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

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The Raft

The Raft
by Jim LaMarche (Author, Illustrator)

Let your mind drift!

Nicky is not happy about his father’s decision to leave him with grandma over summer. Grandma lives in the Wisconsin woods with no one to play with nearby and not even a TV! But his father won’t change his mind as he drives off leaving teary eyed Nicky to fend for himself over the next few months.

The Raft inside 2

At grandma’s, Nicky finds himself in a completely different world. Grandma’s house is full of books.. scattered everywhere, on the floor, on the chairs and on top of most of the tables. The walls of her house are covered with sketches, stuffed fish and charts of the river. To Nicky, the house looked like a river rat’s workroom with a large half finished carving of a bear right in the middle of everything!

The Raft inside 1

Soon enough Nicky finds himself busy as grandma finds plenty of things for him to do around the house. One day he finds himself fishing at the quiet river. As Nicky waits patiently for a bite, he sees something moving in the water towards him along the river. As it gets closer and bumps up against the dock, Nicky realizes that it is a Raft. And this changes everything!

The Raft inside 4

Author Jim LaMarche draws from his boyhood summer memories and takes us down the river on a raft. A raft that is covered with beautiful drawings of wild animals. As Nicky explores the woods on the river, the raft becomes his constant companion. The raft is almost magical as it draws the wild life out from the woods. Nicky is treated to the sights and sounds of nature as never before!

Beautifully illustrated and told, this story connects you with nature in a warm gentle way!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll (Author), Michael York (Narrator)

Down the Rabbit Hole!

There is little to say about this beloved children’s classic story about a girl called Alice and her adventures in Wonderland. We have read this book in many versions in many formats for a long long time! But when we picked up this audio CD set from our library, we were delighted to find ourselves once again Down the Rabbit Hole!

Emmy and Grammy nominated and award winning screen and stage actor Michael York takes you on a journey through Wonderland. Almost instantly we were transported to the world of the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts. York’s superb narrative of this classic tale is a keeper! You will enjoy the many accents York takes on as he narrates the story. Adults and children will equally enjoy listening to this evocative and enduring tale.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Michael York

This 3 CD set consists of the original unabridged version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland story. It is 3 hours and 7 minutes long. Blackstone Audio has kept the narrative in focus and not included any music or sound effects on the CDs which could distract the listener from the core of the story.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Creepy Carrots

Creepy Carrots
by Aaron Reynolds (Author), Peter Brown (Illustrator)

Tasty treats or creepy vegetables?

Jasper Rabbit *loves* to eat carrots! And there are plenty to pick form in the nearby Crackenhopper Field. He eats them on his way to school. He eats them walking home. He eats them on the way back from Little League.

Creepy Carrots Jasper

All is good, until one day Jasper gets a creepy feeling that carrots are following him.”Tunk tunk tunk”.. He sees them in the mirror when he is brushing his teeth. “Tunk tunk tunk…” He sees them in his bedroom at night. “Tunk tunk tunk”… And he sees them in the backyard shed! Why are the creepy carrots following him? And why won’t anyone else spot them? Finally, Jasper hatches a plan to stop the creepy carrots from haunting him. Smile

Creepy Carrots in the mirror

This is a delightful scary story of a paranoid rabbit seeing rabbits everywhere. But are they really following him? Or is it his overactive imagination! The story is brilliantly illustrated alluding to the creepiness of the carrots with the subtle black and white palate with  hints of orange to “show” the carrots. Both the author and illustrator have struck just the right balance of spooky and delightful. Read this one! The ending will surprise you.

Find out what inspired Peter Brown here: 

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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The Spider and the Fly

The Spider and the Fly
by Mary Howitt (Author), Tony DiTerlizzi (Author, Illustrator)

A Cautionary Poem

Most of us have listened, read or heard this legendary poem by Howitt. But Tony DiTerlizzi puts a fantastic spin to it. Through his brilliant black and white gouache and pencil art, Tony reproduces this work in a duotone.

The Spider and the fly 6

The paintings look positively spooky and downright evil!

The Spider and the fly 2

The characters are complete with the 1920’s attire. Seated in a Victorian seat, the spider stares down at the fly dressed in her Victorian era outfit complete with a flower umbrella.

The Spider and the fly 1

Halloween or not, you will love reading this spidery tale of catch me if you can. The story is about a spider who notices a lonely vulnerable fly and tries to woo her. The fly at first is very cautious but later falls to his charms.

Rarely do you find a recreation worthy of praise. This sophisticated poetry book will appeal to one and all, and especially to those fans of Poe and Burton!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Claude Monet: The Painter who Stopped the Trains

Claude Monet: The Painter who Stopped the Trains
by P.I.Maltbie (Author), Jos. A. Smith (Author)

Those Impressionists! Their paintings look as if the paint was fired from a gun. And that Monet is the worst of all!

The critics exclaimed as they looked at Monet’s Impression, Sunrise a painted seascape of bright colors. Painters in those days did not use bright colors. They painted grandly, not precisely or realistically. They painted indoors, in dark studios, not outside in the garden or by the seaside. And they did NOT paint ordinary everyday life scenes. They painted events from history or on mythology or legends!

The painter who stopped trains Critics

Claude did not like to be called an Impressionist. But he did not let that stop him from painting what he loved. So one day when his son stopped to wave at a rushing locomotive (a rarity in those days), Claude could not but help wonder how he could capture the speed, the smoke and a view of Modern Paris. So he dressed “up”, walked into the station directors office and convinced him to “lend” him his trains to draw. Thinking that Monet was a renowned painter, the Director was more than willing to stop and delay trains and allow Monet to place his easel and paints on the train stations.

The painter who stopped Trains Painting at the station

As the Director stood by in respectful silence, Monet went to work. He created multiple canvases. He painted the trains at different angles. He painted the trains arriving and leaving. He captured how the light fell on the smoke. He captured the bustling of the crowds. And soon he was ready to show the world an Impressionist painting of a different kind!

The painter who stopped trains at the station

But would the world receive his new paintings with the same excitement as he and his son had about the trains? Would they see the poetry in train stations the way he had captured it?

Find out!


The Painter who stopped Trains Arriva of a Train

The Painter who stopped trains Train

The Painter who stopped Trains Station

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Custard and Company

Custard and Company
by Ogden Nash (Author/Poet), Quentin Blake (Illustrator)

Tickle your funny bone!

An illustrated collection of 80 + humorous poems on variety of topics like animals, food and life! From the simplest verse appealing to children “ There goes the Wapiti, Hippety-hoppity!” to verses like “Children aren’t happy with nothing to ignore, And that’s what parents were created for…” there are numerous poems to please everyone in the family. Ogden Nash’s unconventional rhymes and droll verse makes him one of the country’s most popular humorous poets.

Custard and Company 3

Custard and Company 2

Ogden Nash verses are super silly and an enormous fun to read out aloud! The typical black and white art from Quentin Blake provide visual humor to these poems. It has been a big hit with our family, picking and laughing at few verses every day.

Here’s one of my favorites:-

Custard and Company 1

If you have enjoyed Shel Silverstein poems, then this collection is a must read!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Each Kindness

Each Kindness
by Jacqueline Woodson (Author), E.B.Lewis (Illustrator)

Make the world a better place!

I found this wonderful book through a review on Randomly Reading.  In his review, Alex highlights how powerful this book is.. After reading the book, I agree.

This is a story about Maya and Chloe. Maya is a new girl in Chloe’s class. All children including Chloe notice the one thing odd about Maya. That Maya’s clothes are shabby and she is wearing spring shoes in winter. Maya gets a seat next to Chloe, but Chloe looks away and ignores her.

Each Kindness First day

At playtime, Maya tries to approach Chloe and other friends in order to mingle. She tries to share her toys and make conversation. But each time Chloe and her friends shun her and do not accept her because to them Maya is different. Maya always wears secondhand clothes and has none of her own. Soon they nickname Maya “Never New”.

Each Kindness Maya and Chloe playground

One day, Maya does not come to school. That day, their class teacher is talking about “Kindness” in the class. She shows the children a bowl of water. She drops a stone in the water causing ripples. The teacher asks “Each little thing goes out into the world like a ripple.” Then she asks each child to drop the stone and share one act of kindness they have done. When it is Chloe’s turn, she passes on the stone, not being able to share a single act of kindness. And all the time Chloe has one person on her mind… Maya.

Each Kindness water ripple

Few days later the teacher announces that Maya will not be returning to school. That evening when Chloe walks back home, she thinks about “Kindness” and how she had missed that one chance with Maya.. and now it was too late!

This story will move you. Unlike many stories, this story feels real. We loved the concept of “ripples” and how each act, whether kind or not, moves in waves out into the world. If only each of us thought about our actions as ripples.. the world would be a better place indeed.

Find it here: Library, Amazon

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The Empty Pot

The Empty Pot
by Demi (Author, Illustrator)

An Exquisite Book!

Once upon a time in China there lived an emperor who loved flowers very much. Everyone in his kingdom loved plants and flowers. A little boy named Ping who lived in this kingdom also loved flowers and whatever he planted burst into a brilliant bloom. Now the emperor was looking for a successor for his kingdom and decided that the child who grows the most beautiful flower will be the emperor. So he calls for all the children and gives them each 1 seed to plant and tend to for 1 year. At the end of the year, the children must showcase their blooms.

Little Ping was very excited and plants his seed right away hoping to see his seed bloom. However, strangely, his seed does not bloom. So he transfers the seed into another pot. Still no bloom. He tries everything he can to make the seed sprout. He tries changing the soil and re-potting. But nothing works!

The Empty Pot Ping pot

At last it is time to carry their pots to the Emperor. But Ping worries that all he has to show is The Empty Pot! As Ping sadly watches all the children marching with beautiful flowers in their pots, he worries about what lies in store for him when he carries his empty pot to the Emperor.

The Empty Pot Ping

Beautifully illustrated, each page of this book is a painting on its own. Each page has a round frame with traditional Chinese architecture, landscape motifs and fine line art of lively children and  colorful flowers. The book comes alive with the bright red and gold and purple colors. We enjoyed the rich illustrations as well as this simple story of Ping, his hard work and honesty.

Also, if you are looking for an activity idea for this book, Mia from PragmaticMom has a great Origami craft online. Take a look!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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