Books for Children

Children's books, libraries, book stores, readings, and related events.

The Whole Family Cookbook from What's Cooking's Michelle Stern

April 13, 2011

The Whole Family CookbookMarin Mommies contributor, cooking teacher, and award-winning blogger Michelle Stern has just released her first cookbook, titled The Whole Family Cookbook: Celebrate the Goodness of Locally Grown Foods (182 pages, Adams Media, 2011; $17.95). If you and your kids love to cook together, then this is the book you've been waiting for! The Whole Family Cookbook contains over 75 family-friendly, kid-approved recipes, illustrated with beautiful color photos, that are easy to make, delicious, and healthy. Recipes are clear and concise, with color-coded instructions for kids of all ages. The book is also filled with Michelle's practical advice and tips on cooking with kids, culinary techniques, finding the best local and natural foods, green living, and more.

Chapters are divided into different cooking concepts: breakfasts, including crunchy granola, sweet potato biscuits, and an breakfast burritos; dinner fare like chicken pot pie with biscuit topping, miso-glazed salmon, and pumpkin ravioli; side dishes including oven-fried zucchini sticks, Mediterranean quinoa salad, and kale chips, mom-approved treats and desserts like lemon buttermilk sherbet, peaches and cream cobbler, and chocolate chip pumpkin bread; and finally, a collection of recipes for making your own pantry and refrigerator staples such as pancake mix, hummus, hot chocolate, and pesto.

Book of the Week: The Easter Egg

April 5, 2011

The Easter Egg by Jan BrettSpring is everywhere as a Rabbit Town's bunnies prepare their eggs for the upcoming Easter holiday in author and illustrator Jan Brett's The Easter Egg (32 Pages, Putnam Juvenile, 2010). Hoppi the rabbit agonizes on just how to decorate his first ever Easter egg, especially after seeing all the amazing eggs the other rabbits are working on. The first prize winner gets to accompany the Easter Rabbit on his rounds hiding eggs on Easter morning! Ultimately, Hoppi learns a lesson about finding out what you're good at, perserverence, and not getting discouraged.

As with all of Brett's children's books, the illustrations in The Easter Egg are gorgeous and filled with incredible amounts of detail. The Easter Egg will bear repeat readings if only to see what's going on in each of the pages, as well as all the action going on in the page borders. Every page is a celebration of spring, with pussy willows, flowers, and vines framing the action. Each of the rabbit types depicted—and there are many—are lovingly and realisticly depicted, and represent numerous different breeds of rabbit.

Book of the Week: Astro the Steller Sea Lion

March 29, 2011

Astro: The Steller Sea LionLocal Marin author Jeanne Walker Harvey chronicles the adventures of a wayward sea lion pup in her book Astro: The Steller Sea Lion (32 pages, SylvanDell, 2010). Astro is the true story of a lost sea lion pup who was rescued and cared for by Marin's own Marine Mammal Center, located in the Marin Headlands near Sausalito. Astro is nursed back to health and then released back into the wild—twice. It soon becomes apparent that Astro is more used to humans than other pinnipeds, and can't be released to the ocean. Don't worry, there's a happy ending for everyone!

Kids will love the heartwarming tale of poor lost Astro, and budding marine biologists will relish the detail spent in describing what goes on behind the scenes at the Marine Mammal Center. Illustrator Shennen Bersani's vibrant illustrations feature some landscapes that will be familiar to Marin readers, and kids should have fun seeing some familiar places in the book. Speaking of familiar places, if you haven't been to the Marine Mammal Center, it's well worth a visit. (It's free, too.) Get the scoop on how and when to visit here.

Spend a Fantastic Year with Frog and Toad at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage

March 28, 2011

Bird from A Year with Frog and ToadFans of Arnold Lobel's classic series of Frog and Toad books will be charmed and entranced by Bay Area Children's Theatre's production of A Year with Frog and Toad. Even if you're not familiar with the adventures of the titular amphibian duo, you'll still enjoy this fun-filled live musical that chronicles the adventures of the best friends Frog and Toad.

A Year with Frog and Toad plays on weekends at 2 pm through April 17 at the Freight and Salvage coffeehouse on Addison Street in downtown Berkeley, and it's well worth the short drive from Marin. Our family took in a performance on opening weekend, and had one of our best children's theater experiences ever!

Charlie Cromer and William O'Neill are a delight in the roles of Frog and Toad, respectively, and the cast of supporting characters is expertly handled by Elana Cowen, Rebecca Pingree, and Reggie White, all of whom tackle the multiple roles of birds, moles, a turtle, a mouse, and more. White, in particular, just about steals the show as the enthusiastic but slow-moving snail who gives a literal read on the term "snail mail".

A Year with Frog and Toad Opens Saturday at Freight & Salvage

March 23, 2011

A Year with Frog and ToadSome of our favorite children's books are those in the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel. You and your children can see Lobel's beloved amphibian characters brought to life starting this Saturday, March 26, when the Bay Area Children's Theatre opens its song-filled production of A Year with Frog and Toad at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.

Share in the adventures of the outgoing Frog and his more reserved friend Toad as they awake from their winter hibernation, welcome spring, plant a garden, discover that "Toad looks funny in a bathing suit", rake autumn leaves, and take a scary winter sled ride. Along the way they learn about friendship, patience, compassion, loyalty, and love. This musical is suitable for all ages.

A Year with Frog and Toad, with music by Robert Reale and book and lyrics by Willie Reale, made its debut in children's theater before moving on to Broadway, where it was nominated for three Tony awards, including best musical. The Bay Area Children's Theatre production is directed by Mina Morita and stars Charlie Cromer as Frog and William O'Neill as Toad.

Book of the Week: Night Flight

March 7, 2011

Night FlightShare in the drama and danger of Amelia Earhart's groundbreaking solo transatlantic flight in Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic (40 pages, Paula Wiseman Books, 2011), written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor. This book presents a easily accessible but surprisingly detailed version of the story of Earhart's 1932 flight from Newfoundland to Ireland that made her the first woman (and only the second person) to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Burleigh's eloquent text describes the loneliness, difficulty, and joy of the 15-hour journey in economical but descriptive verse, and Minor's colorful and detailed paintings capture the feelings and sights of the trip, from close-ups of the Lockheed Vega's cockpit and instrument panel to breathtaking panoramas.

Youth in Arts Presents The Paper Princess and the Piñata

January 31, 2011

The Paper Princess and the PiñataThe Paper Princess and the Piñata, a new musical theater production for children created by Youth in Arts and based on the popular Paper Princess books by Bay Area artist/illustrator Elisa Kleven, comes to the Marin Center Showcase Theater in San Rafael on Saturday, February 5, 2011. With performances at 2 and 4 pm, the show is intended for children ages 3 to 10 and their families. General admission tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. Order tickets through the Marin Center Box Office online or by calling (415) 499-6800.

Kleven’s Paper Princess picture books are gentle adventure tales, illustrated in the artist’s unique collage and watercolor style. The Paper Princess, created by a Little Girl, is carried away on the wind to explore her world. The new play was written by Youth in Arts Director Miko Lee, adapted from three Paper Princess books and a fourth Kleven title, Hooray, a Piñata!

The production captures the bright imagery of Kleven’s books using digital projections and original props and scenery recreated in three dimensions by Youth in Arts' professional visual artists. The Princess and her friends will be brought to life via live action and puppetry, with bilingual songs in Spanish and English highlighting themes of creativity, color, shapes, counting and friendship.

Book of the Week: My First Chinese New Year

January 26, 2011

My First Chinese New YearA Pacific Rim location and sizeable population with Asian heritage means that Chinese New Year is a significant holiday in the San Francisco Bay Area. A perfect book for young children to learn about the holiday and its many colorful traditions is Karen Katz's My First Chinese New Year (32 pages, Henry Holt and Company, 2004).

My First Chinese New Year follows the celebration of Chinese New Year as experienced by a young girl and her family. We see the preparations for the holiday, the New Year's Even banquet, and finally the exciting Chinese New Year parade, complete with traditional drummers, lion dancers, and a spectacular dragon.

Katz's illustrations are bright and colorful, and work with the simple text to convey some of the key customs and meanings of Chinese New Year, including the profusion of the color red; symbolic foods like tangerines, whole fish, and dumplings; and an altar to honor the family's ancestors. It's a fun overview of the holiday for children from preschool through first grade.

Open House This Weekend at the Pratum Children's Library

January 21, 2011

The Pratum Children's Library at Marin Art and Garden CenterStop by the Pratum Children's Library in Ross this weekend as it holds its introductory open house on January 22 and 23, 2011. Come visit the library, located on the expansive ground of the Marin Art and Garden Center, from 10 am to 6 pm Saturday and Sunday and browse their shelves, which contain everything from board books for babies to the complete Oxford English Dictionary to the very best books on education, parenting, and childhood.

Todd Pratum, proprieter and book and literacy expert, will give introductory talks at noon and 3 pm on both days. He'll also personally lead tours of this very special collection. Bring the children to come read some books, discover new ideas, and have fun exploring the eleven magical acres of the Marin Art and Garden Center. The library is located adjacent to the rose garden and directly across from the octagon house.

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