Monthly Archives: January 2014

Remarkable Animals: 1,000 Amazing Amalgamations


It is remarkable how long this book keeps us all entertained.  First the boys make a truly wacky animal by flipping through various flaps made up of pieces of ten real animals (the picture above is of one of their creations).  Than I do my best to pronounce the resulting name and we read the description of our newly-created beast.  Much laughter ensues.  This is perfect for situations when you will be waiting on line (we used it this year when we were waiting to see Santa and the time flew by) or just want a good laugh.

Author:  Tony Meeuwissen
Illustrator:  Tony Meeuwissen

I Love You, Mister Bear


Continuing our mini-trend of children and beloved toys, this is a sweet and quiet book about a girl who finds a worse-for-wear bear at a tag sale.  She purchases him (with some help from dad), repairs him (with some help from mom), bathes him, and loves him.  When my oldest was a toddler, this was his very favorite book for a long, long time.  I read it to him over and over and over again.  Now he barely seems to remember it (and his little brother has not taken much of an interest in it).  But I suspect this book will live with us forever.

Author:  Sylvie Wickstrom
Illustrator:  Sylvie Wickstrom

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale


This book was our introduction to Mo Willems, a man who probably needs no introduction if you’ve had kids in the ten years or so.  (If you haven’t, the quick version is he is brilliant.)  Like his other books, Knuffle Bunny has a straightforward story:  a favorite toy is left behind in a laundromat, communication issues ensue between a (barely) pre-verbal toddler and her father, and a happy ending is ultimately achieved.  Like his other books, the art is cartoonish.  And, like his other books, it absolutely connects with kids.  This is an especially fun story for reading aloud–lots of voices and sounds and the kids love to hear how Knuffle Bunny is beloved, lost, and found and how the heroine finds her words.

Author: Mo Willems
Illustrator: Mo Willems

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything


Today, dinosaurs come with everything!

Like George Shrinks, this book has an irresistible premise (instead of balloons or stickers, or other more common giveaway items, dinosaurs come with everything from a dozen donuts to shots at the doctor’s office) coupled with charming and witty pictures that expand the story well beyond its text.  The book loses a bit of narrative steam around its final third, but it makes a strong finish, sparks the imagination, and is a lot of fun to read aloud.

Author: Elise Broachs
Illustrator: David Small

Green Eggs and Ham


Sure, I could talk about what a classic this book is.  How funny it is.  Its cadence.   Its illustrations.  All wonderful.

But the most wonderful part of all is that last night my oldest read (not recited!) about the first 25 pages of it to us.  He’s an official reader now!

Thank you!
Thank you,

Author:  Dr. Seuss
Illustrator: Dr. Seuss

The Ballad of Valentine


Happily, it is Clementine season.  We love those sweet, juicy balls of Spanish citrus, and it is hard to eat them without humming a bit of “oh my darling, oh my darling…”  Which, strangely enough, leads us to this book.  Using the tune from the famous western folk ballad, this story is told from the viewpoint of a hapless would-be suitor who keeps trying (and trying) and failing to send a romantic message to his darling, Valentine (who is concurrently working on a, much more successful, surprise of her own).  The word play is clever, the scenarios delightfully ridiculous, and it offers the opportunity for lots of dramatic interpretation (singing is optional, but lots of fun).

Author:  Alison Jackson
Illustrator:  Tricia Tusa

Roller Coaster


Whether you love riding roller coasters or watching them with fearful fascination (our current default), this book is a pleasure.  The wonderful illustrations create a backstory and a personality for each person in the book.  The attention to detail is amazing and the story is sympathetic to riders and non-riders alike.  It almost (almost!) makes you want to get on board.

Author:  Marla Frazee
Illustrator:  Marla Frazee

Old Bear


By the time Old Bear
fell asleep for the winter,
it was snowing hard.
Soon he was dreaming.

Old Bear leads us through a winter’s worth of beautiful dreams, one for each season of the year.  This is another short, quiet, dreamy book that is perfect for just before bed.

Author: Kevin Henkes
Illustrator: Kevin Henkes