Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book Review: Charlie Plays Ball (ranch dog)

Charlie Plays Ball, by Ree Drummond with illustrations by Diane deGroat (Harper, 2015, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 4-8)

Play Ball!

You CAN sometimes judge a book by its cover and this is one of those times. The Charlie books are simply grand – for grandkids and their grandparents, too! You will have your favorite, however. And the author, Ree Drummond, also a cooking guru, now has a line of kitchen assists (at least on military bases). What fun to bring the whole family into Charlie's world on the ranch.

Story vs Pictures

With children’s books, either the story or the illustrations can make or break a book. Generally one is yards better than the other but with the Charlie books, both are simply grand!

Diane deGroat’s visual depictions, not only of Charlie, but also of Oklahoma ranch life tell the story in pictures that Ann Marie (“Ree”) Drummond tells so humorously with her talented words.

Quiz after Fun Quiz

After your child has been read Charlie Plays Ball countless times and can then read it to you, it’s time to examine the illustrations – count the different sport balls on the cover, name the animals: what do you think Charlie is smiling about? Many illustrations are quite detailed so the young reader can put himself on the ranch and get to know all the animals and people, describing each part of each scene.

Work Hard, Play Hard – On the Ranch

And what do you think is Charlie’s favorite ball?

Previous Review: Charlie and the New Baby

Next: Hank the Cowdog

Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: Charlie and the New Baby (Charlie the Ranch Dog)

Charlie and the New Baby, by Ree Drummond with wonderful illustrations by Diane deGroat (Harper, 2014, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 4-8)

First Things First

Of course you would want to read the first book first, Charlie the Ranch Dog, to your children but also, right afterwards let them “read” Charlie and the New Baby to you which is, of the five in the Charlie collection so far, the most “picture-y” of the books.

Diane deGroat does a simply marvelous job of creating illustrations that tell the story putting you in the picture, leaving almost no need for words, thus making The New Baby a good starter book for the younger set – they can tell the story themselves almost the first time!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

If your child knows and loves Charlie already, you can ask him to guess who the new baby is and what Charlie thinks of it – I bet Son or Daughter will be surprised and delighted.

I suspect that each book may be a real-life situation from the Drummond Ranch family life – each has counter-themes running through and sometimes taking over. Isn’t it amazing how daily life can be so exciting and educational to those with other daily lives?

Our amazing author, Ann Marie (“Ree”) Drummond is shown on the back cover looking much like the real Charlie (Basset Hound) with red hair, both. How she manages to blog about cooking, homeschool her brood of four, and write about a ranch neophyte (herself) and cooking and dogs, is beyond me!

I’m sure the Drummond Ranch looks just like it is depicted – idyllic, grasslands, nearly treeless – after all we are in Oklahoma!

Nose Bent out of Shape?

Children identify with Charlie (and all the kids that belong to him). Charlie has his favorite foods, his favorite activities and he even gets bent out of shape for a while with this new baby. But love comes to the rescue.

The Charlie book with more of a lesson than the others perhaps, The New Baby still is a fun read for kids of all ages.

NextCharlie Plays Ball, the final Charlie book (so far)

PreviousCharlie Goes to School

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Book Review: Charlie Goes to School (ranch dog)

Charlie Goes to School, by Ree Drummond with illustrations by Diane deGroat (Harper, 2013, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 4-8)

Riddle of the Day

Charlie goes to school but doesn’t go to school. Why not? What two schools are shown in this Charlie book?

These are questions to ask your child after reading this Charlie book.

Once again, Ann Marie (“Ree”) Drummond has given children and their parents a wonderful look into ranch life plus the ranch life of a real ranch dog, Charlie.

Who is Charlie?

Charlie the ranch dog has long ears and short legs, a combination that works well for this supervising, ‘lovably lazy,’ working ranch dog who is adept at napping and eating bacon.

You will smile as your child reads this book to you and explains the wealth of information in each Diane deGroat lovely and realistic illustration of western life: horses and cows, porches and barns, grasslands and Kitty Kitty.

Charlie Goes to School, like the other Charlie books, is one that you will keep as your child discovers new things each time he reads it - and you will keep it to read when you need just a lovely short story. (By the way, Drummond’s book, The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels – A Love Story is the story of Drummond herself for adults, the story of a surgeon’s daughter turned sorority girl turned working ranch homeschool teacher to her four children and dog author and cooking blogger and . . . . )

Don’t blame DogEvals if your daughter wants to vacation on an Oklahoma working ranch that has a dog or two, and an indoor chipmunk!

Next: Charlie and the New Baby

Previous: Charlie and the Christmas Kitty

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Book Review: Charlie and the Christmas Kitty (dog, Oklahoma ranch)

Charlie and the Christmas Kitty, by Ree Drummond with illustrations by Diane deGroat (Harper, 2012, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 4-8)

Drummond Does it Again

With another lively, lovely book about Charlie the ranch dog, the multi-talented Ann Marie (“Ree”) Drummond delivers a delightful Christmas story. (Suzie, the young pup, helps everyone decorate, while Charlie “supervises.”)

Drummond is the daughter of a doctor and a college sorority girl who married an Oklahoma rancher,  homeschools her brood of four, and writes about dogs (very well) and cooking, on the side. Whew!

Charlie Does it Again

Charlie opens each book with a welcome introduction to set the stage.

And then - wait a minute! Is it a rabbit under the Christmas tree? No, it’s a kitty! But Charlie wasn’t expecting a kitty on HIS ranch!

Maybe if he ignores it, it will go away. Maybe if he eats his lunch and minds his own business, it will go away.  Maybe if he takes a nap, the kitty will go away. But than again, maybe not.

And then, another surprise! A surprise surprise that I will keep under wraps! How will it all end? Better read the next book in the series and hope to find out. . . .

deGroat Does it Again

Cowboy boots on the cover again and can you find the spurs and the tiny horse ornament? The Christmas tree even has a snowman but Charlie lives on a working ranch in Oklahoma, a state we don’t ordinarily connect with snow.

Flannel shirts and cowboy hats on, inside the house. Ask your little one to find the four Western-themed ornaments (dog, horse, steer, horse shoe) on an inside page.

The ever expressive Cover Charlie looks a tad bit surprised as the Christmas kitty snuggles up to him.

deGroat includes more of the Drummond family with each title in the series - here, depicted from their backs, but children can easily find the mom (Drummond) and dad (“Marlboro Man”) and, with a bit of research, perhaps even the four Drummond progeny. And ask your kids to describe hanging the stockings over the fireplace and see if they find the pictorial fun.

DogEvals highly recommends Charlie and his tales.

Next: Charlie Goes to School

Previous: Charlie the Ranch Dog

Caveat: Hopefully, your local public library, like ours, has the entire Charlie series to whet your appetite but I bet you will end up buying them anyway!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Meet Charlie!

Previously, DogEvals posted about Charlie's first book so we thought we should introduce you to Charlie! Meet Charlie, the ranch dog.

Charlie the dog will live forever in the hearts of children, big and little, everywhere.

Charlie the ranch dog. . .
lives on an expansive Oklahoma ranch with his four human kids and their mom and dad (the “Pioneer Woman” and the “Marlboro Man”), lots of other pets and farm animals, and he wants to tell you about his (so hard) life, supervising everyone and everything.

He is the cutest little smiling basset hound who gets tuckered out easily and falls asleep but manages to ‘roar’ in every book.

And every book includes his favorite food – a recipe for kids to make.

For the next five days, DogEvals will review the Charlie books in order.

You will meet the Christmas Kitty and the new baby,
visit Charlie’s school(s),
and discover Charlie’s favorite ball.

But, most of all, you will come to love Charlie and see just how exhausting life on a ranch can be.

Thank goodness for naps, eh, Charlie?