Raising a Reader – 2 October 2017

I have been going to library almost everyday now that I recognizing familiar faces. Some librarians and janitors, and this uncle who wear big rimmed glasses and saying Hi to random children in kids’ section. No. Not me. Another guy.

Today I borrow three books for Evangeline.

Teacup in a Storm
What is intriguing in the book by Lucy M George is the imagination. Apart from the wordplay of the title from the idiom storm in a teacup, of course. The first few pages of the books look totally absurd. It’s like an adventure of a teacup in a wild sea. And at the end of the book there’s a reveal of a cup inside a bathtub with other bath toys. It reminds me that what looks like a simple things for us, could be a very fascinating experience for our children. For example, a floating teacup in the bathtub could be an adventure of a lifetime for our kid. I miss looking at the world through the eyes of innocent child.

The Big Balloon
Honestly when I wrote this article I kind of forgot what book is this. Until I check the photo of the books I returned (I took photo of all the books Evangeline has read and uploaded it to my instagram). I remember this book as Pip and Posy book. Seriously, Axel Scheffler has not made a memorable title, but oh boy he made a catchy character name. We love Pip and Posy and read this book over and over again. Basically these two bunnies have a big red balloon, and play with it. But when Pip (or is it Posy?) lose the grip, the balloon fly off. I would assume it’s helium balloon because it float. It fly so high until they can’t grab it back. To top their disappointment, the balloon strike a tree branch and pop in front of their eyes. But luckily Posy (or is it Pip?) had an idea. They do not dwell in their disappointment and sadness over popped balloon, and proceed to play other stuffs, Bubbles. They have many bubbles and it kept popping all over the place. And strangely they are not as distressed over burst bubbles compared to when the big red balloon burst. I know it’s weird. But hey! Pip and Posy book! Papa! Read again! Again!

That’s not My Penguin
Another one from Fiona Watt/ Rachel Wells series. You can read more about previous books from the same series from here and here.  It’s the same, except of course they change the animal. It’s a great way to milk a successful series. It’s like an engineering approach. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Some people would say it’s lazy way. But to me lazy way of making money is a great way. To the author/ illustrator/ publisher, come, I clap for you.


Raising a Reader – 29 September 2017 & 30 September 2017

Another short trips to library (two days in a row) because I was having lunch around that area anyway. I’m just replenishing the book that my wife has read, the Baby Blues comic strip compilation. You can read about the previous Kirkman’s book we borrow here.

Baby Bedtime
A book by Mem Fox and illustration by Emma Quay. It is a book about parent Elephant (gender unknown) carrying and doing the activity before the baby elephant fall asleep. I would say the book is okay, not too good and not too bad. There are sentences to narrate the story of what’s happening on the pages. Not much involvement needed from the reader (no flap no tab no question) and is a pretty straightforward book for bedtime story.

Gideon & Otto
Do your kids have favorite toys? Dolls perhaps? Because one of the character in Olivier Dunrea’s Gossie series has. Gideon has his octopus plushie named Otto and this book is telling the story about their adventure. It is cute how the author tell us that Gideon portray Otto, his plushies, as a friend. The same way goes with our daughter Evangeline who refers to her bigger size dolls as friends, not toys.

Dinosaur Rescue
Evangeline is very knowledgeable by now and has practically been able to name most of the animals in the book. We have to utilize this sponge-like brain growth period to increase her knowledge, by introducing more new stuffs to her. So when we are out of animals to teach, Dinosaurs came to the rescue. It is a book by Penny Dale about dinosaurs driving various emergency vehicles to rescue stuck train. It backfires a bit because Papa doesn’t know the name of all the dinosaurs. I know the famous one like Tyrannosaurus (because of google chrome offline mode), Velociraptor (because of 9gag meme), Triceratops (because I’m a TMNT fans and Triceratons are obviously a real threat to earth), and Brontosaurus (because of some Indonesian comedy novel Cinta Brontosaurus). Other than them, when Evangeline ask Papa what is this and what is that I will just tell her this is red dinosaur, green dinosaur, small dinosaur, big dinosaur. Sometime I appease myself by assuring that knowing adjective is much more beneficial than knowing dinosaur species.

Two Plus One is Enough
Knowing that Mama likes the Baby Blues comic strips compilation by Rick Kirkman, Papa borrow another edition to accompany Mama during the breastfeeding session. At least she can make her time pass easier with the book. It ticks many boxes in many departments i.e. light reading, relatable, and because it’s a comic strip, it can be paused or stopped at any time, in busy time can just flip to random pages to read because there’s no strict continuity.

Raising a Reader – 28 September 2017

Another lunch time trip to Ang Mo Kio public library during my workdays. Life as a parent is not easy, as a parent who want to raise a reader is even more. There is sacrifice to be made. But if my daughters growing up to be someone who loves reading, I can’t wait for the moment my daughter think that library is a window to the world of massive knowledge. These are the books I borrow for her.

They are four books by same author, Helen Oxenbury. In Dressing, the baby is wearing each layer of clothes from diapers, tops and bottoms, until socks and shoes. In working, its about the baby activity like showering, potty training, and drinking milk. In playing, the baby plays with ball, book, and teddy bear doll. In Friends, the baby play with animals or pets. I borrow these four books because it’s pocket sized and I like the illustration. But Evangeline does not like it. She flip through the book and recite the activities or the objects found on that page, and never revisit the book anymore. Maybe she’s too old for this book.

Counting with Cow
Dubbed as a first tabbed lift-the-flap book, this book illustrated by Hannah Wood makes me revisit all my previous flap books and tabbed books. There are a lot of flap books, and many tabbed books. But so far there’s none that have both functions in the same book. But apart from its unique gimmick, this book do not have any other advantages over other counting books.

Elmer and Wilbur
If you remember a story about the colourful elephant whose sacrifice its colour to restore the rainbow colour, that’s Elmer. This time, Elmer is meeting his cousin, Wilbur. As if colourful elephant is not crazy enough, the author David McKee makes Wilbur a ventriloquist elephant. With his skill, Wilbur is very good in playing hide and seek, bluffing everyone where he is with his fake voice.

This two books contain the same characters with our previous books Clip Clop. Nicola Smee did a good job bringing the characters of Cat, Dog, Pig, Duck, and Mr Horse having their activities together. These two are other onomatopoeia , like clip clop, so we could assume jingle jingle will involve some bell (in this case sleigh ride) and splish splash will involve some water (in this case they are taking boat). I love the details where they took the boat everyone is wearing life float vest except the duck.

What’s the matter, Bunny Blue
It’s the same author, Nicola Smee as the previous two books discussed above. But I put it on separate paragraph because the characters in the book is not same. It’s about a bunny who is looking for his grandma. With a basic choice of words, it’s good book to teach the young reader about story plot.

Raising a Reader – 21 September 2017

This time I won’t be borrowing only for Evangeline. Papa and Mama got a book each too. Because what else can promote raising a reader rather than showing the kid that their role models (Papa and Mama) read too? Today I’m getting three pocket books for Evangeline and one comic strip compilation for Mama and one comic book compilation bundle for myself.

You’re Here
You’re One
You’re Two
These three books under the same author, Karla Oceanak, is a mini pocket book. In the first book You Are Here, it shows a newborn baby with its activity, drinking milk etc. In You Are One, the activities are related to a one year old infant. And in You Are Two, the activities are on the 2 year old toddler. We use this book to tell Evangeline what is her baby sister Adeline doing. By narrating that the baby is drinking milk, and from the another book telling her what she is doing as a toddler. She vaguely understand about the content and she can tell which book is the earlier age (her sister activities) and which book is the later age (her activities)

Rough-and-tumble turtles!
This is a nickelodeon’s attempt to sell Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the kid’s touch and feel book section. Illustrated by Patrick Spaziante, it is a nice TMNT themed book with sensory education. There’s rough patch for the turtle shells, and fury patch for Tigerclaw’s fist. Not every parents will appreciate this, I understand. But as a TMNT fans myself, having this book in library is a plus, it’s like an introductory course to TMNT for Evangeline, packaged in a sensory touch and feel book.

No Yelling: Scrapbook no. 32
It’s a compilation from Rick Kirkman’s comic strip, the famous Baby Blues. Mama enjoys reading this book so much she will bring it whenever she’s nursing Adeline. And the fact that some of the events in the comic reflects our parenting life is a big plus. It’s refreshing to see that the author can see parenting experience from a funny perspective, i.e. laughing at ourselves.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles : a quarter century celebration
I will not lie to you. I grew up with 1980s TV series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was heavily affected by Playmates because they need to sell the merchandise. As I grow older, I follow up with the next incarnation by 4Kids TV and eventually the current Nickelodeon’s. Not only that, I also do my research backwards and read the origins. I told you I will not lie to you. Despite my love for TMNT, I did not like the drawings of the original TMNT. So this 180 pages soft cover edition to celebrate their 25th anniversary is not really the best resource for someone who want to start reading TMNT. The drawings are not enticing, the plot has flaws, etc. But I read it nevertheless, because this is where the TMNT who grew with me started. This is the compilation of best classic tales of TMNT. This is their humble beginning before now being so famous and recreated in Michael Bay’s movie. This, ladies and gentleman, is not a comic. It’s a visual history book.


Raising a Reader – 16 September 2017

This time we are going to review the book we borrowed from Tampines Regional Library. It’s a huge hub with library, swimming pool, football field, and many amenities in one complex. It’s a good place to go as a family as a one stop fits all. We borrowed 10 books and here are the review.

宝宝爱认知. 3
There’s something interesting about the book by 徐鲁. I believe it’s just a coincidence but the Five Little Ducklings looks eerily similar to Carol Roth’s. For now let’s just say that great minds think alike. But apart from the similarity of the book to Five Little Duckling series, the book leaves no impression to me. Perhaps because my chinese is too lousy to appreciate.

What sisters do best 
Laura Joffe Numeroff did a very good job portraying the animal siblings in this book. We borrow this book hoping Evangeline will show more sister relationship with Adeline. The animals in this book always comes in a pair with one sized bigger than another to show that they are big and little sister. There is no plot, only different animals doing different things in every pages. Illustration is good. Evangeline like this book and our target is achieved when Evangeline point to one Koala and said “This is Angel.” and point to the smaller koala “This is Meimei Adeline.”

Costume party!
Aaron Leighton and Mike Pereira ‘s book didn’t really strike interest to us. For me it’s just a group of cartoon character wearing costumes. Something like Halloween party. I think there must be an introduction of who are these people. There are too many characters and we don’t know any of them. And they are not called by the species, each of them have name. So we can’t just call them Cat or Kitty, they have name like Steve or whatnot. I put this book back on the shelves after Evangeline shows no interest.

Hooray for hat!
A book by Brian Won. A universe where sadness and grumpiness can be solved simply by giving a hat as a present. The plot is animal A see animal B is sad or grumpy or angry, and A give B a hat. And B will be happy. And move on to animal C. Until everyone got a hat. And everyone is happy. Hooray for hat. I don’t know what’s interesting about this plot or this book. Okay the illustration is cute something like Dreamworks’ Madagascar. But Evangeline really likes this book. She can read it over and over again.

Ollie the stomper
Another book by Olivier Dunrea under Gossie series. Booboo is the little goose who like to eat everything. The story revolves around the menu Boo boo is eating. And Ollie is just another little fowl whose friend, Gossie and Gertie, brought him to fame. I could not believe I’m keep reading these books. The illustrations are really good drawings for kids. It’s simple with white background and it has all the necessary elements for simple plot story telling.

快乐宝宝小词典. 1, 在农场
Book by 许勒尔, 卡特娅, telling you about the objects at the farm. Being a basic Chinese speakers, I do not know many vocabularies, especially those I do not use in daily conversation. So when you ask me to read book about things at the farm, it is actually not Evangeline learning, but Papa as well.

That’s not my lion
Fiona Watt and his series of this is not the animal you’re looking for. This time is about the lion. It is good touch and feel book, to teach kid about the adjective on the sensory. And it always ends with the reader found the animal they are looking for. It is my Lion, its mane is so fluffy!

Who’s hiding?
Polly Dunbar successfully apply the brand on this series. My daughter Evangeline can spot this book from hundreds or even thousands of books in Tampines Library, pick it up and shove it to me saying “Papa! This is Tilly book!”. We have borrowed another book by the same author under the title What is Everyone Doing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe. 1, The war to come
Another TMNT books from IDW which confuse me. I’m an avid TMNT fans but I started from watching the 80s series in cassettes, and watched the 2003 series randomly in TV when I was schooling, rewatched the whole 2003 series in sequence when I was already an adult, and trying to keep up with Nickelodeon’s 2012 series (still lack behind few seasons). I think I’m now what I’m talking about when we are dealing with turtles. But in this book, I can’t locate the timeline of this story. In The War to Come, the turtles works together with Baxter Stockman, fighting another new mutant named Scorpion. Its fighting style is so brutal and merciless. And during its fight there are some troops from Null too which suggest this coincides with Mutanimals timeline. Being a TMNT fans embarking from the animation series, I think I need to dedicate time and commitment to read IDW’s comics. The premise is interesting, but the continuity or lack thereof is disturbing.

Raising a Reader – 4 September 2017

Remember when I said we need to borrow more books to satisfy Evangeline’s insatiable thirst for new books?

We are wrong. We borrow too many books this time round and we can’t finish it on time. So we have to extend the borrowing period for some of the books. At least now we sort of know our average consumption rate for book reading. Given that there are some books life are shorter due to its low replay value, we always find a good mix that some of the books are read repetitively thus need longer borrowing time.

Wheels on the bus
A book by Jerry Smath, the pages inside are illustration to the lyrics of the famous nursery rhymes. Evangeline knows all the lyrics and sing it happily from time to time. Not a good book for bedtime story. She ends up singing the whole night and reducing our quality sleep.

It is kind of a flap book without flap. Instead, every odd page you will have a page with cut out hole viewing partial of the next even page. You will guess the object on the next page based on what is visible on the current page. It’s rhyming too, as the object have a discernible rhyme (Boo, Who, Moo, Choo-choo). Evangeline likes this book and bring this everywhere. Thanks to the author Nina Laden for this.

That’s not my monkey
That’s not my squirrel
I’ve told you that it’s tricky to teach kids about pattern. Now texture, is entirely different ball game. How do you teach sensory on kids and the name of certain texture? Luckily the touchy-feely book series solve this problem for us. The duo author Fiona Watt and illustrator Rachel Wells have many of similar books. This time we only borrow two of them. The style of the story telling is the same. First few pages started with “That’s not my (animal), its (certain parts) are too (adjective/texture).” And on the final page it will say “That’s my (animal) confirming that the readers have found the right animal.

Pom pom gets the grumps
This panda main character in the Sophy Henn’s book is called Pompom. We previously had another book about another panda, Chengdu, a panda who could not sleep. So it’s rather amusing when I ask Evangeline to spell this character’s name (Pom Pom), partially testing her alphabet skills because POM is quite an easy letter, given we practice with Papa and Mama spelling most of the time.

“What letter is this?”
“Good. And this?”
“Good. And this?”
“Excellent. What is his name?”

Okay maybe too early. Anyway this is a book about Pompom. The grumpy panda who always said “No” to his friends. He ended up playing alone and sad because nobody is playing with him. Only when he realize how jerk he really is, he said sorry and all his friends forgive him and play together.

Goodnight Owl
I can’t recall which book is this. I’m sorry. We have too many books about good night and too many books about owls. I can’t find who the author is too. It seems that my wife read this book to Evangeline and I don’t really take a good look of this book before returning it.

Numbers: a book
Most of number books are showing the number 1 to 10. This book by John J Reiss is the rare one that have 1 to 20. After 20, it jumps every 10 (30, 40, 50, …) until 100 and the last page is 1000. It’s a good book for learning number and revision for your young readers. The illustration is simple and the overall feel of the book is friendly and not too overwhelming for kids.

Picken: mix and match the farm animal
How do you choose a book from hundreds or even thousands of books in library? I would say I choose the one that’s more interesting. In this case, Mary Murphy’s book Picken is doing a good job. It’s so unique. It is a book with spine on both ends, so you could open the left part and the right part. Each page is a half of an animal, so picken itself is a wordplay from left part of Piglet (Pi) and right part of Chicken (cken). It’s like a puzzle to match first and last part of animal, or a good start if you want to teach your kids about animal experiment on genetic mutation.

Bear and Hare go fishing
We had another book from this series by Emily Gravett. In the previous book we borrow they are playing hide and seek around the house. In these two, they are going out for fishing together, and playing outside during snow day. In Go Fishing, bear caught many unwanted objects from the river, and on the final page they finally caught a fish alive. In Snow, they are building a snowbear instead of a snowman. It is a fun story book series with simple plot and nice illustration.

Shuyeqian literally means leaves money. It’s a chinese story book by 罗琳 and illustrated by 李国龙 . The story revolves around a monkey who proposed an idea to the forest community to use leaves as medium of exchange. While this sounds relevant to us in human world to use coins and bank notes as money is our common medium of exchange, it is not sustainable in forest context. The forest animals started gathering leaves instead of doing their usual activity (hunting, harvesting, etc). This makes the trees in the forest losing the leaves rapidly. Finally monkey realized his mistake after another flaw, its money is expired because all the greenback has turned into dry leaves and not acceptable as payment method. Okay I must admit this is very advanced for my daughter. The language, the storyline, and the illustrations, I think it’s meant for bigger kid. I would suggest revisit this book when the kid is older and understand more things.

Chī zǎocān is a simple book that narrates the story of a boy who is having breakfast. This is a simple book to learn chinese and enrich the vocabulary.

Little Owl’s night
Little Owl’s day
I always think that people who optimize to get more results are genius. Divya Srinivasan is one of them. The two books by this author are essentially telling the little owl’s journey throughout the forest. One is during the day, and one is during the night. You will see similar animals the little owl encounter. They are good bedtime story books. Evangeline did learnt few more animals from these books. I would say not many books have “moth” in their animal repertoire.

This book is borrowed because its illustration caught my eyes in the library. It’s time for Evangeline to learn about storyline, so it’s good to have a book whose character she already recognize. Clip-clop by Nicola Smee is suitable for this purpose. Cat, dog, pig, and duck are riding Mr. Horse. I have high hopes on this book and who would have guessed that Evangeline shows her true potential by telling me the story after my long day at work. Basically she shows that she understand what her mother told her, what the story is all about, and when she forgot, she refer to the book pages as a cue and reference to keep her story telling on track. I couldn’t be more happier.

Raising a Reader – 30 August 2017

In view of story telling session with grandparent who doesn’t really speak English, I tried to borrow some book in Chinese. The bulk quantity will be English book, because we ourselves can’t really read Chinese. And we are the ones spending most of the time reading the book to her. Chinese book is secondary items when Evangeline’s grandparents story telling time kicks in.

I get this  你大我小 book from the shelves. It’s a series by popular cartoon character miffy. The pocket book has several animals sequenced in order based on its size, and the last page is an elephant. Evangeline had fun learning new animal names in Chinese. Overall I think it’s a good exposure to let children learn new language. For now she can associate elephant with 大象 (Chinese) and Gajah (Bahasa Indonesia).

But her chinese pronunciation is rubbish. She sounds like german pronouncing korean when she’s attempting to read chinese. But of course I didn’t say that in front of her. I just make a little clap and said “good effort! try harder!” instead of saying “your chinese sucks!” because that what a father supposed to do.