Friday, January 10, 2014

Review #125: Charlotte's Web

The 3rd Annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is coming soon!  We attended the screening in Chicago last year and it was tons of fun!  Don't know what the 90-Second Newbery is?  I'll put some links at the bottom of this post.  But in the meantime...

For our entry this year, we decided to tackle one of the most highly favored novels in Children's Literature.  Charlotte's Web won a Newbery Honor in 1952.  Ten years later, Spider-Man made his first appearance.  Hey... why not bring the two legendary spiders together?  Why not re-imagine the "Charlotte" characters as costumed heroes and villains in the opening credits of an imaginary tv show?  Okay!  Let's do it!  

We're proud to present our Charlotte's Web / Spider-Man / Mashup:

And for an actual 'review' of the book, here are the lyrics to our song:

Charlotte’s web, Charlotte’s web
Making miracles with her thread
She spins a web that brings surprise
With her words she saves lives
Look Out!
Here comes Charlotte’s web

See that pig in the mud?
He will faint at the thought of blood
Will our Wilbur soon be dead?
Just take a look overhead
See there:
There’s hope in Charlotte’s web

From the farm to the fair
Meeting animals everywhere
He could get eaten any day
Danger’s never far away
That’s why
He needs Charlotte’s web

In the chill of night
With her own special twine
She in secret writes
To save the life of a swine

Charlotte’s web
, Charlotte’s web
Friendly, generous, lots of legs
The pig gets fame
While she’s ignored
Making friends is her reward

So pigs, whenever you are shakin’
She’ll come and save your bacon
Look out for Charlotte’s web!

To see all four of our own Newbery Videos, click here...
To learn more about the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, click here...
To see the best of the 90-Second Newbery videos, click here...

Author: E.B. White
Illustrator: Garth Williams
Published, 1952: HarperCollins
Want the book?  Here it is


Monday, May 6, 2013

Review #124: "I Love Ewe" and "Hug a Bull"

Dad:  Today we’re celebrating two new books:  “I Love Ewe” and “Hug a Bull”!
Elijah (age 7):  I want to tell everyone something.  These books are written by my dad.
Dad:  Does that seem strange?
Gracie (age 12):  It seems normal to me.
Elijah:  Lots of dads make books.
Dad:  They do?
Gracie:  These books would be good for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Dad:  Thanks, “Marketing Department!”
Gracie:  You’re welcome.
Isaac (age 14):  These are also “learning books.”
Elijah:  They are about Daddy and Mommy animals.  The books tell you their names.
Dad:  So, animal moms and dads have names.
Elijah:  Of course they have names!
Dad:  Names like “Mac” and “Thorin” and “Darleen”?
Elijah:  No those are just the names of my fish.  My fish that died. 
Dad:  You’ve had a lot of fish that have died.
Elijah:  Yeah.  Also my fish Bob.  And Bob 2.  And Bob 3.  And Burp.
Dad:  So what kind of names are in these books then?
Lily (age 10):  I know!  I know!  Boy and girl names.  They teach you lots of animal names you never knew before.  And some of them are fun to say – like “Gobbler.”  And “Peahen.”
Dad:  Let’s all say “Peahen” together.
Elijah:  And a mommy octopus is called a “Hen.”
Gracie:  The little baby octopus on this page is the cutest little thing ever!  He’s adorable.  And I’m falling in love with that little crab.  I love all the little underwater babies!
Lily:  I know another name!  Guess what a mommy cow is called?  A Rhino!  Wait – I mean a mommy rhino is called a Cow.
Dad:  Yeah – it doesn’t work in reverse.
Lily:  Hee hee hee!  A mommy cow is just called a Cow.
Dad:  Simple and confusing at the same time.
Isaac:  Is a girl goat called a “Hootin’ Nanny” or just a “Nanny”?
Dad:  Nanny. 
Isaac:  Because “Hootin’ Nanny” sounds awesome!
Dad:  Well, a hootenanny is like a southern… music… party… thing.  See, I made it into a pun for the book.  There's lots of puns and wordplay.
Gracie:  I hate puns.
Dad:  Oh!  A glowing endorsement for these books!
Gracie:  I do like the puns in these.  I only hate annoying puns.  Like when they are on Valentines cards.
Lily:  I just made up a rhyme: “The Mayor of Horse / is the Mare of course.”
Gracie:  Dad, you had to draw a horse for this book.  You hate drawing horses.  Which do you hate more?  Drawing horses or cows?
Dad:  Cows.
Gracie:  And you had to draw cows twice.  For the Ewe book and the Bull book.
Dad:  I had to do both of them twice.  A cow and a horse for each book.
Gracie:  Actually even more!  Parent cows and baby cows for both books.
Dad:  Four of each.  Wait – and then there are cows on the cover too.  And in the charts in back.  And on the title page.  Even more!
Gracie:  Poor Daddy.
Dad:  Six horses and nine cows all together.
Gracie:  Nine cows!!!
Lily:  I like drawing horses and cows.
Dad:  Well, I’ll have you do it next time!  I paid my horsie due.
Gracie:  Horsie doo?  That sounds disgusting.
Elijah:  I never noticed that it’s called “Hug a Bull” and there’s a Bull on the cover!
Lily:  You just thought it was because cows are huggable?
Elijah:  They hug and snuggle.
Dad:  How do you think cows hug each other?
Gracie:  They just rub together awkwardly.
Dad:  I had wanted to put an elephant Bull on the cover because it could hug with its trunk.  I think cows might just stab each other with their hoofs if they tried.
Lily:  Ouch.
Dad:  I almost put a turkey on the cover and called the book “Wobbly Gobbler.”  That’s what I originally wanted to do first.
Gracie:  That would not have been as good as “Hug a Bull.”
Dad:  But it’s so fun to say!  Imagine… “Here’s my book, “Wobbly Gobbler.”
Gracie:  It does match the title of your “Chuckling Ducklings” book better. 
Lily:  (flipping through the pages)  Kangaroos!  Boinggie – boinggie!  They are so cute!
Gracie:  Oh my word!  I love the little possums.  Every time I see your tiny animals, my heart melts into little possum puddles. 
Lily:  And this page has a baby mole!  We actually saw a little tiny mole once.  He was so cute!  Even though he was dead.  Remember when you ran over one with the car in the driveway?
Gracie:  The little donkey baby is adorable.
Lily:  He’s got Elijah-hair!
Gracie:  He does!  He does!  You made the donkeys look like Elijah!  The little donkeys have his hair and the same expression he gets all the time.
Elijah:  “Ee-honk!  Ee-honk!”
Gracie:  That is NOT a donkey noise!  I don’t know what that was.
Lily:  It’s more like a squeaky rocking chair.
Dad:  So now I’ve done a book about Baby animals, one about Moms, one about Dads…
Elijah:  Next you have to do Grandmas!
Dad:  I’m sure there’s a big list of grandma animal names out there.
Kids:  Ha ha ha!
Dad:  Well, thanks for the review, guys!
Lily:  (Starts rapping) 
  Pssh -- pssh -- pssh…
  This is a book
  Which is about
  Lots of fuzzy animals
  And they love to shout!
  It tells all the names
  In poems and rhymes
  And I love to read them
  All of the time!
Dad:  Word.
Lily:  It’s about Dads and Moms and such
  And barely any of them…. are… Dutch!
Kids:  Hah ha ha hah…
Dad:  How about:  Cows can’t hug
  But their heads can touch!
Gracie:  Yeah!

"Ee-honk!" by Elijah
 bull and calf, by Isaac

vixen, kit, and tod; by Gracie

vote Mare for Mayor, by Lily

Author/Illustrator:  Aaron Zenz
Published, 2013: Walker Books
Like them?  Here they are!

This week, some wonderful blogs have highlighted "I Love Ewe" and "Hug a Bull."  I'm so very thankful!  I invite you to stop by and leave these folks some thoughtful comments:

Mon May 6:  Bookie Woogie
Tue May 7:  Reading to Know
Wed May 8:  Playing by the Book
Thu May 9:  Sharpread 
Fri May 10: City Book: Hug
and Ewe
Sat May 11:  From the Mixed-up Files

Also very cool news!  "I Love Ewe" and "Hug a Bull" were featured on my favorite NPR program "A Way With Words"!"  You can listen to it below..."  Just click the 'forward' button once to skip past the episode's promo:

And now time for a Giveaway!  Thanks for your support over the years!  Just leave a comment on this post and you'll be entered to win one of three prizes:

Prize Pack #1:  signed copies of "Hug a Bull" & "I Love Ewe" + three other books I've authored/illustrated: The Chimpanseeze, The Hiccupotamus (new in boardbook!), and Chuckling Ducklings (new in boardbook!)

Prize Pack #2:  signed copies of "Hug a Bull" & "I Love Ewe" + three other books I've illustrated:  Nugget on the Flight Deck, Skeleton Meets the Mummy, and Five Little Puppies Jumping on the Bed

Prize Pack #3:  signed copies of "Hug a Bull" & "I Love Ewe" + an original piece of artwork - crafted specially for you - depicting the animal of your choosing!  for example:

To be entered, just leave a comment here!  
The Giveaway will run through the end of the month, May 31, when we'll randomly select three winners.  Best of luck!