Tag Archives: toys

The Sea-Breeze Hotel


Things are not looking good for the owner and employees of the aptly-named Sea-Breeze Hotel:

“It’s too windy to fish and swim,” moaned the children.
“It’s far too breezy for beachcombing,” the parents
“It’s even too blustery to sit on the balcony,” the
grandparents grumbled.
And they all packed their bags and went away.

But then an employee’s grandson makes a kite to cheer up the hotel owner. Once the other employees see what fun she is having with it, they make kites too. And once people begin to notice the kites circling and soaring overhead, they all want to visit the kite-flying hotel and “[n]ot one person complained about the wind.”

Author: Marcia Vaughan
Illustrator: Patricia Mullins

The Animals’ Merry Christmas


This collection of short stories and poems is one of my very favorite books. I loved it when I was a kid and now I love reading one or two of the stories to the boys each night before bed during the lead up to Christmas. The stories are absolutely charming and the pictures are beautiful and I wish this version (from 1969) wasn’t out of print (the version currently in print cut out a few of my favorite stories–I have no idea why). Don’t let the missing stories stop you from picking up a copy of the new edition, if you don’t have one already. This book is contains so much holiday joy; it really shouldn’t be missed.

Author: Kathryn Jackson
Illustrator: Richard Scarry



It was bedtime. Chris and his father sat side by side on
Chris’s bed.
“Alexander was a pretty bad horse today,” Chris said.

His father lit his pipe. “Alexander, the red horse with
green stripes?”
Chris nodded.
“What happened?” Chris’s father asked.

It seems Alexander has had a rough, rough day. But Chris’s father reassures him that “anybody can have a bad day once in a while” (even, it turns out, Chris), and still be able to look forward to being “wonderful” tomorrow.

This charming vintage book feels extremely contemporary (well, except for that pipe), and is the perfect reminder that tomorrow is another day.

Author: Harold Littledale
Illustrator: Tom Vroman

Too Many Toys


One day, Spencer’s mom had it up to here with
all the toys. “SPENCER!” she yelled on her way upstairs.
That’s impossible! thought Spencer.
Then she said, “We’re going to get rid of some of them.”
“Pick out which toys you don’t want,” she ordered,
“and put them in this box.”
“BUT I LOVE THEM ALL!” Spencer cried.

This book will tickle every kid that ever had to defend a dearly (or newly) beloved toy and every adult that has ever stepped on a Lego. The illustrations are somewhat odd, but very effective, and an unexpected twist ending adds a nice touch.

Author: David Shannon
Illustrator: David Shannon




This funny book has only one word–“Ball”–and is therefore a great example of the impact of punctuation. The dog’s dream sequences are especially creative and playful, so it particularly appropriate as a bedtime story.

Author: Mary Sullivan
Illustrator: Mary Sullivan

When the Sun Rose


When the sun rose today, a friend came to visit me.
She came in a carriage bright as the sun.
Even the stones in the road were shining.
Her lion stopped at my gate.

This story begins with an enormous, golden rose rising up into the sky (yes, the title is a visual pun); moves to a friend arriving in a carriage shaped like a golden rose and pulled by a golden lion; proceeds to a day of play and creation; and ends with a departure, a promise, and a house full of roses.

The boys are not charmed this book’s dreamy/vague plot and prominent dolls (although they are found of the lion eating blueberries with cream while the narrator and her friend enjoy honeycake and tea). I am utterly charmed by it, however. It glows.

Author: Barbara Helen Berger
Illustrator: Barbara Helen Berger


Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo


‘Round the mountains, high and steep.
Through the valleys, low and deep.

Into tunnels, underground.
See the darkness. Hear the sound.
Chugga-chugga choo-choo, echo calling,



This simple, rhythmic story of a special journey works best at bedtime and is perfect for little ones who are interested in trains. It is a real pleasure to read aloud.

Author: Kevin Lewis
Illustrator: Daniel Kirk

What to Read (to Your Toddler) When You’re Expecting


We found all of these books to be helpful (in different ways) for preparing for an sibling.

Waiting for Baby and My New Baby have no words; their stories revolve around a toddler’s-eye viewpoint of what happens when mom is pregnant and then what happens when the baby arrives.  There are three primary reasons these books are a great way for toddlers to get used to what is going on and what is likely to happen next.  First, you can customize the “story” to where you are in the process and what they most want to know.  Second, there is a real focus on showing how the soon-to-be sibling will be involved in the process (for example, helping make dinner for a tired mom, or helping dad take baby on an outing). Third, the books make it very clear that the older sibling always has an important place at the center of the family. We “read” these books a lot.

What Shall We Do With the Boo-Hoo Baby? gets toddlers used to the idea that babies cry sometimes, and there are things that you can try to do that might help, but sometimes they won’t work out as hoped (and that is OK).

On Mother’s Lap has a simple, sweet message of there always being enough room on mother’s lap (and, implicitly, enough love to go around).

Authors:  Annie Kubler, Cressida Cowell, Ann Herbert Scott
Illustrators:  Annie Kubler, Ingrid Godon, Glo Coalson





Clink’s an old and rusty robot who has watched countless robots be taken home to families while he stays on the shelf.  No one seems interested in a robot who simultaneously makes (burned) toast and plays music.  But is there a match out there for Clink?

This book is poignant, ultimately joyful, and beautifully illustrated.  Both boys have agreed they would love to adopt Clink, burned toast and all.

Author:  Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrator:  Matthew Myers

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