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Chrysanthemum – Kevin Henkes

Okay Moms and Dads. I have found a book you should all read to your little ones.  I have seen this cover all over the place in my book wanderings, but had never read it. Published back in 1991 (so no excuse for me never having read it) it has been chosen as an ALA notable book and School Library Journal book of the year.  I found my copy for a few dollars at a second hand store and decided to just buy it because I recognized it.  Oh, man oh man, I have been missing out.  Not only does it have a subtle message about self-esteem, the drawings are bright and kid-tested wonderful.  Am I over-selling this thing?  Maybe, but I doubt it.

Chrysanthemum kevin Henkes

Summary:

Chrysanthemum loves her name.  That is she loves it, until she goes to school and realizes that her name is super long and all her classmates have short “normal” names.  Chrysanthemum struggles with kids making fun of her flower name and picking on her a bit.  She “wilts” when they tease her and even dreams of changing her name.   Her parents try to help her, but suddenly the best (and kinda crazy) music teacher helps out because she loves Chrysanthemum’s name.  Mrs. Twinkle shows the readers (and her music class) that being different can be wonderful. She is quite different and said to be an “indescribable Wonder” herself. This all done without obviously saying “okay kids, being different is actually pretty neat”  it’s just waiting there for the little ones to grasp on their own and mine did and that makes me smile.

Mrs. Twinkle

Review:

My princess-loving girls like this book. A lot.  This gets multiple repeat requests from them.  That alone is reason for me to love it for the breath of fresh air that it is.  But more than that… It’s teaching them a message I want them to hear.   That it’s not okay to make fun of people, and that being yourself is the best thing you can be.  The writing in the book doesn’t quite rhyme, but it feels lyrical, which makes it a fun read aloud book.  The pictures add so much to the story that there are words and picture stories that happen here and it’s all so polished.

Okay, enough said- just go rent it from the library and then find yourself a copy after that.

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The Prince’s Poison Cup – R.C. Sproul

The Prince’s Poison cup, by R.C. Sproul  is not marketed as an Easter book, but it sure is a perfect book for Easter time.  If you are looking for something that is religious without being cheesy; Not too detailed and not shallow either, then this is your book. (These are kind of hard to find by the way)

PPC-cover

Summary:

This story is about a King and his son.  The King was called the king of life because he made everything and everyone in Prince's Poison Cuphis city.  In the center there is a fountain that the king told his people not to drink from.  Eventually, they are convinced to drink by the king’s archenemy who tells them the water is wonderful and good.  The people drink and, their hearts turn to stone- not wanting to be near the king at all.  Because of that, they build their own city away from the king. The king asks his son to help save their people.  He asks him to take the golden cup and go to the city of Man and drink from a fountain at the center of it that is filled with poison.

PPC-2The son obeys his father, though he is sad along the way, even being taunted by the people and hit with some rocks.  He drinks from the fountain like his father asks and dies from the horrible poison.   The king of life then comes and saves his son and the poison fountain turns to clear wonderful water.  The Prince offers this water to “anyone who is thirsty”, and some people whose hearts were changed by what the prince did, drink.  (starting with an adorable brave little boy)

Review:

This book points to Jesus in super obvious ways, but is also fresh and un-memorized for kids.  My oldest guesses “Jesus” for most questions she doesn’t know the right answer to so this is a good thing for us.  I think kids can relate to tasting yucky things, so the idea of drinking poison is something they understand and relate to more than what Jesus went through.  The book is beautiful to look at, and interesting for both parents and kids and makes its way into our reading routine around this time each year.

  • Author: R.C. Sproul
  • Illustrator: Justin Gerard
  • ISBN: 1-56769-104-8
  • Copyright: 2008
  • Publisher: Reformation Trust

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Good news! You can watch a video of RC Sproul reading the story HERE.

Disclaimer: I purchased this book with my own money.

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The Leprechaun’s Gold – Pamela Duncan Edwards

I couldn’t resist one more St. Patrick’s day book review even though it will be too late for anyone to check it out in time for the big day itself.  This one is more touching than most I have read so the happy good morale should make it worth the read for most parents.

The Leprechaun's Gold -Pamela Duncan Edwards

The Leprechaun’s Gold -Pamela Duncan Edwards

Summary

The Leprechaun's Gold - 0439754526

The Leprechaun’s Gold – Pamela Duncan Edwards, Scholastic Inc. 0439754526

This story begins long ago in a small village where we find a smiling old man name Pat.  He was a harpist, and a good one at that!  Pat is humble and kind and willing to play his music for all kinds of events whether the people can pay him or not.  Well, young Tom, who was trained in the art by old Pat thinks the man is crazy for not making more money from his skills.  Old Pat says “I am rich in friends, and that is enough.”  well, one day the king holds a harping contest (you know, because they had a lot of those back in olden days of course)  and our two friends decide to give it a go.  Mean young Tom decides that old Pat just might beat him and breaks a string on his harp when he isn’t looking.   Poor poor old Pat has no extras, he can’t afford them!  He knows he won’t be able to win the contest now, but is going to give it a try anyway.

By this time, the wood is dark and as everyone knows, there are Leprechauns lurking there ready to play tricks on people for mean sport.  Suddenly our musicians hear a cry for help.  Unable to ignore the plea, old Pat goes to help the poor soul while Tom high-tails it out of there to safety.   Good thing for Pat, Leprechauns are nice if you help them out of a jam. Especially when you are as humble and kind as Pat was.  Just wait and see how that little Leprechaun decides to return the favor to our generous friend!

Review

The Leprechaun's Gold - 0439754526

The Leprechaun’s Gold – Pamela Duncan Edwards Scholastic inc.

The pictures are thoughtfully done and most pages have an intricate border around them.  There are 16 four leaf clovers hidden in this book for kids to find.  You won’t find any beautiful maidens or even cute furry animals in this one- so I think my daughters weren’t as excited about it as they might have been… but, as the mother, I get to pick the books we read sometimes and the story is so great, that I would force-feed it to my daughters if I had to.  (I mean, I don’t mind drawings of kind old men, but it’s not a super draw for my girls just yet… sigh!)  This is one of those stories that you hope is true; that good wins and kindness matters.  So, while I haven’t had to make my girls finish this story with me, they also haven’t asked me to read it on their own. Which kind of makes me sad, but I will keep trying. Repeat after me… Kindness matters more than princesses!

  • Author: Pamela Duncan Edwards
  • Illustrator:Henry Cole
  • ISBN:0439754526
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
  • Copyright: 2005

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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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The Princess Who Had No Kingdom – Ursula Jones & Sarah Gibb

The Princess Who had No Kingdom - ursula jones & Sarah Gibb

The Princess Who had No Kingdom – ursula jones & Sarah Gibb Image courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company (C) Sarah Gibb.

If you haven’t read some of the Ursula Jones/Sarah Gibb combination books, you are missing out.  Together they have produced some beautiful fairytales!  This particular story continues to be a favorite in our bedtime routines.  It’s funny and pretty and Oooh that’s a good mix.

Summary: This fairytale is a bit different than others.  We know little about our princess except that she works hard and is looking to find her kingdom.  (She knows and does not doubt that she is in fact a princess, she just is not rich has not found her kingdom quite yet)

Princess who had no kingdom 2

Image courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company (C) Sarah Gibb.

princesskingdom1a

Image courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company (C) Sarah Gibb.

creamhornfight

Cream horn fight over the princess Image courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company (C) Sarah Gibb.

Everywhere our princess goes, wealthy mothers hide their eligible sons so they don’t fall instantly in love with her.  Our Princess carries on taking packages in her cart and selling royal cast-offs to earn a bit of money as she searches for her kingdom.  Finally there is a ball held for an up-and-coming prince turned king and our princess decides to attend.  All of the wifeless kings fall in love with her (even though she is dressed in a rag dress and not concerned with fitting in.)  There is even a pastry fight as each king offers our princess their kingdom, yelling at the others.   She sneaks out of the ball and begins to search again.   Along the way she finds a former acquaintance and he tells her she is the queen of his heart.  They decide to make a go of it, He telling Jokes and she carrying parcels and they find they are quite happy.  Oh, she also realizes that she is the queen of “here, there and everywhere”  in a sort of “home is where the heart is” kind of way.

Review:  Any story that encourages kids to be themselves, to value hard work, and to choose love over money is a winner in my mind.  The illustrations are colorful and different.  Every other page goes from full color illustration to a silhouette combination and my daughters really enjoy looking at the intricate pictures even on their own.  If you are looking for a princess story that is a little different from the rest, this one is it.

  • Author: Ursula Jones
  • Illustrator: Sara Gibb
  • ISBN: 978-0-8075-6630-5
  • Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
  • Copyright: 2009

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Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money and emailed the publisher for permission to post pictures.  Image courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company (C) Sarah Gibb.