Friday, April 21, 2006

Crazy for the Magische Baumhaus

My kids are completely hooked on the German Magische Baumhaus (Magic Treehouse) series of books. In each book, Phillip and Anne travel to a different time or place in history and accomplish a task set for them by their friend, Morgan, who is the librarian from King Arthur's court. Along the way, they learn about the place and time they're visiting and they make new friends.

My son, NJ, likes these books so much, he begs for more chapters at bedtime and as soon as we finish one, he's ready to start another. The language is a little beyond his German comprehension but it doesn't seem to bother him and he asks lots of questions. He and ML both enjoy the pictures scattered throughout the book. So far, we've been to ancient Egypt, the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, a rain forest, visited with the dinosaurs, been to the moon, and just today attended a one-room schoolhouse on the prarie during the 1870's.

NJ likes these books so much, he has demanded I get the whole series - there are over 30 titles to date - yikes! So I will be adding more to the Alphabet Garten catalog very soon. Here is the current listing.

Interestingly, we tried reading one in English and NJ refused to listen to it. My mother had gotten him one about the first Thanksgiving in English and he was so disappointed it wasn't in German that I had to translate on the fly. Very tricky stuff - how do you say Pilgrim in German? I have no idea :) He's a particular kid and likes things just so.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Book Review: Frederick

Frederick is a little mouse who would rather collect colors, words, and sunlight while his fellow mice are busily gathering provisions for the long, cold winter. The other mice are quite nice about his not helping to collect nuts, berries, and wheat and when the food begins to run out, they turn to Frederick and he feeds their minds with visions of colorful leaves and plants and warms their hearts with the sunlight he's saved.

My kids enjoy the simple illustrations in this large German picture book. The text is limited to 1-2 sentences on most pages so there's lots of time to take in the pictures and not too much German vocabulary to digest. The poem about the four seasons at the end of the book is a peaceful and joyous ending and we could identify with the little mice looking forward to the goodness of Spring.

Here's an excerpt:

"Macht die Augen zu" sagte Frederick
und kletterte auf einen großen Sten.
"Jetzt schicke ich euch die Sonnenstrahlen.
Fühlt ihr schon, wie warm sie sind?
Warm, schön und golden?"

By: Leo Lionni
Format: Hardcover, 20 pages

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Bilingual / Bicultural Family Network

Have you seen the The Bilingual / Bicultural Family Network (BBFN)? They have tons of articles, tips, and advice for bilingual families. It's a must-see for parents of bilingual kids.

I am fortunate to be a contributor to the BBFN April newsletter! I've written about our struggle with passive bilingualism and sensory integration dysfunction. While the two are not necessarily related, they both have a very real impact on our family. I hope you enjoy the article. Let me know what you think!

Viele Gruesse,

Monday, April 03, 2006

Toddler Favorites

Dear Sarah,

My son is 21 months and enjoys his german books immensely. His
favourites are "Ich kenne alle Farben", it has a colour wheel that he
enjoys turning. Also from the Mini Lesemaus series, he enjoys "Meine
", as we are learning all about animals. The illustrations
are delightful, and the text is uncomplicated. Fantastic books!

- Kim