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Blanket & Bear, A Remarkable Pair

Where Do Lost Stuffed Animals and Baby Blankets Go? Read on to find out!

by L.J.R. Kelly with illustrations by Yoko Tanaka
by L.J.R. Kelly with
illustrations by Yoko Tanaka

Blanket & Bear, A Remarkable Pair (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, $16.99, ages 3 and up), the debut picture book from L.J.R. Kelly (grandson of Roald Dahl) with illustrations by Yoko Tanaka, is an ideal parents’ go-to book when beloved toys get lost. Some parents buy two of everything just-in-case, others spend hours retracing their steps or making frantic phone calls in an attempt to locate a lost teddy or blanky. But here’s another option. Read this picture book to your distraught youngster and it’s likely they’ll find solace in this charming story with its muted artwork harkening back to a time when men wore hats, women wore dresses and people traveled abroad by steamship. Parents may find Tanaka’s illustrations a bit sombre in the beginning, but I found that as the story’s mood changed, so did the feeling conveyed in each picture. Stick with this story as it tugs at the heartstrings and is sure to start a meaningful conversation with your child.

With an original voice very different from that of his grandfather, Kelly is a terrific storyteller in his own right. The premise is quite a simple one in that when a young boy loses his beloved blanky and teddy, he carries on with his life. The focus is not on how he copes with the loss.  Quite the contrary. Kelly chooses to show how the boy’s cherished possessions, spend their time searching for the boy, hoping to be reunited. Instead, they arrive “at an island of lost blankets and bears, living in retirement without worries or cares. It’s here they sadly learn from the island’s king that they’ve likely been replaced. Unable to accept this possibility, they depart and resume their quest. When at last they find the boy, he’s a young lad more interested in sport and girls. No longer needed, they’re free to return to the island and join the other lost or abandoned blankets and bears.

Children hearing this story read to them or reading it with the help of a parent, will likely want to discuss this new take on “they all lived happily ever after,” because in this case the book’s characters did not end up living happily ever after together, but there’s no denying they were all happy in the end.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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Read! Build! Learn! With LEGO and Libraries

LEGO and Libraries – A Good Fit

I have never known a child who did not love to play with LEGO building bricks, but I have met many a reluctant reader.  Now like a little foot in its first shoe, LEGO is partnering with libraries all over the country and offering a one-of-a-kind experience that’s a good fit, too: Read! Build! Play! And just how lucky are we? Los Angeles is the first stop! That’s a super step forward to encourage reading we can all build on. If you cannot make it to the library event, (on Tuesday, June 26th from 11a.m. noon at the LA Public Central Library 630 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071 – Cost is free. Participation is first come, first serve) be sure to visit this new website that provides families tips, suggestions and ideas on how to keep playtime fresh, energetic and educational –  readBUILDplay.com.

Everyone knows that, from birth, reading and play are critical to a child’s growth – so why not combine the two? Designed for children under five, the Read, Build, Play experience brings together reading and building in a fun, educational way. As story tellers read, children will be encouraged to build, sing, play and explore through original games and creative activities.

Support libraries across the country and encourage children’s play and learning development. 

The experience also celebrates the hard work of librarians in their quest to help grow our youth.  In June, the Association of Library Service to Children kicked off a national program with LEGO DUPLO in which parents can support their local library by nominating them to receive special recognition for all their hard work.

Beat boredom this summer with the program’s website, readBUILDplay.com. Check it out for suggestions and ideas on how to keep playtime energetic and educational. Download unique activity kits to involve you and your kids in a variety of ways to play and read. At this site, anyone will also be able to find ways to support their local libraries, including online nominations for recognition in the Read! Build! Play! program. 

Parents – you can link to the website to vote for your local library and download the activity guide while reading. And if you do attend the event be on the lookout for a 6-foot X 6-foot book stack model made entirely of vibrant DUPLO bricks.  

Order some copies of the new Read and Build sets from LEGO DUPLO. Just this month, a series of sets were released that are meant to inspire young children to read and build along with the story line. 3 sets of books and bricks like Grow Caterpillar Grow! and Busy Farm blend reading with construction play for a new, fun way to encourage directed and free play, and hands-on exploration while reading. 

 

 

   

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