Super cute alert: Kimochis

August 29, 2012

Kimochis = cutenessKimochis are so adorable I want to squeeze the bejeebers out of all of them. Including the books (it is totally ok to hug a book).

Which I think makes me Huggtopus, the octopus who sometimes gets a little overexuberant with her enthusiastic hugging.

Kimochis are cute little dolls with feelings, and there are picture books to go along with them, Bug Makes a Splash, Cloud’s Best Worst Day Ever, and Cat’s Not-So-Perfect Sandcastle (disclaimer: we received these books and a mini Bug as free review copies). You can go to the Kimochis website to see the critters in all their ridiculous adorableness.

Now, listen: I am not generally a fan of messagey picture books, or ones that are obviously trying to get kids to think something in particular. Sure, all picture books are probably trying to get kids to feel something in particular, but I back away from books that seem to be all, “HELLO CHILDREN! FEEL THIS, PLEASE!”

So I was a little nervous about Kimochis. Would they be hitting me over head, telling me how my Feelings were Ok?

Bug Makes a SplashSo: yeah. There is the definite sense that, you know, if you give a shy kid Bug, then it might help that kid to feel braver, since Bug is shy, and does things to feel braver. But before you get all gaggy, you should know that these books, and critters, and just so darn cute that you have to forgive them for talking to you about Feelings. As soon as we pulled our Bug out of the package, all my kids passed him around and cuddled with him (and then, well, fought over him, which is a Feeling he doesn’t really address). I will also say that the illustrations in the books (by Hanako Wakiyama) are FABULOUS — sweet and spare and totally fitting the books.

And as we were sitting there, reading them, I decided to get over myself. Not every book can be quirky and odd and hilarious (if they were all Chloe and the Lion, then Chloe and the Lion wouldn’t seem so remarkable).  Also it occurred to me that we’ve been doing a bit of a Berenstain Bears marathon lately, and The Bears are nothing if not messagey.

And you know what? My kids love Kimochis. They think they are adorable, and they think the books are fun. Each book seems to have a silly part, and a sweet part, and a part that makes them kind of quiet and contemplative (likely thinking, “Yeah, I remember when I went totally nutbar just like Cloud is doing”) (which is kind of the point).

The website has some info for educators (including downloadable handouts for using Kimochis with autistic kids). I think these could be extremely useful in the classroom, where books about feelings (and controlling inappropriate ones) are even more needed than at home, I imagine, and Kimochis would be a welcome change from Bobby Bear Gets Angry and Hits Things Sometimes (ok, I just made that up, but I’m sure there are books like that).

Here’s my quick-and-dirty lowdown: get Bug Makes a Splash if you’ve got a shy kid, Cloud’s Best Worst Day Ever if you have a kid who sometimes gets giant angry feelings, and Cat’s Not-So-Perfect Sandcastle if you’re dealing with a little perfectionist. And definitely get the accompanying stuffed animal, because they’re adorable.

And, finally, here’s a video about Huggtopus. Because it’s so cute:


Review on Brain Burps: And Then It’s Spring

August 27, 2012

And Then It's SpringOh boy, this is a good book. Which you’ll figure out after hearing my near-rapturous review. This book manages to pull together sweet-sad poetry and humor in just a few words, and the words are perfectly matched with Erin Stead’s illustrations.

What I didn’t mention in my review is that the first few times we read this, each reading took (or, well, seemed to take) about six hours, because on every page, Ramona would scream, “DOG! TURTLE!” So it went sort of like this: “First you have — DOG! TURTLE! — brown, all around — DOG! TURTLE! — you have — DOG! TURTLE! — brown…” But these are the dangers of reading anything to a 2-year-old, and I have to say that “And Then It’s Spring” held up beautifully despite repeated interruptions.

You can check out more info on the podcast episode here, or go straight to iTunes here.

And yes, the podcast episode happened almost a week ago, but we had lovely guests, and then I hurt myself, so things are a little behind schedule here at World of Julie, sorry.




August 27, 2012

In a flurry, rushing to get things done, always rushed, I stepped out of the shed carrying boxes of camping food and SNAP! (BAM? WHOOTZ? some kind of comic book sound for sure) my knee buckled and camping food went everywhere (flying marshmallows!) and I was in the dirt, helpless. Good thing I have all these kids to bring me ice and clean up the cans of baked beans I’d thrown asunder. Dave came home ten minutes later and helped me hobble inside.

That was Friday night. The doctor on Saturday said I’d done something. It might be a tear, but we’re hoping for a sprain, she said. Though later it occurred to me that I’ve never heard of anyone having a sprained knee. Have you? So I’ve got to go get an MRI this week and see what I did.

Until then: crutches, ice. Less frequent internet communications since I’m on the couch.


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The Little Free Library is a week old

August 27, 2012

First I want to tell you about how happy I still am about our Little Free Library. You know, you have this idea in your head, and it seems like a great idea, and then you make your idea, and put it out there, and then there’s that panic, the feeling that maybe it was a huge mistake (is it just me? that cycle of thought happens about 100 times a day for me). So we put up the Little Free Library, and…

It has been awesome!

The first day there was almost a 75 percent turnover in books. Books were flying in and out of there. It was so fabulously gratifying. These have been my most favorite exchanges:

  • Two 8-year-old girls, riding by on their bikes, who stopped and said, “Let’s play bookstore, and pretend this is a bookstore where we can get books!”
  • An 8-year-old boy running (RUNNING) to the Little Free Library first thing in the morning, flinging open the door, and taking out a book, saying, “Phew! It’s still here! I had to get it before anyone else did!”
  • Best of all: the 12-year-old boy who declared, “I don’t like reading” when I told him he could take a book, who then, the next day, came back and took out “The Way Things Work, Volume 2”  (not the David Macauley one, but this vintagey thing we had kicking around), declared, “I found a book I like!” and then held it to his chest like he’d found treasure.



Little Free Library

August 20, 2012

Do you know about Little Free Library? The first time I heard about it, I had an immediate dream to have a Little Free Library of my own. The problem is that we have a house we’re constantly tearing apart, and four kids hanging from us needing some sort of parenting, and all those other life things, and taking the time out to make a little wooden box we’d fill with books seemed sort of frivolous. So I never mentioned it.

Then one day Dave and I were talking about community, and giving back, and teaching the kids about service, and suddenly I was rambling on, and on, about Little Free Libraries and how they embody all of my favorite notions of service: literacy, serving your immediate neighborhood, and fun and surprises where you don’t expect them (ok, I don’t think that last one is really a legitimate “notion of service,” but it’s one of my favorite things about life).

And Dave, wonder that he is, thought it was a great idea and started helping me build one the next day. We were able to use leftover shingles so it matches our house. We involved the kids as much as could in the design and building. And of course we had to put in a light — we get a lot of late-night dog walkers, and I wanted them to be able to pick books at midnight. (Another dream I didn’t know I had: the desire to give late-night dog walkers a way to choose books in the dark.)

I am so happy and proud about this. I’ve been spending a lot of time staring at the Little Free Library, hand over my heart, and sighing.

Plus it’s my first library job! I’ve got to put that MLS to use sometime!

Little Free Library | World of Julie

Little Free Library | World of Julie

Little Free Library | World of Julie

Little Free Library inside sticker | World of Julie

Here’s the sticker we designed for the inside. We made it so it looks like a library card in a pocket, but it’s got our address, and, under date due, says, “WHENEVER.”

Little Free Library at night | World of Julie

The Library at night.

If you’re in South Portland, stop on by! Little Free Library #2354 open and ready for reading!

CATEGORIES: books, Julie


August 16, 2012

Lovely springy toddler curls | World of Julie

Today, I am grateful for Ramona’s ponytails.



Children’s Book of the Week: The Scary Places Map Book

August 15, 2012

I feel like I need a new category for reviews: Books that Are Keeping Henry Unbelievably Occupied, But I Don’t Really Know What They Are. In that category I’d put The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat and Do Not Open and Fantasy: An Artist’s Realm. And now this book: The Scary Places Map Book: Seven Terrifying Tours by B.G. Hennessy, illustrated Erwin Madrid.

So, Henry will be 9 in a few days, loves the Goosebumps books (like any good almost-9-year-old) and is kind of obsessed with geography. In many ways, it seems like this book was made just for him. You have to find your way through magical map worlds to find secret (magical?) objects.

You know what? I can’t even tell you any more because he just stole the book back from me. I can tell you that, yesterday in the library, I handed Henry this book, and he didn’t lift his head out of it for 45 minutes. And then, on the walk home, he made Eli play an elaborate game where they pretended to be in the book. And they have, at this point, probably spent (honestly) 8 hours reading it since we got it yesterday.

I’m sorry I can’t tell you more. I can’t wrench it out of his hands. If you have a kid who likes maps, magical places, scary things, finding hidden things in pictures, and bookish adventures, your kid will like this book.


New review: A Strange Place to Call Home

August 15, 2012

New review today! Check out the Brain Burps About Books podcast to hear all about how the first time I read A Strange Place to Call Home by Marilyn Singer and Ed Young, I had no idea what to do with it. And then how I looked at how much Henry was loving it, just copied what he was doing, and realized how incredibly awesome this book is.

It profiles fourteen animals who live in harsh or odd conditions, and tells us about them through poems and torn-paper collages. It’s truly amazing, and is especially loved by my animal-loving, poetry-loving almost-9-year-old.

Today’s podcast is an interview with Jerry Craft, all about African-American culture in comic books. Check out the details here, or head right on over to iTunes to listen.


Henry and Eli make a video

August 13, 2012

So, what do you get when you add two Star-Wars-obsessed kids, Legos, and a video camera? This. (Also: I feel the need to mention that they haven’t actually seen any of the Star Wars movies. So this is their version of Star Wars via, you know, book learnin’.)




August 3, 2012 of the best parts of Maine | World of Julie

Today I am grateful for neighbors who say, “The blueberries are ripe. Come and pick whenever you can.”

I see a cobbler in my future.


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