A few years ago, I wrote a book review about Crêpes by Suzette by Monica Wellington that my daughter Chloe had just picked up from the library. The book was out of print but I really loved collage style of the book mixing city and scenery photographs of Paris with illustrations. It's just a fantastic book! Now for our digital age, lucky for us Wellington has launched an app of the book. It's truly the book form come to life for Apple and Android devices.
You can have the book read to you not only in English but also a host of other languages (French, Spanish, German, Japanese and Italian). Chloe likes to find all the easter eggs on the page which will activate the french word they are learning on the page (i.e. "On y va!" - let's go). There's is also a DIY Crepes section where kids can get a recipe and watch videos on how to make their own crêpes.
At anytime on a particular page, kids can click on the top icon which will give kids access to a variety of additional info:
The map shows all of the arrondissements in Paris and where Suzette's crepe cart is.
The video button shows a video of the famous landmark on the page.
The photo button shows more real-life photos of the area featured in Paris.
The vocabulary button translates the highlighted french word on the page into each language.
The art button lets kids can also learn about the famous artwork featured on the page.
It's a great app for kids to learn about Paris and art. I love seeing this paper book come to life!
Actress Julianne Moore has a new children's book out, My Mom is a Foreigner, But Not to Me (illustrated by Meilo So, published by Chronicle Books). I had no idea that Julianne's mom came to the U.S. from Scotland when she was 10, much like how my own mother came to the U.S. from Asia. I was lucky enough to see some of the watercolors by Meilo So in person at the Chronicle Books Children's book preview earlier this year. The illustrations are so beautiful and capture the diversity of all the moms I see around my own city.
This book was a great way to relate different cultures to my daughter Chloe because she herself is growing up in a multi-cultural home (French and Chinese) and attends an international school. She loves it when I read the little post it notes in the front of the book that says "I love you Mommy" in different languages. (I can't seem to figure out the last one.)
If you have an iPad, the iBooks version ($7.99 via the iBooks store on your device) is fantastic with Julianne Moore narrating the book oh so perfectly. I love listening to her voice. I have also found a new love for having children's books on the iPad, especially when we go on vacation and need stories for bedtime reading while on vacation. The book is also available in a Kindle edition for $9.59.
What inspired you to write My Mom My Is a Foreigner, But Not to Me?
My mother immigrated to the United States from Scotland in 1950, when she was ten years old. Upon entry to the States, she was asked if she would like to become a citizen, and she said no, she fully expected to return home to Scotland someday. She was married very young to my father (an American boy she met in high school in New Jersey) and I was born when she was 20. She eventually became an U.S. citizen when she was 27 when my father was applying for jobs that required she not be a foreign national. I remember her coming home crying because they made her renounce her British citizenship. She was also holding a small American flag!
So I grew up with a very young mother who had a strong sense of herself as belonging to another culture, and who also communicated to her children that we were a part of that culture too. It was obvious in small ways, like her coloring and her accent, but also profoundly, in the way she viewed her world. It was something I noticed intermittently when I was a child—when my friends would ask why my mother “talked funny” or why I had a kilt—but to me, everything about my mother was completely normal and familiar to me, even her own sense of being foreign. She was, simply, my mother, the mother that I wanted, the one that did everything for me and that I loved more than I can articulate.
This book, of course, is for her.
What do you hope people take away from their reading of your new picture book?
I hope they recognize their own families, their own mothers and grandmothers, and that it gives them pleasure! Also, this is not an unusual story—so many of us in the United States, or many other countries, for that matter, have a parent or parents who emigrated. And I do feel that as a country we have become more and more about inclusion of culture, ratherthan simply assimilation, so it gives kids (and educators hopefully) a platform to talk about it.
What drew you to Meilo So’s art for this book?
I was so struck by the quality of Meilo’s people in her art work—she works with water color, in a very impressionistic way — but the people seemed very distinct to me, and very real. I wanted to feel the character of the moms, their ethnicity, and their physicality, their emotion, and for them to look like all the moms that I had known and continue to know, in life. And Meilo’s art captures all of those aspects so beautifully. The crazy coincidence is that she is also a foreign mom, and lives in Scotland, where my Mom was from!
My husband has a math degree and he's always trying to incorporate fun math games or whatnot into our daughter's play. PBS KIDS recently announced their new initiative, It All Adds Up, a fun and educational new initiative focused on providing families with educational resources to support informal math learning at home.
The new PBS Parents Play & Learn App features more than a dozen games parents can play with their kids, connecting math and literacy skills to everyday experiences. The app works on the iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Android and more. You can download the app depending on your device from this page.
If your kids like to play with your iPhone when you are in the car or out to dinner, here's a great app that will help foster their creativity. Featuring bunnies with teeth, dreamy rainbows, and smiling fruit, Mr. Chiizu ($2.99 on iTunes) is one of the cutest iPhone apps out there. The app lets you decorate your photos with themes, photo filters, stickers, pens and text bubbles. Pictured above are my two little loves Chloe and Lulu. Seriously, I can't stop giggling over Lulu dressed as a mouse with balloons!
Delphine Doreau of Non Dairy Diary has a new iPad app called Little Bunnies ($3.99) that will sure to delight the little ones in your home. You really can't go wrong with cute bunnies! My daughter Chloe loves this app and plays with it all the time. We will play it together and she'll say "bunny game!". I've been a fan of Delphine's wonderful illustrations for years now and love that the text is narrated by a fellow Glam blogger, Tami Yu from Fete a Fete.
The iPad apps narrates a sweet tale about each of the bunnies with a simple sentence or two before each bunny is presented. There are 14 bunnies in all. The illustrations and design is just what you'd expect from Delphine if you read her blog (and please, you should!) – beautiful watercolor pictures and adorable, cuddly bunnies giggling or waving on the screen. The animations are elegant and sync well to the story, as well as to the overall calming music that plays in the background. This app is a breath of fresh air from those that get a kid's attention with obnoxious midi music and fast paced animations. It teaches them to slow down a bit and learn to look at the pretty details. I love that because it's also beautiful for me to enjoy as well.
Chloe's favorite is the sneezing bunny where the little bee buzzes through, lands on the bunny's nose, and then he sneezes. She'll sneeze too, laugh and then play that whole scene again.
Delphine created a wonderful menu system that is there throughout the story. At any point you can click the top area and the menu comes down. The buttons are also perfectly sized for little fingers. I love that kids can also record their own voice and sounds on each page to add to the story. And the menu screen of all the bunnies is one of Chloe's favorites so she can click on each of her bunny loves and enjoy interacting with them.
You can also pick up the French version, Petits Lapins ($3.99) which narrates the story in French.
Enjoy this iPad app with your little one, especially as we all cozy up for the holidays and cold weather indoors. It's a wonderful delight that you will enjoy with your little ones day after day!