Showing posts with label Winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winter. Show all posts

Friday, January 31, 2014

Are You Ready to Hibernate?

Read It. Move It. Share It. 
I'm so happy that dance educator Maria Hanley from Maria's Movers and I are renewing our collaboration in 2014. I'm not yet sure how often we'll be posting together, but when we do, we'll be sharing our experiences with picture books I recommend for Maria to use in her creative movement classes in New York. Our January book is Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows and Kurt Cyrus!


With so many parts of the country being pounded by snow and surrounded by cold this winter, hibernation is starting to sound like a really good idea! Hibernation Station, written by Michelle Meadows with illustrations by Kurt Cyrus, provides plenty of opportunities for little ones to explore the concept of hibernation and pretend to be animals gathering food and preparing for their own winter's naps.

I actually haven't read too many picture books about hibernation, but this one has a twist that I can't imagine has been done before. Instead of searching for places to hibernate outside, the animals in this book -- already dressed in their finest cold-weather pajamas -- all board a special "hibernation" train that will carry them through the forest during the winter months…

Fuzzy slippers, warm pajamas.
Forest babies and their mamas…
show up early to the station!
Time for winter hibernation.

According to the illustrations, but not mentioned in the text, each car of the train is made out of a log that is full of compartments for different types of animals -- squirrels, frogs, raccoons, skunks, and more. But before the animals get comfortable in their new winter homes, there are a few problems they must overcome...

"I cannot sleep!" a black bear roars.
"My roommate rolls around and snores!"
A groundhog cries, "This hole's too tight."
"It's dark in here. I need more light."

As the train rolls through the forest, the illustrations show the season changing from fall to winter. By the end of the book, the snow is really coming down! And, as you might have guessed, the animals do solve their problems and finally get some shut-eye.

In a nutshell, if you make a book full of perfect rhymes, cute furry animals in pajamas, and a train -- like this one -- then it's bound to put smiles on the faces of little ones. Let's see what Maria came up with in the dance studio to make those smiles even bigger! You can read her ideas here.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Follow the Leader with Fluff and Billy

Read It. Move It. Share It. 
Each month I recommend a picture book for dance educator Maria Hanley to use in her creative movement classes in New York, and then we both share our experiences with the book. Our February book was Fluff and Billy by Nicola Killen. When you're done reading about the book here on my blog, stop by Maria's Movers to see what kind of movement it can inspire!


When my girls were younger, they really liked to play follow the leader, and I sometimes used this to my advantage. At bedtime, I could usually get them to go upstairs for bed if I did some super silly moves going up our staircase and asked them to follow along.

Fluff and Billy, published a few months ago by Sterling Children's Books, is a book about friendship and overcoming disagreements. But what made me think it would be a great book for creative movement classes is that the text and illustrations also inspire a good game of follow the leader!

"I'm climbing up!" said Fluff.
"I'm climbing up!" said Billy. 

"I'm sliding down!" said Fluff. 
"I'm sliding down!" said Billy.

Fluff''s a little bigger than Billy, and he's the one who seems to be the leader. When he climbs and slides, Bill follows along. When he screams, swims, splashes, runs, and jumps, Billy follows along again. But, when Fluff decides to roll a snowball, Billy doesn't quite follow along. Billy decides to throw the snowball at Fluff, and it hits Fluff hard enough to knock him down.

Just like when young friends or siblings play together a lot of the time and then have a fight, Fluff and Billy don't talk to each other for a while -- or at least for a few spreads of the book! Eventually, though, they make up and the book ends on a happy note.

The illustrations of Fluff and Billy are darling, and I love the simplicity of the color palette that was used to create them -- shades of black and gray for their bodies and orangish red for their beaks and feet. The backgrounds on every page of the book are a mix of white, blue, and yellow. I love books that use unique fonts, and this book does that, too.

If you want to see a few of the spreads from the book, you can see them here on Nicola Killen's website. And if you're curious to see whether Maria played a game of follow the leader with her young students this month, I hope you'll check out her post here.

My girls are six and eight now, and I haven't tried follow the leader with them in a while. They are actually getting pretty good at going upstairs on their own and at least getting the bedtime process started. It might be fun to surprise them with another game of follow the leader up the staircase one of these days, though. And I might even have to follow it up with a reading of this delightful book!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Read & Romp Roundup -- November 2012

The last few weeks have been a little crazy for me, but I finally have the November Read & Romp Roundup ready to share with you. Lots of picture books with winter and holiday themes this month, so I hope you'll enjoy the post. And thanks, as always, to everyone who contributed. I couldn't do this without you!

With Nutcracker season in full swing, Zoe at Playing by the Book shares reviews of two Nutcracker books for children. First is Ella Bella Ballerina and the Nutcracker, which is part of a wonderful series of ballet-themed books by James Mayhew. Zoe also reviews E.T.A. Hoffmann's Nutcracker, which is illustrated by Maurice Sendak and was just re-released this year. Both are gorgeous books!

Over at Picture-Book-a-Day, Amy reviews the 1993 Caldecott-winning picture book Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully. As the title implies, one of the themes of the book is high wire walking. See Amy's post to learn more about the book and some activities to go along with it, including movement activities to practice balance.

Amy also reviews the picture book biography Monsieur Marceau by Leda Schubert and Gerard DuBois. Born in France in 1993, Marceau is known not only as a famous mime but also as a person who helped save the lives of many Jewish children during World War II. Amy talks more about this interesting man, provides links to videos of mimes, and suggests movement activities to go with the book.

Amy always has great descriptions and ideas to go along with the books she highlights on Picture-Book-a-Day, and her post on Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring is no exception. Read her post to learn more about this book on the collaboration among dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, composer Aaron Copeland, and set designer Isamu Noguchi. 

Angela at Omazing Kids is sharing multiple picture books on her blog this month, too! First up is her favorite moose book to use when she teaches yoga for kids -- Agate: What Good is a Moose? by Joy Morgan Dey and Nikki Johnson. Click here to read Angela's post, see images from the book, and find out which yoga poses they might inspire.

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the Grinch, right? For Angela at Omazing Kids, it seems that Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the Grinch AND yoga! Check out her blog post on How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, which includes yoga poses to go with the book, printable yoga cards, and links to other winter-themed posts on her blog.

Last but not least, Maria from Maria's Movers shares movement ideas to go along with the classic picture book The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Her imaginative post will give you plenty of ideas for allowing your little ones to experience the snow, whether or not there is actually snow where you live! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Last Chance for a Snow Day Dance?

Since yet another winter storm is brewing in parts of the United States, I'm guessing that someone, somewhere, is going to have a snow day tomorrow. I'm sure that many little boys and girls just went to bed wondering if they will be one of the lucky ones, able to spend tomorrow making snowmen and sledding down hills instead of going to gym class or practicing their math problems at school. I'm even going to go out on a limb and suggest that a few adults out there are probably wishing for the very same thing.

So, does anyone have an idea on how to increase our chances of a snow day tomorrow...apart, of course, from stealing all the salt from the salt trucks? If you have a good idea, I would love to know. But in case you can't think of one offhand, I know of a great picture book that may be able to help us out... 


Willow and the Snow Day Dance, written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and illustrated by Cyd Moore, was published earlier this year by Sleeping Bear Press, who was kind enough to send me a review copy--with the caveat that the type of dance in the book was probably "not quite the kind of dance you might be thinking about."

Willow is a kind, generous, and free-spirited little girl who was first introduced to readers in the picture book Willow (published in 2008). In Willow and the Snow Day Dance, Willow has just moved to a new neighborhood and is brimming with inventive ideas for engaging her new neighbors and sharing her positive outlook with everyone...even the neighborhood grouch. So when kind-hearted Willow writes a letter asking her neighbors to help make it snow, it is not surprising that she receives a reply...and one that involves dancing!

The Snow Day Dance
Before going to bed put your pajamas on inside out and backwards.
Tape a penny to your door or put a spoon under your pillow, whichever you prefer. 
Get up on your bed and do a dance. The sillier the better! 
Get your family to do it with you. The more people that participate, the better!

You'll have to read the book to see whether the snow day dance worked for Willow. Or, if you are still awake, you can try it out for yourself and see if you get to stay home from school or work tomorrow. Just don't forget to dance as sillily (yes, that's a real word--I just looked it up) as you can!
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