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Children’s Book Corner: July 2009

Welcome to the Neighborhood-Kids Children’s Book Corner! Each month I offer one title each for four different age groups. These recommendations are based on my experience as the parent of a bookworm, an elementary teacher, and a voracious reader of children’s literature. Happy Reading!

For Baby Bookworms (Birth to 2)
Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long (1997, Chronicle)

"Hush Little Baby" by Sylvia Long

In this sweet picture book, Sylvia Long puts a non-materialistic spin on the classic lullaby. Instead of offering to buy various feathered creatures and jewelry, Long instead shows young readers the beauty of simple things around them. As a child begins to wind down for the evening, his mama shows him a variety of natural wonders such as the evening sky, a shooting star, and a harvest moon. She finds his teddy bear, catches a lightning bug, and plays on her old banjo. Finally, tucked under his warm bedspread, his mama sings him a lullaby. This is a wonderful book for reading, or singing, before bed.

For Preschool Power Readers (3-5)
Duck and Goose by Tad Hills (2006, Schwartz and Wade)

"Duck and Goose" by Tad Hills

My 3-year-old daughter and I were first drawn to Duck and Goose at the library by the brightly-colored cover illustration, and the gigantic ball on which the two characters sat. “What are they doing, Mommy?” she asked. Any book that leads her to ask questions wins big points in my mind. We opened it to find that the book is filled with humor and fun as the winged duo competes over who will take care of the giant spotted “egg.” There is a whole series of books starring Duck and Goose, and though I tend to love the first in a series the most, I would recommend all of them because they are, well, pretty gosh darn cute!

"Tuesday" by David Wiesner

For School-age Scholars (6-8)
Tuesday by David Wiesner (1997, Sandpiper)

It may strike you as odd that two months in a row I’ve recommended books with few, if any, words. What I love about this style is the way it shows children that there is more than one way to tell a story. Wiesner’s illustrations of nocturnal frogs on lily pads flying through an unsuspecting town offer something new to see every time you open it. I wonder what will happen on Wednesday?

"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeline L’Engle

For Independent Intermediates (9-12)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
(most recent publication: 2007, Square Fish)

I can’t help but refer back to this classic science fiction / fantasy novel for middle readers. When awkward teenager Meg, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and the popular athlete Calvin head out on an adventure in space and time in search of Meg and Charles Wallace’s father, they find out more about the universe, faith, bravery, strength, and family ties than they ever expected.

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Bellingham Arts Festival Takes to the Streets

Make your way to Cornwall Avenue in downtown Bellingham on Saturday, August 1, and Sunday, August 2, to celebrate summer with art, music, food, and fun! This year marks the 4th Annual Bellingham Arts Festival (formerly La Bella Strada), an event organized by Allied Arts of Whatcom County.

Bellingham Art Festival Jacquie Bresadola works with a young artist.
Photo courtesy Allied Arts of Whatcom County

Visit the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Cornwall Avenue on Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM and Sunday from 11 AM to 5 PM to check out the outdoor booths of over 40 local artisans. Grown-ups will enjoy browsing one-of-a-kind jewelry, paintings, pottery and more, and kids will want to check the children’s activity areas with all the tools needed to make some imaginative creations, like puppet-making with artist Christian Smith.

Live music featuring local musicians is scheduled throughout the festival, and you’ll also find the “Art Bar”—a beer garden featuring Boundary Bay Beer, Honey Moon cider, and a variety of wines—near the Mainstage.

Another staple of the Bellingham Arts Festival is the Chalk ArtFest, which has decorated downtown Bellingham for 16 years. Artists and aspiring artists of all ages will get a chance to give sidewalks a splash of color on Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM. Take a walk through downtown while the chalk artists work, stop by the Mainstage at 3 PM to congratulation the winners, and enjoy the completed works before the inevitable Bellingham rain washes everything away.

And what kind of festival would be complete without something to eat? On Saturday from noon to 4 PM, Downtown Bellingham Partnership brings Bite of Bellingham to the 1200 block of Cornwall, featuring over 20 local restaurants to compete for “Best Bite,” “Sweetest Sweet,” and “Dreamiest Drink.” Admission is free; tickets to buy bites are $1 each. Bites range from 1-3 tickets, and entrees are also available for purchase.

For more information about this exciting community celebration of art, visit Allied Arts of Whatcom County and Downtown Bellingham Partnership.

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Get Ice Cream from Biking Vendor

If you’re enjoying an afternoon outside in the yard this summer, you just might hear the friendly jingle from Tim Pattison’s ice cream bike. The sight of his half-bike, half-ice cream cart might be common on the New Jersey boardwalk, but it’s a bit more unusual in Bellingham.

Tim Pattison on his Ice Cream Bike. Tim Pattison on his Ice Cream Bike.
Photo provided by Tim Pattison

Tim has been peddling ice cream, and pedaling his ice cream bike, around Bellingham neighborhoods since the middle of June. During the rest of the year, Tim is an artist and says that he has “done all kinds of things to pay the bills when artistry does not.”

Much of the fun of Tim’s venture is about providing something special for his customers aside from simply selling ice cream. After witnessing a less positive interaction of his own children with a different traveling ice cream vendor, Tim wanted to give kids a more pleasant experience.

Luckily for Tim, a resident of Deming, an ice cream shop in Lynden that was going out of business had an ice cream bike for sale.

“I told [the owner] I didn’t want the shop, but I’d buy his bike. I figured I’d spend the summer pedaling around town, giving people the positive and funky experience that I thought should go with the Ice Cream Guy,” he said.

In Tim’s ice cream cooler you’ll find an assortment of Good Humor ice cream products, which says a lot about his philosophy in selling ice cream.

“I want it to be fun and I want it to be ‘old style,’ since Good Humor was the classic ice cream truck in the 1930s to the 50s,” he explained.

Bellingham locals have responded quite positively to Tim and his ice cream bike, waving or honking when they see him riding through town.

“People like it, even if they aren’t going to buy ice cream,” he said. “It’s ‘green,’ it’s old-timey, and it’s goofy to see me try to drive the bike on the street.” Tim enjoys the fact that he can provide people with a laugh.

He noted that kids need to be outside playing in the yard if they’re going to hear his ice cream bell, rather than cooped up inside with the television. And as a parent himself, Tim knows that sometimes kids need to be told “no,” because otherwise it wouldn’t be something special to get a Popsicle or a Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bar from the Ice Cream Guy.

“It’s an opportunity for kids learn about saving to pay for their ice cream, too,” Tim said, as there are all kinds of creative ways for kids to collect the less than two dollars needed to buy some ice cream. Washing cars, walking the dog, or even looking under couch cushions are just a few ideas he suggested.

Keep your eyes peeled for Tim and his ice cream bike, and your ears open for his jingling bells, around Bellingham neighborhoods on hot days this summer.

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