Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oh No!: (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) by Mac Barnett - Book Review and Robot Craft

Tonight is an exciting night for the online children's book world! Nominations open for the Cybils (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards). Starting after midnight, anyone that has an interest in children's books is welcome to nominate their favorite kid's books from the last year, published between Oct. 16, 2009 and Oct. 15th 2010. Even if you don't plan to nominate anything, the site is worth checking out for book recommendations. The book featured in this post today is a sure bet for a picture book nomination. Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Dan Santat has received a ton of buzz so far this year, most deservedly I might add. A giant robot and toad, mass chaos, smart little girl responsible for it all -- what's not to like? Read on for our take...

Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Dan Santat; Disney / Hyperion (June 2010); ISBN 9781423123125; 40 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library

"Oh No ... Oh Man ... I knew it. I never should have built a robot for the science fair."

A brainy little girl, with visions of blue ribbons and accolades, submits an advanced robotics entry into her school science fair. She ends up receiving a blue ribbon for her project, but quickly learns that while she slipped off to the fair, her unattended, giant robot (120 yards tall) took over the city, and is destroying everything in sight. In a frenzied state, the girl rushes out and tries to control her crazed creation, only to discover a huge flaw in her design -- she can't communicate with the machine and apparently there's no off switch. She returns to her lab to work on a fix and enlarges a toad to fight the robot. (Maybe not the most well thought out plan but a valiant attempt, nonetheless.)

The high-action illustrations in the book look like a classic Japanese monster movie in the making. Black edges create a filmstrip feel and you can spot the graininess and lines in the pictures, with plenty of Japanese signs in the background. There isn't a lot of text in this book. It reads a little like a graphic novel, and the eye naturally is drawn to all the awesome illustrations. My kids loved the hilarious dogs in robot gear (the robot has the ability to control canine minds). I geeked out over blueprint endpapers showing schematics from both the robot and toad projects. The book jacket has a poster printed on the underside, but sadly we couldn't view it as we checked our copy out from the library and the poster is hidden safely from view under the plastic cover. I need to give a thumbs up for the leading girl choice - so great to see an intelligent female in a book like this! The whole book sends my geeky girl heart a pitter-patter. My toddler son is naturally drawn toward anything about robots, but even my princess-loving girl stepped away from the pink long enough to browse through this one, not once, but many times. She needs to come up with a science fair project this year, but I think we'll stay away from the robots!

Related Links:
Mac Barnett - Author Website
Dan Santat - Illustrator Website

❖❖❖❖❖❖ stART Craft - Magnetic Alpha-Robot Craft Project ❖❖❖❖❖❖

This is our version of a trash to treasure robot craft. We started with some tin cans and other various recyclables and created our own robot. The kids like changing out the face using magnets and magnetic letters. We also made a few magnetic eyes by adhering printed eyes to a thin, cheap magnetic sheet using double sided tape.

(Our robot craft was inspired by this Family Fun Can-Do Robots craft.)

abc button

A Mommy's Adventures hosts the "stART" meme (Story + Art) each week. Add your kids craft post to the Kid's Get Crafty linky at Red Ted Art's Blog. Join in Read Aloud Thursday at Hope is the Word. Show off your ideas at ABC & 123 Show and Tell.

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.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Wicked

This weekend I attended a production of Wicked. What a powerful message of tolerance, understanding and friendship. I wasn't expecting the witty dialogue and marvelous music and singing. So glad I went - I had a great time with my friends! Have you seen the musical yet or read the book? I've heard the book is very different from the musical, and I haven't read it yet.

Find more of this week's Wordless Wednesday (or Wordful) posts at 5 Minutes for Mom or Parenting for Dummies.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

KNOW: The Science Magazine for Curious Kids

According to a recent White House Press release, President Obama announced a new goal of recruiting 10,000 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) teachers over the next two years. Students in the U.S. lag behind in math and science when compared to their peers in other countries and the government wants to see improvements in STEM education. Even at my daughter's school I've noticed they've started to put more of an emphasis on math and science. Each week in kindergarten, my daughter observes and participates in a new science experiments and every week she brings home a math at home worksheet to complete.

This fall I've been trying to focus more on science and math with my kids in our daily lives. While the school will teach the basics, I believe it is important for us, as parents, to encourage the curious minds of children through simple home activities. Starting this past month, we've been trying to participate in Science Sunday every week.

Just recently through Mom Central, I learned of a new science publication for kids ages 6 to 9. KNOW: The Science Magazine for Curious Kids by Mad Science contains short articles and plenty of engaging pictures, experiments, games and activities to help children think scientifically. Right now a free online copy of the Sept/Oct 2010 KNOW Magazine is available for download. A bi-monthly publication, the yearly subscription rate for the U.S. is $28 (Canadian dollars). That price doesn't seem too bad, especially considering the magazine contains very few ads.

My kids and I really enjoyed browsing the magazine online. The articles are laid out in an artful, eye-pleasing way, with the right balance of text and pictures on each page. This newest issue contains all sorts of interesting pieces on shapes, patterns, origami and more. The see-through frog on page 3 amazed my children and they wanted to know more about it. We used the page on Fibonacci Fun in this issue as the basis for one of our Science Sunday posts a few weeks ago. And, there's even a page featuring book reviews by kids! Hooray! This magazine looks like an excellent supplement for home science studies. I also think that the publication might be a good one for public and school libraries to offer for check-out to their patrons. Magazines like KNOW provide the perfect stimulus for kids and parents to talk about and learn about science together.

"I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Mad Science and received the products necessary to facilitate my review. In addition, I received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate."

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems - Book Review

Say it isn't so...the Knuffle Bunny series is coming to an end! The third and final book in the series, Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion, releases today. As far as stuffed animal rabbits go, Knuffle Bunny is now almost as well-known and loved as the Velveteen Rabbit in the children's book world. When the first Knuffle Bunny book by Mo Willems arrived on the scene in 2004, the huggable bunny and adorable owner, Trixie, immediately captured the hearts of readers everywhere. Poor Knuffle Bunny, the lost and found lovey! First left at the laundromat, then mistakenly taken to the wrong home, what's in store next? (If you haven't read the book yet, you may not want to read our review - it contains a few very vague spoilers.)

Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion by Mo Willems; Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins Children's Books (September 2010); ISBN 9780061929571; 52 pages
Book Source: F&G copy from publisher

Knuffle Bunny's adventures continue, as a school-aged Trixie and her family travel by plane to Holland to visit "Oma" and "Opa." Trixie brings her beloved bunny along on the trip, but at some point in the hustle and bustle of the plane ride, Knuffle Bunny goes missing, again. Trixie doesn't need to tell her dad this time -- her eyes say it all. She desperately misses her beloved stuffed animal. Not even a brand-new, Funny-Bunny-Wunny-Doll Extreme can make her feel better. But, then she has a wonderful dream, a dream about Knuffle Bunny meeting children all over the world. Equipped with a new understanding that comes with growing older, she feels a little better and is able to enjoy the rest of her trip. And, Knuffle Bunny eventually ends up right Knuffle Bunny belongs, cuddled by a pair loving, little hands. After all, Knuffle ("Ka-nuffle") is Dutch for hug (or cuddle).

Bring on the tears! This is a story of letting go and growing older, of thoughtful happy endings and new beginnings. Knuffle Bunny Free drew mixed reactions in our home. My kindergarten-aged daughter said she really liked the story. She enjoyed looking at all the wonderful, superimposed illustrations and reading about Knuffle Bunny's worldwide adventure. But, when we discussed the plot and the ending, she replied, grasping her beloved blankie tightly, "That's OK in a book, but not for me." I tend to agree. My own tattered, well-loved blankie is packed away somewhere safe in my parents' home, serving as a lasting reminder of my childhood.

However, for Trixie and Knuffle Bunny and for Mo Willems and the real Trixie, it is a fitting conclusion. And, once again, Mo Willems outdid himself with the illustrations. The illustrations take the reader along right on the journey, right to the airport and on the plane, all the way to Holland, a carnival, windmill and more. The signature digital collage style is perfect for Knuffle Bunny's worldwide travels. The pigeon makes his obligatory appearance, or three and a half appearances to be exact, along with a few other Willems' favorites. My kids do love searching for that pigeon! The love note to Trixie in the end, filled with Mo Willem's thoughts and hopes for his own daughter, really touches the heart. I couldn't read it without crying. Yes, Knuffle Bunny Free is definitely a fitting conclusion in many ways.

Related links and activities:
"Mo Willems, on 'Knuffle Bunny Free'" - Publisher's Weekly
Knuffle Bunny Free Event Kit [pdf]
Knuffle Bunny Free World Tour Schedule and Passport [pdf]
Classroom Activities for Knuffle Bunny [pdf]
Knuffle Bunny - Teacher's Guide [pdf]
Knuffle Bunny Too Event Kit [pdf]
Knuffle Bunny Sewing Pattern from emilie handmade

Enter to win a life-sized Knuffle Bunny at

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.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Olivia Toys: 2-in-1 Transforming Playset & Plush Doll Characters by Spin Master - Product Review

Ten years ago the very first Olivia book came out, written by the talented author/illustrator Ian Falconer. A winner of the Caldecott Honor, Olivia the book showcases a spunky pig named Olivia, and she is one of today's most well-known children's book characters. Our family owns all the books in the original picture book Olivia series: Olivia, Olivia Saves the Circus, Olivia...and the Missing Toy, Olivia Forms a Band, and Olivia Helps with Christmas. Tomorrow, Simon & Schuster will release the newest book in the series, Olivia Goes to Venice, and we hope to add that one to our collection, too. We're also fans of the Olivia TV series on Nick Jr. The episodes capture Olivia's character perfectly and reflect her imaginative, lively ways.

But, as big of fans as we are, up until recently, we didn't own any Olivia toys. Earlier this summer, I tried to purchase an Olivia plush doll for my niece. I found a few on Amazon but for a ridiculously high price. Thankfully, this fall Spin Master has come out with a new line of affordable Olivia toys. The toys are already predicted to be a big seller this upcoming Christmas season. Team Mom and Spin Master recently provided us with an opportunity to play with two of the new products, the Olivia 2-in-1 Transforming Playset and an 8" Olivia Everyday Basic Plush Doll.

My daughter absolutely adores playing with the Olivia playset. Cleverly designed, the Olivia 2-in-1 Transforming Playset easily switches from a house to a pirate ship by swiveling open from front to back or back to front on hinges. Besides the house/pirate ship structure, the playset includes a 3" Olivia figure dressed in a removable rubber outfit, 22 additional accessories, a sticker sheet for personalization, and a base for the Olivia figure. When closed, the compact house measures approximately 8" high, 8" wide and 6" deep. Kids can store all the accessories inside and carry the portable set using the flip up handle on the top of the house.

To open the house flat, the child must slide the latch on the front of the house and flip the house open. The house consists of four separate rooms: a kitchen, living room, Olivia's bedroom and extra room. The rear latch opens the pirate ship part of the playset. The ship's wheel spins and lookout flips up so that Olivia can sit inside and watch the seas.

While my daughter enjoys playing with the positionable Olivia figure, she wishes the set came with the entire 4-piece family (this can be purchased separately). She also commented that she would like it better if the door on the front of the house opened, and she thought that the pirate ship would be more fun if the hatch on the floor of the deck opened. The accessories are very small - the set is recommended for ages 4+. Much like in a typical dollhouse the accessories help encourage imaginative play and include a sofa, bed, chairs, little tiny plates, a mirror, pirate flag, pirate hat, and parrot, among other things. The tree accessory is made of laminated cardboard and does not hold up well to repeated play. All the other accessories are made of plastic. Because of the unique 2-in-1 design, the playset appeals to both boys and girls. The set retails for $29.99.

The Spin Master 8" Olivia Plush doll line includes four different styles -- an Everyday Outfit, Cow, Artist and Opera Singer. The affordable dolls retail for $9.99 each. The body part contains plastic pellets to help the doll sit. My daughter enjoys stroking Olivia's super soft pink ears. I think the dolls would make a great gift paired with the one of the Olivia books!

A Brimful Bonus:
Just in case you are interested in learning more about the latest Olivia book, here's a YouTube video featuring Falconer talking about the inspiration behind Olivia Goes to Venice (releases this week on September 28th, 2010).

Thanks to Spin Master and Team Mom for this review opportunity and for providing the Olivia toys for my family to review. (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.)

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition - Book Review and Giveaway

It turns out that inappropriate dinner conversation topics (i.e. Boogers, Vomit, Halitosis, Bloody Noses, Flatulence, B.O., Warts) actually make for an unusual and informative book of all things unmentionable. You'll find all the above and more in the newly published, The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition by David Borgenicht,
Nathaniel Marunas, and Robin Epstein, illustrated by Chuck Gonzales; Chronicle Books (September 2010); ISBN 9780811875707; 128 pages
Book Source: Review copy from publisher

According to the book's introduction, "This guide has all the tips for how to survive the grossest of the gross situations that life poops out at you." Fair warning. This isn't the only time the subject of poo crops up in this book. And it's pretty hard not to laugh while reading about it. Even my mother-in-law, after first surveying the book with a glaring eye, burst out laughing with tears rolling down her face while reading the "Urine Says a Lot About You" and "Poopisms" sections. After all, it's true -- "Whether you cheer it or fear it, one thing's for certain: poop happens." Like it or not, kids (and some adults) find bodily functions and gross things, well, hilarious. And, I bet if they can get their hands on this little handbook, they'll read it cover to cover. While they are snickering they can learn a little along the way, too.

Just what kind of advice is in this book? Well, it covers a range of situations like How to Survive Bad Breath, How to Deal with a Spit Talker, How to Deal with a Gas Leak and How to Survive Lice. There's plenty of factual information mixed in with text that sounds like it comes straight from the middle grade diaries, a conversational tone sure to appeal to the intended audience. Comical blue and gray toned illustrations help put the matter into perspective. Here's an exclusive sneak peek straight from the publisher.

Honestly, it's pretty hard to keep a straight face reading this one. Definitely an entertaining Grossology 101. The back of the book even provides recipes for fake snot, fake puke, fake poop and fake blood. However, if you've outlawed the use of the word "fart" in your home, this probably isn't the book for your family. I'm not entirely sure, when the time comes, that I want my middle-grader repeating terms like "butt biscuits" and "wet fireworks" (though, I'm sure they hear far worse at school). But, I'll admit there's plenty to be learned from the book. Children might just pay heed to all those lessons on manners and cleanliness because they'll know exactly why, for instance, a dirty bathroom is not something to be taken lightly or they just might think twice about leaving that wad of gum under the desk. And, let me tell you, I wish I would have read the section on "How to Manage Your Cat's Hairballs" when I was in grade school. Maybe then I wouldn't have had to frantically phone my mom one summer during a babysitting job. The baby was fine, but I thought for sure the cat in that home was choking to death under my watch.

Lastly, back to the dinner conversations. The appendix lists some of the grossest human habits in history. Did you know that during the Middle Ages, diners used the tablecloth to wipe their hands and blow their noses? Yes, that is disgusting!

Interested in reading more? One Brimful Curiosities reader will win a copy of the book, The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition.

To enter, leave any comment relevant to this post.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US or Canada Only
• Contest ends on Monday, October 11th, 2010 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random and sent an email notification.
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4; please leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
2nd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.
3rd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader

Don't forget to visit the other blogs along this Worst Case Scenario: Gross Blog Tour and watch for more giveaways:
Sept. 28: There's a Book; Sept. 29: Bookmarkable; Sept. 30: Dad of Divas; Oct. 1: Stiletto Storytime; Oct. 2: A Sea of Books; Oct. 3: Great Kid Books; Oct. 4: A Year of Reading; Oct. 5: The Children's Book Review; Oct. 6: 5 Minutes for Books; Oct. 7: Two Writing Teachers; Oct. 8: Mocha Dad.

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.)

Full to the Brim - Kid's Book Giveaway List (Really Late Edition) - 9/27/10

I missed posting Friday's Full the the Brim last week. My husband's parents celebrated their 40th anniversary this weekend, and we had visitors staying in our home. Blogging was put on the back burner for a short period. Sorry to all those that came by looking for the list. Did you know that since I started blogging, I've written 133 Full to the Brim posts? Wow! I guess a break once and awhile isn't out of order. :)

Please check out my other "Full to the Brim" posts as well. Many contests are still underway. I publish "Full to the Brim" every Friday. Thanks for visiting my blog and come back soon!

My giveaway(s):
The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition - Ends 10/11
Secretariat Merchandise Giveaway - Ends 10/8
Guardians of Ga’Hoole / Wolves of the Beyond Book Set Giveaway - Ends 10/4
Ziploc Storage Products Giveaway - Ends 10/4

Other book giveaways:
Bookmarkable! - Book Giveaway Ends 10/16/10
Bag in the Wind by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Barry Root
There's A Book - Book Giveaway Ends 10/15/10
Thomas and the Dragon Queen by Shutta Crum
Reading to Know - Book Giveaway Ends 9/30/10
Help Your Kids with Math, Whole-y Cow: Fractions Are Fun, and Zero, Zilch, Nada : Counting to None
Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them - Book Giveaway Ends 9/27/10 (8 p.m. CST)
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
What is Bridget Reading - Book Giveaway Ends 10/1/10
4 sets of ARCs
From the Mixed up Files...of Middle Grade Authors - Book Giveaway Ends ??
Penny Dreadfulby Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Abigail Halpin
Shop with Me Mama - Book Giveaway Ends 10/9/10
One Hand, Two Hands by Max Lucado
Hormonal Imbalances - Book Giveaway Ends 9/30/10
Daddy Book Bundle: Guess How Much I Love You, Daddy Cuddles, On Our Way Home sponsored by Little One Books
An Island Life - Book Giveaway Ends 9/29/10
Tuck Me In by Dean Hacohen
Momma Findings - Book Giveaway Ends 10/10/10
One Hand, Two Hands by Max Lucado
Abby Approved - Book Giveaway Ends 10/6/10
$25 gift certificate to Little One Books

Klutz Book of Animation Blog Tour
Techmamas Ends 10/1
Little Tech Girl Ends 10/1
Table for Five Ends 10/6
Tree Root and Twig Ends 10/7
HighTechDad Blog Ends 10/4
Mom Start Ends 10/11

The Children's Book Review has several book giveaways on the site right now. Find them all at

The 5 Minutes for Books Fall Festival of Children's Books is underway. Many of the books reviewed on the website in the past week have corresponding giveaways, winners announced on 10/2. Take some time to comment on the individual posts and enter for your chance to win!

Fish for more children's book giveaways at Lori Calabrese's Fish for a Free Book linkup each Friday

I Am A Reader, Not A Writer also has a new book giveaway linky with lots of YA and some other kid's books.

Have a children's book you are giving away on your blog? Let me know! I'll spread the word here!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ziploc Products for School and Home - Review and Giveaway

Like many children attending school, my daughter helped shop for all the things on her supply list before school began this year. The list included your typical supplies like pencils and crayons, but I was surprised to see Ziploc bags included. Why in the world would the teacher need that many Ziploc bags?

This past Tuesday I volunteered to help out in the classroom, and I learned how she uses some of the Ziploc bags. One of the tasks I performed was to inventory, organize and assemble the literacy "fun" bags so that the kids could start taking them home. The themed literacy bags are totes filled with a book, games and activities and sometimes stuffed animals and the kids take them home to encourage parent involvement in teaching early reading skills and other kindergarten basics. A lot of the totes contain small pieces or things that need to stay together. My daughter's teacher uses the Ziploc bags to keep all the pieces together. Some of the literacy bags even contain bubbles, watercolor paints, and glue! Those items need to be contained in strong and dependable bags so that they don't spill all over and make a big mess. Ziploc bags and literacy? Who knew? But, it's definitely something I'm willing to support!

We use a lot of different Ziploc products in our home so I was very happy to receive several different products to review as part of a Family Review Network blogging opportunity. Ziploc sent us four different products:
· Ziploc Brand sandwich bags
· Ziploc Brand Freezer slider bags with expandable bottom and smart-zip seal (quart)
· Ziploc Brand Storage slider bags with expandable bottom and smart-zip seal (quart)
· Ziploc Brand Containers with the Smart Snap™ Seal (medium square)

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the sandwich bags so they probably don't need much description. However, this is the first time I've tried out the expandable Ziploc slider bag. Both the freezer and storage bags have a special folded bottom that expands out so that the bags stay upright when you fill them. The bags are also roomier and work nicely for storing wider items like cupcakes and toiletries. The Smart Zip closure is easy to use (even for kids) and even makes a fun zipping noise so that you know that the bag is sealing. My husband and I had a lot of fun trying to figure out how the zipper makes the noise one evening...doesn't take much to entertain us, I guess!

The lid on the Ziploc Smart Snap Containers shuts with a snapping sound -- a satisfactory assurance that the lid has sealed properly. The containers are clear so that I you easily see what is stored inside without needing to open it to check. Another thing that I noticed and like is the measurement indicators on the side of the container, in both cups and milliliters. The plastic containers are also BPA free. I use our containers for storing leftovers in the fridge. I've also use the Ziploc containers for storing craft supplies. The containers conveniently nest together for stacking.

Did you know that you can perform a science experiment using a Ziploc bag filled with water? We found a fun Leakproof Bag experiment in Steve Spangler's Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes book and tried it out recently. It's amazing that you can poke round pencils right through the plastic and the bag doesn't leak! Try it out yourself sometime.

From literacy bags to storage to science projects, Ziploc products come in pretty handy! And, one last plus that I truly appreciate -- Ziploc brands give back to schools by participating in the Box Tops for Education program. Make sure to save those coupons!

Thanks to SC Johnson, one lucky Brimful Curiosities reader will win their own set of Ziploc products:
▪ Ziploc Brand sandwich bags
▪ Ziploc Brand Freezer slider bags with expandable bottom and smart-zip seal (quart)
▪ Ziploc Brand Storage slider bags with expandable bottom and smart-zip seal (quart)
▪ Ziploc Brand Containers with the Smart Snap™ Seal (medium square)

To enter, leave a comment letting me know how you use Ziploc products in your home or school.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US Only
• Contest ends on Monday, October 4th 2010 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random and sent an email notification.
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4; please leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
2nd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.
3rd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader

This post was written for Family Review Network & SC Johnson who provided the complimentary product for review and giveaway in exchange for my honest opinions. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lines that Wiggle by Candace Whitman - Power Cord Monster Art

I use a journal to keep track of all the books that I hope to check out at the library, and many of the books on this list come from blog recommendations. A couple months ago Superheroes and Princesses mentioned Lines that Wiggle in a stArt (story + art) post. We found the book at our library and we thought it was so fun to read, that we decided to create our own stArt post featuring the book. It's the type of book that all ages can enjoy.

Lines That Wiggle by Candace Whitman, illustrated by Steve Wilson; Blue Apple Books / Chronicle Books (April 2009); ISBN 9781934706541; 36 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library

Glittery, touchable lines! Bold, graphic illustrations! Cute rhyming verses! Learning about lines in a book has never been more fun or interactive. Did you stop and take notice of the lines around you today? Maybe not, but maybe you just need a little inspiration. Lines that Wiggle is a book that inspires and implores readers to spot all the lines in the world, natural and man-made. The raised, glittery blue lines in the book curve, bend and wiggle all over the pages. And, I must remark on another creative touch -- there are monsters in this book! (And a cat, elephant, rainbow, bus, whale, spiderweb and octopus, among other things.) It's jam-packed with tactile and visual elements and is a treat to read.

My kids lingered over every page, feeling the lines on a leaf and following the zigzag of lightning bolt and the curves of a rainbow with their fingers. The glittery lines have a pleasant, rough feel to them, and it's amazing how much fun it is to rub your finger over these pages. My kids also really liked the colorful illustrations by Steve Wilson, especially the pages where the monsters interact with the lines. Some of the text is written in a font that looks like cursive handwriting. Cursive writing is all about writing with a flowing line and really is a perfect font choice for this book. The cursive writing in the book may be hard for younger kids to read, but I think it is a good book to introduce different ways of writing. This book would work wonderfully as a supplement in teaching cursive writing and getting kids excited about writing. They can follow the curves of the words with their fingers. Art teachers could also easily develop a lesson about lines using this book. My daughter learned about lines this week in her school art class, and had fun pointing out the vertical and horizontal lines in the book and talking about what she did in school. Feel inspired to find some lines around you now?

Related Links:
Candace Whitman - Author Website

❖❖❖❖❖❖ stART Craft - Power Cord Monster and Raised Leaf Lines Crafts ❖❖❖❖❖❖

After we finished reading Lines that Wiggle, we searched our home for lines. One of the first lines we spotted was the cord on our vacuum cleaner. We used the cord for a little interactive art project and "drew" pictures on the carpet using the cord. Since the book contains a ton of monsters, we made a power cord monster and used various toys to add features like the eyes and mouth. We also made a ghost, bunny, circle and lots of other shapes, but I didn't take pictures. The kids liked that they could adapt and change their art and enjoyed the creative challenge of drawing big shapes with a cord.

We also made a fall picture inspired by the book. One of the pages talks about "lines in leaves that grow on trees." My daughter studied the lines on a leaf from one of trees outside. She brought the leaf inside, traced around it, and drew in raised lines using some blue glitter glue paint. After her picture dried, she was able to touch the lines with her fingers, just like the book.


A Mommy's Adventures hosts the "stART" meme (Story + Art) each week. Add your kids craft post to the Kid's Get Crafty linky at Red Ted Art's Blog. Link your kids' "masterpieces" at Welcome to Our Wonderland.

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.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Special Treats

Delighting in the finer things in life...

Under the Greenwillow: The Official Birthday Blog of Greenwillow Books featured the above photo of my son reading earlier this week. Isn't he cute sitting there reading? Kevin Henkes happens to be one of our very favorite authors.

Find more of this week's Wordless Wednesday (or Wordful) posts at 5 Minutes for Mom or Parenting for Dummies.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kids' Picks - September 2010 (Country Road ABC by Arthur Geisert)

5 Minutes for Books is holding a Fall Festival of Children’s Books this week and we are joining in the celebration by listing our favorite picture book this month. We live in the Midwest and both my kindergartener and toddler enjoyed reading this beautifully illustrated ABC picture book by Arthur Geisert.

Country Road ABC: An Illustrated Journey Through America's Farmland by Arthur Geisert; Houghton Mifflin (May 2010); ISBN 9780547194691; 64 pages; Copy from our local library

This isn't your ordinary farm book. It also isn't your average ABC book. County Road ABC captures a way of life - the life of farmers living in a small farming community, or more specifically, the life along Iowa County Road Y31. Like in his other books, Geisert creates the illustrations using a copper-plate etching process combined with watercolors and acrylics and the resulting pictures are extraordinarily detailed. Starting with A is for ammonia fertilizer and ending with Z is for z-brace, the letters of the alphabet help describe various aspects of country life. The text is rather sparse, but the illustrations ... Wow! They are amazing.

I've lived most of my life in and near small farming communities. The landscapes portrayed in the book, particularly the panorama picture that continues on the bottom edge page after page, accurately represent many of the country roads that I've traveled on. The book even depicts the seasons starting with the spring thaw and circling through summer, fall and the snowy, cold winter. The reader really does get a sense of what it is like living in a rural area. There's farm animals, a country church and graveyard, an abandoned one-room schoolhouse, a village parade, tractors in the fields, and even images of the volunteer fire department - this is the small town, rural Midwest that we know. My son's favorite part of the book is the page with the line of cars following a combine. That's not surprising, given the number of combines we've noted in the fields lately. My daughter commented on the page with the one room school and wanted to know more about the outhouses, one with the sun/star and the other with the moon. We had to look up more about outhouses online after reading the book.

Even though my kids do not live on a farm, they live near farmers and farming communities. I want them to understand the country life because it is in their blood. Their grandparents and great-grandparents grew up on farms. We still visit my grandparents' farm and drive on many country roads to get there. It's a way of life worth understanding. We enjoyed reading about it, experiencing it through the pictures in this book, and learning our ABCs along the way.

For more September kids' picks, visit 5 Minutes for Books and also check out the Fall Festival of Children's Books celebration.

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.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Shox Scooter Review - Perform stunts and tricks with the help of the flexible foot deck

The Shred Sled Shox Scooter, a new, lightweight, spring action scooter, hit the stores earlier this summer. The Shox Scooter works like a regular two-wheeled scooter, but has a springy, flexible foot deck that allows for more height and speed when performing tricks. According to the manufacturer, the scooter is appropriate for ages 5+.

We received a Shox Scooter to test out as part of a Team Mom review campaign. The Shox Scooter arrived in a box folded up and required some minimal assembly (basically you flip the handle bars portion up, perpendicular to the foot deck and lock into place.) I was able to flip the scooter together myself, but had some difficulty installing the two black plastic clips that help position the front rotational piece on the swivel pin. (See picture to the left.) My husband was able to insert them without too much difficulty. In fact, my only complaint with this scooter's design is the use of the plastic clips. I'm not entirely sure what purpose they serve, but they could slip out of place if forced and could possibly go missing. The handlebars easily adjust to two different heights and come equipped with cushioned foam handles. The scooter has an aluminum body and is incredibly light, weighing only 7 pounds. The scooter also has a large foot powered back brake that is easy to use and helps with safety. The foot deck's rough grip surface is another safety feature.

When my daughter was smaller, I was convinced that she was going to be the dare-devil of the family. One summer, when she was three, she scraped up her face with her no fear tactics. But as she grew a little older, she became more cautious. She likes riding her bike with training wheels, but up to this point we hadn't tried out any scooters. When we first received the Shox Scooter, she was super excited to try it out. The scooter has skinny wheels to allow for maneuverability, and it takes some skill to balance on it while riding. While she can ride it a small distance, she is in no way using the scooter to its full potential. Honestly, I'm not sure she's ready for scooter riding just yet...maybe with some practice and a good set of elbow and knee pads, she'd be able to get the hang of it. Though, I'm sure that some kindergartners her age would be able to SAIL with the Shox Scooter! And, I'd love to see a talented middle grade kid give it a try. My toddler has been eyeing it up in the garage. In a few years, who knows? Maybe he'll be the stunt master of the family, performing the 180s!

Do your kids ride on scooters? What type do they like to use?

Thanks to Shred Sled and Team Mom for this review opportunity and for providing a Shox Scooter for my family to review. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)