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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The Three Little Pigs – Traditional Versions

I’ll begin with The Three Little Pigs, the traditional version, or close to it. I have already reviewed two versions. The Three Little Pigs by Jean Calverie received five stars. The Three Little Rigs by David Gordon was a fun little four-star variation on the theme.

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Let’s look first at picture books that stay close to the original version.

The Three Little Pigs by Emily Bolam features ultra simple pictures with heavy black outlines. The text is large and broken into small chunks in between the pictures. The big bad wolf looks more silly than scary. At the end, the wolf burns his bottom in a pot of soup and runs away. This would be a perfect introductory traditional version for the youngest child.

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The Three Little Pigs: An Old Story by Margot Zemach features detailed pen and ink and watercolor illustrations. The wolf wears a top hat, carries a cane and looks rather debonair but also deceitful. In this version he actually eats the first and the second pig. The story continues on to the mostly forgotten original scenes wherein the wolf and the pig have a battle of wits for several days involving turnips, apples, and barrels. The wolf rips off his clothing and becomes a fierce and rather frightening looking animal when he realizes he’s been fooled too many times. He races down the chimney, falls into the pot of soup, and then is cooked and eaten by the little pig. Definitely a version for the mature reader.

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The Three Little Pigs written by Betty Miles and illustrated by Paul Meisel is an easy read version told completely in dialogue. It would be perfect for readers’ theater for primary students. The wolf rides bicycle and wears a lettered sweatshirt. He burns his bottom in the soup and decides to leave them alone at the end. This would be a fun version for a primary class to use.

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The Three Little Pigs by Bernadette Watts features beautiful, detailed, pastel full double page illustrations. The first and second pig escape when the wolf blows down their house, however we have no idea where they go. They reappear after the third pig builds a brick house and defeats the wolf. This time the wolf merely climbs onto the roof and when the smoke gets in his eyes, he runs back into the forest and is never seen again. At that point the third little pig fetches his (homeless) two brothers and their mother and they all live together happily in the brick house. This one definitely has the upper hand with regard to illustration.

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Three Little Pigs and The Big Bad Wolf written and illustrated by Glen Rounds is a terrifying version that follows the original closely. The pictures look like black ink and crayon but they are not at all juvenile. The Wolf is a scrawny, vicious-looking beast. He blows down the first two houses and eats the first and second little pigs. There is a close-up of his fangs the first time the third little pig tricks him with the turnip patch escapade. At the end, the pig cooks the wolf in soup and eats him. The second last picture is a grinning pig over a pile of bones. Only read this if you want to give your kid nightmares. It would be good for adults studying tradition folk tales.

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If you are trying to familiarize a preschooler with the numeral three, involve her whole body by drawing a large 3 on the driveway in chalk. Have her walk along it, hop, tip-toe, march, etc. reciting, “Everybody look at me. As I walk the number three. Three. Three. Three.”

three chalk

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Power of Three – A Numerically Themed Month

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When my littlest granddaughter turned three, I shared numerous books with her about the number three, amazed at how often it appears in literature and culture.

Three is significant in religious stories. Christianity has the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Three Magi bring gifts to the baby Jesus. Jesus prays three times in the Garden of Gethsemane and rises from the dead on the third day. Peter denies Christ three times.

In Taoism, the number three stands for heaven, earth, and human. The Hindus have Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Many Mahayana Sects end their chants with three calls to Amida Buddha. Buddhism has the three gems, The Buddha, The Dharma, and The Sangha.

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The number three is featured in numerous nursery rhymes and songs. The Three Little Kittens lose their mittens. Three Blind Mice lose their tails. The black sheep provides three bags of wool. Sing a Song of Sixpence talks about the King, the Queen, and the maid. Wynken, Blnken, and Nod sing you to sleep. There are three proposed solutions to stop London Bridge from falling down. Little boys and little girls are each made of three things, either frogs and snails and puppy dogs tails or sugar and spice and everything nice.

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Three characters or three events are common in fairytales and folktales. The Queen has three chances to guess Rumpelstiltskin’s name. The woman searching for her husband, in East of the, West of the Moon, gets three gifts. It is on the third cry for help that The Boy Who Cried Wolf is ignored. Jack takes three trips up the beanstalk. The Shoemaker leaves clothes for the elves on the third night. A genie will grant three wishes. Goldilocks invades the home of the three bears. Three Billy Goats Gruff cross the troll’s bridge.

Protagonists often have to answer three riddles correctly. Heroes have to undergo three trials. It is usually the third son who succeeds in the quest. Wikipedia lists twenty fairytales that begin with the words “The Three”.

Stories have a beginning, middle, and end. Even time itself is divided into three parts, the past, the present, and the future.

For the rest of this month, I will be exploring the number three in children’s stories. I have used this myself. The Dawn’s End New Adult books are a trilogy: Nightfall, Poisoned, and Outworld Apocalypse. In the early young adult novella Terror at White Otter Castle, three friends form the triangle of power.

I have also used this in picture books. Rayne Shines uses three complainers, the father, the mother, and Rayne. In No More Red, three negative things happen to Amy before she decides to wish red away. The pattern of three is also used in Too Quiet, Too Noisy.

There’s something satisfying about the number three. Have less and it feels unfinished. Have more and it feels like too much. Three is perfection.

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Here’s a parenting hack about the number three. If your preschooler is unable to hold down her baby finger with her thumb in order to show three straight fingers, teach her to do this way. You can even say, “being three is okay.”

Read all the books on a rainy day? Get active and play bean toss with painter’s tape on three triangles, rectangles, or squares (not recommended for carpets. Don’t leave it on for more than two days.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Ali the Inventor Saves the Garden! by Amire Makin. Book Review.

This was a unique and positive picture book. Ali is a boy who loves math and electronics and considers himself an engineer and inventor. He looks to be about 10 or 12 years old. Ali explains to the reader that electronics show how a thing really works. Math formulas solve electronic problems.

Allie goes out into the community to see who can he can help with his skills. He meets Mr. Maxwell whose vegetable garden is dying because the sprinkler system won’t work. Allie takes the electronic circuit board to his lab where he fixes it. While he works, he explains how to be safe using electronics. With the assistance of Mr. McCoy, he solves the timer problem using mathematics. This is pretty advanced formula work. Even though a child may not understand the math, they will be able to follow the story. Allie successfully repairs the sprinkler system.

The story ends:

“Friends, remember we used math to convert the time for minutes into seconds. We also used math to fix an electronic circuit so sprinkler system would work. Always use a grown-up when working with electronics. The ability to make a big difference is deep inside of you. Train your brain to solve problems in your neighborhood!”

I love that this young man showed how important, useful, and fun understanding math can be. He also demonstrated that we can use whatever our skills are to contribute to our society. He was socially engaged and responsible. This would be a great book to read to a child who says, “I’ll never use math in real life.”

The book showed people of diverse backgrounds. The illustrations were in the style of early comic books. Allie was a lovable protagonist, especially when he did his little victory dance.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

My Videos for Kids, Parents and Teachers on Youtube Bonnie0904

https://www.youtube.com/user/Bonnie0904

Preschool to Kindergarten – counting to 5 for teachers and parents- Counting to 3 on the Cheap

Preschool to Kindergarten – counting to 5 for teachers and parents – Counting to 5 on the Cheap

Preschool to Grade 1 – counting for children – Sing to Ten and Down Again

Preschool to Grade 1 – counting, number recognition ideas for teachers and parents- Play and Learn with Number Mats

Preschool to Grade 1 – physical activity & more for children – Come On. Let’s Play.

Kindergarten – numbers, shapes, counting for children- Do You Believe in Fairies (not narrated)

Preschool to Grade 2 – classification of animals & more for teachers and parents – Educational Play with Animal Puzzle Mats

Kindergarten to Grade 3 – animal rescue, fractured folktale for children – The Gingerbread Man

Kindergarten to Grade 3 – (book read aloud) – focussing on the task at  hand, nutrition for children – Never Send Callie

Grade 1 to 3 – sound, a balanced life, problem solving – Too Quiet, Too Noisy 

Grade 1 – mixing paint colours – Mixing Colours

Grade 1 to 3 – human body for children – The Fascinating Sense of Taste

Grade 1 to 3 – human body for children – The Sense of Smell

(The other senses will be coming soon.)

Grade 1 to 2 – opposites for children – Opposites #1

Grade 1 to 2 – opposites for children – Opposites #2

Grade 1 to 3 – animal rescue, fractured folktale for children – Three Little Pigs are Rescued

Grade 1 to 3 – (book read aloud) worrying – Then the Tooth Fairy Won’t Come

Grade 1 to 3 – traditional fairytale with legos & graphics for children – The Snow Queen

Grade 2 to 4 -(book read aloud) gratitude brings happiness – Rayne Shines

Grade 2 to 4 – fractured fairytale told in rhyme with fashion dolls for children – The Real Princess (The Princess and the Pea)

If you would like me to create a video on a specific topic for children aged 1- 10, please leave a comment.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

P is for Princess: A Royal Alphabet by Steven L. Layne and Deborah Dover Layne. Illustrated by Robert and Lisa Papp. Book Review.

Sleeping Bear Press has numerous alphabet books with the same style. There is a four line poem about the featured letter superimposed on a full-color glossy picture. There is an accompanying text bar down the side. I have favorably reviewed some of these books. I picked up this one because my granddaughter is Princess crazy and I wanted to know if this would have some things we could share. The title is a little misleading. I thought it was going to be about princesses but it is actually about royalty. Princesses are only a minor part. It talks about King’s, Queens, emperors, Czars, and royal objects.

The book is a mishmash of fiction and nonfiction. It begins with sleeping beauty whose actual name is Aurora in the fairytales. I was expecting it to be Anastasia, the historical Princess. The letter B features a royal mouse king and queen and discusses “belle of the ball.” C is for Cinderella. D is for Diana, Her Royal Princess the Princess of Wales. The pictures feature historical figures, fairy tale people, and children playing dress-up. I think it would’ve been better if it had either focused on historical or fictional royalty.

The text box is fairly dry considering who might be drawn to this book. Unlike many of Sleeping Bear Presses other books, this one cannot be used as a resource book or teaching text. A factual, consistent approach for historical figures or a fun, imaginative approach for fictional characters would have made this book more useful.

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

  
  

FREE VIDEOS FOR AGES 3-9

The Snow Queen 

The Real Princess or The Princess and the Peayoutu.be/G2-hdRxq5sA

Read Along with The Real Princess

MAKE SURE TO RETURN WEDNESDAY FOR MY INTERVIEW WITH DARREN GROTH. Darren Groth writes powerful and insightful young adult novels. His work has won several prestigious awards and has been a finalist for the coveted Governor General’s Literary Awards in Canada.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

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

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.

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

 

Apple Pie A B C by Allison Murray. Book Review.

This very simple alphabet book tells a cute story. It is done with woodblock prints using white, orange, yellow, red, black, and blue in bright chunks of color. It tells the story of a little girl leaving an apple pie on the table in front of a hungry beagle.

It begins, “A apple pie” while the girl is sprinkling sugar on the pie. “B bake it” shows the pie in the oven and the dog following the delicious smell. “C cool it”. The little girl and dog are staring at the apple pie cooling in the window. The story continues with the dog’s eagerness for pie building and building until he gets sent to his dog bed. Eventually, he sneaks back into the kitchen, pulls on the tablecloth, and gets the pie. Each step of the story is told with a single word or phrase beginning with the featured letter.

The drawings are very simple but expressive. Murray shows the dog chagrin, excitement, hunger, misery, and sneakiness with a simple adjustment of two lines, one for the mouth and one for the eyebrow. Small children will love this book while they are exposed to the bright capital letters.

A delightful discovery.

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

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages