The Cat Who Loved to Swim by LeAnne Miller. Illustrated by Linda Manthey. Book Review.

The Cat Who Loved to Swim features a feline, Casper, who is being mocked by his friends for swimming. They tell him that cats don’t behave like that. Then, they each realize they are unique in some way. The goat likes gymnastics. The donkey sings. The monkey plays violin. Casper convinces them to compete in the Big Swimming Show even though they can’t swim. He pulls them on a raft while they display their special talents. The judges award them “most unique”. Casper ends with, “It’s fun and OK when you go your own way!”

This is a great message. Accept your friends as they are. Accept and be proud of your own unique skills.

Unfortunately, the book was written in rhyme, a challenge for any writer. The rhythm is unsteady, the rhyming pattern changes throughout, and some unusual words are used to fit the rhyming, such as “faux-pas”. This makes the book difficult to read aloud smoothly and with expression. Subsequently, it is difficult to maintain a child’s interest.

If you choose to write in rhyme, which is seldom needed, try reading it aloud and tapping to the beat. Then give it to someone who has never seen the book before and ask them to do the same. If either of you are stumbling, the rhyming isn’t working.

The illustrations are noteworthy. I think they are done with computer graphics but they have the feel of cut and paste shapes. With the simplest of pictures, Linda Manthey conveys wonderful charm and emotion.

This book has so much potential but does not truly fulfill it because of the difficulties of writing in rhyme. The story is cute and worthwhile, however. It’s worth taking a look.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

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New Cinderella Video.

A new video of the story of Cinderella is available on my YouTube site Bonnie Ferrante – Making Reading and Learning Fun. It is made using Legos, Little People, and graphics. After your child watches it, encourage him or her to act out the story using toys or dress up. Here is the script for reference but don’t make the child follow it. Let them tell the story  at their own level.

You are welcome to use the video or script in any non-commercial way. Please give credit to the author.

The Link https://youtu.be/pOnVMoNC4FY

THE SCRIPT

Long ago when there was still magic in the world, a young girl named Ella lost first her Mama and then her Papa. Papa had remarried into the Less family, who seemed nice, at the beginning.

Ella did worry, however, about the cruel way they treated animals. You can learn a lot about people by the way they treat animals. Ella fed the birds and rabbits in the winter. She groomed the old mare every day and if she did not have time to ride her. she let her loose to run at will. Ella was kind to the hen. The Less family, however, would kick the hen she was underfoot. They thought it was funny to throw rocks at birds and rabbits. The animals soon learned to hide it from everyone except Ella.

But the Less family did not show how awful they really were until Papa was gone. Papa’s ship sank in a terrible storm in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. All his fortune was on board and so Ella lost her father and all their wealth as well.

Grace, her stepmother, was furious. She had a beautiful old house but no money to spend. She moved Ella to the attic and treated her like the most unfortunate servant on earth. Since Ella’s stepmother bullied her, her two stepsisters Virtue and Mercy Less were even crueller.

Grace: “Sweep the floors and then wash them.”

But as soon as Ella was finished, Virtue walked through with muddy shoes.

Grace: “Do the dishes and clean up the kitchen.”

But as soon as Ella finished, Mercy made a snack leaving breadcrumbs, spilled milk, sticky fingerprints and dirty dishes scattered around the room.

Grace: “Clean up Virtue’s bedroom. Then clean up Mercy’s.”

As soon as Ella finished cleaning Mercy’s room, Virtue’s was already a mess again.

Grace: You did a terrible job of cleaning up the bedroom. What you doing with all your time?

Virtue and Mercy did nothing all day but play with their makeup and their hair, eat, and look through catalogs for stylish new clothes.

Virtue: “Mother,”I want a new gown. Nothing I have is in style anymore.”

Mercy: “Mother, I want new shoes. Nothing I have is in style anymore.”

So Grace would sell something from Ella’s home, an heirloom clock, a silver plate, or a brooch from Ella’s mother’s jewelry box. It broke Ella’s heart to see all her family things being sold away but if she said anything, Grace would lock her in the attic and not allow her to eat for a day.

Ella did not want more things to be sold, but  when her toes were peeking through her shoes, she said, “Grace, could I have some new shoes? Mine are worn out.”

Grace: “Do you think money grows on trees? If I hadn’t been foolish enough to marry your father, I wouldn’t have to be living in squalor. If you want shoes, buy them yourself.”

Ella: “But I have no money.”

Grace: “Well, I guess I’ll have to sell something then.”

Ella cringed. She didn’t want anything else sold away but she really needed shoes.

One day she came back from working in the garden. Ella saw two men carrying her bed away.

Ella: “Grace, where are they going with my bed?”

Grace opened her hand and took out a few coins. She gave them to Ella. “That’s more than enough for shoes. Don’t ask me for any more money for at least a year.”

Ella: “But what will I do without a bed? It’s freezing in the attic.”

Grace: “I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”

So Ella slept in front of the fireplace in the kitchen. Every morning she woke with ashes on her skin as well as burn marks on her dress.

When she brought breakfast to her family, Grace said, “You’re filthy. Your dress is full of holes. It’s a good thing I’m not wasting any more money on you since can’t even take care of what you have.”

Ella: “I can’t help it. The cinders pop out of the fireplace and spread all over.”

Virtue: “Poor cinder girl.”

Mercy: “Poor Cinder Ella.”

Mercy and Virtue: “Cinder Ella. Cinderella.”

That was her name from that moment on but Cinderella didn’t care. One day a message came from the palace. Grace shouted for her daughters, “Listen to this. All unmarried women and their chaperones are invited to come to the palace tomorrow night for a grand ball. The Prince is of marrying age and hopes to meet his future bride.”

(Virtue and Mercy squeal with delight.)

Virtue: “What will we wear?”

Mercy: “Everything we have is out of date.”

Grace: “I have a surprise I have been keeping from you just in case something like this happened. I have enough fabric for three beautiful dresses. Cinderella. You’re going to have to sew quickly and get three dresses ready by tomorrow.”

Cinderella: “Of course, Grace. I will sew us the prettiest dresses the prince will ever see.”

Grace: “Us? You’re not getting any of this fabric. I’ve already spent a fortune on you.”

Cinderella: “But you said three beautiful dresses.”

Grace: “One for Virtue, one for Mercy, and one for me, their chaperone.”

Cinderella: “What will I wear?”

Grace: “That is your problem. I told you I wasn’t going to spend any more money on you. Now go set up the sewing machine. The girls and I will decide what kind of dresses we want you to make.”

Cinderella nodded, trying not to cry. When she left, Virtue and Mercy turned to their mother.

Virtue: “You’re not going to let her go in rags, are you? She’ll embarrass us.”

Grace: “I don’t think you have to worry about that. She’s too proud to show up at the palace looking like a beggar.”

Mercy: “I’ll get the catalogs so we can pick designs for our dresses.”

Cinderella sewed three beautiful dresses. She worked all night and most of the next day. Just before supper, she finished the dresses and gave them to Grace and her stepsisters. They squealed with delight and went off to fix their hair and makeup. Cinderella went to the attic and took her mother’s dress out of the trunk.

Cinderella: “Perhaps I can make this dress a little more stylish.”

But instead of sewing, fell asleep at the table. An owl appeared at the window. He hooted and hooted again, but poor exhausted Cinderella did not awake

The bird flew away and then returned. One by one, rabbits, birds, the hen, and even the house cat made their way through the window or up the back stairs to the attic. They took the dress and did their best to make it into something beautiful. Love is a special magic that makes exceptional things possible.

Cinderella woke just as her stepsisters and stepmother  were preparing to leave.  “Oh no. I fell asleep.”

She rubbed her tired eyes and looked up at the lovely dress her animal friends had sewn.  “What? How did that happen?”

Virtue: “Hurry up, Mercy.”

Cinderella dressed quickly. She rushed down the stairs just as her family was about to leave.

Cinderella: “Wait for me.”

They turned and their eyes narrowed.

Grace: “Where did you get that dress?”

Cinderella: “It was my mother’s.”

Virtue: “That’s why it looks so old fashioned.”

Mercy: “The lace is ridiculous.”

Grace: “Girls, Perhaps you could help her fix it.”

Virtue and Mercy step forward and tore Cinderella’s dress into rags.

Grace: “Oh, how unfortunate. That didn’t help at all. Well, let’s go ladies.”

(Laughter.)

Cinderella ran through the house, out the back door, and into the garden. She sat down on a bench and cried. Her animal friends crept around her. Cinderella wiped her eyes.

Cinderella: “Who wants to go on a silly old ball anyway? It would be filled with mean and snobbish women. I’m much better off here with my animal friends.”

Fairy: “Are you sure you don’t want to go?”

Cinderella: “Who are you?”

Fairy: “I am your fairy godmother. You probably don’t remember your mother but she wasn’t an ordinary woman. She was my half-sister. She made me promise not to spoil you with magic but I think she would agree that this is a special moment.”

Cinderella: “What do you mean?”

Fairy: “I mean, it’s time for you to go to the ball. Now listen carefully. Get the pumpkin from the garden and bring it here.”

Cinderella did not understand but she did what she was asked. The fairy godmother turned the pumpkin into a beautiful coach.

Fairy: “Now we need a horse. Your mare is a little too old and small to pull such a heavy coach. I wonder if any of your animal friends would volunteer.”

“Meow.”

Cinderella: “Thank you.”

(The fairy godmother changes the cat into a beautiful white horse.)

Fairy: “You need a driver and a footman.”

(Two rabbits hop up and the fairy godmother uses her magic.)

Fairy: “All right my dear, off you go.”

Cinderella: “But what about my dress?”

Fairy: “That was your mother’s, wasn’t it? However did it get so ragged?”

Cinderella: “My stepsisters tore it to pieces when they saw me in it.”

Fairy: “If you don’t mind, I’d like to give you a brand-new one.”

Cinderella: “That would be wonderful.”

(Changes dress.)

Fairy: “Now off you go but there is a limit to my magic. When the clock strikes midnight, everything will turn back to the way it was. Make sure you leave before then.”

Cinderella: “I will, I will, thank you so much. I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me.”

Fairy: “All right, dear, time to go. I want you to get as much fun as you can out of tonight.”

(Cinderella travels to the ball.)

The Prince was bored. He had met all the ladies at the ball and none of them interested him. Then a new lady walked in.

(Cinderella and the Prince look at each other. He walks toward her. They dance.)

 

Prince: “So, Princess, tell me about yourself.”

Cinderella: “I’m not a princess. I’m just an ordinary girl.”

Prince: “What do ordinary girls like to do for fun?”

Cinderella: “I’m afraid I don’t have much time for fun. My parents died, I have to take care of my stepmother and stepsisters. The house is a lot of work. But I don’t mind. They would be lost without me. They really don’t know how to do anything for themselves.”

Prince: “Beautiful, kind, hard-working, and skilled. You certainly aren’t like the other ladies I’ve danced with. Not ordinary in my world.”

The Prince danced with Cinderella for the rest of the night. One by one the ladies realized he had lost interest in anyone else.

(Clock strikes 12.)

Cinderella: “Midnight! I didn’t realize it was so late. I have to leave.

Prince: “Wait. I didn’t even ask your name. I thought we had more time.”

As Cinderella raced out the doors she lost one of her glass slippers. The Prince picked it up and looked at it thoughtfully.

Cinderella made it home just in time. Soon after her stepmother and stepsisters arrived.

Grace: What a ridiculous waste of time.

Virtue: He didn’t even dance with any other girls once the Princess arrived.

Mercy: Did you notice how much she looked like Cinderella?

All three women stared at Cinderella who could not keep the big smile off her face.

Grace: Shouldn’t you be in bed by now? And why are you still wearing that ridiculous dress?”

Cinderella:” Good night everyone. Have sweet dreams. I know I will.”

The next day there was banging on the door.

Cinderella: I will get it.

Grace looked out the window. “No, Mercy you get the door. Cinderella, come with me.”

She locked Cinderella in the attic.

Cinderella: “Why are you doing this?”

Grace: Be absolutely quiet or I will leave you locked up here for a week.”

Grace hung the key on a nail beside the door. Downstairs, the prince and his servant entered.

Servant: Under the command of His Royal Highness, Prince Thomas, every single girl in the kingdom must try on this glass slipper.

Virtue: Isn’t that the shoe the lady wore who danced with the prince last night?

Grace (entering): Of course it is. Now put on your shoe Virtue.

Virtue: Oh, oh, of course.

(She tries and fails.)

Grace: Silly me, that was Mercy’s shoe. Put it on my beautiful daughter.

(She tries and fails.)

Neither could fit the shoe.

Servant: Are there any other single ladies?

Grace: Well, there’s me. I’m an unfortunate widow. I could try it on.

Prince: That won’t be necessary.

Upstairs, the cat leaped for the key. He shoved it under the door.  Cinderella unlocked it and ran down the stairs.

Cinderella: Wait, please, wait.

Prince: I thought you said there were no more single ladies.

Grace: She’s just a worthless servant.

Prince: She looks very familiar.

He took the slipper from the servant and put it on Cinderella. Her fairy godmother appeared and gave her back her beautiful dress.

Prince: It is you.

Cinderella: My name is Cinderella. This was my father’s home.

Cinderella told the prince everything about her step-family.

She and the Prince became engaged. They wanted to get to know each other so they set the wedding date for a year ahead.

Prince: During this year, you and your daughters will be Cinderella’s servants. You will keep the house clean, including her room. You will feed her and do everything she asks. I will send a dressmaker to makes clothes for her and her alone. Grace Less, you will move out of her parents’ bedroom and Cinderella will move in. You will sleep in the attic. If, on our wedding day, a year from now, Cinderella tells me that any of you made her unhappy in any way, I will put burning hot iron shoes on your feet and make you walk through town. Do you understand?

Lesses: Yes, Your Highness.

At the end of the year, Cinderella’s stepsister’s helped her put on her wedding dress. Grace refused to come to the wedding.

Mercy: I want to say I’m sorry for the way we treated you. I know now how awful we were.

Virtue: We acted just like our mother and didn’t think about you at all. I’m sorry too.

Cinderella: All is forgiven. Now, try to have some fun today. There are lots of single men coming to the wedding.

The wedding was beautiful. Cinderella threw the bouquet and Snow White caught it. The cake was delicious. And her stepsisters made new friends.

Cinderella and the prince lived happily ever after.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Milton the Christmas Moose by Steve and Jean Goodwin. Illustrated by Loanna Philippou. Book Review.

This book was written to teach children the importance of kindness, inclusion, forgiveness, and the spirit of Christmas. Milton has one antler smaller than the other and one leg shorter than the other. Like Rudolph, he is teased and excluded by his species. However he makes friends with all the other animals, helps them as much as possible, and encourages them to help each other. Because of this, Rudolph comes to visit him and brings him to see Santa. Santa grants him a wish. Milton wishes to be green with red antlers to remind people to keep Christmas in their hearts 365 days a year. This triggers a realization in the other moose who treat him differently from then on.
This book is obviously written for very young children, those who still believe in Santa and Rudolph. However it is a little long and challenging for children of this age. Parents could read it to them and explain some of the words and concepts.
Throughout the story we see that small kindnesses make a big difference in animal’s lives. This book lends itself well to discussions on how children can help others and make the world a better place through their small achievements.
I thought the new colour choice of red and green was a little weak as a catalyst for change by the other moose. Rudolph is accepted by the other reindeer because of his monumental achievement of saving Christmas and being exactly what Santa needed when the others were unable to help him. I felt this story needed a little more umph for the turning point. I was hoping for something new but it seem to be basically an echo of the Rudolph story.
The illustrations are cute, wonky watercolors. They are colourful and cheerful, however the illustration of Santa Claus was a little jarring and out of place.
At the end of the book it tells the reader to check out the Christmas song on a website. When you go there, this song is for purchase only and I couldn’t figure out a way to hear any of it.
A sweet, heart-warming book that encourages good values but doesn’t have the impact of Rudolph.

Little Mouse’s Sweet Treat by Shana Hollowell. Illustrated by Jennifer finch. Book Review.

This children’s picture book uses patterning in the text. Each page features a little mouse looking for a sweet treat something like this:

Hi Bear.

Do you have something sweet and yummy?

Why yes, said bear. A handful of honey.

Eek! said the mouse.

Honey is sticky and runny.

Sorry, said the  bear.

You should ask the bunny.

The mouse asks a bear, bunny, dog, cat, bird, pony, cow, and finally his mommy for a sweet . Luckily his mother has baked cookies for him.

The rhyming is a little forced in spots but holds up fairly well throughout. There are  no quotation marks.

Children will be intrigued by the reasons the mouse does not want any of the other animals’ snacks. Clover is too lucky, pie is too dry, milk looks like silk, a seed is not what he needs, hay is bland, and he passes on the grass.

Jennifer Finche’s illustrations are done in watercolour with a life-like style. The little mouse is endearing and expressive. The pony appears to be galloping right off the page and the Siamese cat holds us with his eyes.

This is a simple story to read to toddlers or for early readers to read aloud. It would be fun to continue the pattern with other animals. (It’s harder than it looks so you don’t have to make it all rhyme.) For example.

Hi Giraffe.

Do you have something sweet for me?

Why yes, said Giraffe. Leaves from the tree.

Eek! said the mouse.

Leave are bitter as tea.

Sorry, said the  bear.

You should ask the bee.

It would also be a lot of fun to act out the story and end it with baking cookies together.

Buy link http://a.co/cHUms0o

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

New Schedule – Making a Picture Book with Your Child

 

MAKING A PICTURE BOOK WITH YOUR CHILD

If your child is pre-reading but beginning to “pretend” read or a beginning reader, she is ready for copycat books. Here’s an example.

My just turned four granddaughter had memorized Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle. Highly recommended if you are unfamiliar with it.

Together, we found free colouring pictures of other animals on the internet.

I printed them on 8″ X 14″ paper, landscape format. I didn’t try to print them on both sides of the paper as it often shows through regular printing paper and the spatial logistics are really complicated. Use two columns.

On the right type something similar to “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” Put the colouring picture below. Leave an extra large space on the right of the text to have room for stitching.

On the left INDENT TWO EXTRA TABS to make room for stitching. Type something similar to “I see a yellow duck looking at me.”

I folded the pages down the middle and sewed them together to make a realistic book.

I taped the spine top reinforce the stiching. I glued the blank backs together.

Here’s  the cover. I should have capitalized all the words.

Below is the first page. I started with the child and ended with the child creating a circular story but you can start with an animal. I used rainbow girl because she loves colorful clothes but you can use the child’s name instead.

Here are the second and third pages. I recommend no more than 7-8 animals.

Notice that the color word is printed in the color the child needs to use. Keep it fun. Don’t fret about coloring skills.

The last page should feature your child. You can post a photo or have the child draw herself. Kayleigh is going to draw herself in colorful clothing.

Buddy read with your child. Point to each word as you read it aloud. Then have the child do it for you. Don’t get too concerned with pointing to the exact word at the beginning just make sure she is pointing from left to right. At first, stress the color words. Then focus on “looking” which has two open eyes “oo” and “see” which has two partly open eyes “ee.” After that is mastered focus on the animal’s name, then the rest of the words. Keep it light and fun. Progress at the child’s speed. Don’t persist if she becomes bored or frustrated. Have fun.

Because this blog is taking so much of my writing time, I will no longer post on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Sundays – Recycled Humor Column

Monday – Book Review

Wednesday – Writer Interview or Book Review or Special Series

Friday – Book Review

Saturday – Randomness

Please keep following, commenting, and sharing.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

 

 

Bear Hockey by Jessica Boyd. Illustrated by Maurizio Curto. Book Review.

This adorable 11 x 8″ picture book will be loved by boys and girls alike. A grey squirrel narrates the story which begins, “Good afternoon, sports fans!…It’s so cold that… The pond is frozen!… That means is the perfect time for Bear Hockey!” The squirrel explains that all bears, once a year, “strap on their helmets, lace up their skates, and pick up their hockey sticks” to participate in bear hockey.

The rules are:

  1. You use many pinecones instead of one puck.
  2. You high-five all the players and spectators multiple times before you start playing.
  3. You take frequent, frequent, frequent honey breaks.
  4. When the last pinecone is scored, it’s time for hibernation!

The emphasis throughout the book is on fun and camaraderie.

The bears wear a variety of colored sweatshirts.  Even though the squirrel announces at one point that the teams are tied, it seems there is only one goalie.

The illustrations are wonderful. Not an inch of space is left empty on any page. The text is superimposed on the busy illustrations. Bears of all sizes play together. Smiles are rampant. The pictures gleam with personality. The bears would make precious stuffed toys.

The littlest bear scores the winning goal (I think everybody won).

After all the excitement, the bears “brush their honey-covered teeth and comb their matted fur and snuggle under the covers for a few quiet months of blissful snoozing.” The book ends with a shot of the littlest bear cuddled up with his jersey. His skates, hockey stick, and helmet are at his feet. A picture of the hockey players hangs in his cave.

What a delightful way to remind children that unregulated hockey is supposed to be fun and that relationships matter more than winning. This would be a great gift, especially for a child who gets a little too intense over playing hockey with friends.

Amazon Buy link http://a.co/3ndl9Sp

Buttertart Books https://buttertartbooks.com/

Read the interview with the author here http://wp.me/p1OfUU-2t6.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

A Girl Who Can Hold Her Own Against a Bully – The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz. Illustrated by Dan Santat. Book Review.

Click here to buy The Three Ninja Pigs The Three Ninja Pigs

This fractured folktale is a take on The Three Little Pigs that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The three pigs decide they are going to stand up to the bully, the Wolf, who is blowing down houses. They train at the ninja school. The first one takes aikido and drops out after three weeks. The second little pig takes jujitsu and quits before his teacher says he is ready. Pig three, the girl, learns karate. She stays for months and works through all the belts until she becomes a black belt.

When the Wolf comes to the straw house, pig one is unprepared and must run for his life. When the Wolf comes to the stick house, pig two also has to run for his life. But pig three, their sister, intimidates the Wolf into leaving when she shows him her tremendous skills ending with breaking a pile of bricks with her hand. The two brothers decide to go back to ninja school and in the end the three of them form their own dojo.

It is awesome to see a book where the pigs are not all male and even more inspiring that the girl is the wise and dedicated hero. I love how they’ve included a message in this book without being preachy and used the venue of ninja pigs which is sure to be a favorite with kids. However, the clear difference between the two male quitters and the female hero is a bit denigrating to boys.

This is a rhyming book. I cringed when I realized that but I was quickly impressed. The story is told in limericks. It holds the proper beat consistently. It doesn’t create awkward, unrealistic sentences in order to make the rhyme. The vocabulary is age appropriate throughout. Obviously Schwartz knows his business when it comes to writing in rhyme, a rare talent that too many people try in vain to accomplish.

The pictures are a hoot. They fill the page and the text fits into the bare spots. They are bright, glossy, and remind me of the best quality of graphic novels. The pages are action packed like a true ninja book should be. The pigs expressions are priceless and the Wolf is almost too scary.

This book is pure delight.

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And so we leave our month of three. In the future, I am going to do more themes. I think it’s helpful for teachers and fun for parents. I enjoy it as well. Keep following. 🙂

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf by Mark Teague. Book Review.

This is pretty close to the original version except instead of leaving home and saying goodbye to their mother, the pigs live on a farm with human beings. It begins, “Once there were three little pigs. They lived on a farm, as most pigs do, and were happy, as most pigs are. Then one day the farmer told the man he and his wife were moving to Florida. He paid the pigs for the good work and sent them on their way.”

My three-year-old granddaughter instantly asked, “What work did they do?” I was stuck. What do you say to that and to the happiness remark? Their work was to provide piglets for slaughter? Are most pigs happy? I sincerely doubt it. Most pigs live horrible lives and die horrible deaths. It’s a strange beginning.

The first picture shows two pigs wrestling in the mud over a basketball while the girl pig (she’s the one with the blue bow stuck to her head) reads a book. There are empty pop bottles and potato chips scattered throughout the pen. There is also a corner table with a tablecloth, a lamp, a partially eaten apple, and a portrait of the pig. I just do not get why the author put humans in the book. Anyway…

From here on this story progresses similarly to the traditional one except for the fact that the pigs have scooters bikes and wheelbarrows and they buy their building materials with cash. The first pig spends most of his money on potato chips. The second one spends it on Sody-pop, but the third one, the girl, spends all her money on bricks and mortar. Her brothers come to watch her while she works. Cringe moment.

A hungry wolf comes to town. The donut shop is closed, the hot dog stand is locked, and he isn’t allowed in the pizza parlor. Then he smells pig. He blows down the first pig’s house but the pig escapes on his scooter. He blows down the second pig’s house and the pig escapes on his bike. When he comes to the brick house, where all three pigs are staying, the wolf passes out with the effort of trying to blow it down. The brothers feel sorry for the wolf and offer him potato chips and soda pop. The third pig, the girl, feeds him dinner. “Since their houses were wrecked, the first two pigs moved in with the third pig. “My house, my rules,” she said. She made them clean their rooms before they went out to play. “The wolf stayed, too. But there was no more huffing and no more puffing. And he was hardly ever bad again.” I can’t imagine what she fed him.

While I love a story where the girl is the hero, I have mixed feelings about this one. The males are infantile. The brother pigs do as little work as possible. They pig out on junk food. 😉 They depend on someone else to rescue them. They offer nothing in exchange for staying with their sister. The wolf expects handouts as well. The difference is too extreme. The males are lazy and useless. The girl is the only adult in the group. In spite of all the five star reviews on Amazon, it’s not the kind of message I would want to share with either a male or female child.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

A Clever Variation – The Three Bears, An Alphabet Book by Grace Maccarone. Illustrated by Hollie Hibbert. Book Review.

Click here to buy The Three Bears ABC

This is an alphabet book that also tells the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It begins, “A is for alphabets, and here it is.” The alphabet is superimposed on a tree. Then the story begins. “B is for bears. There were three Bears – Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Baby Bear, who were in bed. Then Mama Bear made breakfast – big bowls of porridge. C is for cool. The Bears waited for the hot porridge to cool. So Papa put on his cap, Mama put on her cape, and Baby his coat.” And so it continues with examples on each page of words beginning with the featured letter.

The story follows the traditional tale. And in case you’re curious, “Z is for zipped. Goldilocks zipped back home as fast as her legs could carry her. And Z is for zany… Because it was that kind of day!”

I thought this was a clever retelling of the story. I think the child should be familiar with the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and with the alphabet in order to get the full enjoyment out of it. Children three years old and up would enjoy it. Beginning readers, on the second time through, could help to find the other words that begin with the featured letter.

The illustrations done by Hollie Hibbert are double spread, cute, and bright. They remind me of Little Golden books illustrations. Interestingly, Goldilocks has brown eyes and brown skin and a whole lot of blonde hair. I especially liked Baby Bear. He would have made a cute stuffy.

This is a book that could be revisited as your child’s understanding of initial consonants improves.

As a retired teacher, my first thought was how much fun this would be to share with the class and then choose another simple folktale to turn into an alphabet tale. Then, as a writer, I wondered if it would be plagiarism to do it with a different story. Maccarone could actually do an entire series like this. Looking at the numerous books Grace Maccarone has written, I see she hasn’t repeated the idea. Maybe once was enough! She made it look easy but I know it isn’t. Maybe you could try it. Not me, I already have more book ideas than I have time to complete.

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Three Blind Mice by John W. Ivimey. Illustrated by Paul Galdone. Book Review.

The full title of this book is The Complete Story of the Three Blind Mice. It begins with the mice wishing for fun. They ask an innkeeper for a bed but he refuses so they sleep out in the field. They wake with swollen faces from the cold. They are starving by the time they come to a farm where they beg the farmer for some bread and cheese. The farmer’s wife sends the cat after them. The mice flee into a bramble hedge which blinds them. The farmer’s wife cuts off their tails. Crying and sick, they accept some “Never Too Late To Mend” from Dr. Hare. They recover their sight and their tails grow back. They build a house and learn a trade and live happily together.

It is a pretty brutal story for children but at least it ends happily. I suppose it does answer that nagging question about the song, but then again, it doesn’t tell why the farmer’s wife cut off their tails. Just to be cruel?

John W. Ivimey published in this version in 1900. Paul Galdone decided to illustrate this version in 1987. Galdone’s illustrations are always great. These are wide landscape double-page spreads. The mice are realistic, in fact a little creepy, but still portray personality.

I have to say neither my granddaughter nor I enjoyed this book. We read it once and never went back. It seemed like a rather pointless tragedy for children. So what was the message? Don’t head out the world unless you have a trade and if you beg for food you never know who’s going to attack you with a knife!

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages