, shed faint white light over Dimwood Forest.

Comments: The mice who live in Old Gray House are ruled over by the evil great horned owl, Mr. Ocax. When Ocax denies permission for the mice to move to a new area with more food Poppy, whom Ocax has blamed for his refusal, decides to take the long voyage to the new area by herself. Thus begins a peril filled journey that will forever change Poppy's life. This book is top-notch animal fantasy. Compelling characters face danger, death and the unknown in doses that bring one to the edge-of-your-seat excitement. The tension is very intense but is offset by frequent doses of laugh-out-loud humour. I love this book. My 7yo was beside himself at various points in the plot, cheering and yelling words of caution to Poppy. This book is most certainly a big hit for both old and young.

*A note about the reading order. Poppy is the first book written in this series but not the first book that is promoted by the publishers. Ragweed is labeled the first in the series but is actually a prequel and the third book published. Since I first read this series as it was being written I am now re-reading the remaining books in as published order, which I think gives a better flow to the character development. Ereth's Birthday is fourth in the series but also a stand-alone. I recommend the books be read in published order.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Read Aloud #56: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

Pages: 81
Finished: Nov. 1, 2007
Reason for Reading: we've been learning about foxes and read this for fun.
First Published: 1970
Genre: children, humour, animal fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Down in the valley there were three farms.

Comments: Three nasty farmers decide to get rid of the fox and his family once and for all. The fox finds himself in a predicament but after some thinking he comes up with a plan that outsmarts the farmers. This is a hilariously funny book. I've read it several times now and it still makes me chuckle. In the 7yo's own words, he "loved it!" This is an especially fun book to read aloud and Quentin Blake's delicious illustrations on every page are just as much fun as the story itself. Recommended for all ages.

Dad's bedtime reading has seen the end of the Magic Tree House books. Ds said he was tired of them. So they've just finished reading The Giggler Treatment by Roddy Doyle which was a big hit.

Non-fiction reading has seen us finish another One Small Square book, Cactus Desert. This has been our least favourite of the One Small Square books to date. Here is my review I wrote for LibraryThing:

Not as visually appealing as the others we've read in this series so far. Perhaps my son is just not as interested in the desert as the other habitats but he was rather bored with the text. He did enjoy looking at the pictures though, especially the page with animals shadows that were to be matched to the outlines. Recommended for any age from 7 and up.