Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks. ~ Dr. Seuss

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The Enormous Crocodile

The Enormous Crocodile
by Roald Dahl (Author), Quentin Blake (Illustrator)

Wickedly funny!

The Enormous Crocodile is hungry. He decides to eat a nice juicy child for lunch. So the wicked croc sets out to find some children to eat. On the way to the other side of the jungle, where the humans live, the Enormous Crocodile bumps into a number of animals who live in the jungle.

He meets Trunky the Elephant, Humpy-Rumpy the Hippo, Muggle-Wump the Monkey and Roly-Poly Bird. To each of them, he reveals his clever” plans to catch the juicy children. Each one tries to stop the nasty croc, but the Enormous Crocodile slips away.

The Enormous Crocodile Jungle Animals

Finally, the crocodile reaches his destination and plays out his “clever” plan. As the children approach the “croc-in-hiding“, the animals decide to stop him before it’s too late! But can these animals thwart the villainous croc’s plans before it’s too late?

The Enormous Crocodile Run

Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile is witty and well paced. Written in a conversation style, this book makes for a great read aloud. This hilarious tale of a silly and nasty crocodile is an instant child pleaser Smile Quentin Blake’s pen and ink watercolor illustrations add to the dark humor. We loved looking forward to the croc’s next trick and how it would be foiled!

The Enormous Crocodile BackCover

And as for the end.. well, what could you expect from a “Roald Dahl” book! Wink

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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America’s Champion Swimmer : Gertrude Ederle

America’s Champion Swimmer : Gertrude Ederle
by David A. Adler (Author), Terry Widener (Illustrator)

A story about determination

Trudy learned to swim after a nearly fatal incident when she fell into a pond and nearly drowned. Her father taught her to swim and she soon mastered the dog paddle. Soon she had mastered more advanced strokes. She LOVED to swim Smile

Americas Champion Learning

By age 15, she had won her first big race. And a year later, Trudy became the first woman ever to swim 17 miles from Lower Manhattan to Sandy Hook in New Jersey.  Not only that, she had beat the men’s record for the same swim!

Americas Champion Long Swim

By 1925, Trudy had accumulated 29 US and World records. She now set her sights on the ULTIMATE challengeswimming the English Channel. The English Channel was tough! With choppy, cold waters spreading out across 20 miles from England to France, only a handful of men had ever accomplished this. And when people learned about Trudy’s ambitious goal, they laughed at the idea of a “weaker sex” even dreaming up of such a task.

So on Aug 18, 1925, Trudy stepped into the cold waters of the Channel and fought the strong currents for almost 7 hours. She was less than 7 miles to shore before her trainer  pulled her out fearing she had swallowed too much water. But Trudy did not give up! She tried again next year.

Americas Champion Rescue

This time Trudy was prepared for the cold waters. Coated with lanolin and heavy grease and equipped with special swim goggles, Trudy stepped into the Channel once more. In the calm ocean waters, Trudy swam on at a rapid pace. But around 1:30 in the afternoon, it started to rain. The rain turned into a strong wind. The waters grew choppy and within a short hours Trudy was swimming against 20 feet high waves!

Americas Champion Waves

Her trainer yelled for her to give up. Her father and sister worried about her being all alone in the waters. Would she be able to finish? Will she have to give up on her dream?

Americas Champion Swimmer Gertrude

“America’s Champion Swimmer ” is an in depth account of Gertrude Ederle’s life and accomplishments. Trudy’s story will appeal to little girls and boys who enjoy swimming as a sport. As we read through the events of the Channel swim specifically, we found ourselves wanting to look ahead to see what happened to Trudy next! David Adler does a superb job of making this story an exciting page turner! The illustrations show vividly her struggle in the Channel waters. The turbulent dark skies and choppy waves and the almost vanishing Gertrude have been captured beautifully by Terry Widener in his impressionist styled paintings. An inspiring read-aloud!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Lulu’s Hat

Lulu’s Hat
by Susan Meddaugh (Author, Illustrator)

Adventure Into Deep Magic Space!

Its widely believed that in True Magic Families one member of the family in each generation is born with The Magic Touch! It’s in the genes. Either you have it or don’t.

Each summer Uncle Jerry, the great magician in the family, would invite a niece or nephew to be his assistant. This was a unique opportunity for both to find out who would be the next great magician!

So when it was Lulu’s turn that summer, to volunteer and work with Uncle Jerry, everyone simply laughed. They urged Uncle Jerry to re-consider.. because after all Lulu was adopted! It couldn’t be her!

But Uncle Jerry was also a kind man. He let Lulu have her turn and invited her to join him as his assistant. Uncle Jerry showed her some simple tricks that she could perform to “open” the Magic Show. But Lulu was all thumbs. Still Lulu was determined to try and do her best.

First, she needed an outfit. She tried on several..

Lulus Hat dressing up

but none of them really “fit” her. Finally, she dug deep into the trunk, and pulled out a Hat!
She put in on and said “I like this!”.

Lulu's Hat finding it

Little did Lulu know that this was indeed a magician’s hat. A hat that would help her to do all the simple tricks her uncle showed her AND all of her Uncle’s difficult tricks too! Curious, Lulu wondered where this Hat came from? And when Lulu’s dog jumps inside her hat, where does he go to?

Lulu's Hat trying tricks

One day as Lulu performed her trick, her dog jumped in on cue but did not return when he was called for. So Lulu decides to jump in to rescue the dog herself. That’s when many strange things start to happen.. Will Lulu find her dog in Deep Magic Space? And will she and her dog be able to find their way back out to the Real World?

Lulu's Hat Hereboy

This is a great read aloud or self read for older kids. Susan Meddaugh, the authoress famous for her “Marth Speaks” books, has written a hilarious, witty and truly original chapter book for kids of age 6+. We loved the simple illustration that added to the story telling. Lulu’s character is very relatable as she tries to find the truth behind her family and the magical hat. This good hearted girl will want you to grab a magic hat and try some tricks of your own!

Find out here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Sloths: a little book of SLOTH

Sloths: a little book of SLOTH
by Lucy Cooke (Author)

 Warning : Cuteness Overload!

 “In a sleepy corner of Costa Rica there’s an upside down world where sloth is a virtue and not a sin…”  writes Lucy Cooke in her hilarious, stunning photographic picture book staring the laziest and most adorable creatures on the planet –

the SLOTH!

A little book of sloth Collage

Slothville” is an idyllic sanctuary for these sleepy animals. It is home to hundreds of rescued, injured and orphaned sloths who find comfort and solace in each other’s company and that of the Sloth Whisperer Judy Arroyo.

This book is about the gentle adorable “Xenarthrans” ( no they are not alien !! it simply means that they can’t control their body temperatures like other mammals. And that is why they like to bask in the sun!) Inside the book you will find not just pictures of cute babies, but also definite facts about them. For example, at the sanctuary, they have 2 types of sloths, The Bradypus or three-fingered sloths like baby sloth Buttercup here…

A little book of sloth Buttercup

or The Choloepus, the two fingered sloth like baby Mateo here..

A little book of sloth Mateo

Lucy Cooke writes the story of the sloths in an easy going conversational manner making it a perfect read aloud for kids. At the same time, she writes this book with so much of love and reverence, that it is easily infectious. From the many, many requests to read it out aloud, it is safe to assume this book is an instant winner in our house

The book has two end notes. The first one is a “year book” of the sloths currently at the sanctuary. The second end note cautions readers about the fact that these gently creatures are not meant to be pets and need to be healed and returned to the wild.

A beautiful book for readers of every age.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Elephant and Piggie Series

Elephant and Piggie Series
by Mo Willems (Author, Illustrator)

THE most checked out books from our library!

We LOVE Elephant and Piggie! We can’t get enough of them. Every time we head to the library, we make a beeline to the “Elephant and Piggie” section. Why? Because we LOVE Elephant and Piggie Smile Do you want to know why?

(1) Simple words and sentences. This series is meant for early readers to really enjoy reading books. In his interview, Mo Willems declares that “my primary goal was to create stories that were funny and exciting despite their being early readers”. So after reading a ton of Elephant and Piggie books, do we think this series achieves this goal? Yes, yes and YES!

(2) Speech Bubbles. This series is illustrated like a comic book strip but for early readers. Mo Willems has simply mastered the art of illustrating it with speech bubbles. He uses the speech bubble to express emotion (happy, sad, surprised, mad) …

loud and soft voices..

Elphant and Piggie Loud and Soft

pauses and expressions (such as exclaiming!)…

Elephant and Piggie Expressions

and writing plays (writing in speech bubbles helps to write like playwrights do) and understanding power of dialogues

Elephant and Piggie Speech Bubbles

 (3) Visual Cues. Have you noticed the “white space”.. this technique very popular and effective in the world of illustrating, is brilliantly put to use in this series. I love that there is absolutely no distraction to the eye. While reading, you are focused wholly and solely on the characters, their emotion and words.. Mo Willems executes this brilliantly and this technique just simply WORKS!

(4) Encouraging Read Aloud skills. While many books qualify as great read-alouds, this series works especially well at our home. Also, in this case, the read aloud is done by the child! DD loves to read aloud in all pose and manner, with lots of gusto and enough expression to make the grumpiest person smile! She will stomp her feet and twirl around, lift her eyebrows and make every kind of silly sound she can while reading  aloud. It is NO wonder that this series is SO popular and entertaining Smile

(5) Books on Friendship. Finally, this series is about friendship. As the cover says..

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald and Piggie are best friends

The two friends love to spend time together. They are different and their personalities reflect through the stories and illustrations. It is hard not to fall in love with their silly adventures. And the stories are so simple and relatable, that it doesn’t surprise me that even the youngest of the young truly enjoy them.

Perfect Vocabulary, mind-bending stories and hilarious adventures.. WE WANT MORE!!

A list: (as of July 2013)

1. A Big Guy took My Ball!

2. lets Go for a Drive!

3. Listen to my Trumpet!

4. Happy Pig Day!

5. Should I Share my Ice Cream?

6. I Broke My Trunk!

7. We Are in a Book!

8. Can I Play Too?

9. I am Going!

10. Pigs make me Sneeze!

11. Elephants Cannot Dance!

12. Watch me Throw the Ball!

13. Are you Ready to play outside?

14. I Love my New Toy!

15. Today I Will Fly!

16. I Will Surprise My Friend!

17. My Friend is Sad!

18. I am Invited to a Party!

19. There Is a Bird on Your Head!

Which one is your favorite?

Find these here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Illusions: 13 Art Illusions Children Should Know

Illusions: 13 Art Illusions Children Should Know
by Silke Vry (Author, Illustrator)

 Art and Illusion for children

We stumbled across this book at our library and were delighted to learn about some very interesting tricks. In “13 Art Illusions Children should know”, art historian and archaeologist, Silke Vry has collected art work that cheats the eye and bewilders the mind!

“Artists are magicians and tricksters!” begins the book. Inside you will find 13 Illusions or “optical tricks” ranging from photo-realism and Surrealism to clever use of paints, perspectives and light.

Each illusion is spread out over a few pages. Inside, lively text explains in simple terms the “What”, “When”, “Who”, “Where” and “Why” of the illusion.

For example: In the section “Deceive the Eye” the author describes Tromp l’oeil (art that deceives the eye). The deception here was to startle the viewer into believing that the boy is actually trying to climb out of the picture! But how could that be? Since this is after all a flat painting!

13 Art Illusions Children Should Know_Escaping_criticism

In the section “Pictures of Depth”, we encounter the famous “Relativity”. The painter M. C. Escher painted and drew this never-ending staircase as an optical illusion. This impossibly clever construction was made to confuse and amuse you at the same time. It made us scratch our heads as we tried to figure out where the scene begins and ends!


Although this book is chock FULL of such clever art work, our favorite was the section on “Concealed Messages” or anamorphosis.

The painting below “The Ambassadors” (National Gallery, London) is around six feet high and wide. It is almost life like with the 2 serious people standing alongside objects that feel strangely real. The two also look at you as if you are in the same room with them!

But wait! Look at this picture closely — can you spot the optical Illusion in the scene?

(Answer below the picture — highlight the words with your cursor to reveal)

 13 Art Illusions Children Should Know_Ambassadors

(Answer: View the picture from a particular vantage point- in our case, tilt the book and look at it from just below the elbow of the man in the black robe – look at the bottom of the page and see the strange figure in the center bottom is a SKULL!)

This book was so much fun! We waited to show the illusion to all our friends and explain to them what was coming up. One can’t help but fall for the trickery in the book. We loved holding the book upside down, sideways and even right up to our noses!

Don’t miss this one!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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On A Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein

On A Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein
by Jennifer Berne (Author), Vladimir Radunsky (Illustrator) 

“Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

“On a Beam of Light” is a picture book biography on Albert Einstein. I have read quite a few picture book biographies on Einstein but this is the first and only book that has truly felt engaging and accessible for a younger audience.

How do you explain to young kids about how the mind of a genius physicist works? How do you communicate how a simple beam of light opened a world of wonders for young Einstein? And how do you express the eagerness with which Einstein wanted to learn about the world around him?

“On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein ” does more!

Berne tells the story of Einstein with great reverence and care. She describes his work through the qualities that drove Einstein to make discoveries. For example: she describes how a simple compass excited Einstein to the point that he shuddered, and thought “what other wondrous things remained to be discovered?”

Berne then goes on to describe how Einstein started to think. To really think and ask questions. How he drove everyone crazy with his questions and how his eagerness to learn the answers drove him to study.

On a Beam of Light questions

One day he was riding his bike. He saw a  beam of light.. and he wondered : How would it feel to ride a bike on that beam of light!

On a Beam of Light beam

His mind filled with questions, Einstein went on to study about light and sound and heat and magnetism. He discovered the secret language of numbers and the world that opened to him through them.

On a Beam of Light study

Berne goes on to describe other discoveries that Einstein made through simple examples and straight forward language. She describes Einstein’s habits and quirks and things that made him unique. She describes him as a curious person, a person who loved science and a man who wanted to be left alone to think and let his mind wonder and wander. But Berne also goes on to tell about a man who found comfort in simple things of life.

On a Beam of Light simple

She ends the book with a note that Einstein left us with many more big questions; questions that scientists are still working on.

This picture book biography is indeed a gem. Yes it is inspiring to read about Einstein, and even better to read about what really drove the man. You will find in this book many lessons for kids to learn from. But it is equally fun to read and learn about the great man himself. The illustrations, quirky and whimsical, are designed to reflect the eccentricities of Einstein himself. They are cleverly drawn to highlight how Einstein saw the world full of numbers and atoms and beams of light.

“On a Beam of Light” is indeed a “DO NOT MISS” read of this year.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Author), Finola Hughes (Reader)

“.. if you look at it in a way, the whole world is a garden.”

Frances Hodgson Brunett’s “The Secret Garden” was written in 1911 but is a timeless tale and is a classic children’s read.

The Secret Garden is the story of a 10 year old girl, Mary Lennox. Mary Lennox is a sour girl. She is  the most disagreeable looking child anyone has ever seen. Thin faced and with a thin body, with thin hair and a sour expression on her face, Mary Lennox never smiles. Her hair and face is yellow and she has always been ill one way or the other.

The Secret Garden_Inga Moore_Mary

Her father who held an important position in the English Government in India, has no time to look at her or talk to her. Her mother who is a great beauty of her time, cared only about herself and her parties. The mother has left the child to be reared by the aayah’s (servants) of the house. The aayah’s were strictly told to keep the child away from the parents if they were to keep the parents pleased. Governess’ were provided to teach, but none of them stayed long enough as they grew to dislike the child very much! It was no wonder then, that Mary grew up to be an unloved and a sour child.

So when Mary Lennox suddenly finds herself to be an orphan, she does not shed a tear. When she finds herself being shipped off to an uncle who is hunch-backed and lives in an old desolate place, Mary simply looks disinterested. But Mary is secretly intrigued by the stories about Misselthwaite Manor and its inhabitants.

And there is a surprise waiting for Mary at Misselthwaite Manor. A magic of sorts.. the magic of beautiful vast moors, the magic of a little robin who befriends her and the magic of The Secret Garden. Surprisingly, Mary finds herself making the most unusual of friends. Martha, the housemaid, who tells her stories about her mother and brothers and sisters all living in a small cottage at the edge of the moor. Ben Weatherstaff, the Manor gardener, who talks to Mary about the robins and the gardens. And Dickon, a 12 year old boy with a pony who is Martha’s brother, who shows her to grow things.

The Secret Garden_Inga Moore_Mary and Robin

Mary meets her uncle, who is heartbroken and lives as a recluse. And later in the story she meets Colin, her cousin, who like herself needs some of the special magic that makes Mary a little less contrary.

The Secret Garden_Inga Moore_Mary and Colin

I will leave you to read the rest of the story or listen to it or watch it. Either way, the story will enamor you.. leave you to seek out your own secret garden. I will leave you to fall in love with this story because one can make such promises of stories like these! It is no wonder then that “The Secret Garden” has been called the greatest Children’s story ever written.

The Secret Garden_Inga Moore_garden

We read The Secret Garden, written by Frances Hodgson Brunnett and illustrated by Inga Moore. I have to say this is one of the most beautiful book I have ever seen. The art work is marvelous and inspiring. We also heard the audio book, narrated by the most talented Finola Hughes (Best known for her award worthy work in TV series General Hospital). Her outstanding narration of the story alternating between British English and Yorkshire English is charming and adeptly executed.

This is a story of re-awakening of spirits, of growing to love and live and finding happiness in most unusual places and people. Drawn on strong characters, Frances Hodgson Brunnet’s “The Secret Garden” is a must read, a classic that you will read and want to read across generations!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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thumbnail The Enormous Crocodile article post
thumbnail America’s Champion Swimmer : Gertrude Ederle article post
thumbnail Lulu’s Hat article post
thumbnail Sloths: a little book of SLOTH article post
thumbnail Elephant and Piggie Series article post
thumbnail Illusions: 13 Art Illusions Children Should Know article post
thumbnail On A Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein article post
thumbnail The Secret Garden article post