Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear


An adorable mouse, a succulent strawberry, a possible threat to the strawberry, and a narrator with an ulterior motive make for a cute tale that charms kids and amuses adults.  This is a great one to read aloud with much dramatic flair.

Authors:  Don and Audrey Wood
Illustrator:  Don Wood

Barney Bipple’s Magic Dandelions


Barney Bipple is six, but he’d rather be eight.  He’d also like a big, shiny car of his own and for his dog to be able to talk.  One day he does a favor for his very well dressed next-door neighbor, who rewards him with three white, puffy dandelions.

“Make a wish, blow on a dandelion, and your wish
will come true. But stick to simple wishes, like for diamonds
and furs. If you need more, just let me know.

Now Barney can have everything he’s ever wanted. But things don’t turn out quite the way he expected in this playful book.

Steven Kellogg’s pictures are sunny and fun (and give a very different tone to this book than Arnold Lobel’s work gave to the same author’s work in The Tale of Meshka the Kvetch). The boys love seeing how Barney’s wishes in action and suggesting ones of their own.

Author:  Carol Chapman
Illustrator:  Steven Kellogg (apparently we have the revised edition of this book, where Kellogg did new, more colorful, illustrations)




In this story, a talented, homeless orphan is taken in (in more ways than one) by a bird catcher who deceives her in order to take advantage of her musical ability and kind heart.

This book reminds me a good bit of The Lorax, despite having a very different story and style. Both books show individuals’ choices making a difference and both focus on interactions between individuals and the natural world. The villains in both books are multidimensional, lonely, and even sympathetic characters who lives are warped by greed. Finally, like The Lorax, Birdsong‘s beautiful pictures and unusual story fully capture the boys’ attention.

Author: Gail E. Haley
Illustrator: Gail E. Haley


The Lorax


This classic story is beautiful, disturbing, and hopeful. It is also, unsurprisingly, a great read aloud and not to be missed.

“But now,” says the Once-ler,
“Now that
you’re here,
the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear.
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not.

Author:  Dr. Seuss
Illustrator:  Dr. Seuss


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

Skip to My Lou


This book is a charming extension of the old song. The board book version has six fewer pages than the picture book, but contains the essence of the tale. Whichever version you end up with, it is great for toddlers.

Author: Nadine Bernard Westcott
Illustrator: Nadine Bernard Westcott



A gosling’s beloved bright red boots turn up missing (literally) one day.  This sweet book has a lot of character and a very satisfying ending. It would make a great last-minute addition to an Easter basket, especially if your toddler has had enough of bunnies.

Author:  Olivier Dunrea
Illustrator:  Olivier Dunrea

But Not the Hippopotamus


Lots of animals are doing fun things together. But not the hippopotamus. Will she ever join in?

Our Boynton mini-theme continues with this somewhat bittersweet book. The boys enjoyed the rhymes, the very expressive animals, chiming in on the reoccurring title phrase, and the unexpected ending.

Author: Sandra Boynton
Illustrator: Sandra Boynton

Doggies: A Counting and Barking Book


The title pretty much says it all here. Like Blue Hat, Green Hat, it is vaguely educational but could get by on pure fun. I still have it memorized.

Author: Sandra Boynton
Illustrator: Sandra Boynton

Blue Hat, Green Hat


Sure, this book touches on learning colors and correctly putting on clothing. But it really is an excuse for enjoying dramatic reading (the boys especially appreciated their Dad’s version of this one) and a silly, silly turkey.

Author: Sandra Boynton
Illustrator: Sandra Boynton