There are only three books that we haven’t yet read on the Before Five in a Row (BFIAR) booklist: My Blue Boat by Chris Demarest, The Quiet Way Home by Bonny Becker, and Jenny’s Surprise Summer by Eugenie. All are out of print and have exorbitant price tags around the web; I’m not going to feel bad about not having those on our bookshelf – or so I tell myself!
When my friend Sanne told me about – and bought for me – Kittens for Keeps, an adaptation of Jenny’s Surprise Summer, I jumped at the chance to cross a book off our list.
Meg is a little girl who visits her grandmother who lives by the beach. She finds two kittens one day and promptly falls in love with them. With a small house in the city, Meg’s parents ask her to choose which of the kittens she will keep and which one will stay with her grandma.
We explored the three themes that are also in the original book – beach, kittens (of course!), making choices – and read a lot of other books to reinforce our experience of each topic.
We always play with sand, but we’ve never tried wet sand WITH sea shells. I got the lovely idea from the free introductory issue of Impart Magazine, which is owned by the daughter of Five in a Row creator Jane Lambert.
We were able to make a sand castle – or is it just an upside-down sand bucket?
and listened to the sounds of the beach from our Kindermusik Out and About CD and this beautiful shell that I borrowed from Sanne.
We also read the following books about the beach:
- The Seashore Book by Charlotte Zolotow – A book that encourages imagination and will transport you to the beach!
- Wonders of Nature – A Little Golden Book celebrating nature
- The Big, Big Sea by Martin Waddell – A moving book about a girl and her mother who make a memorable visit to the beach one beautiful night. The illustrations are luminous and something that you just have to see for yourself! Here’s a peek.
Little T and Baby Boy had fun crawling on all fours while making their best cat sounds – meooow. Oh, and Little T also lapped milk from a bowl on the floor. Really cat-ty!
For our read-along about kittens, we read:
- Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag – A Newbery-winner published in 1928 by the author of The ABC Bunny. We had a grand time repeating the extremely catchy phrase, “Cats here, cats there, cats and kittens everywhere. Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats!”
- Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes – A Caldecott Medal book about a kitten who thinks that the moon is a bowl of milk.
The choice that Meg has to make is exactly the one that April in April’s Kittens faces – which kitten should she keep because their home is too small? A Caldecott Honor book and written by Clare Turlay Newberry, April’s Kittens provides a deeper look into the emotions and thinking process that come with making a decision. It’s the purr-fect book to read with Kittens for Keeps.
Even though Little T makes choices everyday, she was still fascinated to realize that she does! I pointed out to her the time that her grandparents had asked her to go to their farm with them for the weekend. Though she had really wanted to go with them then, she chose to stay so that she could go to her Kindermusik class and see her friends. Self-awareness is always a good thing, and I am glad to be able to talk about decision-making with her even at an early age.
So, is it worth reading an “adaptation?” My answer is yes, just make sure to beef up with a lot of great go-alongs!