As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been looking for this book for a long, long time. I’m very happy to have found it. Doris Susan Smith has an amazing eye and her illustrations are beautiful, thoughtful, and clever (click on the picture of the frog’s “pad” above to see what I mean–it will get bigger).
My oldest likes the cat’s Japanese-style house and the frog’s pad best. My youngest likes the otter’s hunting and fishing lodge and the frog’s pad. My husband likes the owl’s observatory and fox’s den. My favorites are the worm’s hollowed-out pear and the frog’s pad (although all of us have several runners up for favorites). None of us like the pig’s mansion much (too formal!).
The words are nothing more than an excuse for the wonderful pictures, but we all like the book very much (although Ms. Smith’s Jeremy Rabbit books and The Elephant’s Airplane retain their places among the boys’ very top favorites).
Author: George Mendoza
Illustrator: Doris Susan Smith
The Bear family didn’t always live in the
big tree house down a sunny dirt road
deep in Bear Country.
Years ago, when Brother Bear was an only
cub, they lived in a hillside cave halfway
up Great Bear Mountain at the far edge of
And years ago, when I was an only child and the age my youngest is now, my parents gave me this book because we were moving. It must have helped. I came back to it many times over the years and now it is one of my youngest’s most requested bedtime stories.
Author: Stan & Jan Berenstain
Illustrator: Stan & Jan Berenstain
In this sequel to All Aboard with Jeremy Rabbit, it is Waldo Otter’s turn to be a fish out of water when he visits his cousin, Jeremy Rabbit, in the country. This time there are trips on a car, river boat, and bicycles. There are more delicious feasts and daring rescues. And once again the cousins, although they go through a few rough patches during the visit, have a wonderful time together.
Author: Doris Susan Smith
Illustrator: Doris Susan Smith
This funny story is entirely narrated by a deadpan wombat (an Australian marsupial that look like a brown bear cub that somehow got mixed up with a koala and groundhog). Initially, her days are unvaried; she spends her time sleeping, eating grass, and scratching. But when some new neighbors move in, her life (and theirs!) starts to change. After some consideration (and a lot of carrots) she decides “that humans are easily trained and make quite good pets.” (One suspects the humans have reached a rather different conclusion about wombats.)
This story, with its brevity and constant sleeping, is perfect for bedtime.
Author: Jackie French
Illustrator: Bruce Whatley
An easy way for me to get a “yay” from the boys is to pick out The Maggie B. as their bedtime story. A little girl begins the book by wishing on a star:
North Star, star of the sea,
I wish for a ship
Named after me,
To sail for a day
Alone and free,
With someone nice
When she wakes up, she finds that she is “in the cabin of her own ship” and spends the day joyfully taking care of the ship and her “dear baby” brother (the nice company). This book is always a favorite. Both the words and the pictures are scrumptious and story is a perfect mix of the fantastic and the matter-of-fact. (My youngest also enjoys the counting rhyme that ends with a nibbled little finger.) I was lucky to find this book through raves on other sites (one look at the pictures and I was hooked) where the word that came up over and over to describe it was “cozy.” I completely agree; we love ending the night snuggled up with The Maggie B.
Author: Irene Haas
Illustrator: Irene Haas
The first Mr. Putter & Tabby book I picked up was Mr. Putter & Tabby Pick the Pears. I loved it. The relationships between Mr. Putter, his fine cat Tabby, their outgoing neighbor Ms. Teaberry, and her good dog Zeke are the heart of the series and the the soft, bittersweet tone and pictures grabbed me immediately. Much to my delight, my boys loved it too. So we’ve slowly been adding to our Mr. Putter & Tabby collection. Like any series, we’ve connected with some of the books more than others. But we’ve read most of the following over and over again (sometimes we’ll read the whole book at a go, other times we’ll read a chapter before bed for several nights running). We also have several others in the series on our wishlist for “someday.” Here is our current collection in the order the books were published:
- 1994 Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea (a great place to begin–the origin story of Mr. Putter and Tabby’s friendship)
- 1994 Mr. Putter & Tabby Walk the Dog (introduces Ms. Teaberry and her chaos-causing dog Zeke–the boys love Zeke)
- 1994 Mr. Putter & Tabby Bake the Cake (a nice Christmas story that we just take out for a short time each year)
- 1995 Mr. Putter & Tabby Pick the Pears (as mentioned above, my personal favorite)
- 1997 Mr. Putter & Tabby Fly the Plane (a particularly bittersweet entry)
- 1997 Mr. Putter & Tabby Row the Boat (great for a hot day)
- 2000 Mr. Putter & Tabby Paint the Porch (the illustrations here are priceless)
- 2001 Mr. Putter & Tabby Feed the Fish (Tabby’s “fish problem” is presented with both sympathy and humor)
- 2003 Mr. Putter & Tabby Stir the Soup (Zeke gets lots of giggles here)
- 2008 Mr. Putter & Tabby Run the Race (the boys are in complete agreement with Mr. Putter’s motivation for running the race–a second-place prize of a model train set)
Author: Cynthia Rylant
Illustrator: Arthur Howard