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Doodle Days Are Here!

DoodleI absolutely love to doodle – when I’m on the phone, listening to a lecture or when I’m a passenger in the car or on a plane. Somehow, I always manage to put a lot of hearts into my doodles. I wonder what that means?

Scientific research proves that doodling helps people learn faster by helping them concentrate better and retain more information. Doodle Your Day ($16.99, Gibbs Smith Publishing, Ages 8 and up) written by Anita Wood and illustrated by Jennifer Kalis provides children with the essentials they need to doodle their way into creativity. Anita has written many other doodle and journal books for kids.

What you’ll love about this meaty 225-page book is that it is chock full of templates that will get your children thinking and creating in ways that are so fun they will never even suspect they are actually learning anything. Each page has a title, some clever art work and plenty of space for your young reader to doodle away. Here are just a handful of the hundreds of doodle pages in this book:

  • This is What I Had for Lunch Today (with an illustration of a big empty plate to fill in)
  • Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day (with an illustration of 2 large rain boots to decorate)
  • Wacky Word of the Day (to use in a sentence and also illustrate)
  • Opposite Day (with space to write something with the opposite hand you usually write with)
  • National Gumdrop Day (with space to doodle a gumdrop family)
  • Find a Jigsaw Puzzle Piece and Glue it Here (then draw more pieces around it)
  • Babe Ruth Day (eat a Baby Ruth and glue the wrapper to this page)
  • National Hamburger Day (fill in the illustration of a bun)
  • Fight Procrastination Day (list tasks you always put off doing)
  • What Kind of Bird are You? (draw it)

There are so many imaginative pages in this book (a doodle for every day of the year in fact), enough to keep readers very busy. This is the kind of book your  child will get so much use out of and when he or she finally finishes every page, will cherish as a sort of drawing and writing journal to look back on for years to come. So the next time you see your child doodling, rather than asking him to pay attention, buy him this most creative and interactive book and encourage him to doodle away.

Reviewed by Debbie Glade

Nature is Just Outside Your Window

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature (Candlewick, $19.99, ages 3 and up) written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Mark Hearld, has been sitting on my coffee table for months now, begging me to write up my review of this incredible book about nature. With stunning paper-cut collage illustrations by Mark Hearld, Outside Your Window is a compendium of information, ideas, and even recipes related to the world outside our window.

The book is organized by season and Nicola Davies introduces each section with a brief description of what that season beholds. Each section includes a variety of poems describing various flora and fauna of the seasons, from the worms, to the birds, to the weather. Mark Hearld’s spectacular artwork appears in two-page spreads, and are not only colorful and creative, but full of details to keep your child (and yourself) enthralled in the descriptions of life scribed across each page.  Davies’s writing, while accessible to children, is also informative and educational.

From the life cycle of a butterfly to the glowing nature of the stars in the night sky, Outside Your Window is brimming with knowledge to be gained about all things nature. But this is far from a simple book written in verse. Author and Biologist Nicola Davies also includes pieces such as “Five Reasons to Keep Chickens,” and “Making Compost”–real life examples that can be put into practice by the budding farmer or gardener.  She even goes so far as to include recipes for such things as Berry Crumble to enjoy in Autumn, and seed cakes to make for the birds in Wintertime.

I adored this book from the moment I picked it up; it is a hearty book filled with beautiful images and illuminating poetry which you will love having in your library. The best part is, you can enjoy it with your child bit by bit, reading it as the seasons pass by outside your window, and putting into practice some of the suggestions for enjoying nature found in the book. Your child will be captivated by the lively illustrations, and you might even learn something you did not know about some obscure yet utterly fascinating fact of nature!

Today’s review comes courtesy of proud new mother Karen B. Estrada.

A Board Book That Teaches Opposites in a Big Way

Hippopposites ($14.95, Abrams/Appleseed, ages 2 and up) written and illustrated by Janik Coat is reviewed by Ingrid Vanessa Olivas.

Hippopposites is a bright and sturdy board book that my 3-year-old daughter, Penelope, immediately gravitated to. If you are looking for a way to introduce or explain what opposites are to your toddler, then Janik Coat does a great job of explaining this concept. The cover alone has an eye catching red hippo that she uses throughout the book.  Her illustrations are simple but effective. Each opposite word has its own page so there is no room for confusion. The word small would be on one side and large on the other and, as an added bonus, I even changed my voice to add more drama. A squeaky voice for small and a deep booming voice for large. My daughter just LOVED this!

Author Coat even adds texture to depict soft and rough so that you may feel this pair of opposites. Great touch, no pun intended. And everyone knows when you add something you can feel kids love it, just like mine did! I especially enjoyed her choice of opposites: invisible, visible, positive, negative, free, caged, alone and together. My daughter wanted me to read this book over and over again. Of course I did not mind, but what brought chills to me was when she started actually using the words. As parents and educators, there’s nothing that gives us more satisfaction, than when our children start using words in the correct context. Overall Janik Coat did a terrific job of getting the ball rolling with opposites so much so that you automatically want to think of more. Less. Good-bye. Hello.  Keep the clever conversation going with this great new book for youngsters.

Make Art a Part of Your Every Day Life

Debbie Glade reviews a creative and resourceful book about how to bring art into your child’s life.

Art is Every Day: Activities for the Home, Park, Museum, and City ($16.95, Zephyr Press, Adults) by Eileen S. Prince is your go-to guide for helping your child experience art in every day places. This meaty paperback outlines 65 unique projects for parents, grandparents and teachers to share with the children in their lives.

One of the projects in the book is creating a Photo Design Quilt. Essentially children take photos of patterns they see around the house, print them out on paper and create a quilt-like pattern. A few of the many other ideas include making vegetable prints by cutting veggies and using them like stamps, drawing noises and smells, drawing using only Primary colors and color rubbing leaves you find in a park.

The author writes a nice narrative for every project, explaining what skills that project will teach the child, as well as concepts to discuss with the child. I like the fact that the author suggests ways you might wish to modify the projects. This encourages creative thinking in the child and may inspire them to come up with their very own art projects.

Art is Every Day truly inspires kids to think like an artist no matter where they are. And with a book like this, readers quickly learn that creating art is simple, fun and affordable. After reading it, I felt like weaving paper with the stack of old magazines and catalogs I have.

The only suggestion I have that could make this book better would be adding more color photos.

A Bright New Approach To Learning Colors From Pantone

 

 

Today’s review was written by Ronna Mandel

My uncle was an art director for a big New York department store almost 50 years ago and, as a child, I loved checking out everything on his desk from markers and tracing paper to inks and special artist’s pens. The first time I saw Pantone colors had to be in the early ’60s in my uncle’s studio, probably not long after their launch in 1963. Now with the publication of a new board book called  PANTONE: Colors ($9.95,  AbramsAppleseed, ages 1 and up), I can once again enjoy this marvelous array of colors in the signature style so universally recognizable. In fact, I am sure that just looking at the bright, bold pictures in the most wonderful colors and shades will bring hours of pleasure to you and your children.

This first-color book will delight little ones as they turn from page to page and explore colors in such a unique way.  Experience shades of yellow with a lion, orange with a fish, red with a wagon, pink with a piggy bank plus 5 other colors you’ll not want to miss including my all-time fave, purple.  Every page contains 20 shades that will lead to lots of interesting discussions with children. For example, what a fun discussion can ensue over colors called Peanut Butter Brown, Meatball Brown, Pretzel Brown, Caramel Brown and Barbecue Sauce Brown.  Not only will your mouth water, but comments from kids are certain to be entertaining to say the least!  

Take this book out with you on the town and visit places where you can search for objects similar to colors in the book. Listen to your children explain which colors they like and help them rank them in order of popularity. Watch the colors jump off the page straight into your child’s vocabulary and memory as you introduce blues at the beach, greens at the park and white, gray and black in the supermarket. Bring the book into restaurants, on car trips and watch the time fly by as your child begins looking at the world in a new and colorful way. I can’t wait to see what the exciting Pantone and Abrams Appleseed partnership delivers next.

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