Coinciding with my recent post about great children’s books that will keep adults entertained at story-time, I was lucky enough to be invited back recently to the mid-morning Lifestyle program, Mass Appeal to talk briefly about those books and the authors who make them so much fun for both parents and kids.
We had a spot of trouble getting there, as we got on the thruway only to have the check-engine light come on for my car. With my wife’s car having its own trouble at the time, we had to get off the thruway at the next available exit, turn around, and borrow my mother-in-law’s car before getting back on the thruway. It added an extra 45 minutes of time to our trip and I’ll be honest, I didn’t think we were going to make it in time for the segment.
Fortunately, all went well and we made it with plenty of time to spare and nothing owed to a lead foot. I apparently managed to make it without breaking speed limits or rules of the road.
The even greater news? For both the trip there and back, our little guy did phenomenal with the travel. Even when he wasn’t napping, he kept himself entertained with books, toys, or just chattering with us about some of his favorite words.
I really had a ball and where else can I say that my fellow guests included a baby alligator and a parrot?!
We not only talked about the books but I also got the chance to play quasi-game show host and quiz the program hosts, Ashley and Seth on some ‘dorky pop-culture trivia.’ I even pulled a jacket from an old Halloween costume (The Riddler) out of mothballs to wear on air for it.
It was a lot of fun and though our time in the area was limited, we did squeak in a brief reunion with some old friends and THEIR little one, who I’m relieved to say, at nine months old, did not seem frightened by our little guy’s Frankenstein-like onslaught of hugs.
While it won’t let me embed the video, please feel free to give the segment a watch here, if you like: http://wwlp.com/2014/05/23/great-reads-activities-for-toddlers/
I know that these days, many people associate Memorial Day as ‘the unofficial start to summer’ or a ‘long weekend’ to barbecue, travel or get together with family and friends.
None of those are inaccurate ways to spend the day. Heck, we took advantage of nice weather and worked on our garden. Just make sure while we enjoy having fun with loved ones, to take a moment and remember those who helped make it possible for us to do that. Those who have fought, who have passed and who have fallen.
Regardless of your politics, leanings or beliefs, it’s not a day about sides. It’s about people. People who put everything on the line and in some cases gave it all, for others. It’s a time to say thank you and to remember that.
I’ve often talked about my fascination with the WWII era, as well as my love of pop culture and comics from that time period. I can’t think of a more suitable depiction for a blog called The Dorky Daddy to symbolize it than with this piece by one of my favorite artists, Darwyn Cooke, and the 1940-era super-hero team The Justice Society, saluting a true hero.
Happy Memorial Day.
Storytime is a wonderful and strong tradition to have in your household, and the earlier you start with your kids the better.
We’ve made storytime a nightly habit in our house, starting the week our little guy came home from the hospital. Now almost two, it has become routine for him to go to the bookshelf, grab a few books he wants and then bring them into our room for a family reading on the big bed.
Needless to say in that time, we’ve amassed more than a few that not only he likes, but my wife and I love to read as well.
As much as I often get nostalgic and wish for ‘simpler times’ or the always-idealized ‘old days,’ one of the great things about the current age we live in is that children’s books have come a long way from “Goodnight, Moon,” which, let’s be honest, is not one of my favorites.
These days, children’s books can be just as enjoyable for parents to read as the kids, so these are just a few suggestions that entertain parents as well as the kids that you might want to add to your family bookshelf if you haven’t already.
“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” & “The Grouchy Ladybug” by Eric Carle
It’s the 45th anniversary of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” this year and this book helps to teach days of the week and successive numbers through the timeline of a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly. It’s one of those classics that is just educational, fun, and absolutely beautiful, as are all of Carle’s books.
“The Grouchy Ladybug,” as her name states, is a bad-tempered bug that doesn’t say please, doesn’t say thank you, and has quite the ego, thinking she’s better than everyone she encounters. The story follows her journey and teaches about concepts like size, time and, of course, good manners.
If you end up really loving Eric Carle’s books (and how can you not?), take a road trip to Amherst, MA to visit the wonderful Eric Carle Museum right over in Amherst. You’ll find his original artwork, as well as get to view the work of guest illustrators on exhibit firsthand. This place is like a mecca for our family.
Books by Mo Willems
Mo Willems is a writer and animator and worked on Sesame Street for several years, where he won Emmy Awards, as well as shows on Cartoon Network. He has written so many wonderful books, but these are some of my favorites.
The Elephant and Piggie series – Gerald the Elephant (named after his favorite singer, Ella Fitzgerald) and Piggie are best friends and through these books deal with issues of friendship. Sometimes it’s separation anxiety, other times it’s being nervous about getting invited to a party, or sharing a new toy or ice cream. It’s all done in a conversational, comic book type style with word balloons and they’re just a lot of fun, each with its own great, positive message.
The Pigeon books – They star, obviously, The Pigeon, who usually wants something. Sometimes it’s to stay up late, or to get a puppy, or to drive the bus, and it’s always something he’s not supposed to do, giving the child, who oftentimes is being told “no,” the opportunity and power to say no themselves. These are highly interactive, so kids love them and parents can enjoy the humor, too.
That is Not a Good Idea – It’s done in a style of silent films, with a great twist ending and deals with just what the title says – not so good ideas.
This book asks the question “How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Cats” and it’s just one of a wonderful series by Jane Yolen. Each book teaches manners and the proper way to act in different situation, this one, of course being if you have cats at home and the proper ways to treat them. There’s books for dogs, parties, playing with friends, cleaning your room; this goes on and on. Great lessons and great images by Mark Teague with a dinosaur name hidden on each page. Many of these types of dinosaurs are well beyond the common ones we come to know, which provides an additional educational element.
Good News Bad News by Jeff Mack
It’s about two friends with very different views on life – one optimistic and one not so much. When children are emergent and anxious to start reading, this is a great book. There’s only 5 total words in it. Those words are repeated, so they learn them better and can eventually read on their own. And the story itself is just funny and touching, and shows why it’s nice to look on the bright side of life.
I Wish That I had Duck Feet and Gerald McBoing Boing by Dr. Seuss
Sure, there are more popular or well-known books by Dr. Seuss, but these are two that really have great lessons. Both are about being yourself.
In “I Wish That I Had Duck Feet,” a little boy daydreams about what it would be like to have different animal parts but realizes the downside of each.
In “Gerald McBoing Boing,” a little boy named Gerald can’t speak but is born with the ability to make incredible sounds when he opens his mouth. He gets made fun of by others for his difference, being called Gerald McBoing Boing by bullies, but it’s about Gerald finding his place in the world and being happy with who he is that ultimately finds him happiness.
Click, Clack, Moo – Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
We have the collection with the first three books of the series.
Cronin writes these to be entertaining and hilarious, and this book details the trouble of poor Farmer Brown as the animals in his barn begin to type and start becoming literate.
When that happens, they have more bargaining and leveraging power with the farmer when he demands things like milk, eggs, etc. It’s a great book that really teaches about give and take and even peaceful protest.
Bill the Boy Wonder by Marc Tyler Nobleman
The kids will get sucked in by the beautiful art and images of Batman and Robin by artist Ty Templeton, but the well-researched story by Nobleman tells the real-life story of Bill Finger, the man who created most of Batman’s villains, decided he should wear a cowl and gloves. It was his ideas that Batman what we know today and sadly didn’t get the credit for it. A great true story told in the form of a children’s book.
If you’re an ice cream truck driver, I apologize. It’s very likely not you. Or at least, I hope it’s not you.
Oh, I’m sure that back in the day it was an innocent and smile-inducing moment to see that white truck making its way through the neighborhood, music and bells ringing through the air. Heck, even I remember just two and a half decades ago, how normal it seemed to have the ice cream man come down the street and eagerly await to get some cold treats in the summer.
Through a little internet searching, here’s some background on the ice cream truck, or ice cream van as it’s sometimes known.
Early ice cream vans carried simple ice cream, during a time when most families did not own a freezer. As freezers became more commonplace, ice cream vans moved towards selling novelty ice cream items, such as bars and popsicles. Early vans used relatively primitive techniques: their refrigeration was ensured by large blocks of dry ice so the engine was always turned off when the van was stopped for sales. The chimes were operated by a hand driven crank or a take-off from the engine, so they were not heard as often. Modern chimes are always electrically operated and amplified.
There are different types of ice cream trucks currently in use in the United States, some simply novelty trucks and some are soft-serve trucks.
Professionally built ice cream trucks that sell prepackaged product (Novelty Trucks) use commercial cold plate freezers that plug in overnight and when unplugged maintain the cold for at least 12 hours. Music systems are mechanical, such as pianos, or more commonly digital devices that have no tape or other moving parts. Each “music box” may be able to play one or multiple tunes. The opening on the side that drivers serve from is commonly referred to as a serving window and will usually have a serving counter. Awnings can be attached to trucks over the serving window. Safety equipment usually comes in the form of an electric or vacuum swing out sign which may resemble a stop sign or a triangular shape, as well as vinyl lettering or decals that advise others to use caution.
These are the only types of ice cream trucks that I’m familiar with in my own youth, cruising up and down the street, making me bug my parents or grandparents to buy me a Pink Panther ice cream on a stick, shaped like his head, with pink and white ice cream, and bubble gum for eyes.
Soft-serve ice cream trucks are actually a whole foreign concept to me. Instead of the pre-packaged ice creams, they actually have soft-serve machines in them and can offer you cones and sundaes. Honestly, I think I would’ve liked this a lot better than the pre-packaged stuff. They aren’t seen very often in the U.S. because of the extra costs with building such a truck. Oh, U.S. – cheap, cheaper and cheapest. Aesthetics and quality never really come into play here, do they? It’s a shame.
Maybe because of that desire to keep costs low, those ice cream trucks don’t always hold up well over time, which certainly doesn’t help deter the creepy factor I now see as an adult, the run-down rusty-looking truck barreling down our street at speeds quite unsafe for children who may be running out into the street to follow.
Or perhaps it’s the Dateline culture we live in these days, the numerous kidnapping stories splashed across the headlines, the horror movies made on the subject. As an adult, I just raise a skeptical eyebrow when I hear the jingles of the ice cream man coming down the street.
Honestly, maybe it’s the fact that he comes down the street at 9 o’clock at night, when most young kids, I would think, are safe indoors, that makes me raise a cynical eyebrow.
I think we’ll leave this one out in the cold and I’ll just go to the store to grab some ice cream for the family.