Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Books for Sofie - age 3 going on 4

I'm heading overseas to visit my family.  I haven't been home in years and am excited to see my niece Sofie. The last time I'd seen her, she had a few words that she used with great enthusiasm: berries, ice cream, lotion, hot, Mama, Papa, Gaby Gab, No!, hello, bye, come, arf arf....

She's progressed beyond board books and is much more of a girly girl than I ever was.  I've been setting aside books for her.  Here are a few that I've found --

 How Rocket Learned to Read
How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills
In How Rocket Learned to Read, a puppy named Rocket befriends a small (and officious) bird. The small yellow bird sets up to teach but doesn't have any pupils.  The bird begins to read aloud about an unlucky dog named Buster who lost his bone.  Rocket listens in and is determined to learn to read - to be able to find out more about Buster.  As the bird teaches Rocket to sound out words, I can see Sofie learning as well.   I found this book through

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together
You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman
At 32 pages, the book is quite brief.  But the book is made to be read aloud - by the child and by an adult and together.  The book contains several fairy tales which have been updated, transformed into verse and can be read aloud.  Each stanza is colored, so you can easily mark whose turn it is to read and the rhymes are catchy.  Every page has several colorful illustrations that move the story along and are sure to enchant young readers.   It's a thin book, but one that I'm sure will be read and revisited often.

 The 20th-Century Children's Book Treasury: Picture Books and Stories to Read Aloud
The 20th-Century Children's Book Treasury: Picture Books and Stories to Read Aloud  by Janet Schulman is hardcover and thick with 297 pages and 44 beloved children's books.   (My copy has that beautiful new book smell.)   Each page contains the illustrations and text of several pages of the children's classics.   I was excited to find several of my chiildhood favorites:

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Curious George by H.A. Rey
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Bedtime for Francis by Russel Hoban
The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
Petunia by Roger Duvoisin
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
Owen by Kevin Henkes
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson
The Sneetches from the Sneetches & Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
I am a Bunny by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scary
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman

And there were so many stories that I was glad to discover.  I'd found this book through as well. 

I've quite a few more books for Sofie and  - I'll touch on in another post.

Here are the Alexander books that I'm looking forward to sharing with her - in a year or so?

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day [ALEXANDER & THE TERRIBLE HORRI]

Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday

Alexander, Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move

If you have any recommendations, please email me at gaby317nyc at or comment below.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Giv: The Story of a Dog and America by Boston Teran

Giv, The Story of a Dog and America
Giv, The Story of a Dog and America by Boston Teran

The blurb:
My name is Dean Hickok, Sergeant, late of the U.S. Marines.  I authored this work, though I did not create its people nor their stories.  These, you will come to find, I inherited.

The book and its people became known to me because I nearly ran down a dog one night on a back road during a Kentucky rainstorm.

The dog, it turned out, had been made to suffer and left to die in a crate.  But his will to survive, his determination to overcome the many cruelties inflicted upon him, and the ultimate and unabated goodness that abided in him even afterward, are the actual reason these pages bearing my name exist at all.

I was profoundly wounded of heart and empty of purpose as I drove through the Kentucky darkness that night.  I had recently returned from Iraq, the lone survivor of my squad, when my headlights bore through a sweeping rain to find him there stumbled and fallen.

So begins what is described as..."A landmark American work of heart"...was born from a journey the author took across the country to collect stories about the dog and man.

But it is not just a book about a dog named GIV.  It is also about America, its places and people.  And the events that shaped our history and impacted our hearts.

Giv, The Story of a Dog and America is a moving and rather disturbing account of the abuse and trauma that a dog is put through.  Somehow, despite all the cruelty that he goes through, Giv remains a gentle dog. This makes the account even more difficult to stomach.  The story is told from the point of view of a soldier, also recovering from a destructive experience.    Reading Giv,  I couldn't help but think that this is why dogs are so much better companions than people. 

The book is not for the faint of heart - the author doesn't mince words and both the dog and the soldier go through dark times.    If you are a dog lover, this book will speak to you.

ISBN-10: 1567030556 - Hardcover $22.00
Publisher: High-Top Publishing LLC (June 15, 2009), 240 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Boston Teran is the author of four previous novels, including the cult classic, God is a Bullet.  He has been nominated or won numerous awards including , the John Creasy Award, International Impac Award, Book of the Year in France, Book of the Year in Japan, Readers Digest Best First Novel of the Year. His fifth novel, The Creed of Violence, was published by Counterpoint in 2009.  The Story of GIV is his sixth novel.