Monthly Archives: August 2007

Aunt Nancy

aunt-nancy.jpgI have loved Aunt Nancy since Phyllis Root dreamed her up and Candlewick published her in 1996. A lot has changed since then. My five year old then is now sixteen. The boys dearly loved it when I read Aunt Nancy’s escapades with Old Man Trouble in a deep southern accent. Oh, the mileage we got out of what Old Man Trouble would do around our house! Now Candlewick has packaged four Aunt Nancy stories—two previously published and two brand new—together so kids can enjoy them all in Aunt Nancy and the Bothersome Visitors (Candlewick, $16.99). First Old Man Trouble dries up her spring, then Cousin Lazybones expects to be waited on during an extended visit and finally. In my favorite of the new stories, Aunt Nancy has to outwit Mister Death himself. There are so many clever little asides, puns and silly metaphors. As Root puts it, “Never was nobody as tricksy as Aunt Nancy.” Children will love to write their own Aunt Nancy stories about horrid pets or troublesome teachers or pesky parents. They can mimic the form and voice and use examples from their own experience. Lovely woodcut illustrations and a smaller-than-picture-book size make this right for young ones and independent readers.

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The Three Cabritos

CabritosLet’s bring back folktales! In the strange way of children’s publishing, genres ebb and flow. For most mainstream publishers, folktales are in serious ‘ebb’ mode, but Marshall Cavendish has always respected this favored form for young readers. Veteran tale teller Eric Kimmel gives kids a fresh take on the tale of the three billy goats who try to cross a bridge and fool the fearsome troll who wants to eat them in The Three Cabritos (Cavendish, $16.99).

You can tap into kids’ prior knowledge by asking them if they know the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. If so, let them tell it to you. Then read aloud this delightfully illustrated (Stephen Gilpin) southwest version about three furry musicians who want to cross the Rio Grande to spend the evening at a Mexican fiesta. What a great troll—or in this case, chupacabra! Along the way, have children guess how the billy goats are going to beat the fearsome monster, pull out a map and look at the Rio Grande, and learn a little Spanish using the guide provided. If you have some traditional tejano or better yet, conjunto music which blended some of the oom pa pa of polka music and the accordion sound with Mexican rhythms, play some for the kids. Your librarian can find some for you. What a great sensory experience!

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