One of the wonderful things about living in the Southwestern US is that there is a whole unique genre of regional literature, including children’s literature. There are not many other parts of the United States that come to mind with such a strong regional literary presence.
After finding my review of their book Baby Animals of the Southwest, publisher Rising Moon (Northland Publishing) asked me if I would be interested in reading and reviewing other books. I am very interested in Southwestern and multicultural children’s literature and I loved the idea of helping support a local publisher (Northland was based in Flagstaff, Arizona, not far from me).
Unfortunately, I heard on the news last night that Northland has just been purchased by a large East Coast publisher and has already closed its doors (which explains the lack of response when I requested some high resolution images of the book to add to this post).
Just when I was feeling like a “cool blogger” for having been asked to write a book review, “my publisher” goes out of business! Maybe I should have written my review sooner?? Oh well. They were kind enough to send me the book, and it is a great book, so I will write the review anyhow!
I was interested in Southwestern bedtime stories, so they kindly sent me Bedtime in the Southwest, by Mona Hodgson, illustrated by Renee Graef.
The southwestern animals in this story resist bedtime in ways that all parents will recognize (bouncing on the bed, ignoring Mama, begging for juice, etc,)… but at the end, the animals demonstrate the proper way to go to bed “scoot into bed and snuggle in tight, and offer big hugs and then say goodnight.”
The text is very simple so that it will appeal to younger children. The illustrations are humorous and very cute and depict such animals as prong-horned antelope, skunks, hummingbirds, and coyotes for example.
I gave this book the test of all my children (ages 7, 5, and 19 months). They all enjoyed it, but my 19 month-old actually made me read it twice more. She loved the story and for some reason, she found the skunk page absolutely fascinating!
If you are looking for an unusual, quality children’s bedtime story with cute art, give Bedtime in the Southwest a try. This might be a really fun one to read to a reluctant sleeper too!
The Usborne Book of Art Ideas is a cute miniature (5″x7″) hardcover book packed with neat projects that are very handily arranged by medium (watercolor paints, inks, and chalk pastels for example). The photographs are bright and very appealing (very much like those in the DK Publishing books if you are familiar with those).
This book seemed like an Amazon bargain to me at only $7.95 for a hardcover with tons of ideas (over 200, the cover claims). Plus it is eligible for Amazon’s 4-for-3 Promotion.
The ideas are very original and doable with things that most families have on hand. A few that struck me as interesting are:
– Glue pictures (creating a raised pattern or drawing using Elmer’s-type white glue)
– Blow paintings (using a straw to blow paint around on paper to create spiky shapes)
– Pulled cardboard prints (using thick cardboard to spread paint on paper)
– Cracked wax effect (creating a crackle appearance using crayons and paint)
There are also tips for working with each different medium as well as technical hints such as painting perspective, painting skies, etc.
This book is also full of useful odd bits of information. Did you know that “If you sprinkle salt onto watercolor paint, the salt soaks up the color, and leaves a grainy effect when it dries” (p.58). This makes sense now that I think about it, but it never would have occurred to me before I read this.
I would try out these ideas with my 5 and 7 year-old, but for the under-4 set, many of them might be too complex or messy. Imagine a 3 year-old blowing paint, the image is not a pretty one! A few of the ideas might be easily adapted to younger children though, so if you are interested, check it out of the library and take a look.
There is also an interesting-sounding large Usborne book called The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas. According to an Amazon reviewer, it is apparently a compilation of this little book, plus two other Usborne titles: The Usborne Book of Art Skills and The Usborne Book of Art Projects (Art Ideas). This might be a good one to look at too if you think you might also buy the other books in the series.
The Usborne Book of Art Ideas inspires me to drop my laundry basket and sit down to do some art. In fact, I think I shall!
Also take a look at these:
I am very pleased to have this award because I do genuinely believe that “nice matters” in this life. Some days it seems that there is not nearly enough “nice” in the world today, but other days, “nice” seems to abound.
If you haven’t visited Wildwood Cottage yet, please go there. Since we are on the subject of “nice,” I must tell you all that Jenny is one of the nicest bloggers I have come across in my short blogging career. She is someone that I would really like to meet in person.
Wildwood Cottage always has lots of great book suggestions for both children and adults. I also really enjoy reading what Jenny and her 2 1/2 year-old daughter CJ are up to. Jenny finds all kinds of interesting Montessori-style activities for CJ to try. It is fun to see, plus I am taking notes for when my now 20 month-old daughter is old enough to try some of Jenny’s ideas!
Now I get to pass this along to five other “nice” bloggers. This will be hard, not because so few bloggers are nice, but because so many bloggers are nice that almost everyone I can think of has this one already.
However, there are still several bloggers that I would like to pick who do not seem to have this award yet, so I will list them:
Heather of Celtic Mommy (Ramblings of a SAHM) always has a nice comment and her blog is full of great posts about recycling, reusing, educating, crafting, and any thing else that she feels like writing about.
Jules of Andamom.com writes all sorts of interesting, informative, and insightful posts. I enjoy visiting Jules because she always makes me think, and I never know what she will be talking about next. If anyone has a Thinking Blogger Award to give away, please consider Andamom.com!
I also nominate Whymommy of Toddler Planet. Whymommy has always seemed like such a nice person to me. Her blog is fun to read, and her writing is wonderful. Whymommy has recently been diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. If you have never heard of it (as I hadn’t), I strongly urge to read this post of hers. Whymommy once said that she never thought her blog would become a cancer blog, but it has to some extent, since Whymommy is now on a mission (and a successful one at that) to inform the world about IBC.
I must include Wishy the Writer since she is one of my very best real-life friends so I know she is a nice and wonderful person! Wishy hates it when I tag her for memes and such (sorry Wishy!), but hopefully this time she will make an exception. Unfortunately Wishy is on a “blog hiatus” at the moment in order to pursue her “real” writing and her dog agility, both of which she is amazing at!
If anyone that I chose does not wish to acknowledge, display, or pass on this award, I completely understand. I just want you all to know that I enjoy your blogs !
NOTE: This post will make more sense if you first read part 1: The Moon Unplugged? Not For Me!!
I know that “my public” is in complete suspense about the outcome of my lunar eclipse dilemma, so I will put the two of you out of your collective misery and tell you who won. Was the victor Mom Unplugged or the Evil Sleepy Mom?
The answer is: guilt prevailed and I think I deserve a genuine Good Mom Award for this one!!
I set my alarm for 2:30 AM so as to not be the complete loser I knew I would be by certainly sleeping through the entire eclipse. Unfortunately the moon was not conveniently eclipsing directly over the skylights above my bed. And…horror of horrors…I could actually see STARS, many, many stars. Not a single cloud in the sky. There went my bad weather excuse.
I decided to drag myself out of bed to try and find the moon. I was also worried that the three new kittens on their first night completely loose in the house, might have become terminally ensnared in the hanging beads of their favorite lampshade. Despite having moved that particular floor lamp away from any easy launching pads, I quite expected to come downstairs to find all three kittens, each dangling from the lampshade by a single claw.
Perhaps all was not lost in the sleep department either. Maybe the moon was putting on its special show directly over the living room skylight that is above the sofa. I had visions of continuing my sleep on the sofa while my junior astronomer studied the eclipse beside me. Or better yet, parking my daughter on the sofa with some binoculars and then going back to bed!
Well, there were no Cirque du Soleil kittens suspended from lampshades, and I did see the moon through a living room skylight, but unfortunately not the one over the sofa.
Despite having witnessed several other lunar eclipses in my life, I was still awestruck. For a homework assignment over the weekend, my daughter had just observed that the moon was pretty much full, yet here it was suddenly looking more like a crescent. I decided that I had better be a Good Mom after all and wake her up.
But first I wanted to find the binoculars that I hadn’t seen for three years. As I wandered around the house in search of them, first one kitten, then another, attached itself to my pajama pant legs. There I was, searching the house for a pair of fatally missing binoculars at 2:40 AM with a kitten dangling from each leg of my pajamas, swinging to and fro as I walked.
“OK, enough is enough!” I thought, as I gave up on the binoculars, detached the kittens, and went to wake my daughter. I hopefully thought that my little girl might be a less enthusiastic scientist at this hour, but she eagerly leapt out of bed.
“WOW!” she said as she saw the partially eclipsed moon. We talked about the science of it all as we watched, first from the living room, then from the back deck. Just as it was about to totally eclipse, it occurred to me that we might as well do this up right so I grabbed a flashlight and warm jackets and led us through the backyard and out onto the golf course directly behind our house.
We laid down side by side on the cold, damp grass and there, finally free of the tall Ponderosa Pines that fill our yard, we beheld quite a spectacle. The starry sky formed a perfect dome above us. The now orange-red totally eclipsed moon was, of course, the main attraction. But we had plenty of other celestial wonders to discover alone together, recumbent in our pajamas at 3AM in the middle of the 10th fairway.
We identified the milky way and several constellations. We also saw shooting stars, a first for my daughter. Most were the rapidly fleeting kind, but one was a big slow-moving object that seemed to trail a long tail across the sky before finally evaporating.
I must admit that as we lay there, I was wondering about the schedule of the sprinklers and half expected our lovely time to be rudely interrupted by a sudden dousing of cold water. But we escaped them. Although a bit later, finally back in my warm bed, I did hear the sputterings and squirtings of them turning on. We had a narrow escape!
As we meandered back to bed at about 3:30 AM, my daughter told me that she would dream she was riding between Mars and Earth on a shooting star, sitting astride it and holding on to the top point.
I must say I really did feel like a “real” Mom of the Year as I, slightly damp but happy, tucked her back in bed and kissed her goodnight. Thank you Mr. N (her teacher) for encouraging us to break our routine and gaze at the moon in the middle of the night.