Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Make It Wild! 101 Things To Make And Do Outdoors

Make It Wild! 101 Things To Make And Do Outdoors Reviewed By Eileen Hanley Of Bookpleasures.com

By Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield

ISBN: 978-0-7112-2885-6

The title alone would invite the adventuresome to open the cover! There is a child pictured looking at a sailboat that we assume is self-constructed and the promise of more adventure to come scrolled across the bottom of the book. One knows from the touch that this book is meant to be an outside reference as it is coated for durability.

The authors are all about stimulating the imagination and restoring a sense of wonder in children. They are beckoning them to get up from the computer and television and release that sense of adventure. They use the category Ephemeral Art to encompass Beach Art, Woodland Art and Ice and Snow. All of these activities could be done with younger children with supervision. Older children would naturally enjoy these activities and add their own age appropriate creativity. The snow lanterns are beautiful, but would require an adult to light the candles.

The Outdoor Toys section is magical, offering explicit directions on how to make each one. I know how fascinated many children are with Go Carts and there are step-by-step directions for a successful execution of a simple rope steered go cart. The children go on to explore the beach finding pieces of drift wood to fashion cricket bats, type of baseball bat, small rafts and boats. The paper gliders and painted paper kites are ingenious incorporating many important educational skills, i.e. design, balance, fine motor, social and teamwork.

Clay, wood furniture, making paints from natural ingredients, handmade jewelry, leaf crafts and natural mobiles and wind chimes are only some of the activities out of 101. The authors have jam-packed this exciting book with things that most adults would enjoy doing. Many of the activities are geared to children ten and up with younger children included with modifications. This would be a great reference not only for parents but teachers, camp and scout leaders.

Many of the fire-based activities would be just as creative and educational without the element of danger. The authors make many disclaimers throughout the book regarding the use of dangerous materials such as the fire and sharp instruments. It will be up to those who take on the supervisory role for these activities to determine the appropriateness .

Highly recommended book for its creativeness and timeliness in regard to children being more active physically and creatively!

4 1/2 Woofs

Monday, March 29, 2010

is there a monster over there?

is there a monster over there? Reviewed by Eileen Hanley of Bookpleasures.com

By: Sally O. Lee

ISBN: 1-4505-3102-4

ISBN, EAN: 978-1-4505-3102

Publisher: Lee Publishing

As I glanced at the cover of is there a monster over there?, I thought this must be a take-off on Mercer Mayer’s and Maurice Sendak’s well-known “monster” books. As I opened the book, I was greeted with a smiling little girl sitting on a couch with a precocious looking monster peeking out from behind. The setting gives us the feeling of urban living with a bicycle just beyond the front door. Her play horse and a picture book are beside her in this living area. We haven’t even turned to the first page yet, her name is unknown and we are hooked to know more.

It is Mabel hanging over the side of her bed, almost head to head with the monster under her bed, peeking at him outside her window, behind her door or at the foot of her bed ready to pounce. Mabel is afraid of monsters or at least this is what she wants us to think! Mabel and her cat Tiffany build a fort to keep them safe from monsters.

One day Mabel had second thoughts, what if monsters are just like us and not scary at all? She cautiously touches his wet and slimy nose, runs her fingers through his soft fur and strokes his smooth scales. The monster can’t take all of this touchy feely, he gets up and runs away. Mabel can’t believe it, he’s afraid of her just like she was afraid of him. Both Mabel and the monster give up their fears and go home to a celebratory tea party.

This is not just another “monster under the bed” book. It is much more than that giving us the message that if we examine our fears, make friends with our fears, we can overcome them and celebrate our power over things that disrupt our lives. The illustrations are wonderful and will give the younger child the context clues to understand the story visually. Sally O. Lee has taken a chance with this theme, but brings it up a notch to an emotionally enabling conclusion. Children need to know that they can have power over the way they feel.

4 1/2 Woofs

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Book About Tony Chestnut

The Book About Tony Chestnut Reviewed by Eileen Hanley of Bookpleasures.com

By: Laurie Monopoli

ISBN: 13: 978-0-615-31139-5

ISBN: 10 0-615-31139-3

Publisher: Don Monopoli Productions/The Learning Station

Tony Chestnut dances into your life again in The Book About Tony Chestnut. He faces the dilemma all children face when there are transitions in their lives. Tony and his little sister Eileen have moved and it is their first day at a new school. Tony is optimistic about making new friends, but his sister Eileen is sad to leave her old friends and is not sure her friends will get along without her.

Tony and Eileen became observers, hesitating to take part in the activities swirling around them. Eileen is inconsolable and does not respond to any of Tony’s antics. Tony puts his shyness aside and begins to sing. He now had the attention of the entire playground full of children. I don’t want to give away the whole story, but Tony breaks into a little dance pointing to the body parts that make up his name.

His sister Eileen joins in the song and actions and soon all of the children on the playground have joined in song and dance. Tony and Eileen have made friends and all it took was one little shy boy taking a chance – Tony Chestnut!

The illustrations are delightful, childlike and printed on high quality gloss paper. The cover of the book is enticing with Tony dancing across the page, also noting that a CD is included with the book.

The reading level is approximately first grade (6 years old) and up, but the concept is meaningful to both younger and older children. I used the book with a first grade student along with the CD minus the page turn prompt. On the first read through, he was fascinated by the illustrations and was gathering context clues as he turned the pages. Upon using the CD with the music prompt, he had to be reminded when to turn the pages. He said the harp blended into the other music. With further practice listening for the sound of the harp should not be a problem.

I would highly recommend The Book About Tony Chestnut. It is an important issue that children think about on a daily basis, will I make a friend, or will I be rejected? Tony shows that sometimes it is important to take a chance.

5 Woofs