Friday, May 4, 2012

Cheerios Spoonful of Stories Book Giveaway - Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer Review

Mornings would be so much brighter if every box of cereal contained a book to read! That's why I always look forward to the Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories® program every year. The Spoonful of Stories program recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary with the distribution of more than six million children books! This year's books could be found free inside specially marked Cheerios boxes starting in March 2012. However, if your area is anything like ours, the boxes flew off the shelves! But don't worry if you missed all the new stories this year -- read on for a giveaway you won't want to miss.

Several great Simon & Schuster small-sized paperback books were offered this year in the Cheerios boxes. The selection featured six picture book titles, written in both English and Spanish and appropriate for ages three to eight: 

Noodle & Lou by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Arthur Howard
Hello Baby! by Mem Fox and illustrated by Steve Jenkins
If I Were a Jungle Animal by Amanda Ellery and illustrated by Tom Ellery
Peeny Butter Fudge by Toni and Slade Morrison and illustrated by Joe Cepeda
Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Scott Magoon
Can I Just Take a Nap? by Ron Rauss and illustrated by Rob Shepperson

In addition to providing books in the cereal boxes, Cheerios made a $300,000 donation to First Book, a literacy focused non-profit, and also gave 5000 children's books to 10 First Book local volunteer chapters nationwide.

I applaud Cheerios for promoting literacy through this wonderful book distribution program. If only they could continue the program year round, and work together with other publishers to get more free books in the hands of children!

One of the best things about the books is that they are bilingual! (And, due to the small paperback size (7" x 5-1/4"), they are also very portable and easy to stash inside a bag for trips.) My kids and I have been reading a few of the Spoonful of Stories titles this week to brush up on our Spanish just in time for Cinco de Mayo.

Both my kids really enjoy reading Tammi Sauer's Mostly Monsterly (Mayormente Monstruosa). The book stars a mostly monsterly little girl monster named Bernadette (though for a monster she's not really all that scary and pretty darn adorable). Though she has fangs and fur she doesn't really act like a monster. She picks flowers and exhibits other nice sweet tendencies not typically seen in your standard, everyday monster. Because she's just a little different, she doesn't fit in terribly well with the other monsters at school. Thankfully, little Bernadette is as clever as she is cute, and she finds a way to bond with her classmates while remaining true to her slightly sweet, monsterly self.

Bernadette, the contradictory sweet yet still monster-ish character, provides for quite a few laughs. Magoon does such a splendid job in capturing both of Bernadette's qualities in his illustrations. Bernadette wears skullbone accessories and has sharp, pointing teeth and ears, but somehow she's not really scary at all but perfectly adorable! In fact, all the monsters in the book seem to have a likeable, familiar cuteness about them. There's one spread in the book with the monsters hanging from trees that reminds me of Where the Wild Things Are. This is one of those stories that could get a little preachy if written the wrong way, but Sauer manages to get the "it's OK to be yourself" message across in a sneaky, subtle way, while also showing that sometimes it's best to work out difficult situations through compromise.

Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Scott Magoon. Simon & Schuster (August 2010); ISBN 978141696110; 40 pages

Mostly Monsterly Self-Portrait Monster Art Activity
Sauer's book, with the "be yourself" message and monster theme, provides a fun tie-in opportunity for kids show off their own individual artistic skills and create individual, personalized monsters.  To jump-start the project,  I took a picture of both of the kids, cut out their faces and attached the photos to paper.  Armed with markers, they took over from there and created little, mostly monsterly and very silly versions of themselves.

I've noticed lately that my preschool age son is hesitant to create self-portrait drawings or drawings of people because the little perfectionist in him is never satisfied with the result.  His drawings never turn out the way he thinks they should look and he gives up.  It's a bit of a challenge to get him to draw anything, but this monster project was a huge hit and he's wanted to make several more pictures.  Because we start with an established face and work in an imaginary world, it's easier for him to concentrate on the creative aspects of drawing and worry less about it looking realistic.

Add your kids craft post to the Kid's Get Crafty linky at Red Ted Art's Blog. Wrote a post about play? Join the It's Playtime party! Find more great book tie-ins at JDaniel4's Mom Read, Explore, Learn link-up. 

I have an extra copy of the Cheerios Spoonful of Stories paperback version of Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Scott Magoon to give away to a lucky Brimful Curiosities reader.

For a chance to win, comment about the best free item you've discovered inside a cereal box.
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I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. Thanks to General Mills for providing my family with a set of this year's Spoonful of Stories titles to review. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Day Baskets

My kids spread some spring cheer yesterday by hanging May Baskets on our neighbor's doors. We made 12 baskets total and placed a marigold plant inside each one. We usually use cut flowers from around the yard but this year, due to the early spring, all of our spring flowers are already finished blooming!

It only takes 3 pieces of 12" x 12" scrapbook paper to make 12 holders. Cut each piece of scrapbook paper into four - 6 inch square sections. Fold the squares into cones using the guide below. Staple the cone flaps together, punch holes on the sides and add a piece of ribbon for a handle.
We also attached a little May Day poem to our baskets. I found a lovely poem in an old poetry book, Tentative poems; a collection of verse written during the past four years by Charles Frederick James Nightingale Stott. The poem is titled "May-Day" and below is the portion we included with our baskets:

"All around in nature's world 
Visions bright are seen to-day, 
 Blossoms of the thorn unfurled 
Tell my soul 'tis gladsome May!"
 - Charles Frederick James Nightingale Stott