Learning My ABCs

We’ve been on a book binge! An ABC Book Binge! I like the sound of that — Book Binge. It seems to happen a lot around here. I’m not sure what precipitated (nice word!) this particular binge. I think the Mom Person was cleaning book shelves and got stuck on the shelf with the alphabet books. She kind of likes ABC books and is always on the lookout for interesting ones. We have quite a collection. So anyway, she got stuck enjoying the ones on our shelves and then we went to the library and found some more.

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There sure are a lot of different ways to learn the alphabet!!! I know some of the alphabet. “R” means river, “C” means come to the Mom Person. That snaky sound “S” means sit. “D” means down. And the “enh,enh” sound means don’t do that!  I know that that’s not the whole alphabet. And I don’t think that it’s in the correct order. But I’m learning.

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One of the books that we looked at was a mixed up alphabet. Alpha Oops! The Day Z Went First. Written by Alethea Kontis and illustrated by Bob Kolar. Published by Candlewick Press in 2006. This book was pretty silly. Z decided it should be able to go 1st. Then all the other letters decided to go in a different place. And then they argued about who got the most words attached to their letter. It started with Z is for Zebra. And ended with A is for apple, accident, accordion, acorn, acrobat, airplane …………….

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A Farmer’s Alphabet is a beautifully simple book written and illustrated by Mary Azarian. It was published by David R. Godine in 1981. It’s a straight forward book with A is for apple, D is for dog, …….. Z is for zinnia. But it has some beautiful woodcut prints to go with each letter. At the end is a 2 page “note” from the author about the making of the book and about the process of woodcut prints. This is a treasure of a book.

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An Alphabet in Five Acts by Karen Born Andersen with pictures by Flint Born is a very unique ABC book. It was published by Dial Books in 1993. It is a play! A play on words you might say! It begins with Act 1Another Bad Cat Doesn’t Eat. This book is soooo funny! The pictures are kind of mish mash photos and artwork. There is a note at the end of the book about how they were created. The Mom Person particularly likes this book because it is one of her favorite games. When we drive in the car she’s always making up alphabet sentences. ” A Ball Can Drop Eleven Feet ……. She always gets my attention with the “B” for Ball! Then she drones on.

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The Handmade Alphabet is by Laura Rankin. It was published by Scholastic in 1993. It’s another pretty straight forward ABC book. But it has no words. Just the letter and a picture. What is unique about it is that each letter shows the corresponding hand sign from the American Sign Language. And in each picture the hand is making the sign and holding an object that starts with that letter. Some of the kids that we visit use this alphabet. I know the sign for “more” and “enough”!

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And my favorite for today! An Alphabet Book of Cats and Dogs by Sheila Moxley. Published by Little, Brown, and Co. in 2001. This book cracks me up!!! The illustrations are photo collages with cats and dogs in silly situations. It starts with “Aa – Arnold is an amazing aviator.”  Notice that cute yellow Lab on the cover? It’s not me, but it could be.

Tomorrow I might tell you about some of the others that we read. But for now you can mull over these and then go out and find some ABC Books for yourself! If you have any interesting ones you would like to recommend, it would be muchly appreciated!

And while you are perusing (fancy word!) your ABCs you might want to sit back and listen to Patti Labelle sing the ABC Song with the Muppets

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Goin’ to the Doctor

I went to the doctor the other day. I actually have 2 doctors that I go to. One is for my vaccinations and when I get sick or break a toe or stuff like that. The other one is for making me feel good all over. I don’t like going to that 1st one. She’s what is called a traditional doctor. She’s nice enough, but I’m never quite sure what she’s going to be doing to me.

But going to visit the 2nd one is a really special treat! I always know that whatever he does is GOOD! He’s what is called a non-traditional doctor. He does acupuncture and chiropractic and other magical things. I’ve been having some back problems that make my back legs kind of wobbly. It’s a real nuisance. So I go to visit Dr Bruton about once a month.

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He sticks little needles down my back and then hooks up some wires that make me kind of tingle all over. The big red light and the little blue light are some kind of heat/laser lights that feel really good. After he does all of that stuff he gives me a good massage all over and gets all the kinks out of my back.

I also have allergies and lately I’ve been itching a lot. The Mom Person is always after me to quit chewing on my feet! So you see that little plastic bag sitting on my back? That’s full of gunk from our vacuum cleaner. Dr Bruton puts that on me while he does his magic and it’s supposed to desensitize me. I guess it works because I’m not itchy anymore at all! Like I said, the doctor is magic! And so is his assistant, Sarah. She always knows that exact spot that needs some care. I LOVE going to visit Dr Bruton and Sarah!

When we got home we read a couple of books about going to the doctor. The Mom Person found a cute Little Golden Book called Doctor Dan the Bandage Man. I like that title!

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It was first published in 1950! That was a long time ago! It was written by Helen Gaspard and illustrated by Corinne Malvern. Young Dan cuts his finger while playing cowboys with his friends. His Mom tells him not to worry, she’ll clean it up and put a bandage on it and all will be well. And so it was! Then Dan turns into Doctor Dan! His sister’s doll has a tumble from the wagon and gets a booboo on her head. Doctor Dan to the rescue! Then his sister has a scrape, and his dog hurts his paw, and Dad gets a cut. Doctor Dan fixes them all. It’s a pretty cute book!

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The next book came from the library. The title is Little Whistle’s Medicine. Written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Tim Bowers. It was published by Harcourt, Inc. in 2002. Little Whistle is a cute little hamster who lives in a toy store. At night all the toys come to life and go around visiting each other. Little Whistle wants to visit the Soldier who tells stories, but the Soldier has bumped his head and doesn’t feel like telling stories. Little Whistle goes all over the toy story asking all the toys if anyone can help. Finally the Mother Doll directs him to the doctor kits and Little Whistle is set to become Doctor Little Whistle! So he bandages up the Soldier and all is well! I didn’t know that bandages had such restorative powers!! Incredible!

I hope that you all have no need for bandages or doctors any time soon! As for me — I’m feeling fine!

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This Moose Belongs to Me

We are big Oliver Jeffers fans at this house. His books are so clever and simple and funny. His artwork cracks me up. Today we read This Moose Belongs to Me to some 1st graders. It cracked them up too!

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The book was published by Philomel Books in 2012.
It is suitable for K and up.
Themes would be pets and wildlife.

The book begins with “Wilfred owned a moose.”

This is the story of a boy, Wilfred, who thinks that he owns a moose that he names Marcel.

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He has a big list of rules for pets and tells us that Marcel obeys some of the rules. Like Rule 4 which is: “Not making too much noise while Wilfred plays his record collection.” (Surprisingly, some of the kids knew what a record collection was!) Some rules he ignored. Like Rule 7: Going whichever way Wilfred wants to go.”  And Rule 7 (subsection b): Maintaining a certain proximity to home.” ( big word alert! – PROXIMITY) Basically, Marcel tended to go wherever there were apples. And that led them to a “terrible discovery …..” A little purple haired lady who thought SHE owned the moose and called him Rodrigo! Wilfred was enraged! And stormed off to home.

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But in his haste – (another good word!) he got into a bad fix and was eventually rescued by the moose. Rule 73 for a good pet — “rescuing your owner from Perilous Situations! (more good words!) And then Wilfred admitted that he had never really owned the moose anyway. A good end!

While reading this book with the kids we talked about visualization and plot. Those were the things that they had been studying in class. We also talked about pets versus wildlife. What exactly makes an animal a pet? And why is it not a good idea to try to keep wildlife as pets? We talked about moose and what kind of animal they were and where they live. Mr Jeffers backgrounds for this book were quite special. I have heard that he didn’t actually paint them – they were found artwork from trashbins and books. And he had to find the original artists to be able to use them. Pretty clever!  In class we came up with some of our own rules for a good pet. Things like not going to the bathroom in the house and not jumping on furniture and not running away.

This is a fabulous book. The kids all gave it thumbs up and I give it 4 paws!

Some websites you might want to check out for classroom discussion and activities :

Defenders of Wildlife has lots of information about wildlife conservation.
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game has some information on wildlife viewing and safety.
With The World Wildlife Fund, you can adopt a moose!
And for little ones here’s a really cute moose puppet made from a paper bag!

For Oliver Jeffers fans, I give you a couple of videos:
The 1st one is How to Draw a Moose
The next one is a rather long presentation from OFFSET with Mr Jeffers talking about his art and book making process. Very Good!

Now you might want to jump over to Susanna Hill’s blog for some more great picture books with activitie to go with. It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!!  Check ’em out!

Counting Sheep

sheep 2I’ve gone to the sheep today. We don’t have sheep here at the 7 Acre Wood. We have goats. I don’t know a lot about sheep. They look like goats to me. But I hear that they are very different. I hear that goats are smarter than sheep. I don’t really know.

But we read a couple of pretty cute books about sheep that I would like to share.

IMG_1060Hide and Sheep was written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by Bill Mayer. It was published by Margaret K. McElderry Books in 2011. It is a counting book. I like counting books. On the back of the book it says “They’re baa baa BAAD!”  And these are bad sheep.  It’s time for Farmer McFitt to shear the sheep and knit clothes. But the sheep have disappeared! They’re on the run and I guess that Farmer McFitt is in hot pursuit. It is not entirely clear. In the 1st page spread 10 frisky lambs have run away to the zoo. And on the next page spread 9 sheep have joined the circus. So I guess that Farmer McFitt caught one. It is not entirely clear. But on each page spread there is a new scenario with one less sheep. Until the end where they have all been sheared and their clothes knit and it’s time to stop counting sheep and go to bed!

IMG_1062Sheep in a Jeep is a book that has been around for a long time and is a favorite at school. It was written by Nancy Shaw and illustrated by Margot Apple. It was published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 1986. Ms Shaw has created quite a series of books with her sheep. I’ve not read all of them but I would bet that they are all great books. These sheep are nothing but well-meaning, fun-loving trouble. They go for a ride in a jeep, but aren’t very good drivers. They can’t get it to go, so they push it down a hill where it gets stuck in a giant mud hole. Some pigs help them push it out, then they forget to steer and crash into a tree. The sheep are quite silly and fun. But the text is the thing. Lots of rhyme and alliteration. Sheep shouting and shrugging and weeping. Jeeps in a heap. It’s great!

Both of these books show sheep in a not so intelligent light. And they sound just like my silly goats at home. Just trouble. Both books are worth checking out. I think I like the Sheep in a Jeep the best. I was not really happy with the illustrations in Hide and Sheep. The cover is really cute and I had high expectations, but the pictures on the inside were kind of weird. Kind of blurry or something. I don’t know, but they were not really pleasant to look at.

I hope you’ve had a trouble free day! Stay away from sheep! Trouble!

And for your amazement — some extreme sheep herding!

Ranch Dog

I’m not actually a Ranch Dog. I live with some ranch type animals – goats and chickens and a pony. But I don’t consider MYSELF a ranch type animal. I do like playing in their woods and rolling around in their yards and eating their snacks. But I’m not a Ranch Dog. I’m a Library / School Dog. Of the highest caliber. It’s my job to make sure that kids are doing their work and to help them study.

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And at school the other day we read a book about a REAL Ranch Dog. Charlie.

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Charlie the Ranch Dog was written by Ree Drummond and illustrated by Diane deGroat. It was published by Harper Collins in 2011.

It’s a pretty cute book. Charlie is a Bassett Hound who lives on a ranch. He tells us he’s a ranch dog. We are introduced to his best friend Suzie who is nothing like Charlie. Very different dogs. Charlie points out all the ways that they are different. Then he tells us all about his jobs on the ranch. Like chasing the cows out of the yard and sniffing out critters under the porch and helping Mama in the garden. But, the pictures tell a very different story than the words! The kids thought this was very funny! And this is what makes picture books so terrific! They can tell 2 stories at the same time! What a great thing! And Ms Drummond and Ms deGroat are a great team to make this work out so well!

The illustrations in this book are super. Charlie and Suzie exhibit great expression. You can tell it’s really hard work being a ranch dog. Ms deGroat did an excellent job with this book.

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The kids and I give Charlie the Ranch Dog —     4 Paws and quite a few thumbs up!

You should check it out!!

Ms Drummond is a famous blogger and food person. You may know her as the Pioneer Woman. You might want to check out her blog.

And here’s a little video of some real working cow dogs. Whew!

The Insomniacs

There are folks at our house who sometimes don’t want to go to bed at night. Like the Mom Person. The Person that my world revolves around.  I have trouble understanding this. I know when my bedtime is. And when that time comes around I want to go to my bed.

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But my bedtime never seems to be the same bedtime as the Mom Person’s. She would stay up all night if I let her. Typing away on the computer. Doing crossword puzzles. Doing laundry. Or reading a book. She reads BIG books that take her forever to finish. I try giving her my sad face, and laying down under her feet and moaning. But she says, “Just one more chapter.”  Those chapters sure are long ones!

I try to tell her that she needs to stick to picture books. They say just as much as the big books with a lot fewer words and pages. We found a good one at the library this week. A perfect one —The Insomniacs. Written by Karina Wolf and illustrated by The Brothers Hilts. It was published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 2012. It is suitable for K and up.

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Mrs. Insomniac gets a new job that requires them to move 12 time zones away. They found it impossible to adjust to the time change. They couldn’t sleep at night and then would fall asleep during the day at work and school. Father, Mother and Mika tried all sorts of things. They took hot baths, worked crossword puzzles, counted to 1,000 and sipped mugs of warm milk. ( My Mom Person sometimes does these things too!)

They wondered who knew the secret of getting to sleep and decided to go ask the bears. They found a cave but not a bear. Instead they roused a “cloud” of bats who flew out into the night! And then they noticed that there were a lot of animals that were awake and lively during the night! So they decided to do the same. Father, who was a photographer, did his developing in the dark. Mother, who seems to be a scientist, studied the stars, and Mika went to night school. And when the sun started coming up they pulled down the blinds and went to bed.

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The Mom Person and I both loved this book! It’s all about her! Those Brothers Hilts did a fantastic job with the illustrations. They are dark and kind of strange. Kind of Edward Goreyish or Tim Burtonish. Just perfect. The pictures make you feel like you’re creeping around in the dark. Pretty cool!

The Insomniacs could provide an opportunity for some great discussions about sleep habits – of people and animals. You could also talk about nighttime jobs and activities. What kinds of jobs could insomniacs have? What kind of things could they do for entertainment?

There are some very interesting activities that can be found for lessons on nocturnal animals. One can be found here.
The Crayola website has coloring pages and lesson plans.
Bats Conservation International also has a great website with lots of information.

For a list of other fantastic picture books and great resources visit Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday.

And go check out The Insomniacs! you’ll be glad you did!

Now I will leave you with The Beatles and Good Night!  Good night!

Snuggle Puppy

Snuggle Puppy! a little love song by Sandra Boynton published by Workman Publishing in 2003.

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OOOOO! Snuggle Puppy of mine!
Everything about you is especially fine.
I love what you are,
I love what you do …..
OOOOO! I love you!

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Sandra Boynton is so awesome. That’s really enough said!

This little book that came from the little song is especially special because it is the special song of my special Princess Bee. When Princess Bee was little this was HER song. We sang it all the time. Now she’s big and far away and I miss her.

The song was originally from the book and CD Philadelphia Chickens an imaginary musical revue.” A too-illogical zoological musical revue.”

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If you click on this picture it will take you to Rhapsody where you can listen to the whole fantastic CD!

Ms Boynton has a rather unique, fun website.

And if you want a little awwwww factor try this.

This is for you Princess Bee! Love you!

Best in Show

It’s dog show time. THE dog show. Westminster. I’m not a show dog. I was bred for other things. But I have lots of friends who are show dogs so I know all the scoop. And we go watch dog shows. I’m a Labrador Retriever. There are always lots of Labs at the shows.

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This is a Labrador Retriever bred for the ring.   And this is me. Bred to be a Guide Dog. I didn’t become a Guide Dog though. I was destined for other things. I have competed in the show ring though. Not in the conformation ring. But in Rally and Agility. Both adventures were rather short lived, but I had fun and had some success with my efforts.

My Mom Person says I am the Best in Show as far as she’s concerned. No matter what I’m doing!

And now I read books. We discovered a lovely picture book called For the Love of Dogs. An A – Z Primer for Dog Lovers of All Ages. Written by Allison Weiss Entrekin and illustrated by Mark Anderson. It was published by Triumph Books in 2011.

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This is a really nice book. The illustrations are absolutely fantastic! Mr Anderson is spot on with expressions and attitudes. The book is not exactly a breed book, but some of the letters are for some breeds. “B” for Beagle, “D” for Dachshund. Some letters are for other aspects of the dog world. Like “A” is for adoption. “J” is for jowls. “L” is for Labradors – but – my one disappointment with the book – there is no picture for Labradors! What were they thinking?! THE No. 1, most popular breed of dog in the US and no picture?!  Go figure. But outside of that, I love this book. It has some great information as well as the fabulous artwork.

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And you can order prints from Mr Anderson as well!

If you would like to find out more about Labrador Retrievers you can visit the AKC website.
If you would like to know more about the sport of Rally check here.
If you would like to know more about agility check here.

If you would like more on the Westminster Dog Show you can check in here.

And now I’m off to watch the big show — and maybe catch some ZZZZZZZs!

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A River Day

Today was a river day at the 7 Acre Wood. We had a good rain in the night. The day was warm – in the 70s. The Mom Person had nothing pressing to do. And we dogs all needed baths anyway. So off we went to splash and play! Yay!!

No book review today, but I would like to leave you with some words from A. A. Milne and The House at Pooh Corner. This is an excerpt from Chapter VI In Which Pooh Invents a New Game and Eeyore Joins In:

” By the time it came to the edge of the Forest the stream had grown up, so that it was almost a river, and, being grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it used to do when it was younger, but moved more slowly. For it knew now where it was going, and it said to itself, “There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”

Pooh and Piglet would lie down on the bridge and watch the river … ” and it slipped away very slowly, being in no hurry to get there.”

Pooh is a very wise Bear. Rivers are magical places where you can find your heart and soul.

I hope you had a Good Day today!

I’ll leave you with a little music from Billy Joel — River of Dreams — enjoy!

Talking Dogs

Dogs can be a pretty talkative bunch. We usually have a lot to say about a lot of stuff. I myself am not much of a talker. I’m kind of the quiet type, I find that I can say as much with a tilt of my head and the lift of an eyebrow as some dogs do with a lot of chatter. I do sing on occasion though!

At school yesterday, we read a couple of pretty cool, loud and raucous books all about Dog Talk. Yip! Snap! Yap! was written by Charles Fuge and published by Tricycle Press in 2001.

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It’s got some great illustrations of some fine, fine dogs doing stuff that dogs just do.  The book starts out with “Join in with this barking dog…WOOF! ARF! RRUFF! Then turn the page to make more noise and do some doggy stuff!” So that’s what you’ve got to do! Chow down with the hungry dog. Curl up with sleepy dog. Careful of the guard dog. Scratch with the itchy dog. Watch your feet with the yappy dog. Cool down with the hot dog. Sing with the puppies.

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It’s all about being the dog! A pretty fun read!!

RRRALPH was written by Lois Ehlert and published by Beach Lane Books in 2011.

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I really, really like this book a LOT! The illustrations are really cool collages. Ralph is the funniest dog I have ever seen! His mouth is a zipper and his nose is a can pull! But he sure is a happy, smart dog. Ralph can talk. His owner found this out when they brought him home and asked him his name. He said “Ralph”.  They built him a house and a high fence and then couldn’t find him. “Ralph, where are you?” He said “Roof, Roof”. What’s on that tree? “Bark, Bark”. What’s that howl I hear? ” Wolf! Wolf!” Do you want to come in the house with me? “Yep,Yep,Yep”.

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I LOVE that Ralph! He is just a cool dog! And he has a cool owner who understands all that Ralph has to say. My Mom Person is that way. She’s got me pretty well figured out. Do your dogs talk? Are they loud and boisterous or drama queens or silent types like me?

I think you should check out these 2 books and have a howling good time with your kids and your dogs!

And to go along with it, here’s a little video of some real dogs talking.

And the Mom Person’s favorite — The Ultimate Tease – this one makes me weep.