A Road Trip with Frog and Toad

Frog and Toad
We saw an excellent production of A Year with Frog and Toad at UCSC.

A summer car trip is the perfect time to break out the Frog and Toad soundtrack! The boys groan, but by the time we get to “Getta Loada Toad,” they’re singing along too.

A Year with Frog and Toad is a musical based on Arnold Lobel’s charming Frog and Toad books. It follows good friends, Frog and Toad, through each season’s adventures–planting seeds, swimming, raking leaves, and sledding. And it’s full of catchy songs.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.50.25 AMI’m also a big fan of the books. Blaine and Larrabee both loved them. Each of the four books in the series contains five stories that are just right for beginning readers. I admire an author who can draw memorable characters and tell a satisfying story with a few simple words.

Blowing out candles again
Larrabee had a Frog and Toad-themed 3rd birthday party with lots of cookies!

The musical does a good job of capturing the magic of the books. “Cookies” and “Shivers” are two of my favorite stories and songs. I only wish the musical included “A Lost Button.”

Our road trip tradition has one additional benefit. Now the songs bring back memories not only of the books and the musical but of many previous trips listening to A Year with Frog and Toad.

When the Bee Stings

IMG_4992Larrabee wandered into a nest of bees while playing in the woods at our house earlier this month. He emerged from the brush screaming and covered in bees. Mark shooed them away as best he could, but Larrabee was stung several times, once on the right thigh and twice on the left hand.

By coincidence, later that day he and I read the following passage from The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan in which Percy Jackson and his friends face the Titan Atlas:

“Zoe shot arrows at her father, aiming for the chinks in his armor. He roared in pain each time one found its mark, but they affected him like bee stings.”

Larrabee’s reaction: “Like bee stings?!”

If the arrows affected the Titan like bee stings, he should have needed some anti-itch lotion, an ice pack, and a cuddle on the couch.

But instead, the book tells us: “He just got madder and kept fighting.”

Wow. That Atlas is one tough Titan. Bet Larrabee’s glad he doesn’t have to hold up the sky.

Shh… It’s a Secret

The author known as Pseudonymous Bosch is a very mysterious fellow. He is pictured here (in disguise) at a bookstore that might or might not be Bookshop Santa Cruz. I can’t say.

The narrator of his five-book Secret Series is even more mysterious. In the first book, The Name of This Book Is Secret, he can’t reveal the setting of the story or the characters’ real names. Here is a brief excerpt from Chapter One: “Xxxx xxx xxxx xx xxx.” I’m not kidding.

I read this book to both boys a couple of years ago. We all enjoyed the intriguing tale of the Symphony of Smells, the missing magician, and the Midnight Sun.

The book is also full of side comments addressed to the reader, which make it extra fun to read aloud. For example: “If you’re sleepy, go to bed and save the next chapter for tomorrow. For the magician’s story, you must have all your wits about you. No wandering minds allowed.” Needless to say, we had trouble stopping after just one chapter.

A Literary Field Trip

When Blaine was in 4th grade, Gennifer Choldenko‘s Al Capone Does My Shirts and its sequels inspired us to visit Alcatraz Island. I highly recommend both the books and the field trip!

Al Capone Does My Shirts is set on Alcatraz in the 1930s. It tells the story of 12-year-old Moose Flanagan, his autistic sister Natalie, and the other kids of prison employees who live on the island.

Here are just a few of the things I like about this book:

  • It has a great first line: “Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water.”
  • It’s packed with interesting historical details, but it’s also the type of book that kids will read for fun (not just as a school assignment).
  • It has lots of baseball. The kids play baseball. The convicts play baseball. The kids search for convict baseballs. Finding all of the baseball spots was one of the highlights of our trip.

Have you ever visited the setting of a favorite book? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Speaking of baseball, Larrabee just finished The San Francisco Splash (Ballpark Mysteries #7). Maybe it’s time for a field trip to AT&T Park!