Dear Readeo Friends,

Let us reassure you in advance that all three of our books end happily this week.

Although a wolf threatens Little Red Riding Hood, and a wicked stepmother tries to remove Snow White from her beauty contest, the heroines (with a little help from their friends) come out just fine in these retellings of the classic Brothers Grimm tales. Debbie Lavreys’s illustrations for both books help make the wolf seem less frightening and indicate to readers that the Seven Dwarfs will do their best to keep Snow White safe.

It might be fun to read Little Red Riding Hood and then go to our featured book this month, Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein, to see how the little red chicken hero tries to warn Little Red Riding Hood about the wolf’s villainous plans.

In our third new addition to the Readeo library, Ricky Is Brave by Guido van Genechten, the rabbit hero sets out to spend the night alone in a tent (in his backyard). What starts out as an adventure turns a bit scary—until Ricky finds out the source of his fears. You might recognize the artwork (and the humor) from Guido van Genechten’s other book in our library, No Ghost Under My Bed.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Little Red Riding Hood
Ricky Is Brave

Please let us know what you think of our new additions on our Facebook page. We love hearing from you!

With all my best,
Jenny

Jenny BrownJenny Brown is the editor for Readeo and oversees all book selection for the site. She has worked in the children’s book world for the past 25 years, holding positions with HarperCollins and Scholastic, and was the Children’s Books Reviews Editor for Publisher’s Weekly.  She currently writes for School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Shelf Awareness. Jenny graduated from Princeton University. You can read more from Jenny on her Web site, Twenty by Jenny.

Posted March 15th, 2011 in Books, News, Readeo Reviews, Reading, Relationships, Uncategorized by Jenny Brown

Dear Readeo Friends,

Our three new titles this week will satisfy curious minds in search of facts. Did you know there was a female Pharaoh of Egypt in the 15th century B.C.? Her name was Pharaoh Hatshepsut. One of the sphinx sculptures that she had planned to guard her tomb is now in New York’s Metropolitan Museum. If you want to know how it got from Egypt to America, this book will answer your questions: How the Sphinx Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland.

For those of you who wonder what lives in the Okefenokee Swamp that stretches over the border between Georgia and Florida, Deep in the Swamp by Donna M. Bateman, illustrated by Brian Lies, is the book for you. Alligators, snapping turtles, and rat snakes (they can swim!) are among the creatures you’ll meet.

Grace Lin received a Newbery Honor for her book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, a novel inspired by the Chinese folktales she learned as a child. In her picture book The Ugly Vegetables, she describes what she thinks are ugly plants that come out of her mother’s garden—at least compared to her neighbors’ flower gardens. Until she finds out what you can do with those “ugly vegetables.” (Hint: there’s a recipe at the end of the book.)

THow the Sphinx Got to the Museum
Deep in the Swamp
The Ugly Vegetables

We think these books will leave you feeling wiser than before. But let us know what you think on our Facebook page. We love hearing from you!

With all my best,
Jenny

Jenny BrownJenny Brown is the editor for Readeo and oversees all book selection for the site. She has worked in the children’s book world for the past 25 years, holding positions with HarperCollins and Scholastic, and was the Children’s Books Reviews Editor for Publisher’s Weekly.  She currently writes for School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Shelf Awareness. Jenny graduated from Princeton University. You can read more from Jenny on her Web site, Twenty by Jenny.

Posted March 8th, 2011 in Books, News, Readeo Reviews, Reading, Relationships by Jenny Brown

Read Interrupting Chicken for Free on Readeo
David Ezra Stein received a Caldecott Honor for his illustrations in Interrupting Chicken, which he also wrote. It’s about a little chicken whose father is trying to read to her, but she keeps jumping in to give advice to the characters! Will poor Papa ever get to finish a story? (Sound familiar?) We asked the author-artist about his inspiration and artwork for this picture-book celebration of reading aloud together.

We liked all the details in the picture before the story starts, the “title page.” Are these clues to the little red chicken’s energetic personality?
Yes. All the details in the title-page art speak volumes about the house and who lives there. We see that the papa is rather formal and that his stately, old-fashioned home has apparently been “accessorized” with a child’s paraphernalia. We can imagine what happened just before we came upon the story. An enthusiastic chicken and her dad had dinner together. We can almost hear the echoes of the little chicken as she told her dad all kinds of things, all the while spilling pasta everywhere. Our brains are filling in gaps like mad at this stage. When we get to the actual text, we are ready for the present story to begin.

When Papa says to his little red chicken, “And of course, you are not going to interrupt the story tonight, are you?” you let us know that the feathered hero may have broken into the story once or twice before. Was it important to choose stories you thought children would know well?
A good book works on many levels. It helps if a child knows about these stories. But a chicken promising to be good and then jumping out and making her dad mad is funny in itself. I chose stories that had a crux moment, where one single interruption would really ruin everything!

We liked the way the artwork in the storybook tales—“Hansel and Gretel” and the others—had an old-fashioned feeling, with just a dab of color (red for the wolf’s coat and Little Red Riding Hood’s bonnet and bloomers, for example). Then when the little red chicken enters the storybook, she’s all Technicolor! How did that image of the two worlds crashing together come to you?
Thanks. I really enjoyed trying to find an old-fashioned style that was still “me” and still loose. I definitely used the contrast in styles to make the chicken’s entrances jarring. But I didn’t start out knowing that that was how I was going to paint it. The final style you see came from lots of experimenting with the art.

The reactions of the storybook characters to the little red chicken’s entrance are hilarious! Especially the birds’ reactions in Chicken Little.
Hee hee. I really enjoy the birds’ reactions, too. There is something funny about a fussy bird wearing headwear and then being startled. Go figure.

We liked how little red chicken’s story, “Bedtime for Papa,” has her crayon drawings and stickers.  Were the main illustrations of Papa and his little chicken also done in crayon? How did you do the storybook illustrations? We noticed you also used “tea” in your artwork.  (Did you know that Peter Reynolds also uses tea? You’re the only two I know of that use tea!)
Yes, there’s a lot of crayon in the main art of the book (Especially in the wallpaper). It is added over watercolor washes. The chickens themselves are mostly watercolor with crayon and pencil highlights. In the storybook I used pen and watercolor. And of course, tea, to give it that aged look. I didn’t know Peter Reynolds used tea. I love his work. Very inspiring and pro-creativity.

Where did you get the idea for an “interrupting chicken”? Do you have your own “interrupting chicken” at home?
The book is based on the knock-knock joke:
-Knock knock!
-Who’s there?
-Interrupting chicken.
-Interrupting chi— BWOK BWOK BWOK!
I do have an interrupting chicken at home. But he wasn’t born yet when I was working on this book. He toddles over to me now with a book and asks me to read it. I guess my book predicted the future!

What’s the best thing about bedtime stories?

When someone reads to you, it means they love you. It’s a wonderful way of being together!

With all my best,
Jenny

Jenny BrownJenny Brown is the editor for Readeo and oversees all book selection for the site. She has worked in the children’s book world for the past 25 years, holding positions with HarperCollins and Scholastic, and was the Children’s Books Reviews Editor for Publisher’s Weekly.  She currently writes for School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Shelf Awareness. Jenny graduated from Princeton University. You can read more from Jenny on her Web site, Twenty by Jenny.

Read Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein for free on Readeo!

Posted February 28th, 2011 in Book of the Month, Interviews by Jenny Brown

Dear Readeo Friends,

For the fairy tale fans among you, this week we introduce two tales of brave princes and princesses. The Real Princess: A Mathemagical Tale by Brenda Williams, illustrated by Sophie Faus, is a suspenseful retelling of “The Princess and the Pea” with a mathematical spin. Three brothers all wish to find the princess of their dreams. But Primo, the oldest son who will be king one day, must find a real princess. His mother, the Queen, hatches a plan to help him. The Princess and the White Bear King by Tanya Robyn Batt, illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli, will appeal to fans of Beauty and the Beast. (We won’t say why, but here’s a hint: There’s more to the White Bear than at first meets the eye…)

And lastly, did you ever wonder why we have The Year of the Tiger? Or why 2011 is the Year of the Hare? The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Anne Wilson, explains why with this folktale about a race among all the animals. The Jade Emperor of China wanted a way to measure time. And he wanted to name each year after a different animal. But how would he choose which animals should be included and what order they would go in? He decides to hold a race, and the winner’s name would get the first year, the second-place animal would get the second, and so on. (You even get to find out why Rat and Cat no longer get along.)

The Great Race
The Real Princess
The Princess And The White Bear King

We hope these tales will leave you feeling happily ever after. So, read or BookChat with these new titles today and let us know what you think in our comments here or on our Facebook page. We love hearing from you!

With all my best,
Jenny

Jenny BrownJenny Brown is the editor for Readeo and oversees all book selection for the site. She has worked in the children’s book world for the past 25 years, holding positions with HarperCollins and Scholastic, and was the Children’s Books Reviews Editor for Publisher’s Weekly.  She currently writes for School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Shelf Awareness. Jenny graduated from Princeton University. You can read more from Jenny on her Web site, Twenty by Jenny.

Posted February 22nd, 2011 in Books, Reading, Relationships by Jenny Brown

I’m very excited to announce a new Readeo initiative today!

The best thing about BookChat is that it lets us read to and connect with the children we love from anywhere. With Readeo, Internet access, and a webcam, we can read with children a block away or half a world away. My son has a better relationship with his grandparents because they spend time reading together every week.

Children today need more adults to take a sincere interest in their education, learning, and development. 70% of children reaching the 4th grade now read below grade level. This is an unbelievably sad statistic and we hope, in a small way, that our new program can help begin to reverse the tide in this literacy crisis.

We’ve partnered with Chicago International Charter Schools (CICS) to create an entirely new volunteering experience. We’re calling it eVolunteering. Our eVolunteers will read to children in CICS’s Loomis Primary Campus using Readeo’s BookChat technology. This means a Readeo eVolunteer from Florida could read to one of the children at Loomis in Chicago. Each week, our eVolunteers will read with the same child for 30 minutes.

We are piloting this project with one 2nd grade class of 27 students. We’ll be reading with these students in two different sessions at 1:30 CT and at 2 CT each Thursday beginning on March 3rd.

We’d love for you to sign up as an eVolunteer. You can eVolunteer from your office, home, school, or local coffee shop. It’s free to participate – all we need is your time and commitment. If you’d like to become a Readeo eVolunteer, please fill out a short eVolunteer application by clicking on this link!

Finally, I would like to thank Meghan Schmidt at CICS and April Shaw at Loomis  for their enthusiasm and help in setting this up! They’ve been fantastic to work with! And, a special thanks to Sandbox Industries for sponsoring the equipment for the school!

Posted February 18th, 2011 in Books, Events, Reading, Relationships, Volunteering by Coby