Friday, September 24, 2010

Finding a Friend: Swim! Swim! and a PG Giveaway!

I love it when a book makes my eldest daughter shriek and squirm with anticipation, clamping her hand over her mouth. And when my youngest giggles uncontrollably. Those were the reactions in which the book Swim! Swim! By Lerch resulted when we read it the other day. A couple pages in and I knew it would make a great book to review here. But now that I want to review it do you think I can find the silly thing? I've looked high and low but the book seems to have disappeared so I'm going to have to recall the story as best I can, without the book.

Swim! Swim! By Lerch
, written and illustrated by James Proimos (Scholastic Press, 2010) is a story about Lerch, an animated yet lonely goldfish, who is in search of a companion. Lerch makes several unsuccessful attempts at befriending inanimate objects until he meets a rather hungry looking cat. At this point in the story my eldest daughter was practically screaming at Lerch, trying to warn him about hobnobbing with the cat. But much to her surprise, and delight, the cat turns out to be a matchmaker, looking to set Lerch up with Dinah, another lonely fish who is also looking for love. Proimos's great animation skills paired with his witty plays on words make for one funny and thrilling love story.

Completely unrelated to children's books but fun, nonetheless, check out my friend Kat's blog, Penguin's Gift. She is celebrating the first anniversary of her blog so she's giving away a pair of Molly Newborn on Etsy chandelier earrings to one lucky reader. Head on over there and enter!

Monday, September 20, 2010

From Jolly Old: A Bit More Bert

We've all been sick with the flu so that explains the lack of posts here lately. Fortunately we had a good selection of new library books to keep us occupied and we came across some really fun ones.

If you have a true English sense of humour you'll enjoy this quirky storybook from Allan Ahlberg and Raymond Briggs, two of Britain's more influential children's authors of recent times. Ahlberg is well known for Each Peach Pear Plum, among many others, while Briggs is perhaps best known for his Christmastime favourites, The Snowman and Father Christmas (and I know it's super early but can I just say how excited I am to share these last two with the girls in a couple of short months?).

We came across A Bit More Bert (Penguin Books Ltd, September 2002) at the library recently. I chose it simply because of the author and illustrator. Sometimes I do that. I don't even bother looking inside if I recognise the author and know that we've enjoyed his or her books in the past. This one is charming in its unconventional qualities. In each short chapter of the book we meet and learn about Bert and his family, including his dog who is also named "Bert." I think one of the things my daughters like most about this book (beyond the humour) is how the author invites the reader to participate in the story. My youngest, especially, enjoyed helping give Bert a haircut and searching for his lost dog.

Now we're off to find the book that precedes this one, The Adventures of Bert. How often do you read a sequel before you read the first book?? That's the nice thing about children's books...most often it doesn't really matter. :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

When Opposites Attract: Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend

School started here last week. Often one of the hardest parts about beginning a new school year or starting at a new school is meeting new people and making friends. Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend (Kids Can Press, March 1 2007) is author and illustrator Mélanie Watt's first in her series of three Scaredy Squirrel books and it's our favourite.

Scaredy Squirrel is frightened by many things and making new friends can be a dangerous business. Scaredy decides to take the safe route and attempt to make friends with a goldfish since goldfish are risk-free: they don't have germs and they don't have teeth so they won't bite. So Scaredy creates the "Perfect Plan" in order to make this new friendship happen. Things, however, don't quite go as Scaredy intends and he soon finds himself being chased by a dog! Making a new friend is much harder and more dangerous than Scaredy could ever have thought.

Mélanie Watt injects her great sense of humour into all her books, making them funny for both kids and adult readers. In this one, for instance, Scaredy's wardrobe accessories, including a pine scent air freshener belt and sweaty-paw-hiding mittens, along with his obsessive-compulsive teeth brushing habits may have been lost a little on my girls but I laughed out loud. This book will definitely make a "Perfect First Impression".