Monthly Archives: May 2014

Duck! Rabbit!


Which is it? While the boys are firmly on Team Rabbit, they really enjoy the debate. If you’re looking for a quick and cheerful bedtime book, this is perfect.

Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld
Illustrator: Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld


Need a House? Call Ms. Mouse!


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 Art Lesson


Tommy knew he wanted to be an artist when he grew up.
He drew pictures everywhere he went. It was his favorite thing to do.

His friends had favorite things to do, too. Jack collected all kinds
of turtles. Herbie made huge cities in his sandbox. Jeannie,
Tommy’s best friend, could do cartwheels and stand on her head.

But Tommy drew and drew and drew.

This book is a great portriat of a young artist (“Tommy” is Tomie de Paola himself) and a very different time. The boys really enjoy this book. Highlights are Tommy’s joy in the sixty-four colors found in a large Crayola box (they agree that gold, silver, and copper crayons are especially exciting) and they are always amazed that each first grader in Tommy’s is given one (and only one!) precious piece of paper for art class.

In the final page of this book, a grown-up Tommy is sitting in his studio. Pictures from some of his most famous books (many of which the boys recognize) are on the wall. Tommy drew and drew and drew…

And he still does.

Author: Tomie de Paola
Illustrator: Tomie de Paola


Little Fox Goes to the End of the World


This is a tale of wild, imagined adventures; practicing leaving home behind; and of family. (It reminds me a lot of Where the Wild Things Are.) The boys like how Little Fox’s imagined journey to the End of the World unfolds–the creative perils and solutions are a huge part of the fun (and the pictures–get the version of the book with these out-of-print pictures, if possible).

Author: Ann Tompert
Illustrator: John Wallner


Boynton Albums


Once you get hooked on Sandra Boynton books, a great surprise awaits. Boynton moonlights as a lyricist, and has gotten her work recorded in albums by some really unexpected artists. These books all come with illustrations, lyrics, sheet music, and…the real draw… CDs that have become some of our very favorites. Philadelphia Chickens is done in a musical-revue style. Dog Train‘s style is rock and roll. Blue Moo follows a 1950s-jukebox style. Below are some of our favorite artists and songs from each album.

Philadelphia Chickens: The Bacon Brothers (title track), John Stey (Fifteen Animals), and Adam Bryant (Pajama Time).
Dog Train: Blues Traveler (title track), Billy J. Kramer (Cow Planet), The Bacon Brothers and Mickey Hart (Pots and Pans), and The Phenomenauts (Don’t Give Me that Broccoli).
Blue Moo: Brian Wilson (Speed Turtle), Christopher Kale Jones (Singing in the Shower), Davy Jones (Your Personal Penguin), and The Uninvited Loud Precision Band (The Uninvited Parade).

Author: Sandra Boynton
Illustrator: Sandra Boynton


The Color Kittens


Once there were two color kittens with
green eyes, Brush and Hush. They liked to
mix and make colors by splashing one color
into another. They had buckets and buckets
and buckets and buckets of color to splash
around with. Out of these colors they would
make all the colors in the world.

I loved to look at these pictures when I was small and this story is great to read aloud. The boys don’t mind it, but they don’t reach for it either. Perhaps it is too dreamlike for now.

Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrators: Alice and Martin Provensen


Blueberry Girl


This is a prayer for a blueberry girl.

First, may
be kind.

Lovely. And utterly girl-centric. (I may need a niece.)

Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Charles Vess


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


Cinnamon Baby


In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m going to share a few books that I enjoy a good bit more than the boys do (at least so far–I haven’t entirely given up hope they might become more general favorites).

The first book in this category, Cinnamon Baby, charms me completely. I love the story (filled with baking, music making, passion and jobs, romance and support, the joy and excruciating helplessness of parenting a newborn, love and exhaustion, playfulness, creativity, and beauty). I love the illustrations, which complement and enhance the story (which in a mere 34, unrushed pages addresses working, meeting, marrying, pregnancy, co-parenting, a very unhappy baby, and finally a very happy family). And I love how the boys indulge me and listen to it with a smile.

Author: Nicola Winstanley
Illustrator: Janice Nadeau


Where is the Green Sheep?


The quest for a missing green sheep leads to lots of opposites, colors, and rhymes.  The illustrations are cheerful and playful (did you notice the Singin’ in the Rain visual reference above?).  And finding out what the green sheep is up to just might inspire a toddler to nap.

(Our copy’s text is just in English, but the version currently in print has Spanish text too.)

Author:  Mem Fox
Illustrator: Judy Horacek