Category Archives: Favorite Authors

Eric Carle Week: Day 5 (Your Turn)

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Well friends, the problem with having “Eric Carle” week is that he has published just a few more titles than 5.  So, it’s your turn.  Please add a comment and let us know of another Eric Carle book that has not been mentioned.  Tell us what you or your children like about it.  Thanks for sharing!

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Eric Carle Week: Day 4

Eric Carle’s stuff is just SO fabulous for the small ones.  I’ve mentioned before that his illustrations are very appealing to young children.  Also, his use of repitition is extremely valuable to an emergent reader.  Today’s book has both of those qualities and is also a great example of the way he teaches simple concepts through stories.  It is called The Very Busy Spider and is about–well–a very busy spider.  She hangs out in the corner of the barn spinning her web.  As each of the barnyard animals ask the spider to do something else, she doesn’t answer–as she is too busy spinning her web. 

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Each page goes something like this: “‘Oink! Oink!’ grunted the pig.  ‘Want to roll in the mud?’  The spider didn’t answer.  She was very busy spinning her web.”  Simple as that.  But think of everything we’ve learned from that simple exchange.  We’ve been introduced to a picture of a new animal and know what the animal is called.  We know what kind of sounds the animal makes and a characteristic or behavior of the animal.  Pretty great, huh?

In the end the spider finishes her web and we learn a characteristic of spiders– “And the spider caught the fly in her web…just like that!”  And now we know what spiders look like and what spiders do.  Just like that! 

Eric Carle Week: Day 3

Here’s one that I just read for the first time:

  “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” Said the Sloth

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First of all, I love how Eric Carle’s illustrations are so him.  You could recognize his stuff from a mile away.  And while it is beautiful, and NOT easy artwork, it is something that children can imitate, which is one thing that makes him so popular with the little ones.  This particular story is about a sloth who hangs out in his tree day and night.  The other animals passing by mock him and ask him why he is so lazy.  He doesn’t answer for a while.  And then, he announces that while he may be slow and even lackadaisical (and a whole slough of other perfect adjectives that Carle uses), he is not lazy. 

There are several “teaching moments” in this story.  There’s the alliteration moment.  The “what on earth is a sloth?” moment.  The many new vocabulary words moment.  The “how should we treat those who are different than us?” moment.  The “let’s make some watercolor pictures of our own” moment.  Read it with your child and take those moments.  You will both love it!

Eric Carle Week: Day 2

The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Everyone knows it.  Everyone loves it.  All I have to say is that if you don’t have this book in your personal children’s library, you should.  It’s a must!  And it’s as low as $1.29 on Amazon.  So there you go!

A Gift Book for the Mister

Although I have no idea when I’ll be back in a classroom as Mrs. Cropper, I’ve decided to keep up on my teaching license rather than let it lapse.  That means attending workshops and such, which is SUCH a treat.  I spent the last 2 days in an incredible children’s literature class at our local library.  Our instructor is the director of the library here and besides having decades of experience with children’s literature, he has a passion for it.  He also served on the Caldecott committee in 2000, which is big.  (Note: I’ll have to do a post describing the process these committees go through to choose Caldecott and Newberry winners.  It’s fascinating.)  Anyway, you can bet that after a whole weekend of this, Mrs. Cropper is feeling rejuvenated and more excited than ever to share her findings.  One thing I decided during class yesterday is that we need to have theme weeks on this here blog.  So, without furthur ado, I give you…

ERIC CARLE WEEK

Today’s Eric Carle book is quite timely.  In fact, you have exactly one week to rush out and buy it because I think it makes a most tender gift for the father figures in your life.  The book is entitled Mister Seahorse.

Yes, it is all about seahorses, fishies, and other under water creatures.  And, of course, it is rich with Carle’s watercolor and collage illustrations.  He also uses super neat plastic overlays to show the way these creatures camouflage themselves down there in the depths.  All of that aside, however, this book is about daddies.  And it is sweet and delightful.  Here is what Mr. Carle says about Mister Seahorse:

“Dear Friends, In most fish families, after the mother has laid the eggs and the father has fertilized them, the eggs are left on their own.  But there are exceptions such as the seahorse, stickleback, tilapia, Kurtus nurseryfish, pipefish, bullhead catfish, and some others.  Not only are the eggs cared for by a parent but–surprise–that parent is the father.  And this is my story about them.  I  hope you enjoy my story.”

Mrs. Cropper hopes you enjoy it, too!  Come back tomorrow for more Eric Carle…

This Week’s Rainbow Book-Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

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Introducing-my favorite children’s author:  Kevin Henkes.  I know!  A favorite?  What?  How can I pick one favorite?  But alas, it’s true!  I think Kevin Henkes is absolutely the man.  Everything he does is magic.  I love his unique little rodent-characters and all their nuances.  I love his simple, perfect-for-his-stories artwork, and I love how he loves what he does.  Here’s what he says: “I used to live with my parents and brothers and sister and work at a card table in my bedroom. Now I live with my wife and son and daughter in our own house and work at a drawing table in my own studio. I never thought I’d be lucky enough to be a real author and illustrator. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”  Do you not love him already?

I will feature many of his books in the near future, but today I start with my favorite (using that word again?!) of his characters and the first of his titles I discovered.

Meet Lilly.  She is the snazziest rodent you ever did see.  She wears red cowboy boots and everything!  She is excited, she is loud, and sometimes she is sassy.  SASSY.  I actually like this about her because she gets in trouble for it (and has to sit in the uncooperative chair).  And as a result, she learns.  Without cheesiness (well, actually, there usually is cheese involved, as a lot of Henkes’ stories are about mice…but it’s actual cheese, not the sentimental stuff) or hitting you over the head with it, Kevin Henkes brilliantly teaches morals-even to the sassiest of mice and children. 

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But we’re getting off track.  Lilly stars or co-stars in several of Henkes’ books, but I think Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is her best.  In it, we read the story of how dearly Lilly loves school, particularly because of her teacher, Mr. Slinger.  “Mr. Slinger was as sharp as a tack.  He wore artistic shirts…Instead of ‘Greetings, students’ or ‘Good morning, pupils,’ Mr. Slinger winked and said, ‘Howdy!'”  Lilly loves Mr. Slinger so much that she decides to be a teacher when she grows up (instead of a surgeon or an ambulance driver or a diva–her prior ambitions).  But then one day Lilly comes to school with some new treasures from her Grammy.  “Lilly had a new pair of movie star sunglasses, complete with glittery diamonds and a chain like Mr. Slinger’s.  She had three shiny quarters.  And, best of all, she had a brand new purple plastic purse that played a jaunty tune when it opened.”  As you can imagine, Lilly becomes quite disruptive with all her new wares, and Mr. Slinger takes them from her for the day.  In her sassy SASSY rage, Lilly draws a terrible picture about Mr. Slinger and slips it into his bag…  

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I will let you read it to find out how things turn out.  (Don’t worry!  Kevin Henkes’ stories have happy endings!)  But promise me that you WILL read it!  If you don’t, you’ll miss learning what the Lightbulb Lab is (I copied Mr. Slinger and set up one in my classroom–it was a hit!), you’ll miss all of the clever dialogue, and you’ll miss Lilly, Mr. Slinger, and all the other rodent-students doing interpretive dance.  There–that seals the deal.  I’m sure you’ll read it now.

Enjoy Lilly and stay tuned for more Kevin Henkes Rainbow Books. 

Where I Was and What I Hope You’re Reading

Remember that funny scene in You’ve Got Mail where Tom Hanks’ character, Joe Fox, is trying to write an explanation for not showing up to meet Kathleen (Meg Ryan) at that coffee shop?  (Of course, he did show up, but didn’t reveal that he was, in fact, her cyber-friend.)  And as he sits at his computer he comes up with this convoluted story about a business trip in Vancouver and being stuck in a building during a power outage and the phones were out too, etc. etc… 

I know that was a random intro to this post, but roll with me.  I was thinking it has been so long since my last post, that I felt like I owed some sort of an explanation for my absence!  (Not that you’re all just chomping at the bit for Mrs. Cropper’s next amazing post, but still…)  So I thought of how we’ve been busy with family in town and with things at our church, etc., but none of those are the real reason.  See, usually I blog at night when Blaine has gone to bed and Taylor is doing his homework.  But guess where I’ve been lately during that quiet evening time?  I’ve been deep inside Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!  A couple of weeks ago I realized that if I didn’t hurry and read books 5 and 6 of Harry Potter, I wouldn’t be ready for book 7 on July 21st!  And so I dove in to book 5 and have been almost as bad a Harry Potter junkie as many of my friends are 24junkies!  Taylor keeps asking me, “Who do you love more–me or Harry Potter?”  And the other day as he was commenting on something about the book I sassily snapped, “Taylor–you have only seen the movies!  You don’t even know Harry Potter!”  At this he chuckled and said, “You’re right, Anne.  I don’t!”  I’m sure in his head he was thinking “And neither do you, because he’s not real!”–as he so often has to remind me about Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. 🙂

So now my question for you is, are you ready for book 7–Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?

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If you haven’t read any of J.K. Rowling’s series, I am here to say, READ IT!  I was super late getting on the bandwagon.  I was just sure I wouldn’t like it because I don’t generally like fantasy.  I didn’t see what all the fuss was about.  I really only read book 1 because I figured every elementary school teacher needs to be well-versed in Harry Potter.  But then, like my friends predicted, I became totally enchanted by the unbelievably magical, ingenious, complex world that Rowling has created.  It really is wonderful literature, and the writing gets better with each book. 

If you think, “Well, I’ve seen the movies–that’s about the same”–I am here to politely correct you.  It isn’t the same!  The movies barely cover the basic plot and all the action scenes.  But without reading the books you miss all of the excellent foreshadowing, character development, clever side-plots, etc.  

If you are like me and aren’t up to date in the series, I am here to cheer you on and remind you that you still have 108 days to prepare for book 7! 

If you are wondering at what age your child could read it or have it read to him, here’s what I have to say:  Book 1 is rather simple and easy to follow.  You could read it to your first grader.  Some second graders can read the first book or two independently.  They won’t get all the vocabulary and such, but will be able to comprehend it quite well.  I think book 2 is really scary though, so you may want to check it out first.  As the series progresses, the books become more mature and complex–both literarily and content-wise.  She has brilliantly aged the literature along with Harry, so the older he gets, the older the readers get.  (So you can use Harry’s age as a guide.)  

I LOVE HARRY POTTER!  Read it!  Read it!  Read it!  I hope you are as excited as I am about reading the 7th and final installment.  I know Taylor is excited–once I’m done reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows he just might get his wife back!