Craicmonkey’s Storytime Delights #7

It’s time for Craicmonkey’s Storytime Delights, the Musical Edition!

I enjoy getting the children involved in my storytimes, and there’s nothing like a song to liven things up. These books are great for opening up the floor to audience participation; and even if they don’t end up singing along, you can still get a smile from them as you ham it up and grove out on your own.

Today Is Monday by Eric Carle

Who’s hungry? Well Eric Carle’s got a whole bunch of animals, with very specific diets and feeding schedule, ready to tell you about their food. Today Is Monday takes children through the days of the week and introduces a different food item to go with them. String beans are on Monday, spaghetti is on Tuesday, and on Wednesday we get zooop (soup). While this can be read straight through, there is a tune that accompanies the text, which is printed on the last page of the book, along with an adaptation of the text in verse form.

As always, the vibrant signature illustrations of Carle are a feast for the eyes, but this story also gives children a great opportunity to participate in song. My daughter’s kindergarten class had performed this song as a chorus, but I’ve also simplified it in my storytimes by having the children belt out, “Come and eat it up!” whenever I prompt them with the preceding, “All you hungry children…”

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin

Pete the Cat loves his white shoes; loves them so much that he sings a song about them as he walks down the street. Unfortunately, Pete happens upon several obstacles that threaten to stain his beautiful white shoes. Raspberries! Blueberries! Mud! Oh, no! Pete’s white shoes are no longer white, but does Pete cry? Goodness, no! Nothing is going to stop Pete from walking along, singing his song.

This simple, yet positive story is filled with groovy illustrations by James Dean, and is punctuated by Pete’s catchy song that is easy for children to pick up on. Best of all, the story ends with a great moral about resilience when dealing with life’s little mucks. “It’s all good.”

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins

Alright, even though the other two books have simple melodies that are forgiving, even to the tonally impaired, you may still be hesitant to let your inner vox shine. No problem; as long as you can keep the beat, there’s Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb.  While there’s no tune to this story it does have an infectious beat. Drum, clap, or simply bop along to the many monkeys, with their many fingers, and many drums in this boom-bastic book.

A classic from 1969, this book is fun to share with large groups, especially if you have enough drums to go around; and if you’re short on instruments, they can still clap, stomp, or even try out a little beatboxing to spice things up. “Dum ditty, Dum ditty, Dum dum dum.”


Confessions of a recovering runner. Part 1, In which a zombie recalls the past

This weekend is the annual Canadian Derby Marathon in Edmonton. I, incidentally, will not be participating. Last year I had left it to the last moment to sign up, finally giving in to a nagging guilt that kept reminding me how I hadn’t missed this event since I first signed up 5 years earlier. Even though I was injured I ignored all good sense and figured that I could somehow run through the pain. It’s one of my little quirks that once I am able to accomplish something for the first time, I expect that I should always be able to do it; and so sign up I did. Clearly my pride had done me in; and again the following February when I signed up for the Hypothermic Half Marathon, again because I had done it before, ergo, I should be able to do it again. In short, I was a moron.

This time it’s different. This time I am swallowing my pride and admitting to myself that this year I am unable to do it. Instead I am on the road to recovery, as I slowly get back into form. Just this past week I was on an evening run when a particular song shuffled through on my playlist. It was “Zombie” by the Cranberries. It so happens that this was the very song that was playing on my playlist as I dragged myself across the finish line at last summer’s marathon (see Confessions of a reluctant runner. Part 8). A very fitting selection, as it turned out. Not so much in terms of the Irish Problem, which is the song’s original theme and which my running a marathon had absolutely nothing to do with, but rather the title itself. As I came through the last kilometre of the run I must have resembled a zombie; a hobbling, shuffling, smelly, moaning, possibly drooling shell of a human. It was the lowest I have ever been in my time as a runner as I dealt with feelings of shame, disappointment, guilt, anger; a deadly cocktail to be sure. Yet, there was something else inside that carried me through that last kilometre, in fact it had been carrying me for at least 15 km before that, if not more. Indeed there was a horrific sight lurching its way toward the finish line, but I, this particular horror, had taken on not just the physical characteristics, but the single-mindedness of the ghoul. The finish line was my goal and there was nothing that was going to stop me from achieving it. I was transfixed, and my gaze would not be diverted.

As I think about this year’s marathon, I am of course disappointed. It hurts a bit not to be able to run this year, despite all the effort and pain that I willingly endure each time. Yet as I was listening to “Zombie” this past week on my run, and as these memories of last year were playing through my head, I became filled with determination; a determination to rise from the grave of self-pity; a determination to once again set my sight toward the goal; a determination to once again become that zombie who just wouldn’t die and kept advancing…

… only, maybe not so much drooling this time.