Thursday, July 22, 2010

On Hiatus

Little Kid Lit is going on hiatus for a couple of weeks. My family and I are moving house - with lots of cleaning, painting etc to do. Needless to say - reading still trumps moving. Even though I won't be writing about it, Oona and I will make sure to read together everyday.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Poems Every Child Should Know

Its Poetry Friday in the kidlitosphere. This week the round-up is being hosted at my juicy little universe. Hop on over to to see whose blogging about poetry today. I'm sharing a poem from the anthology Poems Every Child Should Know edited by Mary E. Burt and first published in 1904. The poem is by Robert Browning, the introductory text was written by the editor.


"Spring's at the Morn," from "Pippa Passes," by Robert Browning (1812-89), has become a very popular stanza with little folks. "All's right with the world" is a cheerful motto for the nursery and schoolroom.
The year's at the spring,The day's at the morn;Morning's at seven;The hillside's dew pearled;
The lark's on the wing;The snail's on the thorn;God's in His heaven—All's right with the world!
Robert Browning.

Ms.Burt's belief in the necessity of teaching poetry to children is so passionately articulated in the preface to the book that I thought I'd include it here as well:

There  are people who believe that in the matter of learning poetry there is no "ought," but this is a false belief. There is a duty, even there.... Children should build for their future--and get, while they are children, what only the fresh imagination of the child can assimilate.
They should store up an untold wealth of heroic sentiment; they should acquire the habit of carrying a literary quality in their conversation; they should carry a heart full of the fresh and delightful associations and memories, connected with poetry hours to brighten mature years. They should develop their memories while they have memories to develop.

The frontis piece from the original edition:

Poems Every Child Should Know was obtained from Project Gutenberg. This e-book is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg license. Visit Project Gutenberg at

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Great Dr.Seuss Read Aloud Competition

The Cat in the HatHarperCollins has launched The Great Dr.Seuss Read Aloud Competition. Readers of all ages are invited to upload a video of themselves reading one of five Dr.Seuss stories. Besides the opportunity to become a YouTube darling there are some fabulous prizes up for grabs, including a trip to Orlando for the first place winner. Videos will put to a public vote and the Dr.Seuss Grand Judging panel will pick the winners.

According to the competition website "extra points will be awarded for imagination, innovation and cat-participation". If your looking for some inspiration the kind folks at HarperCollins have included tips and downloadable props. Click here for more info.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sir Charlie Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World

Sir Charlie: Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World

See him? That little tramp twitching a postage stamp of a mustache, politely lifting his bowler hat, and leaning on a bamboo cane with the confidence of a gentleman? A slapstick comedian, he blazed forth as the brightest movie star in the Hollywood heavens.
Everyone knew Charlie—Charlie Chaplin.

Thanks to the late Sid Fleischman and his book Sir Charlie Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World a whole new generation will know Charlie as well.

I was thrilled to find this book. I love Charlie Chaplin. So much so that I named my daughter Oona after Charlie's beloved wife. At 19-months, it will be awhile before Oona and I can enjoy this book together (recommended reader age for this bio is 9 - 12 years) but what can a film programmer / mom do? Its a must have for our library.

Fleischman has rich material in Charlie's life; a classic rags to riches story Hollywood-style. Young Charles spent a Dickensian childhood in the slums of London (including a stint in the poor house). He started his career in Victorian music halls before making his way to America and the movies. Once in Hollywood Charlie gave birth to his Little Tramp character and together they charmed movie goers around the world. Sadly Charlie's off-screen life wasn't without troubles and during the McCarthy era Charlie was forced to leave America because of his left wing political leanings.

It is a testament to the respect Fleischman held for his young readers that he doesn't shy away from the more troublesome aspects of Chaplin's life while keeping the focus on the art. The author's obvious love for the subject matter is infectious and sure to engage young readers.

Besides the sheer brilliance of his work there is much to be celebrated in the life of Chaplin. He championed freedom of expression, equality amongst people and basic human decency. For all of these reasons, and many more, this biography is worth the read.

Here's Oona at 4 months old hanging out with Charlie

And here is an old rhyme we sometimes sing:

Charlie Chaplin went to France
to teach the ladies how to dance
he did the rhumba
he did the kicks
he did the samba
then the splits!

Check out reviews of nonfiction children's and YA books from the kidlitosphere at Nonfiction Mondays. Hosted this week by Abby the Librarian.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Good Sports: Rhymes about Running, Jumping, Throwing and More

Inspired by the sheer joy 19-month-old Oona derives from physical activity I recently picked up a copy of Good Sports: Rhymes about Running, Jumping, Throwing, and More. Written by former Children's Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky this collection of poems celebrates the highs, lows and in-betweens of participating in athletics. Most of the major sports are here (football, soccer, skating, gymnastics, baseball etc.) and everything that goes along with them (winning, losing, practicing and good old fashioned just goofing around).

Using simple language and a light tone befitting the audience and subject matter, Prelutsky captures the boundless enthusiasm of kids. More impressively he manages to encourage good sportsmanship without moralising or unrealistic expectations about the emotions of. After all, it really does feel awesome to win and it really is kind of a bummer to lose. But you'll find the full range of  in these rhymes: the thrill of winning, the drag of loosing, and the fun of doing something even if you're not very good. 

Illustrator's Chris Raschka's whimsical watercolors add an additional layer of fun and depth to the collection. Using exaggerated angles and skewed perspectives these abstract-y pictures evoke movement and speed from a kid's point of view.

With sports central to the lives of many children this is a great book for introducing poetry to those who snicker at the mere mention of the word "poem". Parents take note, sport-rhyme may be gateway poetry to harder verse.

Click here to check out the Jack Prelutsky website. While you're there be sure to check out Jack's sports cards  (odes to his complete ineptitude in the realm of athletics), and a hilarious sampling of fan mail from young readers.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Introducing Oona's Picks

This is Oona my 19-month-old bundle of joy / bookworm. Oona and I are introducing a new feature to Little Kid Lit. Its called Oona's Picks and its a bi-weekly top-five list of whats currently in heavy rotation on our bookshelves.

I'm not sure if a toddler can compile a "bestseller" list but we're going to try. Here's how it works: Mommy (that's me) will attempt to track which books Oona picks and how many times she picks them within a two-week period. After careful observation and tabulation we'll publish the results. Please note: this is a 100% unscientific toddler experiment. Click here
to see Oona's first list.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Oona's Picks

 Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales
1. Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales  Lucy Cousins at her very best, but be warned: fairy tales are never for the faint of heart.

Truck2. Truck. A nearly wordless wonder from the incomparable Donald Crews. Follow a truck as it carries very important cargo across the country.

The Carrot Seed 60th Anniversary Edition
3. The Carrot Seed Ruth Krauss' classic story of faith and perseverance. Plus a great way to introduce the joys of gardening to small children.

Dark Night    4. Dark Night A little boy and his rabbit friend trick some scary critters into leaving them alone. A fun bedtime read with the coolest illustration of a tiger that I have ever seen. Written and illustrated by France's Dorothee de Monfreid.

Little Fur Family Deluxe Edition5. Little Fur Family Deluxe Edition Margaret Wise Brown and Garth Williams, enough said. This classic has been a constant with us since the day we brought it home.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

C is For Canada Day, M is For Moose

Happy 143rd Birthday Canada! Oona and I will be celebrating today book-style by reviewing M Is For Moose: A Charles Pachter Alphabet.

In case you're wondering this isn't one of those place-specific alphabet books that are sold at tourist trap shops. Charles Pachter is one of Canada's preeminent visual artists. The full span of his work (from landscapes to contemporary pop-art type collages) is all here including new artwork and images from some of Pachter's most well-known pieces. My personal favourite is Joy Ride (Queen Elizabeth II riding a moose side-saddle) from the playful QUEEN AND MOOSE series.

Back to the alphabet bit. The usual suspects of Canadiana here: B is for Beaver, H is for Hockey, M is for Mountie etc., but Pachter ups the cool quotient by mixing in some less pedestrian references. W is for Writer  (Margaret Lawrence); P is for Poet (Margaret Atwood) and T is for Trudeau and his (bright red) tie.

If you are feeling very Canadian or especially ambitious the book includes a recipe for that most Canadian of delicacies, the butter tart. Mmmmmmm butter tarts.