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Reading Aloud

October 18, 2013

I have no voice left because tonight, I got to do something awesome.  One of my major regrets about the store I work at is that we don’t have a story time.  This is due to logistical issues; there just isn’t anywhere to gather a large group of kids.   So, when I get invited to go do story time somewhere else I jump at the chance.  And such a wonderful thing happened today.  Creative Montessori School had their book fair tonight and I was invited to come and read stories.  I love reading stories and I was so happy that they asked me to participate.  I read six books over the course of an hour and a half.  This is probably a little longer than most people are going to want to read.  Also, I did voices.  My throat is a little sore now, that falsetto for the Big Bad Wolf gets me every time!  But I have tea with honey and it was totally worth it! Here are the books I read tonight:

creepyCreepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds
Creepy Carrots was a Caldecott Honor book this year, which honors excellence in illustration.  The winner this year was This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen.  I have to be honest, it’s not my favorite book.  Creepy Carrots, One Cool Friend, and Sleep Like a Tiger were all Honor books that appeal more to me.
Creepy Carrots is about a bunny named Jasper who loves to eat the carrots from one particular field.  He eats them several times a day, every day.  Eventually, the carrots fight back.  They enact a scare campaign to keep Jasper from eating them and he is so terrified that he barricades the carrots into their field so they can’t creep after him anymore.  Everyone is happy.  Jasper has defeated the orange menace and the carrots are safe from rabbity predation.  This is a fun book to read and has a very striking visual style.  All of the pictures are done in greyscale with orange the only splash of color.  This book is especially appropriate at this time of year.

rumphiusMiss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
I first read Miss Rumphius when I was young and then forgot about it for a long time.  Fortunately, I took a Children’s Lit class for fun when I was in college and was reminded of this wonderful book.  (I also read The Giver for the first time in that class and went with the depressing interpretation of the ending.  Therefore, all these sequels don’t make any sense to me.)
The narrator of Miss Rumphius is telling the story of her great-aunt, Miss Alice Rumphius.  I especially liked that because I had two living great-aunts myself as a young lady, and my Aunt Mable seemed like she would fit right in to this story.  When Alice was little she lived with her grandfather and declared that she would travel to far away places and then, when she got old, she would come back to live by the sea.  But her grandfather tells her that there is one more thing she must do; she must do something to make the world more beautiful.
Alice becomes a librarian (see why I like her) and helps books and people find each other for many years.  Then, she retires and travels around the world and sees lions, and camels, and kangaroos -oh-my!  When she eventually stops traveling she settles into a cottage near the sea, but she still hasn’t figured out how to make the world more beautiful.   Luckily, a spring walk after a long, confining illness gives her an idea.  The wind and the birds have distributed the lupine seeds from her garden and created a beautiful field of flowers just over the hill.  Miss Rumphius decides that she can help spread the seeds even further and starts to take long walks, casting seeds about.  When spring comes again the entire area is covered in blue, and purple, and rose-colored flowers.  She has finally found a way to make the world a more beautiful place.
I love this idea.  I also love the illustrations in this book.  I will say that this book, and two further down on my list, are a little long if you’re reading to very small or very hyper kids.  My audience got a little restive tonight and so I found myself paring down some of the longer paragraphs.

upUp and Down by Oliver Jeffers
Oliver Jeffers is one of my favorite author/illustrators and appears twice on tonight’s roster.  He also illustrated the Day the Crayons Quit, which is up next.  Up and Down is the fourth book in THE BOY series, which includes How to Catch a Star, Lost and Found, and The Way Back Home.  I’ve read all of those to classes before as well as Stuck, This Moose Belongs to Me, The Great Paper Caper and The incredible Book Eating Boy.  IMG_0938 Please, do yourself a favor, if you like cute, awesome things… go buy this man’s books!  He also has an amazingly beautiful picture book on coping with loss called The Heart in the Bottle.  Those of you who actually know me may have just gone, “But don’t you have a tattoo of a heart in a bottle?”  Yes, I do.  It’s from this book.  That’s how important it was to me.
Up and Down is about the Boy and his friend, the Penguin.  They do everything together.  But now, the Penguin wants to fly.  And he wants to do it on his own.  His quest leads him away from the Boy for a little while, but when it matters most, the Boy is there to catch him and then they can go home  and play their favorite game (backgammon).  The illustrations are adorable.  The story is heart warming.  There is nothing not to love about this book!  Even the moms and dads at the book fair were looking at these illustrations!

crayonsThe Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
The Crayons have gone on strike!  They’ve all written letters to their owner, a little boy named Duncan.  Red is tired of having to work all the time, even on the holidays!  White feels under used.  Purple wants more neatness and paying attention to the lines.  Blue is worn to a nub, Pink feels unappreciated, and Peach is NAKED!  Many of the other crayons have complaints as well.  Except for Green.  Green is doing just fine, thanks so much.
Each color gets a one page illustration and a hand, or rather crayon written letter.  The story goes fast and is very fun to read.  Of course, I like it even more that it has Oliver Jeffers illustrations.  I’m something of a fan, you might have noticed…
Duncan does manage to solve the crayons problems and even gets an A+ on his final coloring project!

redLittle Red  Riding Hood  by Trina Schart Hyman
This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.  Trina Schart Hyman is an amazing illustrator!  It is, unfortunately, way too long for the audience I had tonight.  But, I skimmed a little and distracted them with the amazing pictures.  The same holds true for Saint George and the Dragon which is the last book I read tonight.  The story is a basic rendition of Little Red Riding Hood.  There aren’t any surprises outside of the illustrations, which are breathtaking.  I highly recommend adding some of Trina’s work to your library.  I’ve got about five of her books right now.  Little Red Riding Hood was a Caldecott Honor book in 1984.

saint georgeSaint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
This Saint George was kidnapped by fairies as a tiny baby and has only returned to the mortal lands because the Fairy Queen has sent him to fight the dragon.  He rides into battle with Una, the princess of the beleaguered England.  Her pure heart and steadfast faith help Saint George to find the strength to defeat the dragon.  Again, this book was much, much too long for my audience tonight, but it’s stunningly beautiful.  I really wish I could get a poster of any of the interior pages.  It won the Caldecott Medal in 1985 and if you can see why… dragon

So, those are the books I read tonight.  Here is a quick list of other books I love reading aloud:


Snowy Valentine by David Peterson
Incredibly sweet, amazingly beautiful story about finding the perfect Valentine gift.  David Peterson also does the Mouse Guard books, which are graphic novels about medieval warrior mice.  They are amazing!

birdThe ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE books by Mo Willems
All of these books are amazing!  There are somewhere around 20 stories about Gerald and his friend Piggie.  It doesn’t matter which one you read, although We Are In A Book is my favorite.

dinosaurDinosaur vs by Bob Shea
I like all of these books, but Dinosaur Vs. the Library is probably my favorite.  I get to roar like a dinosaur.  And for some reason, I always read these books while doing an Eddie Izzard impression.  It just works really well, watch this and then replace “BUNCH OF FLOWERS” with one of the lines from the book… “Dinosaur vs… PLATE OF SPAGHETTI!”

What are your favorite books to read out loud?  I wish I had the opportunity to read actual chapter books to people, but I don’t right now.  Maybe I can borrow someone’s child…

Also, thank you everyone who entered my Hounded Giveaway!  The winners have been chosen and notified by email.  Look for another giveaway to start next week!

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