Moses Jones And The Case of the Missing Sneaker

Moses Jones And The Case of the Missing Sneaker by N.T. McQueen is the story of Moses Jones and his faithful feline companion, Finkle, who go on an epic search for Moses' missing sneaker.  With one sneaker on, they search the grocery store, the music store and the hardware store.  I won't give away where they end up finding the sneaker, but it is in the most unexpected of places!

This book is a fun story, especially for kids ages 4-8 (in my opinion).  The illustrations are bright and engaging, but the story also stands well on its own.  I have to say, that for us, Finkle the cat steals the show.  He is so expressive and is always doing something funny.  He's a perfect companion to Moses Jones and a great accompaniment to the story overall.

What Jack liked:  Jack loved this story.  I know because he asked me to read it more than once!  His favorite page is the very first one, where Finkle the cat is sitting on the toilet.  Always stealing the show!

What Colin liked:  Colin loved when Moses found his missing sneaker.  I won't give it away, but Colin loved the silliness!

We all loved this book and look forward to more adventures with Moses Jones and Finkle the cat.  You can purchase a copy of your own here on Amazon (not an affiliate link).

We were provided a copy of this book by the author, but the review is purely our own.

Still alive...

and still reading!  Having our third child really threw me for a loop for a while even though she is a very easy baby in general.  I will be working to get caught up here in the next week or so.  We even made it to the library yesterday and the baby didn't make a peep until we were almost out the door.  I think she liked it there!

Summer Reading Programs

I used to love participating in the local library summer reading program as a kid and now I'm so excited that my kids get to have the same experience.   Especially since Jack is a new reader, I'd like to encourage him to keep reading this summer and not "lose" any of his reading skills before he starts first grade this fall.

I've been searching for different programs to choose from since it seems that many bookstores also get in on the action these days.  The following is a list of programs that I've found out there - hopefully one of them fits with your family!

Barnes and Noble - This one is aimed towards kids in the first through sixth grades.  All you need to do is download the reading journal on their website and record eight books that your child reads this summer.  In return, your child can choose a free book from a predetermined list aimed at their grade level.  *The link takes you to the program from last year - need to keep checking back to make sure they are offering the program again in 2012.

Scholastic Summer Challenge - This program is aimed towards kids of all ages.  This program runs between May 1 and August 31.  Parents can help their child log into the website and enter their daily minutes read for a chance to win prizes and help set a world record - there's even an app to log minutes read on the go!  I highly recommend downloading the Family Participation Guide - it contains detailed instructions as well as a reading pledge, reading log and fun coloring pages.

Pottery Barn Kids - This is another program aimed at kids ages 10 and younger and runs between 5/17 and 8/22.  Visit the website to download the booklist, progress tracker and certificate of completion.  Bring your progress tracker to your local store by the end of the promotion period to receive a free book!  

Your local library - Don't forget to check out your local library's summer reading programs - most will have them.  I've linked to our local library, it looks like they have an entire summer's worth of events planned to keep kids engaged.

If all else fails, you can implement your own summer reading program!  I found several good links on Pinterest for downloadable reading trackers and more.  You could offer an incentive for minutes read or books read, perhaps a trip to the park, ice cream shop, alone time with Mom or Dad (for those families with more than one child - always a challenge to give one-on-one time!) - really the possibilities are endless.

I hope you find a program that works for you and have as much fun this summer reading as we do.  I plan to have Jack read to his new baby sister - I think she'll enjoy hearing his voice and he'll feel like a big kid.  :-)

Earth Day Book Review and Giveaway!

In honor of Earth Day (April 22), we picked out a fun book to read to celebrate.  We picked Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel.

The premise of the book is a town covered in trash and other gross stuff when Michael Recycle crashes into town superhero style to change their ways.  He teaches the townspeople about the importance of recycling ("...before all your trash reaches up to the moon!") and teaches them what they can recycle.  The text and photos also indirectly refer to having rain barrels and gardening - other eco-friendly practices.

What I thought about the book:  Overall, I enjoyed this book.  It is definitely aimed at younger children (I estimate ages 4-6) as it introduces the concept of recycling, but doesn't go into great detail about the benefits and just briefly mentions the types of things you can recycle.  I also kind of wish it addressed reusing, but I guess that's a whole other book.  ;-)

What Jack thought about the book:  Overall, Jack enjoyed the book.  He said his favorite part was when Michael Recycle crashed into the town dump...headfirst and with a colander on his head.  :-)  He also liked the last few pages where the author discusses other common eco-friendly practices (using less water, reducing paper usage, composting, etc.) and we were able to have a nice conversation about which of those things we already do and which we could do next.

What Colin thought about the book:  Colin was not super interested in this book until we got to the page where the townspeople had a celebration of their newfound eco-friendliness and "covered the town with green toilet paper".  I thought that part was odd (condoning decorating with dyed paper products), but they did mention that when they were done the rolled up the paper to use again.  Anyway, Colin asked me to read that part at least five times before I was able to move on with the book and he was still talking about it two pages later.

You could buy this book, but wouldn't it be more fun to win it?  Enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter below for your chance to win this book!

Consignment Sale!

Hitting up a local consignment sale tomorrow - very excited!  Books aren't the first priority, but you better believe I won't pass up a great deal.  :-)

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?

The obsession with dinosaurs continues...

Today we read one of the books that was included in our Blue Bag from the library, How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night by Jane Yolen.

The premise of the story is several pages of different dinosaurs displaying bedtime stalling behavior (demanding a piggyback, moaning & crying, stomping their feet, etc.) and the author asking, "does a dinosaur..."?  And answering, "no, a dinosaur...(gives a kiss, turns out the light, etc.).

A dramatic dinosaur

What I thought about the book:  Overall, I loved the premise of the book.  The author shows many of the common stall tactics that can make bedtime a challenge for moms and dads and shows how the dinosaurs don't do those, but instead they do things to make bedtime go much more smoothly.  The photos are large and engaging.  I loved that the dinosaur names are somewhere on each page (sometimes on their bed or their rug or wall) - inevitably Colin is going to ask me the name of the dinosaur and I'm not going to know.  I better get it right because he's going to remember when he asks me again!

What Jack thought about the book:  Jack enjoyed listening to the story, but really it is below his interest level.  He's not into dinosaurs like Colin is and the overall subject matter is just a little young for him.  He loves to listen to almost any story though and he loves when Colin likes something so he was a good sport.  :-)

What Colin thought about the book:  Colin loved it!  He loved the large, bright illustrations of the dinosaurs "being naughty" - it cracked him up.  He also tends to love sing-songy books and this fits the bill.

This book is part of a whole series of "How do Dinosaurs...".  After reading this one, I will definitely check out other dinosaur books by Jane Yolen especially if Colin's dinosaur obsession continues.

You can likely find this book at your local library or on Amazon for anywhere between 22 cents and approx. $10.

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The Blue Bag

Maybe this is common at everyone's library, but I've never seen it before and I'm so excited that I have to share!

Our library has these book kits called "Story Express Kits" that are basically multi-media collections that revolve around a single theme.  They consist of several books, a music CD, a DVD and toys or action figures.  All of the items are neatly contained in this handy blue bag, complete with a laminated card listing the bag's inventory.

I chose the dinosaur themed bag this time due to Colin's still rampant love of dinosaurs (just recently he told me he wants to name his baby sister "diplodocus").  I really wish I had the camera handy when the boys opened the bag because their faces were priceless!  Who knew a bag from the library could thrill them this much?  The dinosaur bag contains:

The boys were totally thrilled that there were toys in the bag.  We had to break out the dinosaurs and put in the DVD immediately, while they also thumbed through the books.  We'll be reading and posting reviews of the books all this week.

As previously mentioned, the library has several Story Express Kit themes to choose from.  I stopped at dinosaurs, but I also saw "colors", "alphabet" and "cars".  I'll have to pay more attention next time and note what the other themes were.

The way the process works is that the library keeps a binder of laminated cards that describe the theme and contents and when you find one you like, you take the card to the circulation desk and exchange it for the bag.  A great thing about this process is that you know when you choose a theme card that it is actually available since they keep that card out of the binder until the bag is returned.  No last minute disappointment!

I look forward to reading these books to the kids this week and even listening to the dinosaur songs on our daily commute to school.  The only challenge thus far has been making sure that the "library dinosaurs" go back to sleep in the blue bag when they are done playing with them.  I'm paranoid that we are going to lose them and I'm going to have to buy the library new ones!

I imagine ours is not the only library with these story kits - I highly recommend that you ask about it next time you go to your local library.  If you do, let me know.  I'd love to hear about it!

Hello Again & Book Haul

I finally went to the library that is closest to our new house (almost a year later - ha!).  I've been putting it off because I thought it was too much of a drive & it's hard to mix a library trip with a grocery store trip.

Well, I should have gone a long time ago because it really is a nice library!  They even have a cafe that serves ice cream sourced from a local shop - how can you beat that?  They have a large children's section and it seems like they have a lot of events and story times for children.  I will have to keep that in mind this summer when I have all of the kids home with me and we're looking for something to do to escape the heat.

I'm really glad I was able to scope it out without the kids today.  It gave me a chance to walk around and check it out without any distractions.

Without further ado, here's what I came home with:

I actually got three books for me as well.  I've been mostly reading books on my Kindle, but the free books available have been getting kind of tired for me so I was happy to reserve some books at the library and have them waiting for me on the shelf with my name on them.  :-)  Oh, I check out The Sewing Bible several times a year - I love this resource!  I really should buy it one of these days...

For the kids, I brought home:

More about the blue bag next post!


Farm Alphabet Book

Colin and I have been on our own this week while Jack visits his Grammy and Poppa out of town (he comes home tomorrow!).

We had fun the other night playing his new Super Why! ABC Letter Game - I just used the letter recognition cards since the rest were a bit above his current skill level. Since I can rarely get Colin to sit still to listen to an entire story, I decided to incorporate the Farm Alphabet Book by Jane Miller into the game.

To incorporate the book into the game, whenever Colin would pull a letter card and find the same letter on the board, we would look up that letter in the book and read that page.  So if Colin selected a 'b', we found the uppercase 'B' on the game board, then read the 'B' page out of the book.  It really worked out well and was fun.

This book was published in 2000 but the photos make it seem much older.  There is a page for each letter in the alphabet, complete with a photo and a description.  While the book's contents are aimed at young children, there is no sing-songy text or even any rhyming.

That said, Colin seemed to enjoy learning facts about the farm and farm animals.  One of his favorite pages was 'I' for Incubator.

He said, "I'm cold, Mama.  I need an incubator!".  Hearing him say a big word like incubator was entertaining in itself.

He also liked 'S' for Swan.  He kept asking my what the baby swans were called.  (Everything is "just a baby" around here these days).

What I thought about this book:  Overall, I liked it.  The photo quality isn't great, but many of the letter words are animals, which is always a big hit in our house.  Many of the animal pages talked about the real names for the mama, daddy and baby animal (stallion, mare, foal for example).  It was interesting to have Colin argue with me, "it's not a mare, mama, it's a mama horse!".  ;-)

What Colin thought about this book:  We read it again at bedtime after the game was put away.  At the end Colin said, "that was a good story, Mama!".  I think it gets his seal of approval.  :-)