1 2 3 Versus A B C by Mike Boldt.

 

This silly book begins with the number one saying, “Hello! I’m so glad you chose to read this book about numbers!” Traveling in the other direction, the capital A says, “Hi! I’m so happy you chose to read this book about letters.”

What begins with a friendly disagreement quickly draws in the entire alphabet and the numbers up to 26 as well as an alligator, two bears, three cars, four dinosaurs, etc. (There is no explanation for why the alligator is wearing a cowboy hat, thick black rimmed glasses, a striped tie, and carrying a briefcase.) The book gets zanier when the named animals interact with each other. Monkeys juggle oranges and ties while lions try to put together a jigsaw puzzle assisted by koala bears. Wolves playing violins ride unicycles. It is a fast paced book with expressive illustrations.

At the end, there is a double page spread of the numbers from 1 to 26 and the letters from A to Z with the occasional character tucked in between. The letter A and the number one shake hands and agree to call it a day. They walk off arm in arm. They stop, mouths agape, when a raspberry looking blob says, “Umm… Hello? I’m a little lost. I’m supposed to be in a book about colors.”

What a great jumping off point for a child or a class to make their own book.

Children between the ages of two and four often confuse numbers and letters. If they are ready, this book would help them to understand that numbers and letters serve different purposes. After reading through the book, it would be best to go back and focus on the letters second time. Then on the third read through, focus on the numbers.

Counting and alphabetizing are ways we bring order to our world. Basically, they are a type of categorization. Show your child how numbers and letters can help them organize.

You can carry this through into sorting items in the house, first by number, then by beginning letter, and lastly by color. Buttons are great for this. I recommend you do one type of sorting per day.

Here are some examples.

 

Expand into:

There’s more:

weight

texture

sound when dropped into a can

float or sink

stackable or not

expensive or cheap

used (recycled) or unused (new)

Can you spin it like a top?

Can you play tiddlywinks or pogs with it?

It’s only as limited as your imagination.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Gingerbread Man (with a happy ending)

Most children are dismayed when the Gingerbread Man is eaten by the fox even though that’s what we do with cookies. In this version, not only is the Gingerbread Boy saved by the  little old lady who created him, but so are several other new friends he has made on his journey. This is a story of a different kind of family formed by love and compassion with a message of kindness to all.

The story contains repetitive phrases which children will enjoy reciting. The pictures were created using Legos, graphic illustration, and toys.

While you’re there, check out some of my educational and entertaining videos for kids, parents, and teachers. If you enjoy the site, give a video a thumbs up, subscribe, comment, and/or share.

 

A B C I Like Me! by Nancy Carlson. Book Review.

The alphabet is not the focus of this book. It is basically about seeing ourselves in a positive light. An anthropomorphic pig accompanied by a mouse and a frog (oddly the only one not wearing clothes) goes through the alphabet reciting something wonderful about herself. For example, “I am Awesome, Brave, and Cheerful. I have big Dreams.”

The pictures are brightly colored and fill most of the page with a simple phrase or sentence below. Gigantic smiles are plastered on everyone’s face.

Most of the things the pig mentions are attainable by preschoolers. They would enjoy connecting with the pig’s abilities. It might be fun to make a follow-up book of the child’s interests, talents, and quality. Inevitably, some would be the same but, with an adult’s help, some should be unique to the child. For example, B could be for building wonderful block towers, D could be for love to dance, and L could be for listen well to a story.

The book is just long enough for a toddler’s attention span. This would be a great book for a child who tends to self criticize, worry, or compare himself unfavorably to peers or friends.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Come On, Let’s Play.

 

Whenever it is too cold or wet to go outside, children inevitably spend more time in front of screens. They don’t have to be passive watchers. Turn on my new video, Come On, Let’s Play and encourage them to participate. Make sure they have room to MOVE. Using their imagination and their bodies, they will stretch, hop, thump, swing, twirl, search, slide, point, read, stir, roll a ball, and splash. They will also enjoy rapping along.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Mixing Primary Colors

Mixing Colors

Follow soon -to-be four years old Kayleigh as she mixes the primary colors to create the secondary colors. How to make secondary colors is reinforced with graphics.
My goal is to make 1-4 videos a month that are both fun and educational for children or  helpful to teachers and parents. If you have a topic you would like me to tackle, please leave me a line.

New Alphabet Book Using Active Learning – Action Alphabet

New Release


PARENTS: This book is written for kids who don’t like to sit still and just listen. It employs multiple learning styles. Kids will touch, move, repeat, play-act, and observe using rhythm and rhyme. It can be read as prose or chanted to the rhythm of the military cadence of “I Don’t Know But I’ve Been Told.” Don’t be surprised if you hear your children chanting their favorite parts independently. KEEP IT FUN AND ACTIVE and they will come back for more.

TEACHERS: Project this onto your smart board and use it for your exercise break! Learning while moving is a double-header. Children of a variety of backgrounds and abilities are included.

Available in print. Ebook soon to follow.

Action Alphabet buy link

Video about book. Has participatory component for kids.  https://youtu.be/LiaYDy3f1Sw

The Little Book of Big Fears by Monica Arnoldo. Book Review.

The book begins:

  • Everyone has fears,
  • some silly, some twisted.
  • So you don’t feel alone,
  • here are some listed…

I was rather excited at this point to learn a fear for each letter of the alphabet but unfortunately that’s not how the book is structured. The letters of the alphabet stand for the names of the children and the fears they experience have nothing to do with the letter. For example C is for Claire who recoiled from legumes. D is for Drew who hid from raccoons. Oddly A and B are missing from my copy of the book and there doesn’t seem to be any torn out pages.

Some of the fears are a little too suggestively illustrated. For example the child who is afraid of snakes has good reason to be. She is sitting on a picnic blanket with her doll and teddy bear and six snakes, several of which are bigger than her, are coming towards her. It is not clear whether this is her imagination or actually happening.

The book ends:

  • Everyone has fears,
  • some big, something very small.
  • it’s normal to get scared sometimes –
  • it happens to us all.

I think this makes the book worthwhile in that it reassures children that everybody has fears. Unfortunately none of the children overcome their fear and there are no afterwords about overcoming fears.

There is also another note at the ending that reads:

  • Learn from the missing letters –
  • to them you must look.
  • They were gutsy and brave
  • and so not in this book.

So that explains where the B is but I still don’t know where the A is. I confess I didn’t notice that the G was missing. This is an interesting touch but I don’t think it is worth having letters missing from the alphabet when you’re reading the book to a child. Perhaps those letters could have been included at the end with an explanation of how to be gutsy and brave.

The illustrations are good but, as I mentioned, some are a little disturbing. “Q was for Quinn, horrified by needles.” She is in the waiting room of the dentist’s office. The dentist is holding up huge needle which is amplified when the child sees it through the aquarium. Also in the aquarium is a set of dentures. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to intensify a child’s nervousness about the dentist. The fearful children are well drawn and the pages are filled with frightening detail.

I would expect the intended purpose of this book was to reassure children that everyone has fears. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if they would find it reassuring for disturbing. It would be an okay book for children who don’t frighten easily but not for the sensitive child.

thumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tiny

 

Pixel Premium ABC Magnets for Kids Gift Set – 142 Magnetic Letters for Fridge, Dry Erase Magnetic Board and FREE e-Book with 40+ Learning & Spelling Games – Best Alphabet Magnets for Refrigerator Fun!

 

Learning Resources Alphabet Marks The Spot Floor Mat

LeapFrog Letter Factory Leaping Letters

 

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel. Book review.

This is a humorous alphabet book which actually goes through the letters several times. The first thing you notice is that there are two fake bites out of the book that go completely through the cover and pages in the middle.

When you open the cover, it has a list of words for ate or destroyed such as ate, bit through, chewed, dined on, engulfed, and so on. It ends with, “What a bad kitty.”

A fun followup with a class or child (over eight years of age) would be to pick a common action word for their pet, such as play, or person, such as say, and create a list like the “ate” list inside the cover. If you get stuck, use google or word to find synonyms.  For example:

Play: act, bounce, caper, dally, entertain, fiddle…

Say: announce, bellow, converse…

Turn the page and you see dirty footprints clawed furniture and broken items scattered around the living room. There is also a doodle on the wall of an angry cat and the cat’s tail is disappearing out of sight.

Then the story begins, “She wasn’t always a bad Kitty.” It goes through the alphabet of food the author tried to give the kitty when she ran out of cat food. Basically the alphabet is vegetables such as asparagus, beats, cauliflower, dill, eggplants and so on. On each page the cat makes a horrific sound and face in response to the beans vegetables and spices. I am not crazy about this section. It’s hard enough to get kids to like healthy food when they are bombarded with advertisements for unhealthy food without denigrating it in their reading. Explain carefully that cats have a strong hunting instinct and are carnivores.

At this point kitty becomes bad and begins to destroy the house in alphabetical order. “She ate my homework. Bit grandma. Clawed the curtains. Devoured my new book.” And so on.

When the author returns with new cat food, listed in alphabetical order again, the cat experiences joy and hunger at the offered entrées. They are “an assortment of anchovies, buffalo burritos, chicken cheesecake, a donkey named Dave, elephant eggs, fried rice, etc. This would be acceptable if the illustration didn’t actually show a dead buffalo wrapped in a burrito or a dead lizard wrapped in lasagna. My granddaughter and I found these pictures disturbing and disgusting.

At this point the kitty decides to be good again. He “Apologized to grandma. Bought me new toys. Cleaned her cat box. Drove me to school.” Etc. These pictures are very funny.

In the end the author tries to reward the kitty by bringing a wonky looking dog into the home and saying, “You can go to the park together and you can share your food with him.” At this point the kitty makes that angry face again.

Children can have fun imagining or listing destructive actions the cat engaged in next. Or, things he did to the dog (avoiding extremes). A for ate the dogs treats. B for hid the dog’s bones.  C for carried away his ball. Etc.

This is an hilarious and inventive book that will engage readers. I have qualms about reaction to healthy food (for people) and the whole animals in the cat’s food but, other than that, it’s a fun book for children who are ready for higher level alphabet books.

Click on the cover for more information or to buy the book.

        

 

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Writing/Righting History & Getting Toddlers to Eat – Author Delin Colón Three Random Questions Interview

delinglasses1aDelin Colón is a writer and freelance editor with a background in clinical psychology.

Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Delin. You have had a number of career paths. Tell us a little about them and how they led to your writing.

Delin Colón: Thank you, Bonnie. Actually, I wrote my first poem at the age of eight (in 1958). Several were published in minor literary magazines during my high school and college years. Then came essays and short stories.

While I had majored in French and French literature in my undergraduate years, I turned to clinical psychology in graduate school which combined my love of research and working with people, and led to counseling children and adults in a variety of clinical settings such as psychiatric hospitals, halfway houses, walk-in clinics and a juvenile detention center. This background led to a job as a technical writer for Sociological Abstracts. I loved the challenge of reducing an experiment or study down to four sentences describing the essence of the article.

A decade or so later, as the co-owner and manager of a stairbuilding company, I saw a need in the marketplace for a clearinghouse of all kinds of writers and formed a company that matched freelance writers with jobs. But the real impetus for publishing my first book, Rasputin and the Jews, came from reading the memoirs of my great-great uncle who spent a decade as Gregory Rasputin’s secretary/manager.

Ferrante: You have written two very different books, a historical nonfiction called Rasputin and the Jews and a picture booked titled Zeke Will Not Eat. Let’s talk about the first one for a bit. How much research did that involve? Did you have the plot and then do the research or did you discover the plot as you researched?

Colón: Actually, Rasputin and the Jews: A Reversal of History is the culmination of 15 years of researching the writings of people who knew Rasputin. My father had always told me that his great uncle, Aron Simanovitch, had been Rasputin’s secretary. For years I tried to research my ancestor but with little luck until the late 1990s when I found, on the internet, an out-of-print copy of Simanovitch’s memoirs in French. It did not seem to have been professionally edited at all, as there was a lot of repetition and poor organization of the manuscript. However, what struck me about it, first of all, was that my great-great uncle was one of the few Jews permitted to live outside Russia’s Pale of Settlement where most Jews were confined. But even more importantly, his memoirs conveyed a completely different image of Rasputin than history and myth have recorded.

My second book was my English translation, with historical annotations, of Simanovitch’s memoirs, titled Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary by Aron Simanovitch.

Ferrante: How do you organize your research and make it easy to find something you read later on? I read that you worked on the book for 15 years. You must have been buried in documents.

Colón: Most of the books I read about Rasputin propagated the demonic myth that had been fabricated by the Russian nobility to discredit him. But there were quite a few quotes and memoirs from those who knew him intimately, on a nearly daily basis (such as my great-great uncle and Maria Rasputin), that told the story of a humanitarian (who, okay, loved to party) who, contrary to government policy and to the wrath of the aristocracy, advocated equal rights for oppressed minorities as well a voice in government for all citizens.

With regard to organizing the research, I used a simple index card file with the subject and date of the quote or event at the top, the quote in the body of the card, and the title, author and page of the resource information at the bottom. The cards were then organized by subject matter and then chronologically within each chapter’s subject.

Ferrante: Can you give us a sentence or two about Rasputin and the Jews?

Colón: Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History is the product of research providing evidence that the Russian nobility, clergy and bureaucracy conspired in a smear campaign against Rasputin because they saw him as dangerous:

  1. for advocating equal rights for Jews (in opposition to the laws restricting their lives)
  2. for the popularity of his upbeat sermons of a loving God (in contrast to the fear of God preached in the Russian Orthodox Church)
  3. for being anti-war and preaching peace during World War I.
  4. and for believing that all citizens should have a say in government…the biggest threat to the nobility.

Ferrante: Why did you challenge the tradition beliefs about Rasputin?

Colón: History is written by the victors, not by the common man.  It became clear to me that Rasputin became a collateral victim of, among other things, the virulent anti-Semitism of the aristocracy, bureaucracy and clergy. My research revealed that it was not only my ancestor’s experience that Rasputin was a generous man, a healer and a progressive humanitarian, but that others who knew him well witnessed the same traits, refuting the demonic image. For me, it was a matter of righting a century-old injustice. Interestingly, Rasputin and The Jews led me to a correspondence with Rasputin’s great-great granddaughter in France. She tours Europe and Russia lecturing to dispel the myths about Rasputin.

Click on the cover to buy Rasputin and the Jews

Ferrante: Your latest book is a picture book for children, Zeke Will Not Eat.  Why did you choose this subject?

Colón: I’m in the process of writing a series of books for 2 to 6 year-olds, addressing typical toddler issues. Zeke Will Not Eat is the second one. I’ve done some research on the most common problems parents of this age group face and not eating is high on the list. The first book, Katy Rose Likes To Say NO!, addresses that stage where children assert their independence and establish themselves as separate from their parents by saying “no.”

Click on the picture to buy Katy Rose Likes to Say NO!

Ferrante: Did the technique used in the book come from personal experience?

Colón: Yes it did. It was a technique I devised for myself as a child, using my imagination to make mealtime more interesting for myself. It was completely internal and not something I mentioned to my parents or siblings.

Ferrante: Do you have any other tips for parents having mealtime difficulties with a child?

Colón: At the beginning of each of these little books, there is a note to parents explaining the behavior and its purpose in the child’s development. With Zeke, I note that, barring medical issues, there are a variety of reasons for a child’s unwillingness to sit down at the table for a meal, from filling up on snacks and drinks too close to mealtime, to feeling excluded from the conversation, or simply exercising newly found manipulative abilities.

Click on the cover to buy Zeke Will Not Eat

In Katy Rose, my note to parents stresses that it is not only normal, but developmentally necessary for children to go through a “no” phase in order to assert themselves in the world and establish a Self, an identity separate from their parents. As powerless beings subject to adult authority, “no” is often a child’s first taste of power and individuality. But when it becomes routine defiance or is hurtful to friends, it is an opportunity to teach compassion and the unfortunate consequences of negativity. There is also discussion on when it is important to say “no.” One way to avoid “no” is to make statements rather than ask questions, reducing the possibility of options. Rather than asking, “Do you want to go for a walk?” saying, “Let’s go…” or “Now we’ll go…” assumes the event will occur and doesn’t give an option.

Ferrante: The illustrations seemed odd at first glance until I read how they were done using the same 150 shapes arranged and rearranged to create pictures. Why did you choose this technique?

Colón: I grew up in a small town on the east coast that was essentially an artists’ colony. My mother is an artist and we were always given art projects to do, in a variety of media. One of the most famous artists in our town was Ben Shahn. His teenage daughter, Susie, happened to be visiting at my friend’s house when I was about 7 years old. She sat us kids down on the floor, cut a huge variety of shapes from construction paper and had us arrange the shapes into an image on a blank piece of paper. It was like doing a jigsaw puzzle with no ‘right’ outcome; just whatever our imaginations could conjure.

I’ve been enamored of this technique ever since, and have a website of other images I’ve created, in addition to the book illustrations. (http://delin-colon.pixels.com/)

I have nothing in mind when cutting the pieces of varying shapes, lengths and sizes. The challenge is in turning them into illustrations that convey the text. One image might take a couple of days to a week to produce. By the way, all of the pieces used in Katy Rose were also used in Zeke, with a few dozen more added for the latter. Instructions for doing such a parent-child art project are at the back of each book. Alternatively, a child could color in the black and white images, as one would in a coloring book.

Ferrante: I don’t think people realize how challenging it is until they try it.

What are you working on now?

Colón: I’m conjuring the third book in the series which will be about telling the truth, a more difficult and abstract concept than the first two. Interestingly, my research revealed a study showing that children are more likely to tell the truth after hearing positive stories (like George Washington being praised for admitting he chopped down the cherry tree) than they are after hearing stories with negative consequences for lying (like The Boy Who Cried Wolf or Pinocchio

In addition, I have half a dozen rough chapters of an existential coming-of-age novel illustrating how Self and Identity are shaped and the conundrum that there is no absolute Self without outside influences.

Ferrante: Interesting. That’s similar to Buddhism.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to share with my readers?

Colón: This is the most thorough and in-depth interview I’ve done, with questions that pertain specifically to my work, as opposed to the general, stock questions that others ask every writer. I’ve really had to think about them. I just hope that your readers find some of my work of interest.

Ferrante: I’m sure parents of toddlers will appreciate your tips.

Three Random Questions:

Ferrante: What was the craziest thing you ever bought?

Colón:   I’ve never been a lover of shopping and have generally stuck to practical items but several decades ago I was intrigued by an ad for an electric device that could be set at various brain wave frequencies to induce alertness, memory, sleep, creativity, or relaxation. I was especially interested in increasing the Theta waves for creativity. At different times, I tried each different setting, wearing dark goggles that pulsed light flashes at different rates and head phones that played tones in the desired frequencies. They all tended to produce the same result for me: I’d fall asleep and have some very bizarre dreams. Not long after, I’d be awakened by one of my teenagers asking when dinner would be ready. Frankly, I never noticed any greater creativity, fatigue or relaxation in the ensuing meal preparations.

Ferrante: In your opinion, what song has the most beautiful chorus?

Colón: That’s a tough one. I guess the one closest to my heart would be Helen Reddy’s “You and Me Against the World:”

You and me against the world,
Sometimes it seems like you and me against the world,
When all the others turn their backs and walk away,
You can count on me to stay.

It describes perfectly the close relationship I had with my older son, a musician who, even at the age of 27, before his death eight years ago, proudly described himself as “mama’s boy.”

The song continues:

And when one of us is gone,
And one of us is left to carry on,
Then remembering will have to do,
Our memories alone will get us through
Think about the days of me and you,
Of you and me against the world.

Ferrante: Oh, I am so sorry. I can’t imagine losing my son. My deepest condolences.

Last question. Do you like your first name? What would you like to have been called?

Colón: I do like my first name (accent on the second syllable: de-LIN) mostly because I created it. It is not the name on my birth certificate, but a mash-up of my names that I’ve been using for over 50 years. I was given a Hebrew name, Chana Dvora, and though I like it, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, especially with the guttural “ch.” But if I had it to do over, from scratch, I always thought “Kate” suited me.

Again, Bonnie, thank you so much for this opportunity. I don’t think I’ve ever given such a heartfelt interview … probably because I was never asked such well-considered questions.

Ferrante: Thank you. I try to make my interviews unique to the interviewee. You’ve shared a lot of information with us. This is, by far, the longest interview I’ve printed but it is chock full of value and cool ideas. Thank you for participating.

Zeke Will Not Eat was reviewed on this blog March 20, 2017.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Three random questions are from a Bit of Banter, the Game That Gets You Talking)

Now I Know My A B Cs

The focus for May is alphabet books mixed in with other books I have agreed to review. Graeme Base set a new standard when he created Animalia, an amazing seek and find alphabet book. Other authors/artists have interpreted the alphabet book differently. I have already reviewed some interesting takes on this type of book. In A is for Africa, Michael I. Samulak and Sswaga Sendiba created a beautiful blend of two cultures using batik illustration and African animals. Kellen Hatanaka’s Occupational A B C Work interprets each letter as a potential occupation. I’ve also reviewed Diana Bonder’s A, B, Sea: A Deep Sea Symphony and L M N O Peas by Keith Baker.

It is fascinating to see what people have done with the alphabet. There are location themes: Canadian, Algonquin, and British Columbia. There are silly stories about animals, Bad Kitty and Snappsy the Alligator, that eat everything in sight – in alphabetical order. Some are based on popular interests such as R is for Race: A Stock Car Alphabet or P is for Princess: A Royal Alphabet. Some try to encourage good habits like ABC Doctor and ABC Letters in the Library. Many tie into the curriculum such as the Pioneer Alphabet. Others just try to include as many words as possible beginning with the letter no matter how zany the results Aster Aardvarks Alphabet Adventures and The Alphabet From A to Y with Bonus Letter Z. Some are quirky such as The Little Book of Big Fears. The Three Bears, An Alphabet Book  puts an inventive spin on a classic story. Some are seriously important such as A is for Anaconda: A Rainforest Alphabet. I’m sure you’ll find a new take on the alphabet book.

During this exploration of the alphabet, I will also share some ideas for engaging your child in learning letters. Here’s one game I play with my granddaughter.

Find the Clues

To create atmosphere, provide a child with a small flashlight and a detective style hat. Dim the lights but not too much. Have slips of brightly colored paper, each with a letter from their name, hidden around the room or house. As the child finds the “clues”, he or she arranges the letters in order on a table. If they absolutely love this game, try the whole alphabet.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages