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All About Art, Artists and Some Architecture, too!

Let’s take a look at a wide variety of interesting art (and architecture) books that have caught my eye. It’s fun to to spend time with your kids reading these books and then going to a museum to experience and enjoy art up close. Of course, there’s always the option to create art at home, outdoors or anywhere you go – think sandcastles and photographs or simply designing a birthday card!

9781402759048mCatch Picasso’s Rooster – by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo (Sterling Publishing/Touch the Art series, $12.95, ages 4-6)

This hands-on board book should even appeal to younger children since it’s all about animals in art. Whether it’s wiggling the whiskers of The Tabby by Henri Rousseau or feeling the texture of a farmer’s blue jeans in Grant Wood’s Boy Milking Cow, the interactive artwork will make the animals seem more real and alive. Follow Picasso’s rooster on an art tour that ends on the Artifacts page with info on all the paintings included in the book. Touch more art by sampling other titles in the series including Brush Mona Lisa’s Hair and Tickle Tut’s Toes.

9781934706541_normLines that Wiggle – by Candace Whitman with illustrations by Steve Wilson (Blue Apple Books/Chronicle, $14.99, ages 4-8 )

Lines that wiggle, lines that bend. Wavy lines from end to end.

Let your kids use their fingers to follow the raised, glittery lines throughout the book. The humorous rhymes weave through the story side by side with criss-crossing lines that take kids swishing and zigzagging about on colorful pages and bold graphics meeting monsters and all kinds of animals. A playful book with just the right amount of twists and turns.

1Paris in the Spring with Picassoby Joan Yolleck with illustrations by Marjorie Priceman (Schwartz & Wade/Random House, $17.99, ages 4-8*)

Spending this summer stateside? Don’t despair, we’re going to visit Paris on the pages of this new book. Yolleck introduces readers to early 20th century luminaries such as Gertrude Stein, Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob and Pablo Picasso by imagining how Stein’s friends would spend a day prior to a party at her home. We are taken behind the scenes to observe the City of Light’s sights, sounds and smells and then cleverly switched to a new scene by an occasional “Pardonnez moi!” Priceman’s artwork adds to the fabulous French flavor of this book which kids and parents alike will eat up. *I think this book would be most appreciated by 6-9 year-olds.


Art With Anything: 52 Weeks of Fun Using Everyday Stuff
– by MaryAnn F. Kohl (Gryphon House, $19.95, ages 4-10)

Here’s a book that’s bound to keep kids constructively occupied and entertained this summer or the entire year! To give you an idea of how clever this book is, let’s peruse the table of contents to see just what types of everyday stuff Kohl is referring to. For starters there’s address labels, aluminum foil, berry baskets and bubble wraps. Learn how to make things with buttons, cardboard tubes CDs, coffee filters and even coffee grounds! Put together a project from magazines, masking tape, paper plates and more! As Kohl describes in the introduction, the included activities stress the “process of art,” and encourage children to experiment and be creative.

abc-smAn ABC of What Art Can Be – by Meher McArthur with illustrations by Pearl Watson (Getty Publications, $17.95, ages 4 and up)

This witty and whimsical alphabet book is great inspiration for children to find their inner artist. Filled with fun pictures and clever, spot-on rhymes, An ABC of What Art Can Be also includes five “Fun Stuff” pages with 15 suggestions for projects to get those creative juices flowing.

E’s for Expression,
your personal style.
You might find it soon,
or it might take a while.

colors-smRenoir’s Colors – by Marie Sellier (Getty Publications, $16.95, ages 2-5)

This interactive board book is an amiable introduction to the artwork (and children) of Impressionist master, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. By looking behind eight flaps of varying colors, we get a glimpse of a small portion of a Renoir painting which is then expanded in more detail on the following page with delightful descriptions.

White like Coco’s collar.
White like slightly itchy tights.
Coco does not like this costume,
but Renoir, his father wants to paint him as a clown.
“Daddy, are you done yet?
I want to go play!”

On the pink page you’ll see Renoir’s son Coco’s pink cheeks and on the black page find Jean Renoir’s nanny Gabrielle, whose lock of black hair has fallen over her eyes. Find painting names and dates in the back of the book then head over to the Getty to see La Promenade (The Stroll) in their collection.

catalog_cover_100Matisse on the Loose – by Georgia Bragg (Delacorte Press Books/Random House Children’s Books, $16.99, ages 8-12)

I love an action-packed adventure and this one not only includes a protagonist who just happens to be named Matisse, but it’s all about an art caper that is actually unintended. How does young Matisse replace the priceless painting by his namesake that he replaced with his own art back on the wall of the museum without getting caught? Here you have the premise for a great summer read and a rollicking romp around a museum.

9780810989412_s3The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale — written and illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia (Abrams Books for Young Readers, $18.95, ages 4-8*)

Meet three of the coolest, connected pigs on the planet in this hip new take on the classic tale. These design-savvy brothers have constructed their homes out of scraps (very eco-friendly), glass, and stone and concrete having garnered inspiration from three famous architects: Frank Gehry, Phillip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright. In addition to all the exciting and innovative exteriors, the interiors include some unique and fab furnishings from Starck to Stam. A read through of this book offers young readers a humorous (and surprising) story along with a virtual tour of the delightful design world as we know it. *Parents might find this book’s concept more appealing to the sensibilities of 5-9 year-olds .

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A Rollicking Good Time With Rhythm

stomp124_smallAdd buying tickets to Stomp to your must-do list today.  Last night I brought my husband to see the opening of the L.A. limited run (Jan. 26-Feb.7) and cannot thank him enough for urging me to attend!!  I had no preconceived notions of what to expect, and I can honestly say this show will not disappoint. Children and adults filled the packed Pantages Theatre and at the end, none of us wanted to leave. Maybe it was my seat’s proximity to the speakers, but I think not. There was a palpable energy last night encircling the audience and all credit goes to the amazingly talented cast for such an exuberant and skillful performance, the likes of which I’ve never seen elsewhere.

stomp2Billed as an “International Percussive Sensation,” Stomp is UNSTOMPABLE and during this tour, they’ve added some new surprises that are “the biggest since the late 1990s.” It seems there is nothing this group of young performers cannot turn into an instrument. I will never be able to look at a broom, a sink or for that matter, a folding chair, the same way again.  From a paper lunch bag to a truck tire’s inner tube, the Stomp crew created memorable music and creatively choreographed dance movements and skits to accompany every last beat.

stomp3I love a show with a sense of humor and this one had it whether it was simply suggestive (without words, only mimicry) like in the tube size certain characters were playing, where spotlights were focused, or with clever hand clapping. Without giving anything away, I’ll simply say that pulling the plugs from the portable sinks made for quite an entertaining moment on stage as did the superbly synchronized cigarette lighter sequence.  The lighting and set were brilliant and I cannot imagine any other way to stage a show like Stomp. When the cast clanged out a powerful performance while suspended above the stage, I knew I was experiencing one of the most enjoyable shows in decades and deserving of every honor it’s been awarded.

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Connect with Your Grandkids Through Books

Connect with Your Grandkids and Promote a Lifelong Love of Reading

Here’s some great info I’d like to share with you from our website.

imagesEveryone knows how important it is to promote a love for books and reading in young children. And teachers, librarians and reading specialists emphasize that reading aloud to children helps them learn to read.

Yet, in today’s busy, fast-paced, screen-time-dominated (TV, computers and video games) lifestyles, the traditional reading of books can easily fall by the wayside. That’s why it’s up to the adults in children’s lives to be proactive and creative in finding ways to introduce the joys of reading.

Experts urge parents to read with their children for about 20 minutes every day, continuing the activity long after a child can read on his or her own. But reading shouldn’t be considered a chore, something to be checked off at the end of each day. Grandparents can leave the routine to the parents, and give themselves over to the pleasure of reading.

Reading aloud to a grandchild creates a wonderful opportunity for snuggling, laughter and conversation. Reading together can break the ice, build bridges and seal the connection between grandparents and grandchildren. Imparting your pleasure and enthusiasm for the stories you share will go a long way toward making your grandkids readers for life.

Selecting Books

images-1Sometimes, your grandchildren will have a clear idea of what they want you to read them: a favorite story, a subject of special interest or an author of whom they just can’t get enough. But what if they don’t? How do you select an age-appropriate book that will engage your young one?

Everyone has their favorites, but most book-lovers agree that there has to be a good idea, believable characters, wonderful language and, for picture books, pictures that help tell the story.

For Babies and Toddlers – Look for board books with rhymes, playful language and colorful illustrations.

For Preschoolers and Kindergartners – Select picture books that are visually appealing and are on topics that are of interest to your grandchild. For beginning talkers, select books that have just a few words and phrases that repeat, so the child can chime in as you read.

For Early Readers – Look for books your grandchild can read (even in part) alone but that still have interesting or funny stories. Continue reading picture and chapter books to your grandchild, but mix them with these “easy readers” that they can read alone or out loud to you.

images-2For Intermediate Grades – Children’s awareness of authors and their works develops during the fourth through seventh grade years. They will frequently seek out all of the titles in a series or by a particular author. (Remember Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys?) Reading books that are part of a series helps to develop reading fluency and establish a reading habit. You can contribute to this habit by adding to a child’s collection of a series.

Encourage your grandchild to read many different types of books, including more sophisticated picture books (of which there are many today), informational books, biographies and poetry. This is a good time to seek out books on interests you share with your grandchild. Does she want to know about scientific advances that were made in your youth? Combine a good book about the solar system with your own memories of the first moon walk.

For ’Tweens and Teens – “Young adult books” (YA), the term used for books for teens, typically grapple with sophisticated topics. You probably won’t be reading aloud to your grandchildren at this point, but you can certainly read what they’re reading. If you pick up a copy of the latest YA novel, you’ll have something to talk about and you’ll know how your teen-age grandchildren react to difficult content.

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picnic-playgroue280a6image-webIf you’re looking for something fun to do that involves music and the outdoors, read what L.A. Parent Calendar Editor Michael Berick has to say about L.A.’s very own Rhythm Child. And after you’ve arranged your schedule to see the band perform, take a minute to enter this new contest from Good Reads With Ronna for your chance to win one of 5 Putumayo Kids Picnic Playground CDs from Rhythm Child by clicking here. Remember to put Picnic Playground as your subject. Contest ends Monday, Aug. 24th. CLICK HERE FOR RULES.

Rhythm Child drums up the fun this month!

Putamayo is serving up summertime music fun with its latest kids compilation, Picnic Playground, which dishes out a feast of delicious songs from Denmark to Australia. Work up an appetite grooving to tunes like Asheba’s Carribean-coated “Ice Cream” and the Cuban-flavored “Bolitas de Arroz con Pollo” by Jose Conde y Ola Fresca.
As an extra treat, Putamayo is taking this picnic on the road, with two local shows this month headlined by L.A.’s own Rhythm Child, whose tune “Bowl Of Cherries” is part of the disc. And speaking of cherries, visit to enter their cool recipe contest now until August 25th.

_e2b3695 Rhythm Child’s frontman Norman Jones says he feels “honored to have the opportunity to promote this record, as well as act as an ambassador for the Putumayo Kids mission that introduces children to other cultures through music. It was very important for me to connect with (Putamayo) since I felt that they incorporated a lot of the same positive messages that I wanted to present.” Jones plans to bring out some friends and special guests for these Putamayo shows.
August is shaping up to be a busy month for Rhythm Child. The group also has shows at the Zimmer Museum and the Grove, and they are preparing for a September release of their new disc, Bowl of Cherries.


Putamayo Kids Picnic Playground with Rhythm Child, 7 p.m. Aug. 12, Levitt Pavilion, 30 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena. Free. and noon Aug. 13, Pershing Square, 532 S. Olive St., L.A. Free.

Wonderful Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. Aug. 19, Zimmer Children’s Museum, 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 100, L.A. Admission: $8 adults, $5 children 3 and older. 323-761-8984.

Kids Club, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 20, The Grove, 189 The Grove Dr., L.A. Free. 323-900-8080.

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To The Moon!

I’ve put together a Moon book roundup online in honor of Apollo 11’s landing on the Moon and Neil Armstrong’s first steps. Here’s a brief sampling of what you’ll see:

9780789318428Back when you could get six postcards for a quarter, Miroslav Sasek wrote and illustrated what is now the classic, This Is The Way To The Moon (Universe Publishing,, $17.95; ages 8-80). Originally published in 1963 as This Is Cape Canaveral and then re-released as This Is Cape Kennedy in 1964, Sasek’s whimsical words and illustrations recall a bygone era when nothing related to interplanetary traveled was viewed as commonplace. Hotels and businesses near the famous Cocoa Beach and Cape Kennedy captured the spirit of outer space with names like Astrocraft Motel and Missile Taxi, and Alan Shepard, Jr. became the first man in space. Filled with fascinating facts, the book is an inimitable introduction to the rise of the American space program, combining lots of details with Sasek’s subtle humor. One interesting thing (amongst many others) I learned was that back in 1973 residents successfully petitioned to have Cape Kennedy once again called Cape Canaveral.

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Calling All Reviewers!

images1Maybe you just love reading, or maybe you’re into picture books. Perhaps your daughter  wants to earn extra credit in her English class, or perhaps you’re already hard at work on your first children’s book. Whatever your inclination or motivation, I’m looking for you! Just submit your name  and age of your child to me as a potential guest reviewer.  If selected, you will be sent an age appropriate book to review. In return you’ll get to keep the book as our way of saying thanks for your contribution. We’d also love to have some digital picture of you reading the book to your child, or your child reading the book.  If you’re not sure you’re up to the task, take a look at the posting by Terresa Burgess to see how easy it really is.images-1

There are loads of terrific books coming my way and I’d be delighted if you’d join me in reviewing some of them for the rest of the good book hungry blogoshphere!

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