Arthur Goes to Camp

Cover art for Arthur goes to camp.Brown, Marc. Arthur Goes to Camp. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1982.

Here in central Texas, school is out and the hot weather is upon us.  We topped out at 100˚ today.  It is going to be a long hot summer!

Do you have children?  How will they spend their time this summer?  When my girls were young we were able to send them to camp a couple of times.  They went to Day camp, Girl Scout camp, and Band camp to name a few.  They enjoyed camp and were excited to go.

In this book, Arthur’s parents are sending him to Camp Meadowbrook to learn all about the outdoors.  He is not happy!  He does not want to go!  At the camp bus stop, he is even more unhappy.  His nemesis, Francine, and most of the other girls from his class are going to the same camp.  It doesn’t matter that his friend Buster is going, too. Things were going to be just like at school, girls against the boys.

The bus passes Camp Horsewater, Camp Meadowbrook’s adversary in the annual scavenger hunt.  The campers look impressive, perhaps that is why they always win. Arthur is not impressed. On the bus, before arriving at camp, he writes his first letter home.

Dear Mom and Dad, I am not at camp yet. I am very homesick and I miss you very much. Please write soon. Love, Arthur.

This lament reminds me of the old Allan Sherman song, Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah. Have a listen.  It is very funny and you can compare this boy’s experience to Arthur’s.

Hello Muddah, hello Faddah
Here I am at Camp Grenada
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining

This song sums up Arthur’s opinion and experience of camp. It is just as awful as he supposed.  The girls do everything right.  They are having a wonderful time.  The boys on the other hand are not.  Arthur’s counselor, Rocky is very strict and very athletic. He wants his boys to get in shape. If the pictures in the book are to be believed, he is a little frustrated by them. The boys find poison ivy.  The girls win all the contests.  The boys find frogs in their beds, and someone runs their underwear up the flag pole. This camp is not fun! What is a boy as miserable as Arthur to do?  On the day of the great scavenger hunt, he leaves camp and heads home.

At the end of Allan Sherman’s song, the young boy finds out that there are things to be excited about at camp.  Will Arthur make it the same discovery? Will he be miserable all summer? Who will win the scavenger hunt? What is going on at Camp Meadowbrook? You will have to read the book to find out.

Whether you are going to camp, on vacation, or just staying home, pick up a cool summer book and read!


There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat

An old lady is swallowing a bat.Colandro, Lucille. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat. Illustrated by Jared Lee. New York: Scholastic, 2005.

Last year a stroll through Barnes and Noble provided me with the wonderful Madeleine parody, Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody. This year a stroll through the book section at Target brought me this little jewel.  I had to have it for my book collection.

I loved the original story, I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.  It is fun, but a little creepy to sing, as it begins and ends with something unexpected.

First line: I know an old lady, who swallowed a fly. I don’t know why she swallowed a fly. I guess she’ll die.

Last line: I know an old lady, who swallowed a horse. She’s dead, of course!

If you need to reacquaint yourself with this little ditty, you can listen to Judy Collins sing it for Kermit the Frog on YouTube: It is fun, but a little gruesome.

This book caught my attention as it is a version of that rather gruesome story and it is illustrated by one of my favorites, Jared Lee.  I wondered, if this parody was a creepy as it base story.  It is after all, a Halloween story.  It is not quite as creepy, but just as eerily delightful.

There is no mystery here, you know how the book begins, “I know an old lady, who swallowed a bat! I don’t know why she swallowed a bat. Imagine that.” Before I opened the book past the first page, I speculated on what she might have swallowed to catch that bat.  Here’s my next line.

I know an old lady, who swallowed a cat. Imagine that to swallow a cat.  She swallowed the cat to catch the bat that flitted and darted and flapped inside her. I don’t know why she swallowed the bat. Imagine that!

It is no wonder I am not a children’s book author.  Still speculation is fun.  In this case she swallowed an owl and the old lady began to howl.  The book goes on to rhyme through cat, ghost, goblin, bones, and wizard. It is a treat to see her eat her way through this silly book. Do you think it will end in her demise?  Pick up a copy and read and sing it to the next group of “Trick or Treaters” that come to your door.  Will they appreciate this silly trick before they get their treat? Listen to Judy’s version, drag out your guitar, and serenade your neighborhood friends with this interesting little ditty.

Possum Come a Knockin’

Possum knocking on a doorVan Laan, Nancy. Illustrated by George Booth.  Possum Come a Knockin’. New York: Trumpet Club, 1990.

Conversation around the lunch table this week, made me remember this book.  I have a friend, who lives near the edge of a small town.  Like many of us, who live on the fringe of town, she had a possum visit her yard.  She was worried that it might carry off one of her small dogs or they might try to eat it.  Her story made me think about this book and how I inadvertently tormented my niece and nephews with it.  It is a standard joke at our house.  As a matter of fact, my husband just wandered by and said, “Oh, Possum Come a Knockin!  Going to scare more, small children, are you?”

I first heard this book, when I was teaching in a private preschool.  We had an itinerant music teacher, Mr. David.  He read my students this book.  I understood why he chose it.  It had a wonderful cadence and rhythm. It was almost musical.  I recorded myself reading this book ( to give you a feel for it.  Here, also, is a link to a video of a teacher using this book in class:

I thought it was such a wonderful, musical type of book that for the next gifting occasion I figured it was perfect for my brother-in-law and his family.  He and his wife were both musicians so I thought they and their children would enjoy this book as much as I did.  Alas, I forgot that they too lived at the edge of town. While they didn’t have a possum come a knockin’, they did have a possum get under their house. It made a lot of  creepy scratching noises.   That possum terrified my niece and nephews and unfortunately so did this book! They didn’t think it was musical or rhythmic, they thought it was scary!

Hopefully, you won’t encounter any possums and you can enjoy the cadence written into this story.

Nancy Van Laan

While I was looking at information on this author, I found someone who described her books as good for reading aloud.  This book is terrific for reading aloud, I am not certain I could keep it to myself.   Here are a few fun facts about this author.

  • She read to pass the time on long trips.
  • She wrote and illustrated her own stories when she was young.
  • Her first love was ballet, but an injury ended her careers
  • She has been an English teacher in a private school, a creative writing teacher at Rutgers, and a network censor at ABC.
  • She has an MFA from Rutgers and has painted murals for schools and private clients
  • In 1989, she began to write full-time.

Five Little Ducks

fiveducksRaffi. Five Little Ducks. Illustrated by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey

Did you or your child have a favorite bath time toy? Today is a day given in celebration to that iconic bath toy, the rubber duck.  Happy National Rubber Ducky Day! This is the day in 1970 that Ernie’s friend, Rubber Duckie made its debut on Sesame Street. Don’t know, if it is video of Rubber Duckie’s debut, but here is a cute video of Ernie singing the Rubber Duckie song. My girls and I loved to sing this song. The song along with thoughts of that little yellow duckie made our day sunnier.

I am sad that don’t have a book about rubber duckies to share with you on this January day. I do however, have a book about ducks in song format.

Five Little Ducks, a Raffi Songs to Read book, is one of my favorites. It is an incredible experience to sing this book with young children. They sing it with much gusto and enthusiasm and movement. Can you make the Mama duck’s bill open and close with your hands while you sing “quack, quack, quack, quack”? A preschooler can! Where do those five little ducks go when they don’t come home to their Mama? Ask preschoolers this question. I am not certain you can prepare yourself adequately for their answers. Poor Mama Duck! Do you think she was worried? Yes, preschoolers think she was worried and if they don’t know the end of the story, they are worried as well. Spoiler Alert! Sad mother duck calls one more time and all five little ducks come back this time. Whew! A happy ending! Pick up a copy of this book and read it and sing it to a young child you know. If you aren’t sure of your own singing skills, you can always read along as Raffi and his audience sing this song:

Jose Aruego

Here is an illustrator that followed his passions. He was born in the Philippines in 1932. He was supposed to be a lawyer. He studied law and practices for a brief time before deciding to some to the United States to study graphic arts and advertising. He worked in advertising for a time before becoming a cartoonist for The Saturday Evening Post and The New Yorker¹.

He was a private person and I cannot find much information on this illustrator. Here is what he had to say about his work¹.

Each project teaches me something new and makes me a better artist. Each book brings me closer to children,” he said. “I have found from making appearances at schools that when kids draw for themselves, most of them like to make funny pictures. So I show them how to draw an alligator. It’s a simple drawing and the teachers tell me that after my visit, Aruego alligators show up all over the school.


2016: A Year in Review

collage1_2016Happy New Year! I am starting 2017 with a review of books from 2016. Here is the consolidated list (libraryrecap).

I have enjoyed writing this blog. I began writing to explain to my new nephew, why I chose the books he received as a birth gift. My family encouraged me to write a blog.  They seem to think that I know something about children’s books.  They are so lovely and kind!  What I know about children’s books is that I like them.  If I could, I would inspire every child with the love of reading.  I like reading books. I like paring books with ideas, events and activities.

Since they encouraged me to write, I have been writing this blog for my pleasure and practice. Sometimes, but not often, it gets me out of dinner dishes (I can’t do dishes tonight, I have to work on my blog).  If I had stopped with the volumes purchased for my new nephew,  it would have been a very short blog. When I finished his list I segued to the rest of my children’s book collection.  Many of these books are old favorites of mine. It has been a lovely walk down memory lane. As I reread and write about these books, I remember snuggling up with my girls and sharing these stories.  Reading to children is a wonderful activity. It was fun, fun, fun to read and discover these books with my girls. It was fun, fun, fun to remember that time through this blog.

My family has become accustom to keeping a list of their readings for the monthly reading report. I hope that you have enjoyed these reports.  2016 was a very enjoyable reading year!  I hope it is another good year for reading and for all other endeavors.

Happy New Year to everyone! May your year be productive, satisfying and fun! Find some good books to read. Here are some of the books that were read in Haus Reimund in 2016.collage2_2016

Texas Book Festival 2016

texasbookfestivalThe Texas Book Festival (TBF) began with a simple purpose: to bring authors and readers together in a celebration of literature and literacy¹. The mission of the book festival is to promote literacy and Texas libraries. Part of the proceeds from the festival are used to give grants to Texas libraries for collection enhancements. It also funds the Reading Rock Stars program, a literacy initiative that brings national authors to Title I schools in Texas to inspire young readers.  It sends them home with a book of their very own.

The first festival was held in November of 1996, which was around the same time we moved into our current house.   Twenty years and we have never attended!  I find it hard to believe that I have been remiss in supporting literacy and libraries in this way!

So it was on this gloomy Sunday that Jim, Alexis and I made our way to downtown Austin for this year’s Book Festival. Every year it is held in and around the Texas State Capitol.  This year’s festival had over 275+ authors.  There was something for almost everyone.  This year three of our favorites were in Austin: Lois Lowry, R.L. Stine and Mercedes Lackey. We didn’t get to see any of them due to poor planning on our part. When we go next year, we need to have a better strategy.   Still, we had a wonderful time, wandering through the exhibition tents and looking at all the books.  I was able to pick up a couple of good books that will make excellent blog entries at a later date.

We stopped by the story tent and listened to Matthew Reinhart create a pop-up story about a princess triceratops for a group of very engaged second graders.  We wandered past the Central Market Cooking Tent and watched a part of the Taco Scientists Presents: The Taco Cleanse.  It looked tasty.   We went to the C-SPAN2/BookTV tent and listened to Evan Smith interview David Clay about his book The Making of Donald Trump.  We ambled through the Capitol ground and through the Capitol. Even with the rain, we had a delightful day.

Alexis likes to bake and decorate cupcakes so we went to the HEB Read 3 Cupcake Challenge Final.  Five teams were decorating cakes based on stories that they had drawn at the beginning of today’s competition.  This competition was in support of HEB’s Read 3 literacy initiative.  This program encourages parents to read to their children at least three times per week. They sponsor book drives and try to help get books into the hands and homes of children and families who need books in their homes.

practicalI am excited about one book that I picked up today.  It had no friends on the table in the Barnes and Noble tent.  I don’t know, if other book nerds like me picked it up or it was a singleton, but the title said, “You must buy me!” and so I did.  How can you pass up a book with chapter titles like these?  You can expect to hear more about this book!

Candide Says Relax. Then Get to Work.
Am I a Man or an Android?
Staying out of the Bell Jar
Burning Books: One Crappy Job
Why To Kill a Mockingbird Makes a Great Father’s Day Gift
The Renaissance of Nerds of The Phantom Tollbooth
Beware of Revolutionaries Who Look Like Pigs




Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

peteshoesLitwin, Eric. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. Illustrated by James Dean.  New York: Scholastic,  2008.

A happening dude is Pete the Cat!
He’s relaxed, happy and quite laid back!
Does he get stressed and does he worry?
No siree and he doesn’t hurry.
He loves his shoes whatever color they are!
He knows they will take him far, far, far!

I think Pete the Cat is my new personal hero!  Everything is cool, groovy, awesome, and groovy for Pete.  As he says, “its all good.” He just keeps walking and singing his song.  This is a story for a house full of people who randomly break out into songs!

I have seen these books at the store, but I hadn’t opened one. I am regretful.  This book is so funny!  Sarah bought this book at the Scholastic Book Fair at school last week. She read it to her class and the kids read it along with her.  She reports that they loved it. She did have to caution them that they could only sing the verse with three lines.  I can see why.  Pete’s shoe song has been running through my head.  I like the tune we made up, but here is a link to the song referred to on the cover:  Both of them are very groovy and make me want to jive along with Pete!