Monthly Archives: February 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Elise Broach’s Wet Dog!

Perfect Picture Book Friday is here with Wet Dog! by Elise Broach, illustrated by the much-loved David Catrow.

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list of recommended picture books with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!

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Title: Wet Dog!

Author/Illustrator: Elise Broach and David Catrow

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin), 2005, reprinted in 2007

Fiction

Ages:  5 and up

Themes: humor, animals, weather, summer, manners, perseverance (and personally I would like to add facial expressions!)

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Opening: “He was a good old dog and a hot old dog, as he lay in the noonday sun. And he dozed and he drowsed in the beating-down sun, with his long pink tongue hanging out.

“Well, that too-hot dog in the too-hot sun just had to cool off somehow. So he heaved to his feet, and he sniffed the air, and he trotted off down the road . . .”

Synopsis:  On a hot, hot day, a good old dog just has to get some relief! Around the steamy country lanes, he sniffs and searches until he finds a chauffeur washing a shiny car, a baker scrubbing some sticky pans, and a florist spraying a pink bouquet. they’re all getting ready for a country wedding, and this overheated pup just wants to plunge into the fun! and water! but will the wedding party in their fancy finery welcome this gotta-be-cool pooch?

Resources and ideas: draw-your-own facial expression chart for emotions; discuss hot-weather issues like heat exhaustion, sunburn, plants withering, and drought; discuss ways to warm up in a cold winter; discuss how other mammals regulate their body temperature

What I thought: HILARIOUS! The story is cute, but the illustrations really make the book what it is.

Wet Dog! was also reviewed in 2010 on Kate’s Bookery Blog.

Enjoy and let me know what you think! 

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Categories: Books we love, Perfect Picture Book Friday | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Celeste and the Adorable Kitten

I was thrilled to finally read Celeste and the Adorable Kitten, the sequel to Celeste and the Giant Hamster. Author and animal lover Melanie Typaldos  brings cat characters to life in a way I had never experienced before, with the story told completely from the cat’s perspective as a cat. It is not a story about a cat who basically acts like a human. Each cat has a distinct personality, some pleasant and some not, just as real cats are. There is a Cat Code of Conduct and a wealth of old cat’s sayings that guide the cats’ choices and behavior.

The adventure in the story is well paced, and all the cat characters are memorable. I loved it. This book is also illustrated by Alexandra Tayts.

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From the back of the book: “It wasn’t easy but Celeste the Cat has managed to capture the perfect gift for Mother, a beautiful – and unharmed – red bird that almost looks like one of the ornaments when she tucks it under a strand of Christmas tree lights. Now she just needs to wait for the right moment to reveal it. But everything changes when Father brings home a tiny white kitten that he rescued from the grocery store parking lot. The family dotes on the kitten while Celeste is pushed aside. It eats her food, drinks out of her bowl, and plays with her toys. But not for long! With the reluctant help of her two faithful companions, Ruby and Tiger, Celeste plots to rid herself of the little menace. But instead of finding the kitten a new home, Celeste ends up rescuing Salt from one peril after another until at last she finds herself on a desperate mission to rescue the kitten from the pound.”

I highly recommend reading Celeste and the Giant Hamster first, just to get to know Ruby and Tiger before you jump into Celeste and the Adorable Kitten. But it’s certainly not necessary!

Melanie’s beloved capybara Garibaldi Rous, who makes a cameo appearance in the new book, passed away last week. For more information please visit GiantHamster.com.

Categories: Books we love, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

BlogShare: Roald Dahl and Matilda from NPR

I have decided to change my reblog name to BlogShare because often what I share is not from a blog post. I hope you enjoy this wonderful interview with Roald Dahl’s daughter Lucy. Did you know he wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or that he adapted Ian Fleming’s novel You Only Live Twice for the movie screen?

Roald Dahl Wanted His Magical ‘Matilda’

To Keep Books Alive

by NPR STAFF

November 14, 2013 5:07 PM
Correction Nov. 14, 2013: Previous audio and Web versions of this story incorrectly referred to Roald Dahl as being English. Dahl was Welsh.

Author Roald Dahl stands with his wife, American actress Patricia Neal, and their newborn daughter, Lucy, outside their home in Buckinghamshire, England, in August 1965. Roald Dahl died in 1990. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Every night, author Roald Dahl told his children a story: “Most of them [were] pretty bad,” he admitted in a 1972 BBC4 interview, “but now and again you’d tell one and you see a little spark of interest. And if they ever said the next night, ‘Tell us some more about that one,’ you knew you had something. This went on for quite a long time with a story about a peach that got bigger and bigger and I thought, ‘Well heck, why don’t I write it.’ ”

That bedtime story became Dahl’s first children’s book, James and the Giant Peach.

Lucy Dahl — the youngest of Dahl’s five children with his first wife, American actress Patricia Neal — remembers hearing those stories before she fell asleep. She joins Michele Norris to talk about Matilda, this month’s pick for NPR’s Backseat Book Club. It’s the story of a lonely girl with special powers and neglectful parents. Matilda finds her courage facing off with a bully of a headmistress, named Miss Trunchbull.

The magical narrative of Dahl’s books makes the writing look easy, but there was a lot of toil behind that playful language. Lucy remembers a letter her father wrote to her in December 1986, two years before Matilda was published:

“The reason I haven’t written you for a long time is that I have been giving every moment to getting a new children’s book finished. And now at last I have finished it, and I know jolly well that I am going to have to spend the next three months rewriting the second half. The first half is great, about a small girl who can move things with her eyes and about a terrible headmistress who lifts small children up by their hair and hangs them out of upstairs windows by one ear. But I’ve got now to think of a really decent second half. The present one will all be scrapped. Three months work gone out the window, but that’s the way it is. I must have rewritten Charlie [and the Chocolate Factory] five or six times all through and no one knows it.”


Interview Highlights

On writing Matilda

Matilda was one of the most difficult books for him to write. I think that there was a deep genuine fear within his heart that books were going to go away and he wanted to write about it.

On how he loved writing, but he also approached it as a job

My father was really very much a single dad. My mother was in America working throughout most of our childhood. He wrote for the money — he didn’t hide that. He also wrote screenplays and he hated writing screenplays, but he did it because the money was good. He wrote Chitty [Chitty] Bang Bang. He adapted Ian Fleming’s [James Bond] novel … You Only Live Twice.

On his work ethic

I remember waking up in the night and going to the bathroom and seeing the glow of the light in the little [writing] hut while it was still dark outside. I don’t know what time it was but that was during the days when he was adapting screenplays and the deadlines would kill him. He didn’t like working on deadlines. But he did it because he had to.

Lucy Dahl remembers that her father’s writing hut was “a sacred place.” Even on the days he wasn’t feeling inspired to write, he’d go out there for hours at a time and “put his bottom on the chair.”Click Here To Learn More About “The Story Behind The Storyteller.”

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre

On the “hut” in the garden where he did his writing

His hut was a sacred place. … We were all allowed to go in there, but we only disturbed him when we absolutely needed to because he used to say that his hut was his nest. You would walk in and the smells were so familiar — that very old paper from filing cabinets. And he sat in his mother’s old armchair and then put his feet up on an old leather trunk, and then on top of that he would get into an old down sleeping bag that he would put his legs into to keep him warm.

He then had a board that he made that he would rest on the arms of the armchair as a desk table and on top of that he had cut some billiard felt that was glued on top of it, and it was slightly carved out for where his tummy was. When he sat down … the first thing he did was get a brush and brush the felt on his lap desk so it was all clean. He always had six pencils with an electric sharpener that he would sharpen at the beginning of each session. His work sessions were very strict — he worked from 10 until 12 every day and then again from 3 until 5 every day. And that was it. Even if there was nothing to write he would still, as he would say, “put his bottom on the chair.”

Categories: Authors, BlogShare, Books we love | 1 Comment

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