Lately at the Library ~ Pirates, The Circus, and a Salamander

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   Life is all about timing.  And often times, we go to the library or the bookstore and an otherwise amazing book doesn't get the attention it deserves because there is one burning so bright in my daughters' eyes that no other can compete.  These are a few that fell through the cracks this time, but are good enough to be re-introduced later!

   I've heard of How I Became a Pirate, by Melinda Long and illustrated by David Shannon, before and was so excited when I saw it on the shelf at the library!  I still know so little about all the popular children's books.  When I start to see ones I recognize, or some I've been wanting to read, I feel like I'm headed in the right direction!  It's an adventurous book about a boy who becomes a real pirate after one of their ships rows to shore while he is at the beach with his family.  Being a pirate is great- no responsibilities, no vegetables, no bedtime- until he realizes no one is there to read him stories before bed or to comfort him amidst a frightening storm.  The comradery between the pirates is great, there is a really funny part where a shark eats a soccer ball, and the boy lucks out at the end when his backyard becomes the best place to bury the treasure for safe keeping.  For great pirate books, crafts, and activities click here and here, or even here for some great pirate songs!  (Ages 4-8)

   Despite my issues with animal circuses (in light of all the horrific vidoes about Ringling Bros. ), I was drawn to  David Gordon's illustrations on the cover of To the Big Top, written by Jill Esbaum.  This is a nostalgic book about circuses in the early 1900s that would come to town at the first light of day and set up before they parade through the town square at 11am, then perform a show at 1pm only to pack up and head to the next town by dark.  The story centers around two boys who help the circus set up and are each rewarded with a whole nickel and a free circus ticket.  There are some great lessons about the value of a dollar nickel and the value of friendship.  Between the old school phrases like, "man alive," and "what in tarnation?", and a naughty monkey, this is a good one!  Click here for some great circus songs and games!  (Ages 5-9)

   Thanks to Salamander Rock, my girls are already familiar with the little creatures and were interested in The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer and illustrated by Steve Johnson!  It is a very imaginative story about a boy who finds a salamander in the forest and decides to bring him home.  His mother begins to test his capabilities as a salamander's daddy by asking, "Where will he sleep?"  What starts out as a makeshift bed/drawer full of leaves in his nightstand becomes a full-on forest complete with tree stumps, bullfrogs, ponds, and crickets that has taken over his room to accompany the salamander.  At the end, even though he has no roof and an owl is living in his room among many other critters, he feels satisfied in that he answered all of his mom's tough questions and surely his solutions will result in a her stamp of approval.  I love that he falls asleep with the salamander by his side in his room/forest instead of settling on a stuffed animal or letting him go.  Let the kid enjoy his imagination for a minute!  (Ages 4-6)

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