Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Brass Family On Parade

There are lots of way to bring music into kid's lives. People introduce children to music at home, through concerts, lessons, and lots of imaginitative methods. Tisha Shaskan has created a book series that introduces children to the language of musical instruments.

In Brass Family on Parade! (Musical Families) Trish Shaskan introduces readers to a cartoon brass family. Fifi the French Horn is the mother and her husband Max, a tuba, the father of the clan. The two sons Tiny, a trumpet, and Slim, a trombone finish off the family.

Fifi is the narrorator of the story and introduces the sounds each instrument makes and the method by which they are made. She discusses a little about the music that can be played with brass instruments and the a little of the place in history of brass instruments.

I am a firm believer in presenting information early to children in a format that is age appropriate. They may not remember it all, but when they are at a concert in the park, they see a neighbor or a friend carrying an instrument, or they hear music being played, many children will surprise you with what they remember from simple books such as this one.

So far the library has had many of her books. I want to see if they have more in this musical series.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Story of Jamestown

It's book sharing Monday at Canadian Home Learning.

We were asked for specific quotes for the Monday book sharing, but the format of this book did not lead to amazing quotes. The artwork and the word bubbles blended to create a surprisingly accurate account of the history of what would become Virginia. I tried to go back and update this with specific quotes, but it really is not any specific quote that makes the book. What makes this book worthy of mention is the format that brings history to life in a different way than most kids see it in traditional textbooks.

I am always on the lookout for accurate and interesting history books for children. I ran across a listing for The Story of Jamestown (Graphic History)and realized it was part of a series of graphic histories for children. I decided to start with Jamestown because I have not found lots of quality literature for children on the topic. The topic is generally tucked into a history book chapter that often lacks accuracy and interest leaving children uniformed about the topic.

I was pleased with this choice and have several others checked out to preview before making a purchase. The material was presented in graphic novel format focusing on content and storytelling so the reader is engaged in learning more about the material. The formatting makes the book appropriate for young readers or older readers who may need material at a more accessible reading level.

Some of the strengths of this book are that it presented the challenges the colonists faced, was honest about their relations with the Natives, and it foreshadows the challenges that are coming as the colonial population expands into Native territories regardless of treaties and promises that have been made. It explains why tobacco becomes a major product of Virginia and the introduction of slavery into the Virginia colony. It also talks about how government evolved in Virginia as the colonists struggled with adapting to life in an environment they were not prepared to handle. I was pleased to see these issues addressed in a manner children could understand and process.

It is nice to see a book for a child that focuses on the history of the colony. I have read far too many accounts of the love story of Pocahontas that teach children little about the formation of Virginia. I am looking forward to previewing more books in this series.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Compound Words

Trisha Speed Shaskan has a hit with If You Were a Compound Word (Word Fun)a picture book that explains the concept in a fun way for children.

This book is part of a series of books that introduce children to the English language in a simple and fun way. In this book, the author defines compound words and then gives the children fun examples to illustrate the concept. Fonts and color are used to help children quickly identify the compound words on the page and will help even young children develop an understanding of the concept.

I am always looking for resources that make learning English language and grammar skills interesting for children. I have more books in the series on reserve to review. This one is on my purchase list.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Honestly Red Riding Hood Was Rotton

I have always been a fan of providing children with stories that tell the "other side" of the story. Fairytales are nursery rhymes are great ways to introduce children to the idea that there are more sides to the story than the first one you read. Trish Speed Shaskan has taken on the challenge in Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!: The Story of Little Red Riding Hood as Told by the Wolf (The Other Side of the Story)to give the wolf a voice.

Unfortunately, she has not made a convincing case. I was hoping for the defense presented inThe True Story of the Three Little Pigswhere the wolf attempts to present explanations for his actions against the pigs.

This book starts with the wolf claiming to be a vegetarian who went astray, but then works towards a character assassination of Red Riding Hood and Granny. It left me uncomfortable as if Red and Granny were deserving of being eaten due to their vanity and the wolf's hunger. I can think of a dozen scenarios that the wolf could use for mistaken identity, being set up, etc. This one seemed weak at best and at worst, it presented a dangerous message that Granny and Red deserved what they got.

The idea that a wild animal would eat whatever presented itself, as food is not unrealistic. My issue was that the author seemed to want to make the case that Red and Granny deserved it.

One thing I did like about the series was the suggestions at the back of the book to compare and contrast this story with the traditional version. I suspect that is part of this series. I have reserved a few more books in the series to see if others are better as there are multiple authors.