Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O'Connell George - Origami Baby Chick Poem Printable

As I child, I understood the poetic magic of origami even before I knew the name of the art. One of my great-great aunt's many skills was paper-folding. She could swiftly make an origami bow tie appear out of a paper scrap. That fascinating talent was as magical ability as anything I'd ever witnessed, and it was always an honor to receive one of her tidy, crisp bow ties.

Since it's National Poetry Month, the kids and I picked up a few new poetry books at the library.  One picture book we particularly like has an origami theme  -- Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O'Connell George, illustrated by Lauren Stringer.

The summary on the copyright page states that the book is "a collection of poems about origami animals."  In reality, the Fold Me a Poem is much more than a collection.  The poems, read together in succession, collectively tell a story about an imaginative boy who plays with his origami creations all day long, from the moment he wakes up in the morning until he falls asleep in his bed at night. The short poems are rather like private thoughts as he brings the origami animals to life, folding them into splendid creatures and playing with them afterward: "Forty bright sheets / of colored paper, / a world of animals. / Who will be next?" The animals race each other, hide, and get into trouble. Even the boy's cat joins in the fun, by attacking and injuring a poor pink ostrich during a "wind storm" produced by a fan.  The cleverly designed square book  has end papers that look like origami paper. In total, the book contains 32 original poems. It does not include instructions for creating origami animals -- however, the illustrator in her end note mentions various book resources.

This poetry book provides wonderful inspiration for showing children how to capture their own thoughts in poetry form on paper! All children need to do to write their own poems is describe their own play.  O'Connell's poems are written in many different forms including haiku, apostrophe (poems of address), mask or persona poems, and process poems, making the book a useful springboard for teaching these styles.  Lauren Stringer's painted illustrations beautifully accompany the poems and are instrumental in helping the reader visualize the poems.  Stringer skillfully captures the origami creatures -- folding origami is hard enough, but painting all the shadows, showing the folds through illustration takes real talent indeed!

As for favorite poems, I adore "Night," a poem that tells how the boy adds his own star to the night sky.  My son likes the poem "Tub" mostly because the illustrations for the poem show many of the origami creations  (including a bandaged ostrich) waiting for a ride on an origami boat. My daughter especially likes "Mystery" because it fully captures the wonder and joy of creating your own origami. Anything, yes, anything is possible with a little imagination.
Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O'Connell George, illustrated by Lauren Stringer. Harcourt (April 2005); ISBN 9780152025014; 32 pages
Book Source: Borrowed from our local library
I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.) 

Related Links:
Kristine O'Connell George - Author Website
Lauren Stringer - Illustrator Website
Teacher's Guide - Fold Me A Poem

Baby Chick in Egg - Origami and Poem

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day!  When thinking about combining origami and poetry, we chanced upon a verse by the brilliant children's poet, Aileen Fisher. The poem "Baby Chick" questions how a chick knows its way out of the egg.  We've created a neat origami project to go along with the poem (plus the paper egg shell makes a neat, handy pocket to tuck the poem into!)

The directions to fold the chick and egg origami can be found at  The design is made from a single piece of paper. This is an easy, beginner origami project for kids.  I created a pdf template with folding guides to make it even easier to fold your own origami if you'd prefer to use that instead.  One is full color and the other can be colored-in by a child.  Make sure to print with page scaling set to "none" or unclick "fit to page" so that it doesn't resize the document. Click on the google doc links below to print your own copy (clicking on the image won't work).

Chick in Egg Origami pdf (color) - (download to print properly)
Chick in Egg Origami pdf (black and white) - (download to print properly)

To extend the poetry in a pocket idea and fold a poem, you could have your child write the poem on the paper before folding it into the chick/egg shape!  Or, if your child can't write, print out the poem and tuck it into the pocket formed by the folded egg shell.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Tree Awaits Bird Book Spine Poem - National Poetry Month

Did you know April is National Poetry Month?  It's the perfect time to pull down those dusty poetry volumes from your bookshelves and read a few verses with your kids. Better yet, why not start off this month with a goal of reading a poem a day together?

Travis at 100 Scope Notes always kicks off poetry month by compiling Book Spine Poems.  He's currently inviting others to submit their best compositions.  Our family has participated in the book spine poetry challenge before with a spine poem titled, The Runaway Bunny.  This year we scoured our home for books that would fit in with a tree/bird theme and came up with this little ditty:

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf
little green
Waiting for Wings

 What kind of spine poem can you write with the books in your home?  Give it try!    

Over the last few years, we've reviewed several different children's poetry books and have made a few poetry crafts.  Here is a sampling of my favorites:

My Poetry Book - When my daughter was younger she made a "My Poetry Book."  For an entire month, she selected a poem a day she liked and drew illustrations for each of the poems.  She pasted the poems and the illustrations into a composition book.  


POET-TREE craftdraw a tree and glue the verses of a tree themed poem to the branches

Miniature Poetry Book - illustrate and assemble your own miniature "A Fairy Went A-Marketing" poetry book

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Bunny on the Loose: A Seek and Solve Mystery - Book Review

The golden egg is missing! Wendy Wax and Dave Garbot's newest picture puzzle book tells of an egg-straordinary egg-mergency. Someone in Easterville has nabbed the Easter Bunny's special golden egg, and the Easter Bunny is on the Loose searching everywhere for clues to discover who took his golden egg. To help solve the mystery, readers must search the detailed, double-page spreads (reminiscent of the Where's Waldo books) to locate the Easter Bunny in the scenes and find important evidence left by an egg-snatching suspect.  As each of the clues are located, the possible suspects (pictured in the beginning of the book) can be eliminated one by one until a culprit emerges.

My kids enjoy solve-it-yourself mystery books as well as seek and finds so we were happy to receive this book for review from HarperCollins. The fun, Easter-themed Seek and Solve Mystery kept them happily entertained for quite awhile.  Even after they solved the mystery they continued to pour over the busy, comic-style illustrations, looking at all the silly sights in Easterville (An Eggcellent Place to Live). Besides eggs, chicks, and the usual Easter fare, there are bunnies, bunnies everywhere -- bunny ballet, a carrot concession stand and a gigantic chocolate bunny. There's also a green frog hiding in every scene, though we have no idea why he'd be interested in living in Easterville unless he's looking for some hopping lessons.

Do you have a little reading detective in your home?  Easter Bunny on the Loose! A Seek and Solve Mystery makes a colorful, amusing addition to any child's spring-themed library. Also it's a good fit for kids that enjoy Where's Waldo or I Spy style books. Other "On the Loose" series books include Monsters on the Loose! and Santa on the Loose!
Easter Bunny on the Loose!: A Seek and Solve Mystery! by Wendy Wax, illustrated by Dave Garbot. HarperCollins (January 2013); ISBN 9780062237095; 32 pages
Source: Review copy provided by publisher
I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)  

Related links:
Wendy Wax - Author Website
Dave Garbot - Illustrator Website

Clue Chart - Story Extension

I like to use mystery books to help my kids make use of their critical thinking and problem solving skills. While reading this story and searching the pages, my kids wanted help keeping track of all the clues and suspects (the suspects are pictured in the front of the book). Since the story is essentially an easy logic problem, I printed a chart for them log their clues and eliminate suspects in an organized, systematic fashion. 

For more lesson plans, books and activity ideas involving mystery books for young readers view the Ingredients of a Mystery unit plan at Scholastic.  There's even a blank suspect list you can print out for free!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Caldecott Picks at Brimful Curiosities

In a few hours the ALA will announce the 2013 Youth Media Awards.  Here in the Brimful home we have considered our picture book favorites from 2012 and are pleased to announce our predictions for the Caldecott Award.

2nd grader picks:
Favorite for Award: Magritte's Marvelous Hat by D.B. Johnson
Honors: Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
Boot & Shoe by Marla Frazee
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Preschooler picks:
Favorite for Award: This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
Honors: Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

Brimful Mom's picks:
Favorite for Award: More by I. C. Springman, illustrated by Brian Lies
Honors: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex

Brimful Dad's picks:
Favorite for Award: Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
Honors: Step Gently Out by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder

Our Other Favorite 2012 Picture Books:
Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson
Little Dog Lost: The Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic by Mônica Carnesi
National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry edited by J. Patrick Lewis
One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lili on Stage by Rachel Isadora - Nutcracker book review

Tiny Tot -Waiting to perform in the Nutcracker
We've been living and breathing Nutcracker these past few weeks and months. My daughter performs the part of a Party Girl and a Mirliton in our local Nutcracker production this December.  My son plays a smaller role, but he's super cute nonetheless as a Tiny Tot in the party scene.  They've both spent a lot of time both back stage, below stage and on stage during rehearsals. Now that the performances have started, we've been spending even more quality time at the theater.

Participating in the Nutcracker production has provided both of my kids with a valuable opportunity to witness first hand all that goes on behind the scenes during a live performance.  Most audience members remain blissfully unaware of the hustle and bustle of activity back stage.  Make-up and hair, costumes, props and set, lighting, warm-up - the magic begins long before the curtain opens.

As I was researching Nutcracker themed children's books, I came across a wonderful picture book title by Rachel Isadora that provides a unique look at the Nutcracker ballet from a performer's point of view.  Lili on Stage follows a young girl named Lili as she gets ready to perform as a party girl in Act I of a Nutcracker production.  She and her friends warm-up, put on their make-up and costumes and wait in the wings until finally they walk on stage and join the fabulous party scene, watching as Drosselmeyer gives the gift of a nutcracker. Off stage, as she heads back to the changing room, Lili sees all the dancers who will perform in Act II - Marzipan, Dew Drop, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and more - dressed and ready to dance.

Isadora beautifully captures all the preparation, awe and excitement a young dancer experiences when getting ready to perform in a ballet production.  Her lovely watercolor illustrations suit the theme particularly well, realistically and expressively illustrating the dancers. Both boy and girl dancers are portrayed, and Isadora also shows racial diversity of the cast in her depiction of the performers. Isadora herself was a professional dancer before she began a career in children's books.  Her first-hand knowledge of ballet and the dancer's life is evident in every single page of this book.  Ballet instructors may want to read the story aloud to students before a performance because the book offers plenty of helpful advice for performers: no speaking on stage, hold your head high, don't eat or drink while in costume.  Isadora provides readers with a short summary of the Nutcracker story in the beginning of the book.

Mirliton - Dance of the Reed Flutes
My daughter loves this book because it shows all of the different character dancers in Act II of the Nutcracker ballet.  She performs as a Mirliton (a.k.a. Marzipan or Shepardess) during the Dance of the Reed Flutes, and surprisingly we've had a hard time finding this particular piece depicted in Nutcracker children's books. Luckily, Isadora included the divertissements, although she uses some different terms for the characters than we are used to -- the Russian (Trepak) I believe is depicted as Candycane?!

Lili on Stage is part of Isadora's "Lili" series, a picture book series perfectly suited for young ballerinas.  The book is currently out-of-print, but can be found at a reasonable cost used. Other books in the series include: Lili at Ballet and Lili Backstage.
Lili on Stage by Rachel Isadora. Putnam (October 1995); ISBN 9780399226373; 32 pages
Book Source: Personal copy

Related links:
Rachel Isadora - Website

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Nutcracker Musical Storybook App By Mouse King Media

This December I plan on reviewing several different versions of E. T. A. Hoffman's The Nutcracker.  Before I start with the book reviews, I've decided to highlight something a little different, an awesome Nutcracker storybook app that happens to be available for free today on Apple itunes! If you're a fan of the Nutcracker ballet and enjoy the music and the story, this is an app you must absolutely download!

The Nutcracker Musical Storybook is an animated, interactive app based on the ballet version of the Nutcracker.  This app by Mouse King Media combines excerpts of Tchaikovsky's music with a short, picture book format story featuring artwork by Yoko Tanaka. The app can be played as either a storybook or movie version.

Illustrator Tanka channels some of the Sugar Plum fairy's magic and beautifully captures the fantasy elements of the Nutcracker in her lovely, enchanting illustrations. It's a splendid treat to interact with this app -- Clara, the Nutcracker, the seven-headed Mouse King and all the dancers magically to spring to life right on the screen.  The scenes in The Land of Sweets are incredible, particularly the Russian Dancers scene.  The story is not narrated, like other storybook apps, so children will need to read the words themselves or have an adult read aloud the story.

I purchased The Nutcracker Musical Storybook for our Kindle Fire last month. Since both my kids are performing in the Nutcracker this holiday season, I thought they might enjoy an interactive version. I highly recommend this app. Even if you can't get it free, it's still a bargain at $2.99. The app provides a nice introduction to both the music of the Nutcracker and also the basic storyline. 

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)