Tuesday, March 10, 2009


TEACHER TUESDAY'S TALES FOR TOTS by Professor Bingo will periodically feature reviews of children's books. As a veteran Reading teacher, these are books I have read and reviewed, and you may like for your children!
Here are this week's listings from "Professor" Bingo!

by Author, Sam McBratney, and Illustrated by Anita Jeram

Ages: 3-8

One of the most treasured childhood stories that has meant so much to so many children around the world is Sam McBratney’s GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU? It is a perfect book to read at bedtime, even to very young children. If your child also happens to like bunnies, as most children do, then they will love this even more. The illustrations by Anita Jeram are lovely and look like gentle watercolor paintings.

The story itself is very touching as Little Nutbrown Hare tries to express to Big Nutbrown Hare how much he loves him. But every time Little Nutbrown Hare states an example, Big Nutbrown Hare can top it. In a way, it almost becomes competitive but it is such a gentle tale that I can’t imagine any little one taking it that way. It is the kind of heartwarming bedtime story your child will want to hear over and over again. If you are able to get the special issue with the animated story time DVD that is included, your child will enjoy that as well. However, do remember that nothing can replace a parent reading a good, loving story like this one to their child, especially at bedtime! When Big Nutbrown Hare says at the end “I love you right up to the moon and back”, that’s time for the goodnight kiss and a peaceful night for your little one!

Submitted originally to Curled Up With a Good Book, by Karen Haney

AGES: 9-12

When you hear the name Spinelli in relation to children’s literature, it instantly grabs your attention. However, Eileen Spinelli, author of the delightful Summerhouse Time, is the wife of the famous award winning author, Jerry Spinelli, of Maniac McGee fame. But obviously the great writing technique must be abundant in the Spinelli home as Mrs. Spinelli gives us a book that is a delight for children just learning to read chapter books. The style of writing in almost a diary like format, gives the young reader much confidence, as well as fun, as they can read though the “chapters” so quickly!

Summerhouse Time is a story about Sophie who like most children that are 11 years old, can’t wait for summer vacation. In the case of Sophie, she is anxious for her family to go on their yearly trip to the Jersey shore and spend the warm, fun summer days in the rented pink cottage with some of their other family members including her older cousin Colleen. Sophie adores Colleen as she looks up to her and likes to emulate her cousin. The trip as Sophie puts it is “better than Christmas”.

With Sophie’s best friend, Katie Johnson gone to spend the summer with her dad, Sophie is even more eager for August to come so she and her family can leave for New Jersey. One wrinkle in Sophie’s waiting for the best part of the year, is the “new boy” on the block with the wonderful laugh and beagle puppy named Dakota. Sophie arranges to “accidentally” meet this boy when he helps her climb down from a tree she is up, supposedly looking for her cat, Orange. Sophie is quite interested in Jimmy Gabbiano to say the least. Sophie goes so far as to try and learn Italian because she decides it would impress him.

As summer moves on and a friendship grows between Sophie and Jimmy (a friendship that imagines might become more as she daydreams about him wanting to kiss her), Sophie realizes she will miss Jimmy and can’t wait to be able to introduce him to Katie when they all are back home before school starts. Sophie talks Jimmy into writing letters to keep in touch while she is gone. She doesn’t think he is that keen about it but when her mom hands her a package left on the porch the afternoon before they leave, Sophie changes her mind. Jimmy has left her a silver necklace with a tiny silver spider on it. Jimmy has a great interest in spiders so this is symbolic to Sophie and the note attached wishes her a great time on her holiday!

When Sophie and her family arrive at the pink house on the New Jersey shore, she runs to greet her idol, cousin Colleen, who is a bit standoffish to say the least. Colleen even says she is getting her own room this summer. When Sophie questions her aunt about why Colleen is mad, she is told the Colleen is “mad at the world”. And so, Sophie begrudgingly rooms with Tammy, her 5-year-old cousin who calls her “Soapy”. Sophie doesn’t realize that to Tammy, she is the idol, just as Colleen is, or was, to Sophie.

The rest of August is spent filled with everything from scary stories around the fire to worrying about Sophie’s dad and his health. But most of all, the Summerhouse time is different this year, very different! Letters written to Jimmy that seem like they will never be answered and the sudden disappearance of Sophie’s beloved cat, Orange, seem to be the straw that breaks poor Sophie’s heart.

Can Sophie really teach Tammy to swim and if so, why should she? Does Sophie begin to realize that Tammy looks up to her, like Sophie used to look at Colleen? Does the “secret” of the “bad thing” Colleen has done tear them apart or help to bring them closer as before?

How the summer vacation winds down and how these questions and more are answered make for a delightful fun and easy read. Summerhouse Time is a great book for beginning chapter readers. Characters are real and situations are ones that children can learn from and enjoy at the same time. Overall, the fact that Sophie comes to realize that this vacation is all about family and how important they are to her, is the glue that holds this story together.

© Karen D. Haney, 2008 for Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love "Guess How Much I Love You" - it's a great book! And who doesn't like bunnies? (unless of course you have a garden...)

Padfoot and Prongs - Good Books Inc. said...

Wow can we just talk about how many times I made my mom read me 'Guess how much I love you' when I was young? (Along with about 50 other books) I am sure she had it memorized. Great pick. Love to see the childrens book reviews. I have 4 giant boxes sitting in my basement of my old favorite kids books that is just waiting for my own kid....or my sisters haha.

Bingo said...

Thank you so much. I almost stop doing my Professor Bingo on Tuesday kids' books but then as a parent (OK, he is 30 and we are waiting for grandkids) and a 37 year Reading teacher, I like to do the kids' books! Hope you will check back as I want to try and make it each Tuesday if possible! And I have a kids/YA book giveaway coming up! lol

kalea_kane said...

Oh how fun! My son and I play a game like that. We have done that since he was little, and even now at 14 we guess how much we love each other. :)

kim said...

I gave my 12 year old daughter an iPod for Christmas, what was engraved on it: "To the moon and back"

Ladytink_534 said...

I think I remember reading Guess How Much I Love You as a kid but I could be confusing it with something else.

Bingo said...

Most of us read it or one quite similar so I wouldn't be surprised if you did indeed remember this dear story!