Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Go Hang a Salami, I'm a Lasagna Hog

In Aprils Past,
Poetry posts predominated.
(me opt poem)
and certainly we've read some
wonderful poetry.
But sillier stuff appeals
more to my son.
Jon Agee's books of palindromes 
couple ridiculous phrases with
matching silly drawings and
will delight those with a sense
of the ridiculous and anyone
who sees things backwards and
Here a few for you
to see if your gal or guy
would like to give Agee
a try.
Llama Mall
Lion Oil
Emil's Niece, in slime.
You may want to try writing your own -
you'll find out why they can be so weird 
and why Agee's funny drawings help.
The drawings define the palindromes,
and provide a context for the reader.
But I think my son would like them
even without the pictures.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ducks in Muck - Rhyme Time

Cool Spring rain falling, 
happy duck weather, 
found some ducky rhymes.
Ducks in Muck by Lori Haskins
is an "Early Step into Reading" book
and a great easy reading book with
very few words.
The rhymes help kids read and
to have the predictability they
Short, sweet, with bright colors
and cuddly ducks, it should appeal
to beginning readers and those who
just love silly, rhyming stories.
If your child enjoys this, you
should try Duck in the Truck.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Funny Little Woman

The Funny Little Woman won the Caldecott some years ago.
It's a retelling of a Japanese folk tale that reminded my nine
year old of Strega Nona with its theme of a magical cookery
implement (A rice paddle rather than the Strega Nona pasta pot).
The battered little paperback has been sitting unloved and unread
in my house for years, and I decided it was time for it to seek 
a new home. But first I coralled the boys on the couch for
a read aloud. As usual, both protested. I threatened my neurotypical
child with an electronic device ban and told my son with autism
that even though he hadn't "planned to read" we were reading. 
It's a good read aloud. 
You may know some of my touchstones by now.
The Funny Little Woman includes:
1) illustrations that are clear and relate to the story
(they're also next to the words they illustrate)
2) minimal subtext
(adults may find some here, kids are unlikely to and the
story doesn't need it)
3) humor (giggling woman, dumpling chase, rescue by prat fall)
4) repetition (my dumpling)
 Here's another description of this book 
from a blogger who read Caldecott winners with her
girls and had them journal afterwards. She provides
a list of Caldecott winners through 2010. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I saw a Peacock

"I saw a peacock with a fiery tail
I saw a blazing comet drop down hail
I saw a cloud with ivy circled round
I saw a sturdy oak creep on the ground
.  .  . "
Ramsingh Urvel chose to illustrate this lovely and puzzling 
poem written in 17th century England to create a book
that may have special appeal for children with autism.
First of all, it rhymes.
Next, the illustrations combine simple and complex
elements in an interesting way that intrigues those
who like to study lines and repetitive patterns. 
Lastly, the whole poem is a play on words. 
The illustrations include strategically placed holes, 
which are both fun and a bit problematic for some
readers. Don't get this one if ripping a page bothers
you or your child.
The illustrations present puzzles of their own. 
Despite their simple black/white contrast and
simple outlines, they contain complicated 
repeating patterns. The shaped holes reveal
portions of both text and pictures.
From the description inside:
"Even the youngest of readers will delight in
The overturning of logic, and the 'trick' with
which meaning can be made to return . . .
Is the difference between fantasy and reality
largely grammatical?"

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Award Winners

This year I've never heard of the Newbery 
and Caldecott winners.
This is usual. 
And as usual, the winners look well worth a look.
The picture book seems a bit over the top illustratively 
for kids who relate better to clear, realistic pictures. 
But the message of someone searching to belong and
succeeding is great. 
And my boy loves poems. 
I'm hoping he'll give The Crossover a try.

D.C.-area poet and author Kwame Alexander won the Newbery Medal 
on Monday for “The Crossover,” his book written in verse about 12-year-old basketball-playing twin boys.
KidsPost reviewer Abby McGanney Nolan wrote that the poems are “sometimes fresh and funny, sometimes sad and painful, but always move the story along in a compelling way.”
Alexander said the book was partly inspired by basketball legends such as Michael Jordan and the way their playing is described as “poetry in motion.”
Two books, “El Deafo” by Cece Bell and “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson, were awarded Newbery Honors.
“The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” by Dan Santat was awarded the Caldecott Medal for the year’s best picture book. Six books were named Caldecott honor books.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Alphabeasties and Other Amazing Types

For the start of the year, the start of reading:
Alphabet animals of a different type.
Each traditional animal (alligator to zebra)
is made out of its starting letter.
Each is a different typeface.
From Giddyup to Extended Egyptian,
the writers explain and exploit the merits
of each, "A typeface is like a family."
The typeface idea makes for an oddly
sophisticated alphabet focusing on something 
readers usually overlook-the wonderfully
differing shapes of types 
"An E can be easygoing." 
"The uppercase Q is quietly sticking 
out its tongue."
While the pages have more words
and ideas than I usually think works
for most kids with autism, the pictures
are large and clear, the fish clearly a fish, 
the jumping kangaroo absolutely a kangaroo.
The additional pictures of additional alphabet
words are also clear and often funny.
The book promotes interactivity with large 
light liftable flaps much easier to use than 
the usual little sticky cardboard flaps. 
Kid reviews "I just like looking at the animals."
"I mean how the animals are created. Do they look funny?
I remember alligator, bat, camel, I think there was a dog . . .
maybe there was a lion in it. I remember an Xenops. I 
lifted the grass flap and I lifted the water flap and I don't 
know what else."
An Alphabeastie board book is also available if your kid
is still tearing things, and even Alphabeastie flash cards. 
Alphabeasties by Sharon Werner and Sharon Forss

Monday, January 26, 2015

All Grown Up Monday - I Know What Causes Autism by Carrie Cariello

Several of my friends have posted this recently.
I nearly didn't read it because I thought I knew what it would say.
And, indeed, the first part, though beautifully written, is what I expected. But the middle part takes me right to the heart of my feelings, and the last part is downright poetic. There's a link here so you can go to her blog for the rest and order her book if you like.
I Know What Causes Autism

Last week I was surfing the Internet and came across a headline proclaiming autism and circumcision are linked. I couldn’t help myself. I laughed out loud.
In no certain order, I have read the following explanations for autism over the years:
Autism is caused by mercury.
Autism is caused by lead.
Autism begins with poor maternal bonding.
Certain pesticides may trigger autism.
Gluten aggravates autism spectrum disorder.
People with autism should eat more strawberries.
Too much automotive exhaust is a leading cause of autism.
Chemicals found on non-stick cookware may trigger autism.
The one about maternal bonding is sort of painful for me. The truth is, I did have a hard time bonding with infant Jack. The little guy shrieked and whined and cried for a solid year. He started sleeping through the night at six weeks, and stopped at three months.
I was exhausted, and Joe and I were fighting constantly; bickering and arguing and long screaming matches. For the first time, I could feel my marriage slipping away from me like sand through my fingers.
And my first child, Joey—sweet, uncomplicated, good-natured Joey—was a year old at the time. His easy nature only highlighted his new brother’s fussiness.
But I am certain there is no one on earth more bonded to this boy now, and guess what? He still has autism.
I am happy to announce that I do know what caused Jack’s autism, and without further ado, I’d like to tell you.
Wait for it.
It’s kind of a big deal.
Jack has autism because, as his 5-year old brother Henry says, he was bornd-ed with it.
Drum roll, please.

Read the rest of Carrie Cariello's post and find out more about her book, What Color is Monday?