Children’s Book Giveaway: Emily and Alex: Plain and Fancy.
June 01, 2010

Emily and Alex: Plain and Fancy (written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Barroux) is an introduction to opposites.  The main characters are a set of adorable fraternal twins who show off their many differences throughout the book.  When one wears dots, the other wears stripes.  When one gets wet at the beach, the other stays dry.  When one is bored, the other is excited.

The book does not have much text.  Each spread has one or two words and an accompanying illustration.  The illustrations are endearing and have a very homemade finger-paint feel to them, which is probably my favorite part of the book.  Children of all ages thoroughly enjoy the vibrant colors and the expressive twins.  The binding and pages are also more durable than many picture books, which I appreciate.  But beyond that, in all honesty, the simplicity of the book does mean that there is not much to say about it.

This is the case with a large number of children’s books, but I have found that this is in no way a reflection of their value to a family library.  Emily and Alex: Plain and Fancy is a great way to start conversations and build vocabulary, even if it does not have a complex plot.

Pros: The end is adorable, but I do not want to ruin it!  So just trust me: the last set of opposites is a great way to start talking to your little ones about love, respect, and conflict.  I love that this book uses twins to illustrate similarities and differences – it paves the way for discussions about the nature of siblings and about how each child is individually wonderful.  As well, there are many child-friendly activities illustrated such as trips to the beach, climbing trees, and playing make-believe.  What better way to reinforce your child’s vocabulary related to activities they do every day?

Cons: None.  There is a set of ugly/pretty opposites that may offend some parents (I can think of at least one family we know who tries not to use any physically descriptive terms like fat/thin or ugly/pretty), but I personally do not feel that this is a problem.

Borrow or Buy: Buy.  At the very least, it’s much easier on the eyes than most single-concept books.

Did you know? During their first few years at school, the average child learns nearly eight words each day.  EIGHT WORDS EACH DAY.  (That absolutely blows my mind.)  Reading helps children reinforce their rapidly expanding vocabulary.  So, there you have it: one more reason to set aside thirty or forty minutes a day to read with your kids.

Reading tip: Point to illustrations and label them.  I know this seems painfully obvious, but you know what?  It never occurred to me to do this until a few weeks ago when I realized that telling Charlotte what the illustrations showed was meaningless to her if she did not know what the words were.  So now I point to everything as I talk about it.

What to do: You can enter this giveaway by leaving a comment below or sending me an e-mail answering this question: what is the first pair of opposites that comes to your mind?  (Be creative!)  All you need is an e-mail address.  The giveaway ends Thursday evening at 9 P.M. Pacific Time and the winner will be announced Friday morning.  You can leave one entry every day, for a total of up to three entries.

For extra entries: This is on the honor system, so please be honest.  I will award you one extra entry if you vote for me at Top Mommy Blogs by clicking here or at Top Baby Blogs by clicking here.  Each day you vote, I will award you one additional entry.  Don’t forget to let me know!  I am hoping to maintain or move into a spot in the top ten on both sites so that we can slowly begin to reach more parents about the joys and importance of reading with children.  If we inspire just ONE parent to read to their kid today, it’s worth a vote or two, don’t you think?

To purchase this book: You can buy Emily and Alex: Plain and Fancy through Amazon.com (that link uses my affiliate code) or locate a local retailer through Indie Bound.org.


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  1. By on June 01, 2010

    How about exhausted and energized?  (I have a 4.5 month old, guess which one I am and which one he is?)

    Voted for you as well!

  2. By beyond on June 01, 2010

    hope and fear.

  3. By beyond on June 01, 2010

    just voted for you over on topbabyblogs (you’re at number seven!)

  4. By Heidi on June 01, 2010

    Hot and cold.  (Our air conditioner is on the fritz…it’s June in the south…seriously sweltering over here…)

  5. By Mallory on June 01, 2010

    Mobile and still. Des is all over the place now, crawling away, and I can’t help but miss when he’d just sit and play.

  6. By on June 01, 2010

    Dirty and Clean,
    On a good day I am clean all day and on a bad day I am dirty way too long.  I love it when my baby daughter is in a good mood and I can take a shower first thing in the morning, rather than wait until I can take it in peace once my husband gets home from work.

  7. By on June 01, 2010

    Yellow and purple—for some reason the color wheel popped in my mind.  Must be all the baby clothes washing in anticipation of the big day!

  8. By Cynthia A on June 01, 2010

    Hot and Cold.. Cause it is cold outside and I was hoping for the sun, cause I am headed up to SB today!!  Boo hoo…

    Voted for you as usual :)!

  9. By on June 01, 2010

    grouchy and happy

    I voted for you

  10. By on June 01, 2010

    Cloudy and Sunny.  I was sad because the weather was supposed to be nice this week and it is super overcast and drizzley.

  11. By Bethany on June 01, 2010

    orange juice and just brushed teeth

  12. By Bethany on June 01, 2010

    vote for you as well, like i do everyday ;)

  13. By Dandy on June 01, 2010

    The first thing that came to mind was gestating and normal :)

    PS.  I felt the baby move for the first time early Sunday morning.

    It was pure magic.

  14. By Jennifer W on June 01, 2010

    The first thing I thought of was black and white colors. I’m obviously not very imaginative. :D

  15. By Lyndsey on June 01, 2010

    fat and skinny…I feel fat and hope to be skinny again one day

  16. By on June 01, 2010

    male and female

  17. By on June 01, 2010

    Voted both places.

    At Top Mommy Blogs you are the featured blog today.

  18. By on June 01, 2010

    Chocolate and Vanilla….I’m craving some ice cream.

    Vote for you at both sites.

  19. By on June 01, 2010

    Also, you’re the feature blog at Top Mommy Blogs…sweet!

  20. By on June 01, 2010

    cat/ dog   that was the first thing that popped into my head. I wonder if this like a blot test. Lol. I wonder what it says about me that I thought of animals… I have both so I like them both. Hm

  21. By Lyndsey on June 02, 2010

    I voted for you today in both places

  22. By on June 02, 2010

    voted both places today

  23. By on June 02, 2010

    calm/angry

  24. By on June 02, 2010

    sour & sweet

  25. By Megan R. on June 02, 2010

    short and tall
    (or Sarah and Donald….for this examples sake…just sayin…)

  26. By on June 02, 2010

    voted again for you today and second post

  27. By on June 03, 2010

    voted again today. You are at 19 on the Mommy Blogs.

  28. By on June 03, 2010

    Quiet/ Noisy .... The difference between a sleeping baby in the house, and wakeful squealing baby in the house. No matter how much I enjoy the quiet, nothing makes me smile bigger than listening to my sweet happy baby exploring.

    oh. And I voted at both sites.


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