Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Our Granny by Margaret Wild

This book is a celebration of Grandmother's who come in all shapes, sizes, and colours. A little boy and girl talk about all of the wonderful things that different Grannies can do, but they put special emphasis on their Granny. The young narrators of the story tell us that some Grannies drive trucks, go to t'ai chi, have friends, wear silky dresses, and make sick people well. It's a wonderful exploration of diversity and perceptions of what "Grannies" like and can do. This is a wonderful book for a preschooler and really emphasizes the importance of family relationships, no matter what your Granny is like. The illustrations were done by Julie Vivas (someone I really admire) and are absolutely beautiful. The Grannies have a wonderful depth, dimension, and simply ooze love and kindness.

Thump, Quack, Moo by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

For preschooler and young school aged children this is another hilarious addition to the series about Framer Brown and his insubordinate animals. Farmer Brown has decided to make a corn maze shaped like the Statue of Liberty. He enlists all of the animals to help with the farm chores, but of course Duck has other plans. As Farmer Brown clips and trims his corn maze, Duck makes some minor adjustments to the Farmer's drawings and does some clipping and trimming of his own. When the big day finally comes Farmer Brown and Duck climb into a hot air balloon so they can see this corn maze masterpiece. When they finally look down into the corn field Farmer Brown is astounded by the unexpected change that Duck has made to the maze. Duck is as usual, a little sneaky and very funny, but my favourite part of the book is the mice who are taking a correspondence course on meteorology! This is just a laugh out loud book for children and adults alike!

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

This is perhaps one of the most tender children's book that I have ever read. It's best for preschoolers and early school-aged children but I think that every child (and parent) will appreciate the sentiment that it expresses. Chester Raccoon does not want to start school, he wants to stay at home with his Mummy and play with his toys and friends, read his books, and swing on his swing. But Mrs. Raccoon tells him that sometimes we all have to do things we don't want to do and that he's going to like his new school. She then tells him about the secret of the Kissing Hand. She takes his little hand, spreads his fingers wide apart, and kisses his palm. She then tells him that whenever he is scared or sad all he has to do is hold his hand to his cheek and think "Mummy loves you". So Chester goes to his new school knowing that his Mother's love will always go with him. When he gets home from school that night he gives his Mother a kissing hand so she will always know how much he loves her.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Peeks the Clown by Discovery Toys

This is from the archives of Discovery Toys but it's a little Jack-In-The-Box that many of my younger clients have really enjoyed. Peeks is made of soft fabric with some kind of loose spring inside of his body so you can push him down into the box, close the lid, and he'll still gently pop out when the large yellow button is pushed. When you push Peeks down, he emits a little squeak that many children demonstrate a real curiosity about. Additionally you can completely remove Peeks from the box and play with him like a stuffed toy or doll. Strengths: He is a "kinder and gentler" Jack-In-The-Box than many of the more traditional models. Also he is easy to activate. There is no handle to turn just a nice big button to push. This is a nice type of "first" Jack -in-the-Box for young children who don't enjoy the big popping action of a more traditional pop-up box. Weaknesses: I'm not sure if Peeks is available any longer through Discovery Toys. I've had mine for years so it wouldn't surprise me if they no longer carried the toy. Some times Peeks get stuck in the box so the pop-up action can be a bit delayed, which some children find extremely frustrating.

Jingle the Activity Giraffe by Tolo

This is cuddly, multi-coloured toy that is a big hit with young infants, older infants, and even some young toddlers. Jingle has it all - a little mirror on his side, a pull and vibrate tail, a built in rattle, and soft, silky tags that run don the length of his neck. The outer shell of the toy consists of different textures of material, so Jingle really allows children to explore in multi-modality manner. The children I work with like to hug Jingle, feed him beans, and pretend to put him to bed. He's a good size and weight got young children to manipulate, and his body is so soft there no chance to get an accidental bump or bruise. Strengths: He's portable and won't take up a lot of room in a diaper bag or suitcase. His tail is easy to pull, so it's not all that hard to activate the motion feature of the toy. Weaknesses: Because Jingle is a plush toy you can only gently spot clean his outer shell.