Books for Children, Books for Parents

Book of the Week: The Apple Doll

September 18, 2011

The Apple DollMy five-year-old daughter must love the book The Apple Doll by local Bay Area author and illustrator Elisa Kleven (40 pages, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007). She checked it out from the library no fewer than two times last year and got it again a few days ago. It's easy to see why it's one of her favorites: The Apple Doll is a charming book, and it's another great read-aloud story (with an added activity) for the fall season, especially if you happen to have an apple tree nearby.

The Apple Doll tells the story of Lizzy, a shy little girl who loves the apple tree in her yard and ends up making a doll out of an apple and twigs that she names "Susanna". She ends up getting teased by other kids for carrying around her apple-and-sticks creation at school. I know this sounds a little odd but the book handles the situation in a much better and sweeter way than I'm describing it here. Ultimately, Lizzy's mom takes the now long-in-the-tooth Susanna and makes an apple doll out of her, which inspires a class apple doll project and friendships and happiness ensue.

Book of the Week: My Hands Sing the Blues

August 10, 2011

My Hands Sing the BluesIn her last book for children, Marin author Jeanne Walker Harvey chronicled the journey of a Marine Mammal Center patient in Astro: The Steller Sea Lion, In her latest work, My Hands Sing the Blues ($17.99, 40 pages, Marshall Cavendish Children, 2011), she shares the story of African American artist Romare Beardon's childhood move with his parents from North Carolina to New York City, where Bearden would go on to become a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance.

Inspired by her work as a school group docent at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Harvey has created an evocative book, with text influenced by the rhythms of jazz and blues and by Romare Bearden's painting titled Watching the Trains Go By. The colorful illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon pay homage to Bearden's distinctive collage style. Kids will love the pictures and the unique rhymes of the text, and it's a fantastic introduction to the work of one of America's important 20th-century artists.

Get Organized: Win a BusyBodyBook for Back-to-School!

August 2, 2011

Cherry BusyBodyBook personal and family organizerSchool's only a few weeks away, and getting organized both for yourself and the kids is a must. Our favorite way to get organized is with the BusyBodyBook! The BusyBodyBook is a stylish and easy-to-use family organizer designed specifically for families. It allows you to keep track of the entire family's schedules at a glance, and it's something I can't live without. BusyBodyBooks personal and family organizers ($17.95) are available for both 2011–2012 school year (August 2011–August 2012) and traditional January–December, 2011 calendar year versions.

In addition to their organizers,  BusyBodyBook also publishes a neat "family central" wall calendar ($14.95) and an undated weekly grid pad ($12.95) that's handy for the fridge, your desk, a binder, or anywhere else that you need to keep track of your busy life.

Let's Get Curious! at the Bay Area Discovery Museum

June 18, 2011

Curious GeorgeThe curious little monkey whose adventures have captivated children and adults for 65 years is at the Bay Area Discovery Museum! Curious George: Let's Get Curious opens Saturday, June 18 and runs through September 11, 2011. The exhibition introduces children to the world of Curious George and leads them on a fun, interactive math, science, and engineering-based adventure.

Explore the neighborhood where George and the Man with the Yellow Hat live, and meet familiar characters from the classic books by Margret and H.A. Rey and the PBS KIDS animated series. Different areas to visit include:

  • The apartment building, where you can operate wheels to move George on pulleys from window to window, climb the fire escape, and play with color, light, and shadow.
  • The sidewalk produce stand, where kids can pretend to sell and shop and us fruits and vegetables to explore shapes, sorting, weighing, and counting.
  • The construction site, where you can design a building and get to work with building materials and machines.

Celebrate Imagination and Inspire Literacy at San Geronimo's Fourth Annual Storyland Festival!

May 11, 2011

Celebrate imagination, children's literature, literacy, and above all fun at the fourth annual Storyland Festival, this Saturday, May 14, from 10 am to 3 pm at San Geronimo Preschool in San Geronimo. This enchanting event is perfect for kids from 1–8 and features exciting activites that bring storybook characters to life and help inspire a lasting love of reading. The Storyland Festival gets rave reviews from local parents and children, and It's always one of everyone's favorite yearly events.

This year's Storyland Festival features roaming story characters, live music by everybody's favorite family recording artist Tim Cain, a bounce house, cookie decorating at the Teddy Bear's Picnic, storytelling and games with favorite characters like Snow White and Curious George; face painting, a petting zoo, arts and crafts, healthy and organic food, and much more. Also on hand is Aladdin's Bazaar, where parents can pick up special treasures for their children.

Secrets of a Baby Nurse by Marsha Podd, RN

April 20, 2011

Secrets of a Baby NurseVeteran parents will probably remember joking about forgetting to pick up the manual for their new baby when leaving the hospital. Of course there isn't a baby user manual, but the Secrets of a Baby Nurse: How to Have a Happy, Healthy, and SLEEPING Baby from Birth (185 pages, Rising Star, 2011; $17.95), the new book by seasoned maternal-infant nurse and "baby sleep wizard" Marsha Podd, RN, might just be the next best thing! Marsha has over 20 years of experience working with parents and small children, and is the author of numerous articles, including guest posts on Marin Mommies.

In Secrets of a Baby Nurse, Marsha provides new parents with just about everything they need to know about their new baby, especially when it comes to sleep (both yours and the baby's). Her helpful advice and tips are the product of years of experience and plenty of scientific research. It's kind of like having your own personal baby nurse on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I really really wish I had this book when my kids were babies—I don't think my son slept at all until he was three (at least it seemed like it at the time).

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.

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