Ivan, His Story Lives On

Talk to me about books for 5 minutes and I’ll probably tell you about my love for audio books.  Being a Mom and finding time to read as much as I want is a real challenge.  Like seriously…then insert audio books into the picture.  Long Commute + Audio Book = Happy Mama!

Now, I read all across the board.  Juvenile to YA to Adult books. However, in the summer, I have a copilot with me.  For this reason, book selections are taken from the juvenile section.  Not a problem at all!  This summer we’ve picked several great books and one of them was, The One And Only Ivan by:  Katherine Applegate.

photo 1 (18)Told through his point of view, Ivan tells the story of his life from inside the Exit 8 Big Top Mall.  Ivan has lived in the mall the majority of his life and his days are pretty much the same.  He has made friends with Stella the elephant and Bob, a stray dog.  Watching tv, talking to his friends and having people visit his cage is a normal daily routine, but then something magical happens.  Ivan discovers his love for drawing and painting.

Ivan is an artist.  He often wonders why people can’t figure out what he’s drawn.  Honestly, I’m sure lots of artists feel the exact same way.  When he isn’t drawing, he is talking to Stella.  He worries about her because she isn’t well.  They also can sense that something is about to change.  Then, in pops Ruby, the baby elephant.  I can just see her!  She asks a billion questions a minute and is totally adorable and innocent.

Even with the story having funny parts and the animals being such characters, there’s still a lesson to be learned.  Ivan is in an enclosure with no access to the outside world.  He’s been living in basically a box for years.  Stella is very sick and her owner seems not to care.  Bob was a puppy that was dumped and ended up at the mall.  It creates a ton of opportunity to talk to your child about proper animal care.  Great, great story!

After reading the Author’s Note at the end, we found out that the book was loosely based on a true story.  I then found the book, Ivan:  The Remarkable True Story Of The Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate.  It is a simple nonfiction book that tells Ivan’s story.

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Pick them both up!  You totally won’t regret it!

Enjoy!

That Book Mama

P.S. You may want to grab a tissue, just in case:)

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It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

It’s about that time again!  Yes gardening time:)  I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love, Love, LOVE to put my toes in freshly tilled soil.  Oh My Gosh!  LOVE.  IT.  Bring on the tomatoes!  Bring on the squash!  Bring on the okra!  More on that later…since we’ve not started actually planting anything yet.  Until then, I’ve decided to share some of my all time favorite books about gardens and gardening

Enjoy,

That Book Mama

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0-4 Years

I Like Vegetables – By Lorena Siminovich  A beautiful board book with bright colors and a bonus…touch and feel!  This is the perfect gardening book to start your little one off right.  Each page has a few words and a different picture to touch.  For sure one they will want to read again and again.

A Garden Of Opposites – By Nancy Davis  Again, with bright colors and few words, this book is perfectly simple.  Opposites never looked prettier.

Up, Down and Around – By Katherine Ayres  It’s the story of a garden from beginning to end.  Tells all about how some veges grow up and some grow down while others grow around and around.  By the end, I’m ready to eat some and so are the characters in the book:)

Counting In The Garden – By Emily Hruby  I’m just gonna say it…not the best cover art.  This is a perfect example of not judging a book by the cover.  Once you get past the cover though, amazing!  Flowers and vegetables and worms, oh my!  Love it!

Eating The Alphabet – By Lois Ehlert  This book does nothing but make me want a snack.  It flows through the alphabet with colorful illustrations of fruits and vegetables good enough to eat.  I’m not gonna lie, some things I’ve never tried.  I think if it makes me want to try something I’ve never had before then surely other folks would feel the same:)

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5-7 Years

Over In The Garden – By Jennifer Ward  Rhyming Song, Yay!  This book could actually be read to younger children but I’ve put it in an older category because it has a fact section in the back.  Count your way through the garden and see a whole slew of insects along the way.

The Gardener – By Sarah Stewart Through a series of letters, Lydia Grace tells the story of her going to live with her uncle in the city until her parents can get on their feet.  Lydia Grace was growing up during the time of The Great Depression and during that time everyone was well…depressed.  She was determined to make her Uncle Jim smile and by her actions, she made his world a little brighter.   Truth time…I teared up.  Excellent book!

And The Good Brown Earth – By Kathy Henderson  This book actually starts in the fall and tells the story of a grandma and a grandson who tend to the garden patch all year long.  Having a garden is a lot of work but in the middle of all of that work, there’s always time to play.

The Ugly Vegetables – By Grace Lin  When a little girl and her Mom start their garden, they look around and see that their neighbors are doing the same, with one exception.  Everyone else was planting flowers and they were planting Chinese veges.  The little girl was rather disheartened when she saw that their garden wasn’t as pretty as the others.  Once it was time to gather some veges and make some soup, everyone wanted a part of the ugly vegetables.  Recipe in the back, Hooray!

Strega Nona’s Harvest – By Tomie dePaola  Strega Nona is well known for her magical way with the garden.  She always has plenty of food for her family come harvest time and this year was no different.  …except for some reason she keeps getting vegetables at her front door and has nowhere to put them.  What is she to do?  Why help people out, of course.  Great story about sharing and caring.

Skippyjon Jones At It Again

I’ve just finished the newest book in the adventures of Skippyjon Jones the Siamese cat, Skippyjon Jones Snow What by Judy Schachner was a hoot!  Skippyjon has all sisters and when they want to have Mama Junebug Jones read them the story of Snow White, Skippyjon retreats to his room, takes himself deep into a world of his own imagining and becomes Senor Skippito the Chihuahua.

Once in his alternate land, he learns of a girl chihuahua that has been cursed by a witch and needs to be kissed.  His first words when he learns of this?  “I’m not kissing SNOWbody!”  Being he brave knight that he is, he battles dragons, wears tights and even gets his lips frozen to ice while trying to save Snow What.

Pick it up!

If you like this book, there are several more in the series and they are just as funny.  Each come with a cd of the story read by the author.  Hi-larious:)

That Book Mama

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Pink Princess…But Wait, There’s More

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I love, Love, LOVE, Shannon Hale!  Can I just be honest?  At first, I really didn’t like her newest book.  (gasp) …I know…but listen.  I’ve just finished The Princess In Black and I’ve now decided that it is a great book for beginning readers!  I think I was hoping for her normal, “can’t put it down, princess who don’t mess around” book.  When I really think about it though, this book is just that except on a lower reading level.  So, I stepped out of the box and took a second look at the book.  I’m glad I did because I will for sure recommend it frequently.

Princess Magnolia (dressed in all pink…of course) is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower, when she is called away to tend to some irritating monsters.  By secretly becoming “The Princess In Black”, Magnolia jumps on her faithful unicorn/horse in disguise Blacky and gallops away to fight off the monsters that are plaguing the kingdom.  While Magnolia is out fighting off monsters, Duchess Wigtower is convinced there is something suspicious going on.  With short chapters and vivid illustrations, this book is a great find for a beginner reader that is transitioning over into “the big stacks”.  I’m tellin’ ya though, once your reader hits about 5th grade reading level, pick up The Goose Girl and Princess Academy.  They are excellent choices!

Enjoy,

That Book Mama