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







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Of Thee I Sing

Of Thee I Sing
by Barack Obama (Author), Loren Long (Illustrator)

A Letter To My Daughters

If you want to inspire the young generation by portraying celebrated and highly influential and virtuous personalities, this is the way to do so.

But more so, it is a letter from a father to his daughters. Touching, moving and inspiring, this book is for all ages. Uplifting and informational at the same time, this book pays homage to individuals who have led this country on a new and exciting journey.

 

Of Thee I Sing AE

The 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, presents a brilliantly illustrated introduction of  13 American icons and heroes:-

1. Georgia O’Keefe – creativity

2. Albert Einstein – smarts

3. Jackie Robinson – courage

4. Sitting Bull – healer

5. Billie Holiday – singer

6. Helen Keller – strength

7. Maya Lin – honor

8. Jane Addams – kindness

9. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – perseverance, compassion

10.Neil Armstrong – explorer

11. Cesar Chavez – inspiration

12. Abraham Lincoln – togetherness, belonging

13. George Washington – justice

 

“Have I told you…?” begins the book and each page celebrates the life of each one of these visionaries. Each page introduces a new quality or virtue of each personality. Each page opens the door to a life that left the world a better place in a unique way.

Of Thee I Sing AL

The illustrations are superb. The quality of the prose is poignant and the art work captures this beautifully. Loren Long captures each personality thoughtfully and in their “element”. Each page continues to gather the personalities along side of the 2 daughters and ends with a brilliant “finale” of a crowd of children amidst the 13 heroes of the book.

Of Thee I Sing Final

Ultimately this book is about the potential of each and every child (within us) to pursue and achieve our dreams and forge our own paths. We loved reading through the book and finding ourselves wanting to know more about each of these personalities. We found ourselves talking about how each of them faced an impossible task yet they found the strength to overcome their hurdles. A brilliant non-fiction book with a brilliant message that no matter where we come from, it is important to do the best we can!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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The Hundred Dresses

The Hundred Dresses
by Elenor Estes (Author), Christina Moore (Narrator)

A story about Bullying!

There is so much going on in this book. Friendship and bullying, courage and regret, peer pressure and forgiveness. It is no wonder that the book is a Newbery Honor Book.

This is a story of 3 girls. Peggy and Maddie are best friends. They are classmates and are inseparable. Wanda Petronski, however, is a loner. She has no friends. She comes from a shabby part of town and wears the same shabby blue dress every day to school. One day in an effort to “blend in”, Wanda mentions that she actually has One Hundred Dresses of all kinds all lined up in her closet. This little lie sends her classmates into peals of laughter. From then on at every recess, Wanda Petronski is asked over and over again about her infamous one hundred dresses.

The Hundred Dresses inside

While Peggy and Maddie are part of the “daily routine”, Maddie really wishes it would stop. She understands why Wanda said what she said and wishes Wanda would just stop talking about her dresses. But at the same time she does not have the courage to say something about it. She also does not want to be singled out by the others.

One day Wanda stops coming to school. A note from her dad explains that they are moving to a big city where people with names like “Petronski” are not “funny”. Maddie lives the next few days with a heavy guilty conscious. She hopes that she gets a chance to make amends with Wanda.

The Hundred Dresses inside2

Elenor Estes does a brilliant job in capturing different view points on the single topic of bullying. She captures beautifully the situation as well as the nuances of emotions. On one hand Elenor highlights the intense guilty conscious of the character of Maddie and on the other hand she brings out the desperation of a singled out lonely girl Wanda and her need to “fit in”.

This is a book for every girl and boy. The language used in this book is meant for 3rd graders. But one can easily listen to the audio book and follow along. Christina Moore’s narration is superb to say the least. A gem of a story, so true to real life situations and so thought provoking, that you the reader will stop and think how you can make the most of this learning experience for your child!

A must read !

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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Lotta’s bike

Lotta’s bike
by  Astrid Lindgren(Author), Ilon Wikland (Illustrator)

 Super Sweet!

Little Lotta knows that she can ride a bike! She has seen her brother and sister riding their outside their house so many times. Now Lotta is hoping to get her own bicycle for her upcoming 5th birthday! On the day of her birthday, Lotta gets many many gifts. But a bike is not one of them.

Lotta's Bike inside

So Lotta decides to “borrow” her neighbor Mrs. Bergs’ bike. But Mrs’ Bergs’ bike is too big for her to ride! And the hill she decides to climb is much too steep. Poor Lotta ends up falling into a rose bush and learns the hard way that she just can’t ride *any* bicycle after all! She needs one that is just right for her size

Lotta decides that her birthday has been a disaster. But just then, dad comes home from work in the evening and gives Lotta the surprise that she has been waiting for — a bike that was just the right size for little Lotta.

Lotta's Bike inside 2

The author of Pippi Longstocking books, Astrid Lindgren creates another mischievous and independent character “Lotta”. “Lotta’s Bike” is an adorable story of Lotta who we loved to empathize as she struggles to resolve a situation. The stories around Lotta are everyday stories of this little girl that often comes with a moral for young readers.  The illustrations are warm and lovely. They highlight the warm cozy neighborhood of the small town.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
by Eleanor Coerr(Author), Ronald Himler (Illustrator)

Unforgettable!

Sadako, a young Japanese girl, lives with her parents and two brothers. Her home is not far from where the atom bomb was dropped in the World War II of 1945. As she goes about her daily life, Sadako sees  the consequences of the bombing in her village. She sees the evidence in the faces of the people, in the disfigurement and the “atom bomb” disease.

Sadako loves racing. Her dream is to compete in the relay races at her school. She knows she is really good at running. So every day she practices very hard. But lately she has been feeling dazed and unusually tired. Then race day comes and as she runs, she collapses on the field and black’s out. Sadako is soon diagnosed with Leukemia, the “Atom Bomb” disease.

Sadako is heart-broken. Her spirit wants to fight the disease and struggles to find a way to cope daily. Then her friend suggests that if she folds and offers a thousand paper cranes to the Gods, then she can ask them to make her better. And so she begins to fold and her brother helps to hang them on her ceiling..

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes Sketches

This story is a true story, told simply and beautifully. And although it was heart breaking to read this book, it is also a story of hope and faith. It is a beautiful book to read to children, to learn about the many horrors of war and the after effects of the bomb for many generations to come.

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes MOnument

Yes this book will make you cry. But don’t be afraid of reading it. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is an extraordinary book.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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For the Love of Music : The Remarkable Story of Maria Ann Mozart

For the Love of Music : The Remarkable Story of Maria Ann Mozart
by Elizabeth Rusch (Author), Lou Fancher (Illustrator), Steve Johnson (Illustrator)

Musical Prodigy(s)

Little is known about the “other” musical prodigy, Maria Ann Mozart. Born first to the musical household, Maria was not formally educated in reading music on sight or improvising. However, to her father’s amazement, Maria mastered all of these skills on her own. Her daily practice sessions and devotion to music inspired little Wolfgang Mozart at the age of 3. Soon, brother and sister Mozart’s were touring through Europe traveling thousands of miles and performing.

 For the Love of Music Maria and Wolfgang

However, when it was time to go to Italy and learn to play, improvise and compose, Maria was left behind. Scholars believe that the family were financially able to educate only one child. Some believe that it was thought inappropriate for women to have musical education!

“For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Ann Mozart” is a wonderful picture book biography of Maria Mozart. The author organizes the book into short segments titled with musical terms designating the units of a Sonata such as “The First Movement”,”Allegro”,”Development”,”Cadenza”, “Finale”. Each segment coincides with various parts of Maria’s life. And yet, the flow of text in this form only makes the reading more interesting. The biography ends with an “Encore” – a two page explanation by the author on the limitation on women’s participation in music and arts.

 For the Love of Music together

Fancher and Johnson’s illustrations add warmth to this picture book by using oil and acrylic on canvas. The illustrations capture in vivid detail the characters, the settings and the costumes of the era.

For the Love of Music Maria Ann Mozart

 This is indeed a remarkable dedication to a child prodigy, a woman who was equal in her talents yet less known to the world than her brother. It was heart-warming to read the story of a brother and sister who not only loved music, but also loved each other dearly.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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Classics of Childhood, Vol 1. Classic Stories and Tales

Classics of Childhood, Vol 1. Classic Stories and Tales
by Various Authors (Author), Various Readers (Narrator)

 Great language and wonderful stories!

RThis is a wonderful collection of children’s favorite Classic stories. included in this 1 Audio CD are following stories:

1. Puss in Boots read by Robby Benson

2. A Day at Santa’s Workshop read by Betty White

3. Elfis, the Elf who saved Christmas read by Brian Austin Green

4. Jack and the Beanstalk read by John Ritter

5. Peter Pan read by Sandy Duncan

6. The Wild Swan read by Michael York

7. The Elves and the Shoemaker read by Michael York

This is almost 4 hours worth of storytelling read by professional stage and screen actors/actresses. This is a great collection for children 3 to 5 year olds. Some of the stories are short enough for a quick ride, others a little longer.

Our favorite was the Puss in Boots and the Wild Swan stories. The music in the background is just right and not too loud to distract you and creates a good “atmosphere” while the story is read out. Great Classics told by professionals!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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The Two Cars

The Two Cars
by Ingri & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire (Authors, Illustrators)

Distinguished and Memorable!

I came across the wonderful book on Read Aloud Dad’s fabulous website. In his most unique way, Read Aloud Dad inspired us to rush and find this book at once! And sure enough, we were not disappointed!

Read ReadAloudDad’s review on The Two Cars here.

This story is about two cars. One beat up old  red car and one shiny brand new green car. They both decide one moonlit night to have a race. To find out which one of them was the “best” car on the road.

Two Cars beginning

And so the car race begins. The green shiny new car is off smooth and quick. The red car sputters and coughs and shifts gradually into his gear.

As the two car race each other, we  find two very unique personalities emerging. That of a new energetic optimistic and almost carefree young car and that of a old mature and wise car. Much like in real life, the new car makes mistakes and is reckless at times. But he learns to correct his actions and learn from his mistakes. The old car, on the other hand, has much compassion to offer and takes time to stop and think about his past friends and care for those who he meets on the way.

Two Cars bump

As the car race ends, you are left wondering who really won the race? And whether winning it was indeed important?

Two Cars Rail tracks

We enjoyed reading this book over and over again. Once, we discussed the many meanings of emotions that were going on in the story. Mean and nice, empathy and compassion, fearless and reckless, careful and carefree, wise and foolish… as we read the story we tried to understand what the characters were “being” and how it impacted their actions.

Yes. There is a great deal of moral to this story. But that is not why you want to read it after all.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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The Story of Ferdinand

The Story of Ferdinand
by Munro Leaf (Author), Robert Lawson (Illustrator)

A Classic!

Published more than 50 years ago and one of the bestselling children’s book of all time, the simple sweet story of Ferdinand the Bull will remain a classic for a very long time.

The Story of Ferdinand little

 Ferdinand is unlike all the other bulls. While the other bulls like to run and jump and play, Ferdinand liked to sit under his favorite tree and smell the flowers. Ferdinand grows to be a big and bold bull, just like the other bulls. But while the other bulls liked to jump and snort and butt heads, Ferdinand liked to stroll over to his nice shady spot under his favorite tree and spend the day just smelling the flowers. Now one day a group of men come around to pick the best bull for the arenas. All the bulls are busy showing off except Ferdinand. Suddenly Ferdinand gets stung by a bee and goes howling across the farmyard. Impressed by the “show”, the men immediately choose Ferdinand for their bull fight. But little do they know that they are in for a surprise!

The Story of Ferdinand inside

This is one story that will be passed on for generations. The book has so many talking points. Whether it is about Ferdinand being different from the others or how Ferdinand is always true to who he really is, there are many conversations around this story. Truly a timeless tale!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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