Mr Bliss

jrrtolkienJanuary 3 is the birth date of Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien. He would be 121 years old this year! Whew! He may no longer be physically in this world, but his spirit is very much alive! There is right now a movie out about his book The Hobbit. I hear about it wherever I go.

And another topic that seems to be everywhere these days is choosing One Word to exemplify the new year. About the only word that ever comes to my mind ( besides dinner, treats, and tennis balls) is JOY. I greet each and every day with JOY. And I try to spread JOY wherever I go!

So in honor of Mr. Tolkien, and in honor of my word JOY,  I am presenting you with a review of an interesting children’s book called Mr. Bliss. This is a story that Mr. Tolkien wrote for his children around 1937, but the illustrations were too colorful and detailed for it to be economical to be published at that time. So it was not published until 1982 by Houghton Mifflin Co., long after Mr. Tolkien had passed away.

IMG_0292

Mr. Bliss is a very eccentric gentleman who wears very tall hats, lives in a very tall house (to have room for his hats), and has a Girabbit for a pet. (That’s a Giraffe/Rabbit animal with a very long neck!). One morning Mr. Bliss decides to buy a motor car. And a real comedy of disasters follows that decision. He has several collisions, and encounters hijacking bears and angry neighbors and shopkeepers. But all turns out well in the end and everyone becomes friends.

IMG_0294 IMG_0293

The original manuscript for this story was in Mr. Tolkien’s handwriting and included his own watercolor drawings. In the 1982 publication there are replications of his original work on one page with typeset pages facing these so that you can read the story better. ( His handwriting is a bit hard to read!)

The story is suitable for grade school and all the way up to adults. All Tolkien fans probably know of this book and love it no matter what the age. If you were to read it in your classroom I think that the kids would enjoy acting it out. It would make a very fun play to do. They could also dream up their own unique pet like Mr. Bliss’s Girabbit. And make funny hats.  It would also be fun to let them make their own story and book. Caitlin over at the roommom has some great instructions for making little books.

IMG_0296

I hope that you will check out Mr. Bliss and sing a Happy Birthday for Mr. Tolkien.

And if you would like to see more fabulous Picture Book Reviews please visit Susanna Hill‘s blog as today is Perfect Picture Book Friday!

For your JOYFUL listening pleasure I give you the Muppets Ode to JOY!

And for you Tolkien fans, here is a recording of Mr. Tolkien reading his poem Namarie. EnJOY!

Carl’s Christmas

It’s Friday. That means the Mom Person is gone. The Big Guy With the Treats is gone. All gone. Gone to California.

clayton's 10th b'day 001

Romeo’s Dad Person will be here with us. And he’s a pretty good guy. He’ll do for awhile I guess. Aahhummm.

Well — it’s also Perfect Picture Book Friday over at Susanna Hill’s!

I’ve picked out a quiet Christmas book. Quiet as in no words. It’s a no words kind of Friday. I like picture books with no words. That way when we read them with kids, I get a new story every time!! The book I’ve decided to share is Carl’s Christmas by Alexandra Day.

IMG_5828It was published in 1990 by Farrar Straus Giroux. It’s a fiction book suitable for all ages. I’ve read this book with 2 yr olds and adults. And everybody has there own personal take on the story.

Carl is a rottweiler with some big responsibilities that he takes very seriously. His Big People are always leaving him in charge of the baby! And they sure have fun together while those adults are away! In this Christmas book, Carl and the baby do some Christmas wrapping and decorating then go out to see the town. They enjoy the Christmas windows, win a Christmas basket from a store, give to the needy, go carolling, then realize that they might be missing Santa!! They rush back home and sit and wait for the Jolly Guy. I won’t tell you the end tho!! Whew!!

IMG_5832

Carl is my hero. He’s always taking care of that baby and having great adventures while he’s doing it! Ms Day’s artwork is fabulous. Carl’s world just pops out at you. Reading these mostly wordless books gets your imagination fired up. Kids have to study the pictures to see what all is going on. They have to stretch their vocabularies. No words on the printed page is sometimes a very good thing.

Melissa Taylor at Imagination Soup has a great post about wordless books with lots of things that you can do with them. You should check it out.

And Carl has a website that you might find fun.

Check out more PPBF at Susanna Hill’s blog.

And I’ll end with a little James Taylor for my Mom Person so far away — I’ll be watching for her Everyday!

The Biblioburro

I’m a library dog and I’m interested in all things library. I love my local public library and the libraries at the local schools. They are fabulous, magical places always filled with kids. Kids that are travelling to far away places in their imaginations.  But did you know that there are places in the world that don’t have libraries? Can you imagine being a child and not being able to visit a library? Imagine not having books in your home or at your school? Imagine not having a school?! There are places like this for real! Not just imaginary places.

I found a book about just such a place. In Columbia, which is far away in South America. The book is called Biblioburro. It is written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter. ( This is the author who gave us another book about a library — The Librarian of Basra.) It was published in 2010 by Beach Lane Books. It’s suitable for ages 6 and up.

IMG_5732

This is a true story about a truly remarkable man. From the book – “Deep in the jungles of Colombia, there lives a man who loves books. His name is Luis. As soon as he reads one book, he brings home another. Soon the house is filled with books.”  He needs to find something to do with all of his books!  So Luis decides he can share them with people in the faraway hills who have no books.

He gets 2 donkeys to carry the books and paints a sign to hang on their backs: BIBLIOBURRO. Which means donkey library! Every week he loads books onto the donkeys and travels far away through rivers and jungles, over mountains and past bandits until he reaches a village where the kids have no library and no school and no books. And he tells them stories and reads them books and leaves each child with a book to take home. Then Luis makes the long trek back to his own home to read his own book.

IMG_5731 IMG_5730

This is such a heartwarming story! It’s nice to think that there are people like Luis in the world who can make such a positive difference in a child’s life! The illustrations in the book are quite lovely as well. They are big and bright and give the feel of the jungle and the happy kids.

We read this book with some 4th graders and had a nice discussion about what it would be like to not have a library. Then we talked about how special Luis is. The kids tried to come up with ways that they could be special, too. They thought about learning about other places that might not have books and about trying to collect books to donate to kids who need them. We even have kids in our own community who don’t have books at home. That’s a sad thing. Books are powerful things and have the ability to connect us all.

Luis really is a real person and some time ago we watched a show about him on PBS. Here is a link to a video about Luis.

poster

So now your heart is warmed and full and you can go check out the book — Biblioburro!  You’ll be glad you did!

And then you can check out all the other Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Hill’s blog. Enjoy! And go out and do something powerful!

Apples on Top!!

We’ve been spending a lot of time this week with kindergarteners. And the Hands Down Favorite book all week has been Ten Apples Up On Top! We’ve read it over and over and over!

I have found over the years of my reading career that this book is ALWAYS a crowd pleaser! It is an interactive book that the little guys and girls can help read. It has hilarious illustrations. The characters get involved in crazy antics. And what’s not funny and engaging about apples on top of somebody’s head?!

And here are the pertinent FACTS about this book: It was written by Theo. LeSieg (aka Dr. Seuss) ( and did you know that LeSieg was the name that he used when someone else illustrated the book and it is Geisel spelled backwards and that Geisel is Dr. Seuss‘s real name?) This book is illustrated by Roy McKie. Burgin Streetman did a nice interview with him on her blog Vintage Kids Books My Kid Loves.

Ten Apples Up On Top! was published in 1961 by Random House. It is an I Can Read It All By Myself Beginner Book for those with a 75 word vocabulary.

This is such a great book for a classroom read! It is a counting book. From 1 – 10. It is a mystery book – What will happen next?!  It is a book that young readers can read along with. It is a science book – How do you balance so many apples?! I’m sure that teachers have been using this book in their classrooms since 1961, but here is a link to some classroom activities. And Annie at Kindergarten at Heart had a nice post with some fun activities that you might check out. And there is the fabulous Seussville website with games and activities and videos and all sorts of Seuss stuff.

This lovely classic book is probably on the PPBF list already, but I thought that I would add my pawprint to it.

You might want to check it out if you haven’t already! And while you’re at it check out the other Perfect Picture Books on Susanna Hill’s blog!

The Librarian of Basra

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!  We came across a really interesting book about a heroic librarian. ( I actually think all librarians are pretty heroic!).

The book is called The Librarian of Basra, a True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter.


It is a non-fiction book published by Harcourt, Inc. in 2005.

I think that it would be suitable for elementary age kids.

The book tells the story of Alia Muhammad Baker, the librarian in Basra, Iraq. “Her library is a meeting place for all who love books. They discuss matters of the world and matters of the spirit.” Alia loves her books and loves her library. When war, with its bombs and fires, comes to her city, she worries about the books being destroyed. So secretly in the night she and her neighbors move all the thousands of books to a nearby restaurant. When the war moves on from her city, leaving the library in ruins, she moves all the books again — to her own house and the houses of friends. And there she and the books wait for the end of war and she dreams of a new library.

This is a sad, but uplifting story. The book is a picture book and does not provide a lot of detailed information about the war or Iraq, but the illustrations are quite lovely, bright and simple and filled with emotion.

“Part of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to a fund administrated by the American Library Association to help rebuild the book collection of Basra’s Central Library.”

That sounds like a good cause! And maybe a classroom or school might like to do a fundraiser for the library. Or even for their own local library!

You might want to read the original article from the NY Times that inspired Ms Winter to write this book. Or maybe an interview with Ms Winter herself! Jeanette Winter is an interesting lady and has written other books. You can read a nice article about her here.

This book could provide a good history lesson about Iraq and the war there. And about libraries in general. A history of libraries would be fascinating. Kids might like to do a play about the Librarian saving her books.

A study guide for this book and another book about the Basra Library called Alia’s Mission by Mark Alan Stamaty, can be found here.

I would sure not like to have to move all the books from our Somervell Co. Library!  Whew! What a task! I can’t even imagine how a few people could do something like that in a night!   You know, that might be a good math problem for big kids to figure out! How many books could you move in a night?!
I hope your libraries are all safe and sound. I hear that some bookstores in the northeast got flooded when Sandy came to visit. It’s a sad thing to lose books like that.

Go check out The Librarian of Basra and — Treasure your books! And if you want to check out some more great picture books you can visit Susanna Hill’s blog!

Meow, Ruff — A Story in Concrete Poetry

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday at Susanna Hill’s and I’m going to share some poetry with you!

The book I’ve chosen is called Meow Ruff,  A Story in Concrete Poetry
Written by Joyce Sidman and Illustrated by Michelle Berg
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 2006
This book is probably suitable for 2nd grade and up. The story is pretty simple, but some of the words might be difficult for younger kids.

From the front cover — “On a clear, sunny day, a small adventure begins. First, a dog slips joyfully out of his house. Next, a car pulls up to the curb, leaving a white cat alone. Then, slowly. a storm begins to brew over the park.”

This is a funny, word-filled adventure where the cat and dog, who think they should be enemies, end up becoming friends. I like the dog and cat. They are pretty cute and don’t know what to think about the big world around them. Those crows are kind of annoying though!

A concrete poem is one that takes the shape of its subject. I think they are really cool!  In this book the tree is made of words, the ground is made of words, and the clouds are made of words. And the clouds change from a “wisp” to a “dense dark drenching murk.” And the rain goes from a “drip, drop” to “stinging ropes of water”. Whew!

Lots of Rhythm!  Love it! This book is a visual buffet!

I think that if I had opposable thumbs and could write, making a concrete poem would be a fun activity to do. Since most kids DO have those thumbs and can hold a pencil, I think that they would probably like to create a concrete poem themselves. Ms Sidman has a great website where you can find info about all of her books and resource info for using her books in the classroom. Check it out! You can also find a short, useful lesson for creating concrete poems here. Or here. And examples of concrete poems here.

I hope you have some fun with concrete poems. And check out Meow Ruff — you’ll be glad you did!

ABCs with Mr Wegman

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday over at Susanna Hill’s and I’ve got a good one for you.

William Wegman’s ABC
Published by Hyperion Books in 1994

  I guess that this is a non-fiction book and I would recommend it for any age, but I guess especially for kids and dogs who are just learning to read.

ABC books are fabulous books. They’re open-ended and so can be anything that you want. They’re all about the pictures. And when you look at the pictures of the letters, you can make up whatever words you want to go along with them! When we look at ABC books with kids we make all the letter sounds and then make up all kinds of silly words to go along with the letters.

These books can be really FUN!  And this particular one is particularly perfect! I talked about William Wegman and his crazy dogs in my last post, but I’m happy to talk about him again. Mr. Wegman is a unique artist and his dogs are unique in the animal world.  Batty and Chundo and Fay Ray are the cleverest dogs around. In this ABC book, the dogs get together to form all the different letters!  Too, too clever!  But I can make letters, too!

W, U, V !!  And what does that spell? I don’t know. Wuv? — I wuv you?

If you wanted to share this book with your class, you could let your kids make the letters like Batty and Chundo and Fay Ray do.
You might also find some really fun alphabet stuff to do at Preschool Alphabet by Lindsy.
And you can find out more about William Wegman and all his dogs at his website.

And for your listening pleasure here are the Muppets and Ladysmith Black Mambazo

And Mr. Bobbie McFerrin singing the Alphabet Song!

I hope you go find this book at your library and check it out! You’ll be glad you did!

Remember — William Wegman ABC!