Book Festival goes kid-friendly!

Last year I went to the Twin Cities Book Festival with some friends of mine.  We browsed the many interesting exhibits, bought some books, and went out to lunch.  I was particularly excited about this display of chapbooks.  And I managed to catch Alison McGhee reading from one of her books in the Children’s Circle.


The MacPhail Early Childhood Band


This year was a different experience.  The Children’s Circle had expanded to the Children’s Pavilion, so I brought Ladybug for a morning full of bookish fun.

Highlights included the MacPhail Center for Music band (We got a free CD that Ladybug loves.  We will definitely add their Free Family Events to
our family calendar.),

Marsha Wilson Chall reading One Pup's Up

Marsha Wilson Chall reading from One Pup’s Up (We loved this book, and she was fabulous with the kids),

and reptiles (the Owatonna Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Zoo had a baby alligator, a boa constrictor, and other interesting animals for us to look at and touch.)

Tortoise from the RAD Zoo




What I did two Fridays ago, or what’s new in children’s books

There is no better way to get to know a publishing season than to present at a conference about the newest in children’s books.  As a result of my part of a presentation about summer and fall titles that tie in with K-8 curriculum at the MEMO conference two Fridays ago, I feel like I have a pretty good feel for the science and math titles recently released.  A few themes I noticed:

The hardest part of the presentation was choosing the books.  By which I mean, cutting down the massive list of books the three of us had initially chosen.  Forty-five minutes seems like a good amount of time, but it is only about a hundred books.  We, of course, could talk about books all day.  In all those books, though, there were still some blank spots in my spreadsheet.  I could have used more math books at the 3-5 level.  I would also have loved to include a few books about human anatomy or nutrition.  And where were all the space/astronomy books?  I’ll be looking for them next season.

Still dreaming of summer

Fall is in the air, but I’m still reminiscing about summer.  My family’s end-of-summer tradition, like many Minnesota families, is the State Fair.  I wasn’t much of a fair person before I moved to the Twin Cities.  But my then-boyfriend-now-husband insisted we go that first month I moved here back in 2004, and I was in love.  The crowds, the unusual food on a stick, the general celebratory vibe… I love it all.
We were eager to introduce the fair to our little one, but, honestly, the idea of taking a baby to the fair sounded like a terrible idea.  Ladybug’s first fair was the almost-fair.  You know, outside the fair where the vendors are set up on the street and people are coming in and going out of the fair.  We wandered around those few blocks, bought some mini donuts, and counted that as Ladybug’s first fair experience.  The next year, we brought her in the morning to all the kid-friendly stuff.  Then we got our hand stamped on the way out so that we could come back sans Ladybug in the evening while she happily played at Grandma’s house.
This year we were going to take her for the whole day, so we started talking about it early.  We happened to own Maisy at the Fair, so we started with that.  I was disappointed, though, with the focus on “rides and treats,” things we tend to avoid at the fair.  Not exactly what I was looking for in a fair book.  But you work with what you have.  We didn’t end up doing any rides at the fair, and our only treat was our traditional Sweet Martha’s Cookies.  Mostly we looked at animals (we saw pigs being born in the Miracle of Birth barn), ate fair food (Ladybug still says this was her favorite part), and helped on the farm (the Little Farm Hands exhibit was another family favorite).
After the fair, we finally got A Fabulous Fair Alphabet from the library.  I guess other parents had the same idea I did, so there was a waiting list.  The book was chaotic and slightly anti-climactic (exit, yawning, zucchini).  It was perfect.  We especially loved looking for familiar pictures on the end pages.  Of course it would take a Minnesota children’s book author to capture just what it is people love about the fair.
Maybe in a few years, we’ll check out Elisha Cooper’s Country Fair or Ted Lewin’s Fair!.  They are a little text-heavy for my two-year-old, but they are great titles for older kids to get excited about the fair.
For now, we keep it simple.  Here are a couple of shots of our day at the fair:

Feeding the goats at the fair

So sleepy at the fairIt was a long day, but we had a great time. :)

Moving and not having internet

I haven’t been online much lately.  We just moved into our new place, and we’ve decided to hold off on getting the Internet for a bit as we get settled.  Thank god for free wi-fi at the library.  :)
I’m here picking up a book for my daughter: Rosa’s Room.  I’ve been having trouble finding books about moving that fit our needs.  We didn’t move very far.  She didn’t change schools or lose friends.  She wasn’t at all reluctant to move, and most of the books dealing with kids moving are about losing friends, being the new kid at school, or reluctance.  I have yet to crack open Rosa’s Room, but I am hoping that the focus on decorating a new room will speak to my Ladybug.  We’ve been doing a lot of decorating lately, and I will definitely be posting about it.
In any case, we’ve been reading more about transitions in general with the hope that it will help with Ladybug’s transition to the new apartment.  One of her repeat requests is Sophie’s Big Bed.   It’s an adorable look at a toddler’s gradual decision to sleep in her new bed.  Ladybug likes to jump in with the repetitive phrases, and she seems quite triumphant at the end when Sophie chooses her new bed.  On the practical side, I like that the book is built with toddlers in mind.  We have a couple from this series, and both are small for lap sharing with thicker pages for toddlers ready to move on from board books but perhaps still a bit rough for regular books.
I’m off to check out Rosa’s Room.  Stay tuned for pictures of Ladybug’s room.

ReTweeted Goodness

My Twitter feed is at the bottom of this blog, but the retweets don’t show up.  So here are a few of the great links you might have missed.  (Of course, you can always follow me on Twitter if you’re into that. :) )

One week later, 3.1 miles still feels like a marathon

Last week at this time, I’d already ran a marathon.  Or that’s the way it felt.  Really, it was the Highland Fest 5k, and I ran/walked it in 43 minutes.  I was absolutely thrilled with my time.  It may have “only” been 3.1 miles, but it was a huge step for me to even attempt such a thing, much less finish in under an hour.

To be honest, it still seems unreal that I ran a race.  I’ve never been much of an athlete.  I love to take walks, but they are generally more of the leisurely stroll sort of walk.  Not the get-in-shape type.  As a result, I’m not exactly what you’d call “in shape.”  However, I turned thirty this year, and I’m a mom now.  That changes things.

I strongly want my daughter to grow up in an active household.  I want her to see me walking/running/moving and to know that I value those things.  Maybe in a few years, she’ll be running the 1k Kids Fun Run after my 5k.    For now, though, we play at parks and take lots of walks.  And, of course, we read books.  One of our favorite “active” reads is a classic: Eric Carle’s From Head to Toe.  It really is the perfect toddler book.  It’s repetitive, colorful, and energetic.  We love it!

There are more great opportunities to bounce, dance, hop, etc with the books on my working list of active picture books.  It’s a great start to our new active lifestyle.

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Thrifty Family Fun

I know we could spend a lot of money on entertainment for our little one, but why?  In the past few months, we’ve hit up family days at the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  And last night we did community day at the Como Park Zoo and ComoTown.  We’ve been to the zoo dozens of times as it’s always an affordable option, but on Community Day all the rides at ComoTown were half off, which meant that Ladybug got to experience the thrill of an aumsement park, and we only put out $5.  That is so my price.

She loved it of course.  We started her off pretty easy on a slow moving train where I could ride with her, but by the time we got to the spinning tea cups, you’d think she’d been riding rides her whole (short) life.  My little thrillseeker! :)

But then there are also the outings that backfire on me.  Like when we went to the MIA, and she had no interest in anything but the Family Center–a playroom with books and toys.  I admit, I was glad that I hadn’t spent a lot on that seeing as how we have books and toys at home.  But even writing that makes me feel so curmugeonly, and if there is something I am trying to avoid becoming, it is a curmugeon.  I’ll just leave it at that.  :)