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Jamie O’Rourke and The Big Potato – Tomie DePaola

Tomie DePaola and PaperStar publishing

Tomie DePaola and PaperStar publishing

Happy St. Patrick’s day everyone!  Who wants to learn about Leprechauns?  Well, I don’t actually know much about them, but this is a super cute story with Leprechauns, pots of gold and… potatoes.   Surprisingly, in my hunt for a good St. Patrick’s day book, I didn’t find one with a rainbow and a pot of gold in it.  So if you have some suggestions, please let me know in the comments below.  While Jamie O’Rourke is not a definitive work on the wee little men, it does give you a hint of their craftiness and fun.

Summary

jamie o'rourke  Tomie DePaola

Jamie O’Rourke happens to be the laziest man that ever lived (in Ireland at least) Thankfully, he is married to a woman who is willing to work when her husband will not.  Eileen, hurts her back pulling up their potatoes and so poor old Jamie becomes scared that they will starve that winter.  Does he go out to the garden to get the potatoes for his family since his wife no longer can?  No!  He decides that he better go to the priest for one last confession before he starves to death!

Old Jamie comes to this conclusion at midnight and doesn’t want to wait (or work) so he heads out then and there to Father O’Malley’s. On the way he finds a Leprechaun making shoes for the fairy folk (that’s how they have all that gold you know)  and he catches the little man, demanding his gold. This Leprechaun was cleverer than most, and tells Jamie he only has a few gold coins because he is new to making shoes.  He offers our friend a wish instead, and coaxes him into wishing for the biggest potato (Pratie) in the world, all with no work.  Jamie decides that no work for a big potato is a great trade and he lets the little man go.

Jamie O'rourke  and the Big Potato PlantNow, I would love to tell you that Jamie learns his lesson, works hard for the giant potato and all of that, but that simply is not the case.  He is as lazy as ever!  He plants that seed and soon has a ginormous potato plant in his yard.  It is such a spectacle that soon all the town comes to see it.  Since this book is widely available I won’t spoil it for you, but that giant potato makes a nuisance of itself, but in the end, it all works out for our lazy friend. (Thankfully not everyone is as lazy as Jamie O’Rourke)

 

Review

My daughter couldn’t believe that on the last page we see that same little leprechaun smiling over his giant pot of gold.  “He’s a liar!” she kept saying and I just smiled and said: “Well, you have to be careful with the leprechauns, they don’t give their gold to just anyone, you have to be smart to get it.”  My oldest is still mad that the leprechaun lied! I like this story because it’s festive and Tomie DePaola wrote it, and I would buy almost anything of his. (Even though that gray cat and brown dog look awfully familiar) This is a fun one to read for Saint Patrick’s day, and a classic, but not a favorite.  There really isn’t a morale to the story, it’s just silly and I think that’s fairly accurate for leprechaun lore.  I will keep reading to find more stories for this holiday, but am glad to have this one in my collection (even if my daughter is a bit traumatized!)  She is warming up to the story now and thinks she’s pretty smart for not falling for the Leprechaun’s tricks. I guess I can rest easy knowing that, should she run into any little men dressed in green, she won’t be letting them go for just any old prize.  Whew! I can check that off my list of things she needs to know now.

  • Author: Tomie DePaola
  • Illustrator:  Tomie DePaola
  • ISBN: 978-0-698-11603-0
  • Publisher: PaperStar Book
  • Copyright: 1992

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Jaime O'Rourke  - 978-0-698-11603-0

Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato- Tomie DePaola and PaperStar Books.

 

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Bubble Bubble – Mercer Mayer

Bubble Bubble Mercer Mayer 1-57768-348-X

Bubble Bubble by Mercer Meyer 2003 Gingham Dog Press

Bubble Bubble has been one of my kids favorites.  I would say the best age for this book is as early as one years old and then again for early readers.   There aren’t a ton of words in this book, in fact the first edition did not have any text to it.  That should tell you just how expressive and interesting the pictures are to this book.  My then 4-year old daughter had the whole thing memorized and liked “reading” it to me.

bubble-buy

Bubble Bubble- Buying the “Magic Bubbles” Mercer Meyer- Gingham Dog Press

The story is pretty simple,  A little boy buys a Magic Bubble maker and blows some animal shaped bubbles.  Some of them are kind of freaky like a snake, but he then blows a bubble shaped like a cat to get the mean snake, but then…

The cat turns into a large cat and is going to attack us.  Quickly, he blows another bubble. “And that took care of that”. After this same pattern a number of times, our little boy gets tired, and decides to pop all the bubbles.

Spoiler Alert:  This is the last gorgeous page:

Bubblebubble

There is a repetitive pattern in this book where a cute animal bubble appears, but then attacks so we blow another animal to get that animal that kids love.  Seriously, even my 2 year old loves this book. I think because she knows what’s going to happen.  The pages are bright and there are tons of details to see.   Now for the bad news- this book is out of print!  I managed to find a hardback copy to save on my special shelf for a good deal and read a paperback one to my daughters.  Selfish, I know, but I don’t want to give this book up now. It has too many memories for us.

  • Author: Mercer Mayer
  • Illustrator: Mercer Mayer
  • ISBN: 1-57768-348-X
  • Publisher: Gingham Dog Press
  • Copyright: 1973 and 2003

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Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo – Mercer Mayer

cover image of Professor Wormbog  9781607467656

Professor Wormbog By Mercer Mayer 9781607467656

Not to oversell this one, but it is seriously one of my all-time favorite books.  It’s been around long enough that it could have been a childhood favorite of mine, but I didn’t discover it until a few years ago.  This is the same author/illustrator of the “Little Critter” books, but I like these even more.

Professor Wormbog in Search of the Zipperump-a-Zoo is funny and fun with a surprise ending.  Spoiler alert: I will be telling you the surprise in the last paragraph but don’t worry, the pictures are fun to look at and I still find new things when I read it because there is a lot to see in this book. Professor Wormbog collects beasties.  He has a wonderful collection of all the rare beasties from A-Y and is missing his letter Z, the elusive Zipperump-a-zoo!  He needs his Z animal so being the great animal hunter he is, he decides to catch one.

Professor Wormbog 9781607467656

Professor Wormbog’s Beastie Collection. Mercer Meyer

He tries every trick he knows, from traveling across the ocean, into deep dark caves, and even disguising himself as a feathered Croonie to see if Zipperump-a-Zoo’s fly through the air.  Alas, he cannot find it.   After a few close calls, and many animal catchings and releasing later, our poor professor calls it quits and goes home.  Exhausted and kinda sad, he falls asleep in his recliner in defeat.

IMG_20150310_0002_NEW

Uh-Oh! That’s not a Zipperump-a-Zoo! it’s a Blowfat-glowfish!

Our poor professor will just have to learn to be okay with his A through Y collection of rare animals.  The funny part that kids love is, as he is sleeping, his room becomes filled with little Zipperump-A-Zoos dancing and playing right in front of his sleeping nose. My daughters laugh almost every time at this, and like to make sound effects for each of the zipperump-a’s in the room. (There’s 13)  I have good news , this book is still in print and not too hard to find.  Definitely check it out at the library, or buy yourself a copy because it’s pretty fun for everyone.

  • Author: Mercer Mayer
  • Illustrator: Mercer Mayer
  • ISBN: 9781607467656
  • Publisher: FastPencil PREMIERE
  • Copyright: 1979 and 2011

Amazon link: Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo (Classic Collectible Series)

Disclaimer: I purchased this book with my own money.  I am hunting for a low priced 1979 version because that would be fun to own, but am happy with my copy here.

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Cinderella – KY Craft

cinderella ky craft

If I could only have one version of Cinderella, this one is it.  The pages are beautiful, stunning even, and look appropriate to the Victorian era (but don’t hold me to that, I am not versed in art history or fashion whatsoever)  Amazing illustrations are not enough though, the story has to be a good one, and this is the main reason I love this book.

The story begins the same as the traditional tale with our neglected heroine.  Cinderella is kind though, and actually meets the prince one day in the woods.  She found a hurt bird and was tending to it when he came riding by.  He notices her kindness and beauty right then but Cinderella quickly leaves because she is embarrassed of her raggedy appearance.    Cinderella thinks of the prince after that day.   Eventually a ball is held and she wishes to go, but of course her wicked family does not let her.  The storybook describes how Cinderella continued to brush her sisters hair until it was “perfect and smooth”  which I love because she is being kind even in the face of rudeness.

Now for the twist,  as she is crying her heart out she sees the little bird whose wing she mended.  The bird then turns into her fairy godmother (who is far from elderly and plump) she sends Cinderella to the ball with mice footmen in a flying coach.  Cinderella amazes everyone at the ball, and the prince falls in love, feeling as if he has known her from before.  On the second ball, Cinderella has a great time, but does not get home before midnight.  The prince then goes looking for his love and tries the shoe on all the maidens in the kingdom.  Cinderella asks to try on the slipper and the Prince says yes, making a reference to the bird she rescued.  With both slippers on, she turns into the ravishing princess.  The step sisters recognized her and fall at her feet, begging forgiveness for their rude treatment. Cinderella embraces them and they are forgiven.  The prince apologizes for not fully recognizing her “heart whether clothed in rags or regalia.”  Because he saw how humble and kind she was he falls even more in love and they are married and live happily ever after.

I love this version because it shows examples of Cinderella being kind and good not just telling us she was so.  If it’s so important to be that way, the story should take some time showing it!  I also like the prince more in this book than others because he admires Cinderella before the ball, and loves her even more after he knows her full story.  I think this is my favorite because if my little girls were going to dream of becoming a princess or meeting a prince, I would want them to behave this way, and find a man who sees beauty in many forms.

  • Author:  K. Y. Craft
  • Illustrator: K. Y. Craft
  • ISBN:1587170043
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Copyright: 2000

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Disclaimer:  I bought this book with my own money. It’s still in print and plentiful at the library.

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Cinderella by Sarah L. Thomson & Nicoletta Ceccoli

OH this book. I have thought way too much about it and worried over it’s pages concerning how to review it.  We borrowed this gorgeous book from the Library and ever since, my little 5 year old has stared at the pages in awe.  The illustrations are very beautiful and they are of a younger girl. (Cinderella looks like she is nine or so, which is kind of creepy to me but awesome to my daughter) There is a uniqueness to all the pictures that will draw anyone in.

This follows the traditional Cinderella. Her Father marries a horrible woman, and is never mentioned again.  We don’t know if he got sick and died or if he just doesn’t speak up.  Cinderella’s step sisters are actually beautiful but mean, our princess does her best to be nice to them, but it’s hard.  Her Fairy godmother shows up and helps Cinderella get ready for the ball, Telling her “You are dressed like a Queen!… Behave like one as well.  Be kind and courteous to all you meet and leave before midnight, or everything that my spells have created will vanish”  (I like that part because it’s saying beauty on the inside matters.) Unfortunately, you can say that, but you should show it too.

NicolettaCeccoli2

Amazon Publishing Nicoletta Ceccoli – Cinderella

But then the part I just can’t get over, and it’s probably me being weird, happens during the second ball.  Cinderella stays too long and as she is running away she turns into rags on the steps.  The prince actually sees her. “When he looked outside, the beautiful princess was nowhere to be found. He could see nothing but a shabby little servant girl with a pumpkin in her arms. On the steps was a glass slipper”  Okay, what?  He should know her, all that has changed is her dress.  So the prince goes around to find his princess and it says that he recognized her from her smiling eyes and gentle voice.  He then says that he knew it was her the minute he saw her.   But not on the steps I guess. They then marry and Cinderella was as “good as she was beautiful.”

I know that it’s in the story, be beautiful on the outside and the inside but it causes my daughter issues.  She loves this book, in fact she just saw and said it’s her favorite ever because Cinderella is “soooooo beeeautiful”  and she is.  But with the father just dropping off with no explanation and there being not one example of how Cinderella was actually good, (even to her mean stepsisters which offers tons of opportunity) I just can’t fill my daughters head with it.  KY Craft has a wonderful Cinderella which is probably why I am being so hard on this version.  Nicoletta Ceccoli, the illustrator, has a number of kids books (We have read and loved “Oscar the Mooncats”), so I promise to find a worthy one by this talented artist and review it I am going to have to pass on this version though. (even though it’s a bargain price on amazon right now)

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  • Author: Sarah L. Thomson
  • Illustrator: Nicoletta Ceccoli
  • ISBN:978-0-7614-6170-8
  • Publisher: Amazon Publishing
  • Copyright: 2012
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Cinderella – Max Eilenberg & Niamh Sharkey

There are probably hundreds of Cinderella picture books out there.  This likely will not be the last time I review some Cinderella stories.  I haven’t gotten my hands on the classic Marcia Brown’s version which might be the most popular non-Disney version, so this is definitely not all-inclusive review.  I will talk about three.

A favorite in my house that I bought and own is Max Eilenberg’s version illustrated by Niamh Sharkey.   We checked this one out from the library and read it so many times I had to buy my own copy.

cinderella max

I love this version because the illustrations are colorful and unique and it keeps my daughters interest, and I feel like the author wrote it knowing I would have to read it a hundred times – and wanted to keep it fun for me too.  In this version, the father does not die, he just follows his evil step wife as if in a spell.  There is some British humor in here, (warning you will find the words stupid and shut up in this book, which you can omit if you want, but maybe it adds to the step family’s nastiness) and it’s almost as if the narrator has a personality of his own adding interesting opinions and jokes here and there.  For example, after the coachman is made from a rat found with the longest whiskers “Kapouff!!   What a very proud coachman he was- and, my, what a superior moustache!”   Get it?  Mouse-stache?  Plus my littles asks me what superior means so it’s great all around.

In this version, Cinderella goes to the ball three times (in three beautiful dresses my daugher oohs and awws over)  and all the ladies at court try to copy her dresses and end up looking the same while Cinderella shines in her original gowns. (good lesson)  You get to be the clock in this version saying “BOING, BOING, BOING” twelve times and “Run Cinderella, run! Run, Run, RUN! (Seriously, you would have to be an awful read-alouder to not have fun with this version!) What I loved maybe the most is that in the end, it’s her Father who wakes up and insists the prince try the shoe on his daughter!  Then they all are invited to the wedding, though the step sisters aren’t quite able to smile.

This might be one of my go-to favorite read aloud fairy tale book. It’s shorter than some, and fun for me too.

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  • Author: Max Eilenberg
  • Illustrator: Niamh Sharkey
  • ISBN: 978-1-4063-0798-6
  • Publisher: Walker Books Ltd.
  • Copyright: 2008

Disclaimer: I purchased this book with my own money. Unfortunately, it’s out of print, but copies can still be found for not much money.

website with more images: http://niamhsharkey.blogspot.com/2008/05/cinderella.html

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The Princess Problem- is it?

So, I go back and forth between absolutely loving all the glitter and princess obsessions in my household and worrying that it may be unhealthy.  (I’ve even read books like “Cinderella ate my Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein my review of that you can read here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1175371034)  You see, My oldest absolutely LOVES all things pink and princess… to a degree that I don’t ever remember possessing.  Even my little 2 year old insists on dresses now.

You might think I am crazy, or worried about nothing, but then things like what happened this morning occur and I know I have a right to be wary.  This morning before school, my husband was pep-talking our little preschooler, encouraging her to be friendly with all the little kids, not just her best friend during circle time.  The seats at times are assigned and sometimes our little one is less than thrilled by who she is seated next to, though she is working on it.

Husband says- “You should be happy to sit next to any of the kids because everyone has something special about them.” (nice work Dad, I totally approve)  to which our girl said “Yes, even boys all have something that’s awesome about them!”  (Oh good, she’s getting it!)  Daddy then says “Yes, and the girls do to.”  To which she says “No they don’t, they have something Pretty about them!” (Oh no!)  And my husband, thinking this is sort of weird says… “Well that and awesome. Girls can be awesome as well as pretty”  and my littles just says “No” and begins chanting “Pretty, Pretty, Pretty.” like a room full of kids would chant for Ice Cream.

Now, I think that’s a bit creepy!  Seriously.  Yes, she is still at an age where she thinks all little girls are beautiful simply because they are a girl, so we aren’t in total trouble yet.  But, we are working on showing our little one that being pretty on the inside is so much more important than having a nice dress or blonde hair (she is sad her hair is brown).  Let me tell you, it feels like an uphill battle.  All the time people are telling her how cute her dress is, or how adorable she looks.   Thankfully, my little girl is also super loving and kind and has a lot going for her that we are working on encouraging. However, it was a wonderful reminder that the books we read our little kids matter. We should be careful of what message it is giving (seriously parents, if you have ready some of the Disney early reader, abbreviated versions of the princess tales, it’s dumb and all about looks and love in the not good way)  I have finally banned them from our Library piles, I dislike their messages so much. I might grab a few someday for review purposes so you can see I am not making this up.

Anyway, all of this to say that I still LOVE fairy tales and think that there are a ton that show a great message to little girls about inner beauty and love.  Fairy tales can even help in all of this.  For instance “Papa Gatto” is one of my favorites. My daughter loves it too and I will review it soon for you.  Not only that, but you can read the same tale and find ones that make more sense and follow a storyline that isn’t just about looks. So be careful, read the stories and remind yourself that beautiful pictures aren’t enough.  I will show you what I am talking about with my review of three Cinderella tales next.