Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Snow, snow, snow, snow, snow . . . . .

Here in Colorado it is snowing again. I love the snow. Last year we didn't get a measurable snow until November, this year we have had two in October and I have loved it! Most snow books seem to revolve around Christmas, it is hard to find some just about the changing seasons - but I've managed it.

Snow Party by Harriet Zeifert tells the story of snow people who gather to celebrate the first snow of the season. Late at night while the snow falls around them, the snow people kick up their heels.

The Winter Visitors by Karol Hayes may be short on words but it is long on story. A simple read due to its low word count and simple word choice, it tells much more story through the pictures which appear in multiple frames per page like a comic or graphic novel. It is a great book for little ones to use their imaginations and practice their story telling by explaining to you what is going on in the pictures - a story within a story.

Last but not least Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart tells a simple story of how many animals make it through the winter. For instance, did you know that the wood frog can freeze solid under the snow and survive to thaw out and hop happily away come spring?

Now my family had a tradition that the first solid freeze or the first snow of the year we would have homemade chilli for dinner and a fire in the fireplace. Perhaps this is the year to start a tradition of your own, maybe chilli like my family did or perhaps pumpkin bread, candle making, s'mores, chicken noodle soup, meatloaf or chicken pot pie. The sky is the limit, use your family's tastes and your own favorite comfort foods and activities as your guide.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Let the wild rumpus begin . . .

As you probably already know, Spike Jonze brought a life action retelling of the children's classic Where The Wild Things Are to the big screen this weekend. Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are won the Caldecott Medal for excellence in children's book illustrations back in 1964 (Leo Lionni's classic Swimmy was a Caldecott honoree that same year), and has been a staple of children's bookshelfs ever since - right along side Good Night Moon and The Velveteen Rabit.

I haven't seen the movie myself yet, so I can neither recommend nor discourage you from watching the film - but I do hope you will take this opportunity to introduce your children to the story. (I was amazed at how many children I work with were not familiar with the book this week). And then, when you are done with that - have a wild rumpus of your own. There is something about the unabashed play of childhood that can never be recaptured, so have those moments and make those memories with your children now, while you still can. Make a mess, dance around like crazy people, dress up in monters costumes of your own making, just let down your guard and enjoy some pure unadulterated play time!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Picky Eaters . . .

My little brother had not eaten voluntarily in over three years . . .

"Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf. I hate meatloaf."
"All right, I'll get that kid to eat. Where's my screw driver and my plumber's helper? I'll open up his mouth and I'll shove it in."

That of course from the classic Jean Shepherd screenplay (based on his novel), A Christmas Story . . . there is a picky eater in almost every family - if you don't have one, count yourself blessed!

Most picky eaters won't eat their green vegetables, or refuse any protein source outside of chicken nuggets, but in these three books we're dealing with special types of picky eaters.

In Gregory the Terrible Eater, Gregory the goat refuses to eat "traditional" goat fare, like pocket lint, buttons and newspaper - prefering instead toast, and maybe a tall glass of orange juice. His parents are at a loss and eventually consult their family doctor for advice on how to get Gregory to eat a "healthy" goat diet.

Much like Gregory, Little Pea does not like to eat the candy on which peas are meant to feast. Little Pea's favorite delight? Spinach! Which he readily gobbles up, scoffing at stripped candy, red candy, and even polka dotted candies.

Any parent who has ever told their child that broccoli was not a vegetable, but actually a tiny tree, will no doubt enjoy Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli. Monsters love to gobble cars and boulders and especially trees!

Many moms are familiar with the tricks to sneak an extra helping of veggies onto junior's dinner plate by hiding it in other foods - like maccaroni and cheese with peas - but any deft picky eater also knows how to eat around the peas. There are some great, healthy, kid-friendly recipes to try though in The Little Pigs' First Cookbook. Not only is a recipe book with food easy for little hands to help prepare - it's also a story book - taking readers through breakfast, lunch and dinner with the culinary pig brothers. Unfortunately, the Little Pigs are out of print, but there are used copies available on Amazon, and there's a good chance your locally library system will have at least one copy available to loan as well.

And now the Library Lady, herself a reformed picky eater, must go make her own dinner. Bon appetite!