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Monday Book Review: The Fabulous Bouncing Chowder, Little Red Riding Hood & The Construction Alphabet Book

November 24th, 2008

Helloooooooooooooo, Book Lovers!

You know I’m happiest when I’m reading books or writing about books or checking books out to kids or buying books for my own kids. Or checking books out for my own kids. Or, alternately, checking books out for myself. Or buying myself cookbooks and then not cooking anything from them.

In fact my husband, who for the purpose of this review I will call “Steve,” told me I could not buy any more cookbooks until I actually started cooking again.

Hmmm. Rather harsh, no? So I cooked all weekend. That showed him. I made the Texas Burger Jamboree Feast, followed by the Five-Ingredient Tortellini Feast (same post), and I even made salad. And Lemon-Poppyseed Muffins with Crunchy Granola Topping. (Recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker.)

So take that, Hockey God.

Then he countered with this yummy casserole — corn tortillas, beans and monterey jack cheese, sauced with rojo and verde, topped with cilantro, green onions and cotija cheese. And homemade guacamole.

Damn. We ate. Then I read some cookbooks I had checked out from the library. Now, on to children’s literature.

I know that some of you believe in purchasing video games, movies, bon-bons, American Girl dolls & accessories and other goodies for the various urchins in your lives, over the holidays.

May I suggest books, instead?

(Unless you’re purchasing items for my children, in which case, please don’t. We’re fine. Really. Their mama is a librarian. Also I receive loads of books for review. I love my jobs. How’s about you donate to your local food bank or Meals on Wheels instead?) (Yes, my children are thrilled by this, thanks! I’ll have them write you a thank you note.)

First up: Jerry Pallotta’s “The Construction Alphabet Book.” (Charlesbridge, 2006.) (And not just because he dedicated it to “Cynthia Baker, a cool librarian from Wetmore Elementary. Although he does get bonus points for that.) I love alphabet books, not just for their alliteration and their clever use of graphics and art, but because they make the alphabet come alive for kids. Especially when they have fine art, in this case by Rob Bolster.

“Aerial lifts sound like this: nun, nun, nun, nun, nun, nun, EEEK!”

Yes, they do.

“The Fabulous Bouncing Chowder,” by Peter Brown (Little, Brown & Company, $15.99, is pretty darn cute. Well, you know how much I love woofies, especially when they’re underdogs like Chowder.

“Chowder tried to make himself a bit more fabulous. But he needed a new plan.”

Check out Chowder’s website and Peter’s, too.

That brings us to Jerry Pinkney’s version of “Little Red Riding Hood.” (Little, Brown & Company, $16.99.) I love Pinkney’s work. He is one of my top five favorite illustrators. His books are vibrant, richly-hued, fanciful, and so, so, so nice. When I’m setting up my themes for the week at school, I try to throw in his books as much as I can.

The big kids: “There she goes with the picture books again.”
Me: “Look at this art! Could you do that? Maybe you could. Go try!”
The big kids: “Our librarian is kooky.”
The little kids: “I love her so much.”

Also, his wife, Gloria Jean Pinkney is an author, too, and long-time collaborator with her husband. Hi, Gloria! (Just kiddin’ — I don’t even know the girl.) They are a pretty talented family — sons Brian and Myles are also in the children’s book biz.

One more book, and this one makes me super happy: Mama Voted for Obama! Yes, she did.


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