Eric Carle Week: Day 3

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

  “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” Said the Sloth


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…


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…

Dear Bookclubbers…


Hi friends.  First of all, remember that the book club is always open to anyone.  Please feel free to join at any time! Second, for those of you who have expressed interest in reading The Higher Power of Lucky–let us begin!  I thought June 30th would be a good deadline.  It is only 134 pages of 4th grade reading, so even if you don’t have much spare time, I figured a month would be sufficient.  Please let me know if you’d like more time (like if it’s taking forever to arrive from Amazon…).

 Here are some things to note while you are reading that I think will make for fun and interesting discussion:

1) Plot development

2) Character development

3) Things you do/don’t like about the story

4) What side of the controversy you are on

5) Good literary bits/clever writing

6) Anything else you want to talk about

I’ve been having a ball jotting down the “good literary bits.”  Here’s one of my favorites thus far (from page 6):

“Lucky thought of a question that Short Sammy’s story had lodged into one of her brain crevices.  She figured she had so many crevices and wrinkles, almost all of them filled with questions and anxious thoughts, that if you were to take her brain and flatten it out, it would cover a huge space, like maybe a king-size bed.”


Cloth Books for Your Babe


Blaine recently turned one.  We have marveled at the many changes in him in the last few weeks.  After testing out his feet for a while, walking is suddenly his main form of transportation.  Food he spit out just a week ago he is now devouring.  He loves to play with other children and has learned to touch them gently instead of gouging their eyes out.  And, whereas for the last several months he has squirmed away when I attempted reading to him, he is finally starting to sit with books for an extended period of time (like five minutes!) and explore them.  He has even started choosing a book from the shelf and bringing it to me.  Once we get to the third page he’s usually done, but still!  Right now, Blaine’s favorite books are cloth books, so I thought I’d suggest them to you for your babes and toddlers.


1) Fuzzy Bee and Friends 

This is a Priddy book.  You’ve probably seen a lot of their stuff before–they have a lot of great products.  You can look at their website here.  I picked this one up at a yard sale a few weeks ago–in mint condish–and it’s a winner.  Here’s why I love it:  It is soft and therefore squishes nicely into my diaper bag, even when it’s full of tons of other junk.  It’s colorful.  And it’s a touch and feel sort of book, in that the insects’ wings stick out so your child can pull on them (but since they’re made of cloth, they don’t tear).  Most importantly, Blaine likes it. 



2) Let’s Get Dressed

This is a Lamaze Book.  True–it’s not just a breathing technique that I used until I freaked out and demanded that someone call the anesthesiologist.  Lamaze makes a lot of great books and toys.  Their website is here.  Blaine’s Nana sent him this particular book, and we LOVE it.  Here’s why.  Again, it’s soft, durable, and colorful.  Even better–it’s an activity book.  Blaine gets to help Bear zip up his jacket, put on his shoes, and place his hat on his head.  Blaine is having fun learning to do these things, and I love that it’s helping him develop his fine motor skills (I mean, you should see this kid’s pincer grasp!).  The bonus is that all of these miniature clothing items are attached to the book with chords, so Blaine can’t lose them.  Fabulous book.


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3) My Busy Book

You can learn about this company and where to find the book by clicking here.  This was another gift to Blaine (Thanks, Candy and Brian!), and it’s AWESOME.  Here’s why: It’s full of fun, fine-motor-skill-developing, detailed, colorful pages.  Your child can learn to button, zip, lace and tie, weave, and more.  It’s a ball!  For liability’s sake (you know, so no one sues Mrs. Cropper), let me issue a small warning.  This book is not recommended for children under 3 years because it comes with a LOT of small, your-baby-could-choke-on/they-could-get-lost-pieces.  I think if you were right there helping your child, he could do the activities in the book at a younger age than that.  Blaine can’t quite figure it out right now, but I think in a few months he’ll be loving it. 

So those are some recommendations from Mrs. Cropper and Blaine.  Even as infants and toddlers, it is so crucial to have books around.  Even if all Blaine does is rub the soft books on his cheeks and open the flaps on his board books, he is getting exposure to books–they are becoming a part of his life.  I think these soft activity books are particularly helpful because in addition to introducting young children to concepts of print, they are helping them develop motor skills.  I hope you and your babes will enjoy these! 

Novel of the Month and Book Club Challenge


A couple of my friends told me the other day that they would like me to recommend novels for grown-ups (my word, not theirs).  They even suggested a bloggy book club, which I thought was a clever idea.  Well, here’s the thing.  I think every adult needs to read the classic children’s and adolescent books as much as they need to read grown-up classics.  Partly because it will help you be a better parent.  And partly because there are a lot of greaties that you should not be living without! 

So I’m challenging you all to read this month’s Novel of the Month.  (Which month, Mrs. Cropper?  It’s the end of May for heaven’s sake!  Well, I’m counting it for May AND June, so there you go!)  The unique thing here is that I’m going to read it along with you for my first time, as I’ve yet to read it.  Therefore I cannot now say, “You’ll love it!  This is a must read!” like I usually do.  We’ll be exploring together.  The book is the 2007 Newberry Medal winner, and is entitled The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron.  It is highly acclaimed, but has stirred up a bit of controversy as well.  If you want to read about that to make sure you want to read it, click here

So here’s what I’m envisioning.  You read this post and take my challenge.  You leave a comment to say “I’m in!”  You rush out to your local library or Barnes&Noble, or click my link to Amazon to obtain the book.  We choose a date to be finished by and have a cyber book club meeting about the book.  What do you think??!!

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


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. 


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…  


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.