Review: Bear On A Bike by Stella Blackstone

Bear on a Bike
Join Bear as he tries out different forms of transport and has an adventure with each one. Rhyme and repetition support the learning layers of travel and transportation, as Bear travels in a raft, a rocket ship, a boat, a bike, a steam train, and a carriage.

Ages 1 to 4 years

Written By: Stella Blackstone

Illustrated By: Debbie Harter

My Review:

This is a favorite book with preschoolers. This board book by Stella Blackstone is well written and easy to read. Children will easily pick up on the repetition and poetic flow of the story. Bear and his polite young friend ("Please wait for me!") take you on exciting travels by way of adventurous modes of transportation:
* bear on a bike
* bear on a raft
* bear in a steam train
* bear on a boat
* bear in a carriage
* bear on a rocket

The vivid illustrations invite you to stop and explore the many interesting things along the way - name market foods, count animals, find hidden critters and laugh at silly things. Debbie Harter's vivid illustrations are so bright and colorful. Debbie has illustrated many children's book including the Bear series, Herb the Vegetarian Dragon, and many others.

Stella Blackstone has written many wonderful books for young children including the Cleo the Cat series, Island in the Sun and Zoe and her Zebra. Other recommended books in the Bear series include Bear At Home--told in rhyming couplets, this book teaches the function of different rooms in Bear's house -- and Bear In a Square, which encourages the reader to find the shapes in the story. You can read my review of bear in Sunshine at:

Bear About Town is another favorite of mine. Here's my review of this great board book:

Take a look at these editorial reviews of Bear On A Bike:

From Publishers Weekly
A youngster hurries to keep up with a bear as he tries out various methods of transportation in Blackstone and Harter's eye-catching paper-over-board book, a companion to their Bear in a Square. Rhythmic quatrains in question-and-answer format establish the momentum for each spread: "Bear on a bike,/ As happy as can be,/ Where are you going, bear?/ Please wait for me!" A child runs after the bear, who answers on the following page: "I'm going to the market,/ Where fruit and flowers are sold,/ Where people buy fresh oranges/ And pots of marigold." A different environment emerges on each spread, whether the busy outdoor market peopled with funny shoppers (like the elderly lady with a rooster on her head) or the teepee-dotted prairie that the bear crosses by covered wagon. The abundance of bright colors and busy patterns is contained by tidy draftsmanship, so that the overall effect is manageably dynamic and frolicsome. This travel primer has plenty of get-up-and-go. Ages 2-5.

From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1-A bear takes off to see the world on a variety of vehicles: a bicycle, a raft, a covered wagon, a steam train, a sailboat, a hot-air balloon, a carriage, and a rocket. As each mode of transportation is introduced, a young African-American boy calls out, "Where are you going, bear?/Please wait for me!" The bear takes the child along on his journeys where he discovers exciting animals, people, and places. As the bear blasts off in the rocket, the boy remains behind and calls out, "Wherever you are going, bear,/Goodbye and goodnight!" Despite several awkward rhythms, the story works as a read-aloud. The strength of this book, however, lies in Harter's flat, colorful cartoon art. Black-and-white accents in the cheery, sun-drenched landscapes unite the illustrations and add balance. The bear is depicted as a friendly, caramel-brown creature who comfortably walks through a multicultural world of interesting, jolly people. The playful pictures extend to the endpapers where the various modes of transportation glide across a turquoise background.
Shawn Brommer, Southern Tier Library System, Painted Post, NY

I highly recommend this book to you. Plus, you'll want to look at Stella Blackstone's Counting Cockatoos and My Granny Went To Market. To order books, please visit my website.

~ LadyD

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Barefoot Books :: The Faerie's Gift by Tanya Robyn Batt

Driving through Big Sur was a wonderful experience. How lovely to see sky, water and trees. I was reminded of the Faerie's Gift with a story CD read by Niamh Cusack. I love Tanya's Forward:

"The original seed of this tale was told to me by Eibhis De Barra on the magical Isle of Cape Clear, off the coast of Southern Ireland. A story of faerie ingenuity and human generosity, it can be found in many forms across many cultures."

The Faerie's Gift
Breathtaking gift edition hardcover with CD!
Enter a magical forest where a woodcutter is granted one wish after saving the life of a fairy. The woodcutter must make a difficult decision when faced with the needs of his wife, his father, and his mother. His ingenious and touching choice is at the heart of this traditional tale. Book with CD edition includes story read by actress Niamh Cusack.

Ages 4 to 9 years

Retold By: Tanya Robyn Batt

Illustrated By: Nicoletta Ceccoli

Narrated By: Niamh Cusack

The Faerie's Gift has all the elements a story book should; thought provoking, well developed characters taking a journey, while revealing important, relative lessons in life. The Faerie's Gift is a magical tale that presents an ordinary man with an extraordinary opportunity to change four lives. There is only one catch: he only gets one wish. This delightful tale shows how a thoughtful approach to life can be very beneficial.

The story itself is well written and easy for children to read. The illustrations are so beautiful. The voice of the narrator is so charming and calming that she just draws you into the magic of the story. Yes, with the ending you're in for a delightful surprise. Yep, I cried tears of joy! I love this book. To order yours, go to:

"We all wish for things daily without thinking-
small wishes, big wishes, soon forgotten wishes-
but if you really could wish for whatever your heart desired,
what would you wish for?"

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Little Leap Forward: A Boy In Beijing

Beijing 2008, Outdoor theme parkImage by sHzaam! via Flickr
I'm back from a wonderful vacation in San Francisco! With all the food markets, brightly colored lanterns and bags of fresh ginger for sale, I immediately thought of the children's book, Little Leap Forward: A Boy In Beijing. Yes, awhile back I wrote a review for this wonderful hardcover book written by Guo Yue and Clare Farrow. Read more at

This book is recommended most highly for its carefully crafted story and its portrayal of a momentous and chaotic period of China's history from a child's point of view. The accompanying art work by Helen Cann is superb in its own right, speaks volumes about the historical backdrop and the main character's roles in his family and community. The book is a treasure.

I read Little Leap Forward when there was an unprecedented interest in China with the Summer Olympic Games going on. I was most impressed with the beautiful details in story line and with ornate artwork. Teachers will want to use this book as part of a unit on modern China or the Cultural Revolution. Little Leap Forward is a great choice for the young reader because it has poetry, music and story telling. Congratulations to Barefoot's first "young fiction line.
Product Details
* Reading level: Ages 9-12
* Hardcover: 128 pages
* Publisher: Barefoot Books; 1 edition (July 21, 2008)
* Language: English
* ISBN-10: 1846861144
Here's what other Mom's say:
Page-turner, Well-written, Diversity, Educational, Multicultural, Bedtime, Great illustrations, colorful, fiction
Editorial Reviews
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 3–6—Living in Beijing with their large, loving families, Little Leap Forward and Little-Little are the best of friends. One day clever Little-Little captures a small yellow bird that he gives to Little Leap Forward. Though Little Leap Forward plays his flute and tries to get Little Cloud to sing, she remains silent. When the terrible disruptions of the Cultural Revolution begin, Little Leap Forward senses the fear and sadness of his friends and family. And as their lives become more and more constricted, he begins to understand why he must release his precious bird if he wants to hear her sing. Based on Guo's childhood, this is a gentle, lyrical story, yet the undercurrents of change and loss are strong. Though the metaphor of the bird is part of the fabric of the tale, the author never becomes moralistic or didactic, and the horrors of the Revolution never overwhelm the story. Because of this, the novel is suitable for readers younger than those who might pick up Ji-Li Jiang's Red Scarf Girl (HarperCollins, 1997), Chun Yu's Little Green (S & S, 2005), or Moying Li's Snow Falling in Spring (Farrar, 2008). The afterword includes a brief, accessible explanation of the Cultural Revolution. As a final plus, the book is beautifully designed. Kites, an important element in the story, are used on the elegant endpapers, and numerous illustrations, full of jewel-toned colors, are scattered throughout. In every way, this is a book to savor.—Barbara Scotto, Children's Literature New England, Brookline, MA
From Booklist
Based on Guo Yue’s childhood in China in the 1960s, this small, illustrated chapter book tells the moving story of eight-year-old Leap Forward, who lives in a poor area of Beijing that is so crowded that “you had to look up and up to see the sky.” He cages a tiny wild bird and plays music on his flute, trying to persuade her to sing, but the bird remains silent until Leap Forward's friend persuades him to release her, and she flies free. Always in the background are the politics of the Cultural Revolution, the stories of people in prison, and the family’s daily struggle. The simple prose is quiet and physical, especially the details about feeling the power of music and holding the fragile bird and feeling its beating heart. The beautifully detailed, clear illustrations in ink and brilliant watercolors combine realistic group scenes with spare, individual portraits. Kids will appreciate the messages about freedom in the caged-bird metaphor, especially because it is not heavily spelled out. Grades 3-6. --Hazel Rochman
Can you imagine a life where music is illegal? A great first time chapter book that won't overwhelm a younger reader ready for a more challenging read. The book breathes of culture and tradition. Recommended for ages 8 and up.
Other related interests:

We're Riding on a Caravaan

Stories from the Silk Road

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The Real Princess A Mathemagical Tale by Brenda Williams

Enjoy a special price for a limited time (through August 21st) on this delightful princess story! This paperback with story time Cd was $9.99 now $7.99
Short Description: Introduces basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, and includes a 'Test Your Maths Skills' section.
# ISBN 10: 1905236883
# ISBN 13: 9781905236886
Pages: 40
Reading Level: Ages 4-8

A classic with a twist, this number-crunching take on The Princess and the Pea features not just one princess, but three, not to mention four horses, five dogs and six grooms, seven gardeners, and all kinds of chances for young mathematicians to put their adding and subtracting to the test!

Practice your math skills while enjoying this quirky take on "The Princess and the Pea." The King and Queen and their three sons are on the search for a real princess, but it is only the Queen who knows the secret. After the story, there is an opportunity for readers to test their counting skills with fun number games. Book with CD edition includes story read by actress Juliet Stevenson.

Ages 5 to 9 years

Written By: Brenda Williams

Illustrated By: Sophie Fatus

Narrated By: Juliet Stevenson

Theme: Children's Books / 4-8 Years, Children's Books/Ages 4-8 Fiction, Children: Kindergarten, Concepts - Counting & Numbers, Concepts - General, Fairy Tales & Folklore - Adaptations, Fairy tales, Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Kings, queens, rulers, etc., Preschool Picture Story Books, Princesses, Royalty (kings queens princes princesses knights etc.), Science & Technology - Mathematics
About The Author:

Brenda Williams has written:
Home for a Tiger, Home for a Bear

Amazing Birds
Reach for the Stars: Ancient Egyptian Pyramids

About The Illustrator

Sophie Fatus is one popular gal in my book. I love her illustrations. I am a huge fan of her artwork! I especially like Sophie's stripey and spotty fish prints:

Here is a list of her Barefoot Books she has brought to life with her beautiful, colorful illustrations:

From Booklist
PreS-Gr. 3. Baptiste is an internationally known yoga instructor who has written several guides for adults. His debut yoga title for children uses a clever fiction framework to introduce basic poses. In class, a young narrator sees parallels between what the other students' parents do and what his father, a yoga instructor, does: "Niki says her mommy's a gardener," reads one page. "Sometimes my daddy's a tree." The following spread features a man in tree pose along with step-by-step illustrations demonstrating how to move in and out of the posture. Other poses--the dog, the airplane, the pretzel, and so on--follow. The cheery, tropical-colored paintings reinforce a sunny mood; the simplified, naive-style images may not have the clarity of photographs, but they still offer adequate demonstrations. Although kids will need help with the positions and the hints about yoga's more spiritual benefits, they'll easily be drawn into this upbeat introduction, while their parents will connect with Baptiste's motivational introduction. Pair this with Thia Luby's excellent nonfiction Children's Book of Yoga (1998) for more instruction. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

This deck of activities for a greener world is divided into the elements of Air, Earth, Fire, Water and Space. Each element inspires five kinds of activities: breathing, individual and partner poses, games and action. The series also includes kiddie tips for no-waste lunches and building focus, as well as ways to use force and finesse to deal with frustration. --UrbanBaby Daily Picks
Yoga Planet is a great way to get kids (and adults) moving, laughing and most importantly thinking about the world around them. --Tobey and Jennifer Maguire

From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1-Babushka is so obsessive about cleanliness that she tells an angel who comes heralding Jesus's birth that she'll have to wipe her feet. When the three kings invite her to join them, she says she does not have time. "What about the washing up?" she asks. She finally decides to make the journey alone and packs some gifts for the baby, which she gives away to needy folks along the way. When she realizes that she's empty-handed and starts to return home, she hears someone call her name. It's Mary welcoming her into the stable, and Babushka finds the baby surrounded by all of her gifts. She decides to hold him instead of tidying up. Based on a Russian folktale, this version is charmingly told but it is hard to see how Babushka's cleaning mania is connected to her generosity, or what lesson she is supposed to have learned at the end. The richly colored, stylized acrylic paintings feature Russian-style clothing and buildings as well as palm and fig trees. An attractive but flawed retelling.-E. M.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
K-Gr. 3. Babushka is too busy to accompany the three kings on their way to see the Christ child. Later an angel appears in her dream, singing about "a baby born in a stable, with nothing but a swaddling cloth to wrap him in." Troubled by the image, Babushka sets out to find the child, bringing a warm shawl and other presents. Along the way, she meets several people in need and generously gives away her gifts. Imagine her surprise when she reaches the stable and sees the baby wrapped in her shawl with the other presents nearby. Mary's simple explanation is the key to the story: "Everything you gave with love, you gave to my son, also." This is a departure from the traditional Russian folktale, in which Babushka becomes a Santa Claus-like figure, never finding the baby she seeks but leaving presents for other children. Fatus' acrylic illustrations burst with interesting details, patterns, and textures. Their figures resemble miniature dolls with such exaggerated features as heavily lashed almond eyes set in perfectly round heads. A lovely Christmas story with a wonderful message about the joys of selfless giving. Lauren Peterson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Barefoot Books: Cleo the Cat - Book Review

I have had my indoor Siamese cat, Jasmine for quite sometime. She is the princess and enjoys hearing me play the piano and also cuddling up on my lap to hear a good book read aloud. Alas, many times you'll find Jazz taking a cat nap as most cats sleep a lot during the day. Do you find that to be so? I'd love to hear about your pet. What's the matter... cat got your tongue? ( no pun intended ) Anyways, I wanted to share this delightful series of board books by Barefoot Books about Cleo the Cat.

* Come Here, Cleo!
Follow Cleo when she sets out to explore the garden one morning, and finds that it is full of surprises. Cleo's adventures introduce her to some fascinating new friends - and can she catch the butterfly?

Ages 1 to 4 years

Written By: Stella Blackstone

Illustrated By: Caroline Mockford

Come Here, Cleo is the telling of a day in the life of a playful orange cat. The bright colors, fun rhyming, and easy read make this a great book for very young children. I have sold many copies of this delightful book that is easy to read, filled with bright, colorful illustrations and well written.

* Cleo's Counting Book
Join Cleo as she counts from one to ten, then back down to one again. Two double-page spreads of number reinforcement help the mastering of counting skills, while the rhyming text and the familiar items to count add to the appeal. Hardcover edition includes Cleo height chart.

Ages 1 to 4 years

Written By: Stella Blackstone

Illustrated By: Caroline Mockford

Will help preschool-aged children while they are learning to count, and the bright colors and fun objects Cleo counts will keep them engaged in learning. What makes this counting book so delightful is that it is filled with adventure in counting outdoor animals like dogs, frogs, birds and trees. What fun to count to ten and then back again!

* Cleo the Cat
Frolic along with an inquisitive kitten who is in search of a friend— and a home. This simple rhyming text follows Cleo as she finds her way to a young boy who offers her a bowl of milk and a warm lap.

Ages 1 to 4 years

Written By: Stella Blackstone

Illustrated By: Caroline Mockford

This book is so cute and easy to follow. Cleo the cat is a great book for pre-school aged children as it offers fun, colorful illustrations, an easy-to-follow story line, and an adorable animal as the main character. This will definitely engage young children and make them want to read.

* Cleo and Caspar
Meet Cleo the Cat's new housemate Caspar. When Cleo finds out that another animal has joined the household, she isn't happy, but she soon discovers that new playmates can be fun. The simple, rhyming text is full of action.

Ages 1 to 4 years

Written By: Stella Blackstone

Illustrated By: Caroline Mockford

You will find gentle lessons beautifully written in this delightful board book. Cleo and Caspar conveys a simple but touching message even to the youngest child. We get anxious when someone different comes into our world but with time we come to appreciate their presence. The simple and colorful pictures convey the message in a way that delights all ages.

* Cleo's Color Book
Come along with Cleo as she discovers colors in the world around her. Rhyme and repetition drive the learning layers, while two double-page spreads at the end reinforce the color recognition and even teach simple color mixing.

Ages 1 to 4 years

Written By: Stella Blackstone

Illustrated By: Caroline Mockford

This is a wonderful book! Colorful, lovely rhyming text with simple everyday objects. Great fun for using with language development and teaching simple signs as well as colors! What makes it a winning board book is that children can relate to a red bike, a black kitty, a blue submarine and a brown teddy bear. Towards the back of the book, you will find a colorful picture chart of the objects with the name associated with their color that reinforces language development for preschool education. Step into the beautiful world of color in reading Cleo's Color Book!

* Cleo's Alphabet Book
Help Cleo guess which word goes with each letter of the alphabet. The rhyming text of this guessing game encourages learning, while the two-page spread of all the items at the end allows more alphabet practice. Hardcover edition includes a Cleo alphabet wall poster.

Ages 1 to 4 years

Written By: Stella Blackstone

Illustrated By: Caroline Mockford

Beautiful and intriguing artwork. You and your child will remember Cleo the Cat long after you have finished the book. This wonderful book can help children learn their alphabet in an exciting and playful way. The unique and intriguing illustrations of Cleo exploring the alphabet leads the reader on a journey to solve 26 one page mysteries. This book is colorful and easy to read, and keeps kids guessing by not revealing the name of the object being featured for each letter of the alphabet.

Each book costs $6.99 plus tax and you can order the books here:

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The Gigantic Turnip by Aleksei Tolstoy - Book Review

One of my favorite paperback books that you will find on my bookshelf is called The Gigantic Turnip written by Aleksei Tolstoy. I am a farmer and delight in harvest time
because my pantry and freezer are filled with canned fruit and frozen vegetables. To share my lovely garden with my Grandchildren is a wonderful teaching time on how seeds grow. Here is a look at my abundance of green beans and tomatoes this summer!

What I especially like about this children's book is that the story is fun to read and look at. The illustrations are beautiful as well as the story being entertaining and educational. It's a great way to practice memory skills! The children enjoy counting the characters, the sing-song lilt, and of course finding that the "hero" of the story is the smallest creature on the farm!

This story can be enjoyed over and over by children of all ages. The illustrations alone are exceptional and captivating. The various themes of this tale can be incorporated into many areas of study. This book not only helps with counting, but delivers a message of working together to get something done. Share some laughs while reading how everyone on the farm (including the animals) help to harvest one hefty turnip.

* Product Details:

The Gigantic Turnip
Find out what happens when the old woman, the old man, and all twenty-one animals on the farm try to harvest a rather large root vegetable. This well-loved Russian tale uses humor, counting and repetition to appeal to beginner readers. Book with CD editions include story read by Ellen Verenieks.

Ages 3 to 7 years

Written By: Aleksei Tolstoy

Illustrated By: Niamh Sharkey

Narrated By: Ellen Verenieks

* Paperback w/ Story CD $7.99
Hardcover w/ Story CD $16.99

* Spanish Edition- Children's Book

The wonderful thing about Barefoot Books is that they provide children's books in Spanish and in French. I have a great idea for my winter garden this year... I think I'll grow turnips! :D

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