Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate


A fierce little woman’s solitary life (filled with knitting, playing the bagpipes, and fishing) is suddenly interrupted by a self-proclaimed wicked pirate with an adorable parrot and an utterly unexpected, dark, secret.  A spirited standoff ensues with an surprising and very satisfying outcome.

The boys particularly love the parrot and pirate.  I’m partial to that fierce little knitting woman.  But we all love the very happy ending.

Author:  Joy Cowley
Illustrator:  Sarah Davis

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


This may be the perfect read-aloud chapter book.  It is terribly funny.  There are lots of pictures and they are great (nothing against Quentin Blake, but I suggest sticking with the original illustrator).  The characters are a hoot.  The candy creativity is off the charts.  The author is beautifully off his rocker.

But the best part of all is simply reading it aloud.  I had never realized how the language sings.

Author:  Roald Dahl
Illustrator: Joseph Schindelman

If I Built a Car


Jack, from the backseat, said to his dad,
This car is OK.  This car is not bad.
But it’s just a car.  Nothing great.  Nothing grand.
It’s nothing at all like the car I have planned.

This may be the perfect picture book.  The rhymes, cadence, and illustrations are irresistible (not for nothing did this book win the E.B. White Read Aloud Award).  Also, we all really, REALLY want Jack’s car.  (An instant snack bar?  A pool?  An impeccable safety record?  A built-in robot chauffeur?  The ability to sail, submerge, and fly?  SIGN US UP.)  This is the first book my oldest learned by heart; it is simply addictive.

Author:  Chris Van Dusen
Illustrator:  Chris Van Dusen

The Chocolate Cat


Who can resist a chocolate cat?  Not us.  This sumptuous book begins by introducing a chocolate maker who lives in a “drab little place,” has nearly no friends (or customers), and has forgotten how to smile.  His only companion, a chocolate-colored cat, is rather lazy and grumpy.  But then–

One day, for no particular reason, the chocolate maker made something different.  Suddenly, there were chocolate mice with crunchy pink-sugar tails everywhere.

And everything begins to change.  This book inspires rapt attention and much wide-eyed dreaming as we watch an inspired cat transform an entire town.

Author:  Sue Stainton
Illustrator:  Anne Mortimer