Monday, April 4, 2011

The many adventures of Chester Raccoon...

As many of you know I love to read books! And with my love of books, I have found three companies that allow me to read books (either digital or hardback format) for free in exchange for a review here on my blog. These companies are: Blogging for Books, Booksneeze and NetGalley (you can find links on the side of my blog). Most of the books I read include anything from children's (picture) books, young adult, fiction, and non-fiction books.

In order to save some time and space, I am going to review 6 children's books (from NetGalley) in this one post since they were all written by one amazing author, Audrey Penn. Each of these books tells an adventure of Chester Raccoon, and how his loving and caring mother helps him feel better, no matter what the situation entails.

If you are interested in buying any of the following books, please click on the title of the book (where it is linked) and it will take you to Amazon where you can purchase it! You can also click on the author or illustrator's name to find out more about them too!

Book Review # 1
The Kissing Hand (published 1993)Written by Audren Penn, Illustrated by Ruth Harper and Nancy M. Leak

School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester's fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called The Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary. Since its first publication in 1993, this heartwarming book has become a children's classic that touches the lives of millions of children and their parents, especially at times of separation, whether starting school, entering daycare, going to camp. It is widely used by kindergarten teachers on the first day of school. Stickers at the back will help children and their parents keep their Kissing Hand alive.

My thoughts...
As a teacher, I cannot remember how many times I read this book through my pre-service, student, regular and substitute teaching. This book has probably been read millions of times, in millions of classrooms on the first day of school, or for any lesson during the beginning of the school year. It helps children (of all ages) realize that even though you are away from your mommy or daddy, they are still with you in your heart.

I know most people would see this book for elementary age, but I love reading this book to my daughters (who are 2 years old and 8 months old). Some day when they go to preschool or daycare, I will read this book to them, hoping and knowing that they will have the love of their mommy with them no matter where they go. New places can be scary for little ones, and having a book like this to share with my family is something I will treasure forever.

If you haven't already read this book, I highly suggest reading it, buying and/or giving it as a gift to any family, teacher, child or school!

Book Review # 2

A Pocket Full of Kisses
(pub. 2004)
Written by Audrey Penn, Illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson

In this tender sequel to the New York Times bestseller and children's classic "The Kissing Hand", Audrey Penn provides parents with another tale of love and reassurance to share with their children. Chester Raccoon has a baby brother, Ronny -and the baby brother is taking over his territory. When Chester sees his mother give his baby brother a Kissing Hand (his Kissing Hand!) he is overcome with sadness, but Mrs. Raccoon soothes his fears with her own special brand of wisdom, finding just the right way to let Chester know he is deeply loved. Brought to life by Barbara Leonard Gibson's warm illustrations, this story is perfect for families who are adjusting to all the changes new members can bring.
My thoughts...
The second in the Chester Raccoon book series, is such a wonderful book to own. Especially for those families who are still growing - like ours! As an only child (raccoon) Chester doesn't understand why his mommy must share kisses (kissing hands) with his little brother. Mrs. Raccoon does a phenomenal job of teaching Chester that her love for him will never be any less now that he has a sibling.
I have to say I have always been scared of the day when Destin asks me why she has to share her time with me and her baby sister Arwen. Being an only child myself for over 15  years, I never had to experience sharing my parents. My husband, was 1 of 5 boys who only knew life as sharing toys, clothes, and his parents. We actually had a conversation about our love for our girls is equal - how we would do absolutely anything for them - and how they will never have to feel jealous or sad of one another. We love them so much!
This book is something I would encourage to have in your own family discusses sharing, having a new sibling, and knowing that no matter what, you will always have the love of your parents to guide you.
Book Review # 3

A Kiss Goodbye
(pub. 2007)
Written by Audrey Penn, Illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson
Moving is hard on everyone, but especially children. Chester Raccoon, whom readers have come to know and love through the New York Times bestseller "The Kissing Hand", and its sequel, "A Pocket Full of Kisses", is facing another dilemma common to the lives of many children; he and his family are moving. Young readers will love the way Chester says goodbye to his old home and learns that there are some exciting aspects to his new home.
My thoughts...
When I read this book, I thought of how many children it would help....those that are moving to a new house, a new classroom or experiencing a new life change. It is very sweet and the ending of the book really shows the reader that new changes can equal new friendships/opportunities.

This book also addresses the issue of homes being taken away (from the animals) because of environment (natural disasters) or man power. In this case, the raccoon family has to move because there are tree cutters coming to cut down their tree, along with several others in the forest. How would you feel if you had to move because they were going to bulldoze your old home down OR if your home was destroyed by a hurricane/fire/tornado/etc.? It teaches children to sympathize with those that have to move, or those who may not have a home (homeless)...I know that might be a stretch - but its still a topic, nonetheless.

would definitely recommend this book for transitions or change, families that are moving, end of the school year lessons (moving to a new classroom) and more...

Book Review # 4

Description:In this latest addition to the Kissing Hand book collection, Chester Raccoon must learn to deal with another common problem of childhood: a bully at school.

When Mrs. Raccoon learns that there is a bully problem at school, she decides to investigate the situation. But after seeing the bully for herself, she shares a story about a forest that was full of smooth yellow stones, and how the animals living there changed a pointy stone they found into a smooth stone so that it wouldn't hurt any tender paws.

Chester, Ronny, and Cassy (the new friend he made when they moved in the previous book) follow the spirit of Mrs. Raccoon's story when they next encounter the Bully. Approaching him as a group, they invite him to play, proving that the best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him or her a friend.

This book encourages children to understand that many child bullies are themselves unhappy and gives readers a good example of settling differences by peaceful means. Educators will embrace this story about a positive strategy for dealing with a bully.

My thoughts...
Chester and his school mates are being bullied by a very bad, bad bullying badger and is making school miserable for them. All the little animals, including Chester dread going to school. There are four great lessons presented in this book:
1) The fact that Chester and his brother, after a bit of prompting, are able to discuss the matter with their mother, an adult. This, for most children may be difficult at times, but when they have a trusted adult to confide their problems with, it makes life so much easier for them. 2) After Mrs. Raccoon shares an old fable from her childhood, the children in the story learn that just because something is different (something that is rough around the edges), does not mean there isn't a hidden beauty lurking beneath it's rough exterior...3)it can be changed with a little help of caring friends, which is the third great lesson taught here. 4) Of course the woodland children take this fable and apply it to the bully badger; a group effort in kindness. They have also been told by mom raccoon that many times bullies are bullies simply because they are unhappy, feel excluded and have not learned that they can settle their difference peacefully.

This is a lot of very profound wisdom packed into a small book and the author is a master of taking very complex issues and wording them in a way that even the youngest of children can understand and relate to. This is a wonderful skill and we are fortunate to have writers that are willing to share.

I would recommend this book to every classroom, both young and old. Sadly, bullying is a problem that occurs everywhere all over the world - and even though there may be new programs left and right that are encouraging children NOT to bully - it still happens. This book is one that each teacher AND counselors should share with their classrooms, and could also be used at home with a parent to learn what to do in a bad situation. Absolutely no one deserves to be bullied and this book will help make things better for everyone.

Book Review # 5

Chester Raccoon's good friend Skiddel Squirrel has had an accident and will not be returning - ever (because he passed away). Chester is upset that he won't get to play with his friend anymore. Mrs. Raccoon suggests that Chester and his friends create some memories of Skiddel, so that they will have good memories when they miss him. Chester, his brother Ronny, and their friends decide to gather at the pond, where they combine their memories and create a touching celebration of their friend's life.

Many young children must face the loss of loved ones or the need to attend a funeral. This sweet story will help children to understand the positive purpose behind memorial services and how "making memories" can provide cheer and comfort when missing an absent loved one.

My thoughts...
When someone leaves, or passes away it can be so incredibly hard to understand - especially to a child. This book does a great job of teaching children how to celebrate the life of a loved one...Mrs. Raccoon helps Chester remember all the great memories of his friend. Even as an adult, death is something that is incredibly hard for me to deal with - I understand that it happens to everyone and that its okay to be sad - but this book stands as a great remember the good times, make a new memory and celebrate the life that once was.

I would recommend this book for counselors, teachers and parents alike...this is a book that would only be appropriate to deal with grief of some kind - whether it be a friend, family member, pet or someone that is close to your child in some way. I am so glad that this book was written for I said earlier, there are some topics that are incredibly hard to discuss and death is definitely at the top of the list. Books like this one are great to help children understand why certain things happen and what they can do to feel better.

Book Review # 6

A Bedtime Kiss for Chester Raccoon (expected to be pub. 08/15/2011 )
Written by Audrey Penn, Illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson

The sun is up, it's time for little Chester Raccoon to go to bed, but he is frightened by the shadows the sun is creating on the walls. Mrs. Raccoon soothes him with a Kissing Hand, and he is able to go to sleep.

This sweet and decidedly unscary board book is both a light-hearted way to calm children's fears at bedtime, along with a gentle introduction to Chester Raccoon and the Kissing Hand for the younger child. Funny illustrations will gentle the scary-looking shadows in a bedroom.

My thoughts...
There are few things different about this NEW (6th) book in the Chester Raccoon series. First, it is being written as a board book. Second, the text is written in rhyming stanzas. Third, the audience for this book is for a much younger age - which may be why the book is so short. With that said...its a very cute book that discusses Chester's fears of going to sleep and being afraid of things their lurk in the light (since Chester is nocturnal and sleeps during the day). His mother comes to his aid, and tells him not to be afraid - and of course gives him a kissing hand to feel better.

This would be a perfect for any bedtime story, ages baby through elementary school. I would recommend this book for any daycare program, and family with little ones to read at bed time.

hank You so much Net Galley and Tanglewood Press for allowing me to read these books! I cannot wait to read more books from you in the future!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received these books free from the publisher through the Net Galley review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

No comments:

Post a Comment