Books for Children, Books for Parents

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical Opens Saturday at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley

April 9, 2013

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary MusicalOne of my kids' favorite books is Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems. On Saturday, this hilarious Caldecott Honor book comes to life on stage in the Bay Area Children's Theatre production of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical.

In Knuffle Bunny, Dad learns that it can be tricky to do the laundry with toddler daughter Trixie and her beloved stuffed animal, the titular Knuffle Bunny. See washing machines burst into life and clothes dance up a whirlwind at the laundromat in this delightful production that's fun for the whole family.

We've seen several productions from Bay Area Children's Theatre, and they never disappoint! It's definitely worth the trip over to Berkeley, and the Freight & Salvage is a wonderful intimate venue in which to see a show like this.

The opening performance of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical takes place at the Freight & Salvage on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 2 pm. The show plays Saturdays at 2 pm and Sundays at 11 am and 2 pm through May 5.

Free Music and Storytelling Hours from Youth in Arts at Barnes & Noble Corte Madera

March 20, 2013

Youth in Arts story timeThis March, join local arts education group Youth in Arts at the Barnes & Noble store in Corte Madera for two free music and storytelling hours for preschoolers and early elementary school students.

Youth in Arts artists will be in the store at 11 am on Saturday, March 23, and Wednesday, March 27, to share music and stories from Youth in Arts productions based on beloved children's books. Enjoy excerpts from local author Elisa Kleven’s Paper Princess series and Hooray, a Piñata! and Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm’s Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth To Life. Sing along to songs in Spanish and English from Youth in Arts’ shows inspired by these wonderful books!

This program is perfect for children ages 3–6 and their families. Barnes & Noble is located at 313 Corte Madera Town Center.

Children's Book Review: Meet Bear

March 19, 2013

Thank You BearMarin Mommies presents another guest article by Marin children's librarian Lisa Katz, who takes a look at the Bear series of books by author and illustrator Greg Foley.

Greg Foley, a creative author and illustrator, has created a set of books about a little bear. In these four books, the author’s theme for his stories is about the importance of friendship. Since I’m a librarian, I don’t buy a lot of books. I check them out and read them over and over again. But if ever there were books to purchase, these would be the ones to have on your child’s bookshelf—all four of them in fact. This way they can be read over and over again.

Who is Greg Foley? He is a young guy who grew up in Austin Texas. He comes from a family of educators and is also one himself. His first picture book, Thank you Bear, won the prestigious Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing in a picture book. His background is art and his illustrations are done in line art, which are digitally rendered from pencil sketches. While they are so simple and there isn’t a lot on each page, they are very sweet and really tell the story.

Children's Book Review: The Creatrilogy Set by Peter Reynolds

January 29, 2013

The DotMarin Mommies presents another guest article by Marin children's librarian Lisa Katz. This time, she takes a look at three wonderful books about the power of original thinking.

Check out this beautifully boxed set of three hardcover picture books that celebrate the power of original thinking!

The Dot—The first book in this wonderful little series by Peter Reynolds. Meet Vashti. Vashti, isn’t an artist, she can’t draw. But her art teacher wants her to create something on a piece of paper. But Vashti insists that she can’t draw. Instead she places a dot on a piece of paper. That one little dot marks the beginning of Vashti’s journey into self-discovery.

Ish—The second book in the series is about a little artist, Ramon who loves to draw. It is what Ramon does best. But suddenly he loses confidence in his drawings until his sister, Marisol, shows him that value of doing something and it doesn’t always have to be just perfect!

Children's Book Review: A Home for Bird and Bear Has a Story to Tell

January 15, 2013

A Home for Bird Marin Mommies presents another guest article by Marin children's librarian Lisa Katz. This time, she takes a look at two great books about friendship.

In A Home for Bird, Vernon the toad has met a new friend, a small blue bird. Blue bird doesn't seem to be happy and Vernon isn't quite sure why. He asks little blue bird, but bird doesn't talk. He thinks that bird is lost from his home so he decides to introduce bird to his friends and try to discover where little blue bird's home really is.

As the reader, we know from the start that the little blue bird has fallen out of a moving truck where he lived in a cuckoo clock. While Vernon doesn't know this, he tries everything to discover where little bird's home is.

This is a very tender and thoughtful tale of friendship written by Caldecott winner, author/illustrator Philip Stead. The story is not only creative, but the illustrations are richly colored in mixed media and truly display the emotions of Vernon and little blue bird.

"Bird is shy," said Vernon, "but also a very good listener." Isn't that what friends are? This is a wonderful story that can be read over and over again. It is a story that can encourage discussions of what true friendship is and the importance of a home. A must for children ages 3 and up.

Children's Book Review: Noah Webster and His Words

January 8, 2013

Noah Webster and His WordsMarin Mommies presents a guest book review by Marin children's librarian Lisa Katz.

Have you ever wondered about the man behind the dictionary? Who was Noah Webster? Check out Noah Webster and His Words, by Jeri Chase Ferris and illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch, a wonderful picture book on one of the most famous scholars of all time. Did you also know that Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language became the second most popular book ever printed?

Meet Noah. Noah was born in 1758 on a farm in West Hartford, Connecticut. He lived in a family with a history of farming. But he didn’t want to be a farmer like his father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather. Noah wanted to do something different. He wanted to be a scholar. He was the first in his family to attend college at Yale University.

12 Days of Holiday Books: The Night Before Christmas

December 24, 2012

The Night Before ChristmasClement Moore's poem The Night Before Christmas has been a holiday staple since its debut in 1823, and there are countless picture books depicting this timeless classic. So what makes this latest version (26 pages, Peter Yarrow Books, 2010) so special and different from all the other versions out there? It's a combination of things really. First, the enchanting paintings of illustrator Eric Puybaret capture the magic of the tale and offer a colorful, fresh take on the poem. More importantly, though, this version of The Night Before Christmas includes a CD that features performances by the iconic folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary.

Featured on the disc are three tracks: a version of the poem set to music by Noel Paul Stookey (the "Paul" of Peter, Paul and Mary), a charming reading of The Night Before Christmas by Mary Travers with musical accompaniment by Peter and Paul, and bonus rendition of A 'Soalin, a classic Peter, Paul and Mary holiday favorite.

What makes the performances especially poignant is that they are the last from Mary Travers, who passed away from leukemia in 2009.

12 Days of Holiday Books: It's Christmas, David!

December 19, 2012

It's Christmas, David!"No peeking!"

"Those are not toys!"

"Be patient!"

"Santa's watching!"

Sound familiar? It's common dialogue in our house around this time of year, and it's a big part of the hilarious It's Christmas, David! (32 pages, The Blue Sky Press, 2010).

It's Christmas, David! is part of author and illustrator David Shannon's series of David books, which feature poor little David and the litany of mischievous things he's told not to do (based on the author's real-life childhood experience, no less). With all the admonitions directed toward David in It's Christmas, David!, it might seem like he's an awful kid; but he's not—he's just doing what most children do and feeling the way most children feel around the holidays. OK… maybe David's behavior is a little worse than most kids'—but then that's what makes the book so funny!

12 Days of Holiday Books: Olive the Other Reindeer

December 18, 2012

Olive, the Other ReindeerWhile listening to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Olive the dog hears the mondegreen "Olive, the other reindeer" (instead of "All of the other reindeer"), and decides that she, in fact is the reindeer in question. So begins the contemporary Christmas classic Olive, the Other Reindeer (40 pages, Chronicle Books, 1997) by local author and illustrator team Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold.

Olive undertakes an arduous journey—involving no fewer than two buses—to the North Pole and assists Santa Claus using the talents that come naturally to a Jack Russell Terrier. Olive, the Other Reindeer pairs Walsh's charming, funny, and inspiring story with Seibold's cool retro style illustrations, in a book that both children and adults will love. For what it's worth, the book is far different, much simpler, and in our opinion better than the animated Christmas special that's based on it.

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