Category Archives: Preschool

A Sleepover at Grandma’s: A Review of ‘The Napping House’

“A house needs a grandma in it.” – Louisa May Alcott

Reading Level

AR 2.8 (0.5 points)

Interest Level

K-3

Review and Comments

A sleepover at Grandma’s house is a very special occasion. The Napping House describes one of those memorable yet somewhat unusual nights with Grandma. 

Expressive, large illustrations show Grandma asleep in a very comfy bed. Soon everyone else in the house wants to join her.  First, a child snuggles up to Grandma. Then, a dog, a cat, a mouse, and finally a flea pile on top. Each page shows the characters in different sleeping positions and it seems that everyone is comfortable and having a restful night. That doesn’t last long, however, because the flea suddenly bites the mouse.  Each character in turn is disturbed until no one is napping, not even Grandma.  Even though there is considerable confusion, the boy and Grandma smile and seem to actually enjoy the whole experience. What a fun Grandma!

This story is a great read aloud book because of the repetition, similar to the style of The House that Jack Built.  Young readers will also have great success with the repeating phrases and enjoy the imaginative illustrations.

Possible Concerns

There are no concerns with this book.

Further Discussion

Art: Make stick puppet of:  Grandma, child, dog, cat, house, and flea.  Retell the story using the puppets or act out the story using the puppets as it is read aloud.

Questions:

Why do you think everyone wanted to sleep with Grandma?

Why did the flea bite the mouse?

What did Grandma and the boy say when everything calmed down?

Do you think Grandma will let all the characters sleep with her again?

 Awards for this book: Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text

Catholic Resources

  • Saint Anne is the patron saint of grandmothers.  Her feast day is July 26.
  • Check out the Catholic Grandparents Association whose main goal is “to help Grandparents pass on the faith and keep prayer in the heart of family life.”

 

Augusta: A Review of ‘The Queen and the Cats: A Story of Saint Helen’

“What we can learn from Helena is something about the workings of God, that He wants a different thing from each of us, laborious or easy, conspicuous or quite private, but something which only we can do and for which we were each created.” – Evelyn Waugh

Reading/Interest Level

Ages 3-7

Grades P-K – 5

Review and Comments

Queen Helena arrives on the island of Cyprus, and everyone is excited to get a glimpse of “the queen, the royal empress of the whole world.”  A small, young girl is able to get very close to the Queen and the very first thing she witnesses is the Queen’s anger.  Helena exclaims that she is bringing precious relics to be displayed in the churches for the faithful, but now she finds out that the churches are unsafe for the people because of poisonous snakes!  This is not acceptable. 

Then, Helena reverently presents a small piece of the cross “where our Lord died and defeated death” for everyone to see and again inquires if there is even one church in all of Cyprus where the people can safely venerate the Lord’s cross.  Finally, a solution to the problem is accomplished for one special service.  The snakes are “held at bay by sticks dipped in oil and lit on fire.” The queen continues to agonize over the very serious snake crisis. Continue reading Augusta: A Review of ‘The Queen and the Cats: A Story of Saint Helen’

Unique Preferences: A Review of ‘Seven Silly Eaters’

“Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” – Julia Child

 “Your every act should be done with love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:14

Reading Level

Grades Pre-K–3

Possible Concerns

There are no concerns with this book.

Review and Comments

Mr. and Mrs. Peters are the proud parents of seven beautiful children who are perfect in every way except they are all extremely picky when it comes to what they will eat.  Each of the children eats only one particular, favorite food, and their mother happily accommodates their silly eating habits.  After all, she loves them for who they are – charming, never cross, and perfect.  She is also pleased they all have healthy appetites.  However, by the time the sixth and seventh children are born, she isn’t calling their menu demands “silly” anymore.  She identifies them as “persnickety.”  Mother works diligently to keep up with their ever increasing appetites.  She is tired! Continue reading Unique Preferences: A Review of ‘Seven Silly Eaters’

Just Suppose: A Review of ‘Is a Worry Worrying You’

“Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

Reading/Interest Level

Picture book – Ages 4-7

Review and Comments

Sometimes a child’s small worry can quickly become an upsetting situation. This book addresses these concerns by defining exactly what a worry is and then continues to describe it in different ways as the story progresses – it’s real, it can cause sadness, it can be scary sometimes, and it can stay as long as you let it.

Examples of worrisome problems are illustrated with each fanciful image beginning with ”Suppose….”.  The event escalates from something silly like “Suppose, just suppose, one hundred elephants come to tea….” to a quick solution that is meant to acknowledge the worry and calm the situation.  These instructions will help a child realize that big worries can be handled with patience and practical ideas.  At the end of the book, helpful approaches are suggested so the worries don’t escalate into those 100 elephants coming for tea!

Continue reading Just Suppose: A Review of ‘Is a Worry Worrying You’

Learning to Be Generous: A Review of ‘If you Plant a Seed’

“For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi

“Acts of generosity are a source of blessing to the giver as well as the receiver.” – St. John Chrysostom

Reading level

Pre-K – Grade 2

Review and Comments

If You Plant a Seed is a wonderful book that will inspire young children. The story expresses how deliberate selfishness and then small acts of kindness can transform into either negative or positive events. The absolutely beautiful illustrations visually capture the imagination and perfectly enhance this story of few words.

It all begins when a rabbit and mouse plant a variety of vegetable seeds in a garden.  While they wait for the seeds to grow, the reader can inspect and enjoy the illustrations of time passing. Finally, the plants are perfectly delicious looking, and the pleasure of the two friends is obvious.  In the midst of the mouse and rabbit enjoying their garden meal, a few bird friends are watching…. hungrily staring actually. It is very obvious they want some of the garden bounty also. 

Continue reading Learning to Be Generous: A Review of ‘If you Plant a Seed’

Fun at the Beach: A Review of ‘Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea’

“Come to the beach, where the sea is blue, and little white waves come running at you. A wave comes splashing, over your toes. You just stand still, and away it goes. We’ll build a castle down by the sea, and look for shells if you’ll come with me.”  – Anonymous

Reading Level

Grades 2-3

AR 2.5 (0.5 points)

Interest Level

Pre-K-2

Possible Concerns

There are no concerns with this book.

Review and Comments

Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea is the sixth book in a series of twenty-eight beginning chapter books for emerging readers.   In this particular episode, Henry, his dad, and his pet dog, Mudge, spend a fun filled day the beach. 

“The ocean was waiting.  It was blue and white and forever.”

When they finally arrive they immediately run for the water.  Henry and Dad are very brave playing in the big waves, but Mudge isn’t quite so sure about the surf.  He prefers the beach and a nice snooze in the sand.   Besides the water fun, Dad and Henry build a sand castle and eat hot dogs and snow cones. There is a bit of excitement when a large, unexpected wave covers the castle and loyal Mudge bravely rescues Dad’s favorite red lobster. Their day ends with a pleasant walk on the beach.  It is definitely a father-son-dog day to remember.

Continue reading Fun at the Beach: A Review of ‘Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea’

A PROACTIVE PLAN: A REVIEW OF ‘GOOD PICTURES BAD PICTURES JR.’

“God desires from you the least degree of purity of conscience more than all the works you can perform.”
–St. John of the Cross

Interest Level

3-6 years

Review and Comments

Reviewing Good Pictures Bad Pictures was challenging because of the subject matter.  The message is meant to introduce children to a “safe and healthy media experience.”  I feel the book handles this very serious topic with simple honesty and an effective, valuable plan. We want our children to be safe especially in today’s world, but this grandma’s heart is ever so sad and troubled that very young children must be armed against such an evil reality.

Continue reading A PROACTIVE PLAN: A REVIEW OF ‘GOOD PICTURES BAD PICTURES JR.’

TREASURED MEMORIES: A REVIEW OF ‘NANA UPSTAIRS AND NANA DOWNSTAIRS’

“You have taught me, O God, from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds. And now that I am old and grey, O God, forsake me not, till I proclaim your strength to every generation that is to come.” – Psalm 71:17-18

Reading Level

3.4 AR [0.5 points]

Grade 3

Interest Level

Pre-K – Grade 2

Review and Comments

Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs is a true story based on Tomie dePaola’s early life.  His close relationship with his grandmothers is very touching.  Besides the obvious love Tommy has for his grandmothers, he also experiences the sad reality of grief from their deaths, which may be difficult for sensitive children.  During his healing however, he begins to understand that the love of his grandmothers is never lost or forgotten.  It will always be a cherished memory in his heart. 

Continue reading TREASURED MEMORIES: A REVIEW OF ‘NANA UPSTAIRS AND NANA DOWNSTAIRS’

40 Books for the Forty Days of Lent

Lent is not my favorite season. There. I said it out loud. It’s a rough one for me, but I’m making a serious effort NOT to pass my ‘bad attitude’ towards this holy time down to my children.

I’ve looked for ways to teach my young kids about their relationship with God and helping others and making sacrifices during the Lenten season. Each year I work to try new things and see what works and what doesn’t. (Let’s be real, there’s been a lot that hasn’t worked!) Last year we did the Jesus Tree from Nancy over at Catholic Sprouts. My kids LOVED it! (You can buy it here.) So we are planning to do it again this year. And I have a few new ideas up my sleeve. (Backyard stations of the cross? We shall see!)

But as you all know, I love books. There’s no better way to teach kids than by curling up with them to read a book. Most holidays and seasons are FULL of book lists, but Lent is one that doesn’t have quite so many options.

This is why I’ve put this list together! Consider it my Lenten offering to you. I’ve tried to give as many options as possible. One for each day of Lent if necessary! This list is full of prayer books, reflection books, beautiful picture books, religious stories retold, Catholic fiction stories, stories of sacrifice, and stories of giving to others.

So, this Lent, find some books that might work for you and your family and have blessed, beautiful, and holy Lent!

Click on the picture for the affiliate link.

Books of Prayer/Reflection for Children

Continue reading 40 Books for the Forty Days of Lent

Only the Truth: A Review of ‘The Empty Pot’

 “To be honest as this world goes is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.” —William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Reading Level

AR 3.8 [0.5 points]

3.0-3.9 ATOS Book Level [ATOS readability formula represents the difficulty of the text]

Interest Level

Pre-K – Grade 5

Review and Comments

The Empty Pot is an inspirational Chinese folk tale about honesty and honor, bravely demonstrated by a little boy named Ping.

The Emperor is getting older and realizes he must find someone to take his place – someone who will be an honorable leader.  Since he has no children, he looks to all the children in his kingdom to find that one exceptional child.  His plan will surely reveal someone who is worthy.  He invites all the children of his kingdom to his palace and gives each child flower seeds to plant and nurture for the next year.  Then, they are to return and present their best flowers to the Emperor, and he will make his decision. Continue reading Only the Truth: A Review of ‘The Empty Pot’