Monday, September 9, 2013

"Blucy" and "Mary Had a Sleepy Sheep" Book Reviews

Disclosure: I was given these ebooks for free in exchange for an honest review.
This post contains affiliate links.

Let me just say that I am so thrilled that I was asked by Julia Dweck to write this review on her books! Her books are easy to read and my kids followed along with the stories really well. My daughter was able to explain what was happening on each page because the pictures told the story as well. We also created some fun activities to go along with the books!

I received Blucy: The Blue Cat the day I was asked to write a review and I read it that night with my kids before bedtime. My daughter instantly loved the book! She is known for her love of animals, but she especially loves colourful and mischievous animals! And this book couldn't have come at a better time, because we just started learning about rhyming words. It also turns out that Bean and Blucy have a few things in common: both love to sneak around, both are incredibly picky about what they eat, both love fresh picked blueberries and both love curling up to sleep. It was a perfect match!

The book begins with a young girl named Mandy who was at a pound to pick out a cat. She had many cats to choose from but she chose Lucy, who turned out to be quite an unusual cat! Mandy decided to rename Lucy because her fur changes colour depending on her attitude and Blucy was very fitting. At first Mandy is frustrated with her new cat because she refused to eat her food. Coincidentally, our dog Kaede is the same way. Bean made the connection and after we finished reading the book we talked about picky eaters. She had many questions, like "Why is Blucy picky?" and "Why am I picky?" I told her that only she had the answer to that question. :)

Blucy goes on many adventures, including swimming in a bowl of Jell-O with orange slices (which is the part Munchkin started to become interested in the book, because he recognized the fruit) and taking a nap with Robin's eggs. Blucy loves jelly beans (so does Kaede!) and loves to draw on walls (like Munchkin and Bean! - because, yes, they do colour on the walls). Blucy gets herself in a mess, tearing up clothes and ripping open presents, but finally Mandy and Blucy find some middle ground - blueberries. Blucy finally eats the food Mandy gives her and from that point on the two have an understanding. Blucy starts to listen to Mancy and Mandy loves Blucy more every day!

I love that this is a book about a cat who is adopted from a pound. When you adopt an animal who has lived with other people previously or who might have been a stray living on the street, you never know how they will react to new people and a new home. It can take days, weeks, sometimes months for animals to adjust to their new environment. But if you are patient, show affection and understanding, you can build a lasting relationship of trust.

The story is written in rhyme, which is a new topic I have recently introduced to Bean. While reading it, each sentence flows together smoothly. The pictures are vibrantly coloured and you can tell what is happening on each page based on the picture. Bean loved looking through the book the following morning and because she remembered most of the book, she was able to "read" the story to me. She looked at each page and described what was happening.

Ideas for activities to go along with the book:

Blue Jell-O and Orange Slices edible sensory bin. I mixed up a double batch of blue Jell-O and let it sit in the fridge over night. After lunch the next day, I sliced up two oranges and let the kids play. This was a scene from the book that they really liked.

Perfect for sensory play and the oranges were a yummy snack.

While they played we did a few comparisons of the orange slices. We tried to match them up, counted the pulpy circles and stacked them (getting in some fine motor play).

Balancing on Jell-O is difficult, but possible. :)

Add in some math! Use blueberries at snack time as a visual aid to count. Blueberries happen to be Munchkin's favourite food, so he could relate to Blucy. 

Some other ideas might be: Blue Flowers, Blue Butterflies and Bees sensory bin. Create a nest and blue Robin's eggs craft.

And if you check out the last few pages of the book, you will find some more activities and interesting cat facts!

The second book we read by Julia Dweck was Mary had A Sleepy Sheep, which was just released on September 5th. This book was really fun to read and was perfect for Munchkin because he is just like the sheep in the story. He falls asleep everywhere we go and is sometimes nearly impossible to wake up. He also happens to really like sheep, so he enjoyed sitting on my lap and looking at all the pages while I read the book. At the end of every page I would ask, "Would you fall asleep here?" Bean would reply, "brother probably would." :)

This story was based on the "Mary Had a Little Lamb" nursery rhyme which was first published in 1830 and was written by local authors in Sterling, Massachusetts. The original poem was based on real events of a girl named Mary Sawyer who brought her lamb to school one day. Just like in the nursery rhyme, this Mary brings her sheep everywhere with her and he has a knack of falling asleep wherever they go! 

This was another great rhyming book that both of my kids really enjoyed listening to! Anyone who enjoys nursery rhymes with a new twist would surely enjoy this book! One of the elements that we really liked was every time Mary tried to wake up her sleepy sheep, my kids would try to make their own sounds to wake him up too! Munchkin found his Lego sheep that looks like the sheep in the story and they set him up to sleep in odd places around the house. Eventually this led to them running off to go find loud objects to bang around and wake him up. He slept through it all because he is one sleepy sheep!

We also liked that there were activities in this book too! On every page was a hidden mouse and the kids enjoyed trying to find him! Bean loves search and find activities, so she was on top of this activity. Munchkin opted to find the cat's toy mouse and was very proud of himself. I love when my children are excited about reading books and finding fun activities to go along with them!

Some activities to go along with this story: Where did the Sleepy Sheep fall asleep this time? This activity was fun because we were able to utilize the train table and we added another fun element to the game. Not only was the objective to find the sleepy sheep, but they had to make loud sounds of where he fell asleep, so they could see if they could wake him up. So at the airport, they made loud "whooshing" sounds for the airplanes coming and going, truck sounds at the dig sight and animal sounds at the farm.

I-Spy the Sheep sensory bin. I gathered up all of our white Safari Ltd. toob animals and placed them in a wicker basket while I set up a container of oatmeal. The object of the game was to find the sheep who was "sleeping" among the other animals. This was a good game for Munchkin who has trouble telling some of them apart. Bean was able to spot the sheep right away, so to make her bin more difficult I added in a ton of other objects and she had fun trying to spy the sheep.

Reading time is special for us and we try to read every day. Both of my kids enjoy listening to stories and are very interested in learning their letters and Bean is already working on sigh words. So for this activity I focused on just the letter with Munchkin and sight words with Bean. I only added the letters we would need to spell "Mary," "Sheep," "Sleepy," and "Lamb."

We also did this activity using a dry-erase board and the foam and magnetic letters.

Letter matching.

Bean was sure to match up the lamb and sheep to their word. 

Other ideas: Pin the Fluff (cotton balls) on the Sheep and Counting Sleepy Z's.

You can find Julia and her books at her website and Amazon. Be sure to Like Julia Dweck Books on Facebook and enter her contest for your own Webkinz Fleecy Sheep (deadline is Midnight EST on 9/14/13).

Julia also has a new book called Humpfree: The Humpless Camel that will be released on October 5, 2013!

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