Craicmonkey’s Storytime Delights #9 and #10

Yes, I know I missed posting last month’s Storytime Delights; but I like to see it as a bonus edition for this month, rather than a complete lack of ability to get my act together last month. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Are You a Horse? by Andy Rash.

Are you a horse

It’s Roy’s birthday and he has just been given a brand new saddle! It even has instructions: 1) Find a horse 2) Enjoy the ride. Perfect, right? Well, not if you happen to be the only cowboy in existence that has no clue as to what a horse is! Roy sets out in search of the mysterious creature. Along the way he meets many different things, none of which are a horse, but all of which give him clues towards discovering what a horse actually is.

This is a fun story with a hilarious twist at the end that always brings laughs. The children are taken on an adventure of taxonomy as Roy, through a process of elimination and deduction gets closer and closer to his goal of getting to try out his birthday present.

Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen

Good little wolf

Rolf is a wolf; a good little wolf; a wolf who eats his vegetables and is nice to his friends. However, his best friend, Mrs. Boggins, warns Rolf that not all wolves good; a fact he discovers one day when he happens upon the Big Bad Wolf. The Big Bad Wolf tries to convince Rolf that all wolves are big and bad, and so if Rolf is a real wolf, he will need to prove it. Poor Rolf tries and tries, but isn’t able to live up to expectations, until finally something inside Rolf snaps. Is there really a big bad wolf inside of Rolf? Can the real Big Bad Wolf be reformed? Can I ask one more question for the sake of asking a question?

While on the surface this is a story about being true to yourself, it does have a somewhat shocking twist at the end that makes it more appealing to an older group, such as a classroom, where you can see sit back and watch the little light bulbs light up one by one.

I Spy Under the Sea by Edward Gibbs

I spy under the sea

There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea,

There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea…

There’s also a hole in this book about the sea. We are introduced to many different marine wildlife through a hole in the preceding page that shows only a little bit of who’s behind the page. Each animal is introduced by a clue, for example, “I spy with my little eye… something with lots of arms.” As you turn the page the rest of the picture is revealed and, as a sharp little girl in one of my storytimes observed, “It’s a counting book!”

Right you are, my dear. It is a counting book. Starting off with seven clownfish and working down to one animal “with a big fin” the children have a chance to not only guess the animal, but count them as well. There is even a hole at the end of the book that allows the children to look through to spy with their little eye.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin, Jr. (illustrated by Eric Carle)

Polar Bear Polar Bear

Listen! Did you hear that? What’s making that sound? Is that a lion roaring? Maybe it’s a walrus bellowing, or a flamingo fluting (whatever that is!) Welcome to the always colourful, and now, noisy world of Bill Martin and Eric Carle. In the style of Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? this book is another gem of simplicity. On each page we are introduced to an animal who is listening to the sound of another animal. While Brown Bear, Brown Bear focuses on colour, Polar Bear, Polar Bear explores sound. Some of these sounds are familiar to children like the roar of the lion, or the trumpet of the elephant. Some sounds, however, are less well known. Have you ever heard the yelp of a peacock? How about the bray of a zebra (it’s not what you may think).

This is a great book to get the children to participate. You can have lots of fun getting the little ones to try their hand at making all kind of sounds, even if you’re not sure what that sound is. If you feel like adding a tech element to your storytime, you could find examples of each animal sound and play them as you read the book. Using an iPad I employed two apps and YouTube to cover all the animals. The children were interested to hear the different sounds and had fun trying to imitate them.

The last page has a delightful image of children dressed up as all the animals making the sounds; another great way to get your storytime children involved!

Apps used: Zoo Sounds Free (Tantrum Apps), Animal Chatter (iGreenEarth)

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

bark george

George’s mother said: “Bark, George.”

George went: “Meow.”

George is a dog; and as we all know, dogs go: “Arf.” So imagine George’s mother’s worry as George opens his mouth and makes all manner of animal sounds except “Arf.” What’s a mother to do? Time to take George to the vet. At the vet we find out how all these other animal sounds got inside of George, to the great shock of George’s mother!

Feiffer’s illustrations are bold, simple, and full of expression as we see George’s mother progress from slight confusion to full-out distress. The children will have a blast reacting every time George opens his mouth both in and out of the vet’s office, not to mention the surprise at the end! Of course the story’s a lot more fun when the children get to help out with the sounds.

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems


Lonardo was a terrible monster. How terrible? Well, he couldn’t scare anyone. If you’re a monster, that’s pretty terrible. No matter how hard he tries, Leonardo can’t scare anyone. Then he gets an idea: Find the most scaredy-cat kid in the whole word, and “scare the tuna salad out of him.” Leonardo finds his mark and makes him cry; but is it fear that’s making him cry, or is it something else? Perhaps it has to do with an older brother, an action figure, and cockatoo poo. What is revealed challenges Leonardo to examine his life goals, yet without having to deny his true nature.

Another storytime favourite from our pal, Mo Willems, Leonardo the Terrible Monster is as fun to read as it is to listen to.


Is it still considered self-serving when the service is shite?

You should probably not blog when you are a) Drunk, or, b) Angry. Well rest assured, I am not drunk. Unfortunately, I am angry. I’m angry at myself. This anger is not directed at my family or my friends. This is about self-serving self-criticism.

Coming into November, I wanted to focus attention on my health. It’s no secret that I am not as active as I used to be, and I am really starting to feel and see the effects of my reduced activity. However, it is now clear to me that in order to properly attend to my physical well-being, I first have to attend to my psychological health, which, at this moment, is not all that great. Once again, I seem to have set myself up for failure.

My grand scheme to come back into running has fallen short as I have hardly gone out at all this month. I was hoping to go out at least three nights a week, but I can barely muster one night. I don’t care that the snow’s come and the temperature has dropped. I used to run in -20C. I used to purposely run toward the snow drifts and tromp through them. Now I come home feel my motivation seep away as the night goes on, if I have any motivation at all. Is it too late at night? When I started running I would almost always head out between 10:30 and 11:00 at night; in the middle of winter. Where is that dedication now? I was doing yoga, but the past two sessions I either haven’t been able to fit it into my work schedule, or couldn’t bring myself to justify spending the money. I used to do Muay Thai, and I loved it; and while I had most recently been doing it only one night a week, there was a time I was doing it two nights a week and even on Saturday mornings. Now I can’t even get myself organized to consider doing it that one night a week. I used to do indoor climbing. I even signed up for monthly competitions, and even though I didn’t do all that particularly well, I still went out and had fun and challenged myself. Now all of that seems to have passed away. Now I am either unable to motivate myself, or if I do have the desire, I am too bloody cheap to invest any money in my health. I was even too cheap, or too lazy, or both to simply buy a new bicycle chain to replace the one that snapped this past summer when I was biking to work.

I know my health is important. I know that as I age I need to keep active so that I can maintain my cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility. Yet I am finding it more and more difficult to invest the time and money, and as a result, I find myself becoming more and more disappointed, frustrated, and angry at myself. Even when I was more active and my self-esteem was being bolstered by the realisation that I was becoming more fit, I was still prone to the depths that a lifetime of negative self-image had created. I am afraid to go back there; and while this fear used to motivate me to strive harder, now it seems to simply reinforce my disappointment, frustration, and anger.

I don’t ever remember a time that I felt comfortable in my body. It has never been where I want it to be, even after I had lost a lot of weight. In my mind, I had never reached that point where I would be happy with myself; and now it feels like I am drifting further and further away from even that point where I had been making progress. I have fallen into a cycle of negative thoughts that feed on themselves and debilitate any attempt to break out. A large part of the problem is that I really don’t know what I expect of myself. There is a vague ideal that I cling to, cobbled together from media, friends, acquaintances, wishful thinking, and jealousy. Like some juggernaut of half-truths, this person is always before me, always out of reach. An ideal serves to motivate by being beyond reach; but where is the line that separates being just out of reach and impossible to obtain? How can I create an ideal that is close enough to reach for, but not so far away as to despair when I cannot touch it?

I’m not sure what I need to do rise out of this hole I’ve dug for myself. What I do know is that it will be difficult to rise to the challenge when I have spent so much of my life resigned to the thought that I am unable to reach my ideal; an ideal that is nothing more than a shade; undefined, ill-formed. What’s worse is that I have a tendency to see myself as unworthy of any achievements that I may have won along the way. If I hope to do better, then I will have to realise that better is good enough.

Rant is over.

I need to get a life.

Seriously, don’t blog when you’re angry.