This book, like Where the Wild Things Are and Andrew Henry’s Meadow, is a fantasy of escape and return. However, while the children here do go a bit wild, unlike Max they are startlingly domestic (much like Andrew Henry, who also originated with Ms. Burn). Rather than having wild rumpuses, they create one cozy new home after another, enjoying each in turn until problems arises and they move on. The pictures are very detailed and add to the sense of exploration (we have the original version and have not seen the updated edition with new illustrations, although the cover looks quite simplistic). And the text is a pleasure to read aloud.
In this pint-sized variation on an epistolary novel, a child writes to a zoo asking for a pet. The zoo politely responds, sending a parade of exotic animals (packaged inside flaps to be lifted by the reader) that don’t work for one reason or another (the camel, for example, is too grumpy) and have to be sent back. Finally, there’s a perfect, doggy, ending. This is another fun book where our original copy didn’t survive the toddler years.
I should have know we’d have to get a dog someday, given how popular this book was. Not quite as durable as Tails, by the same author, it was just as popular and I got a replacement copy when the first got too ragged. Very toddler friendly, it has plenty of things to touch, pull, and flip, plus it has cute pictures. If you’re squeamish, you may not appreciate a quick reference to doggie bodily functions, but the boys thought it was hilarious.
Author: Matthew Van Fleet Illustrator: Brian Stanton
A rollicking rhyming scheme, a rough and ready narrator (a New York City trash truck), and plenty of gross-out humor make this lots of fun for the younger set. There’s even an ABC interlude (from Apple cores to Zipped-up ziti with zucchini). This was very popular for a long time at our house.
Posted onJanuary 15, 2019|Comments Off on Who Has What? All About Girls’ Bodies and Boys’ Bodies
It is really, really challenging to find an age-appropriate book for young kids that want to know what naked bodies look like for boys and girls. But the search was worth it; this book is perfect. Your curious kid gets to see what everything is and what everything does using the real terminology in a completely straightforward and appropriate way. Even the family dogs are included in the explanations, adding to the beautifully matter-of-fact tone.
Author: Robie H. Harris Illustrator: Nadine Bernard Westcott
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Posted onJanuary 14, 2019|Comments Off on Shall I Knit You a Hat? A Christmas Yarn
A blizzard is coming, so Mother Rabbit bakes carrot cake and knits her beloved Little Rabbit a hat. He loves it and asks her to make hats for their friends too. She happily agrees, they work together on the hats, and the friends (after seeing how warm they are and how special they feel wearing them) are very appreciative. Mother Rabbit and Little Rabbit go home and have carrot cake, warm and secure in each other’s love and being together (“the best gift of all”). The end.
It sounds so simple, but the pictures are so lovely and the rabbits are so realistically warm and their relationship is so caring; it may be the coziest book I have ever read. And both the boys still love it, which always surprises me a bit and also makes me happy each year. Apparently it is the first book in a series about Little Rabbit and Mother Rabbit, but we haven’t read the other books (which are focused on particular issues, like handling cleaning up or crying or nightmares).
Author: Kate Klise Illustrator: M. Sarah Klise
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It is Christmas morning and at first everyone in Morris’s family is very happy. But while Morris’s three older siblings are all interested in swapping with each other for playtime with their new presents (a beauty kit, hockey outfit, and chemistry set), they don’t want to swap for playtime with Morris’s new bear. Morris is deeply disappointed. But what is that under the tree? And what is a disappearing bag anyway? The answer surprising, and the book is a total pleasure–perfect for any sibling, or anyone who’s ever felt in need of a bit of magic.
Every year, after Thanksgiving, I bring out the Christmas books. Every
year, after New Year’s Day, I put them away again. I still read the
books aloud to the boys in the order they pick, and each year this book
(along with Shall I Knit You a Hat?, which I’ll be posting about soon; Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree; and The Christmas Wombat)
is one of the first chosen. My oldest likes it so much that in 2017
he asked for (and received) a bear just like Morris’s as his Christmas
In this story, which was inspired by the author’s grandmother own journey, a Polish family flees war and hunger around the turn of the last century. They are immigrating to the United States to join the husband/father who went first. Nearly all of their possessions (which are already vanishing few by current standards) must be left behind. Their journey via foot and steerage-class is difficult. They don’t speak English. But they have each other and reach Ellis Island on Christmas Day, where they are met with kindness and decency and ultimately welcomed to their new country. We’ve been reading this book for years; this year it was especially meaningful.
Author: Maxinne Rhea Leighton Illustrator: Dennis Nolan
Posted onJanuary 8, 2019|Comments Off on Santa Claus the World’s Number One Toy Expert
The Santa in this story is a hard-working, hard-playing, jolly but largely solitary fellow who spends the entire year happily using his unmatched expertise in kids, toys, and gifts to match “the exact right kid with the exact right toy 99.9 percent of the time.” As always, Marla Frazee’s pictures are wonderful and reward settling in and really enjoying the details (like the subtle and funny “post-credits scene” on the back cover).
Author: Marla Frazee Illustrator: Marla Frazee
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Bruce is a grumpy bear with one joy in life: preparing and eating fancy egg recipes that he has carefully researched online. But after a batch of (free-range organic) goose eggs hatch while he is off gathering firewood, Bruce becomes “the victim of mistaken identity.” (“MAMA!”) Much as he tries to get things back to normal (and he really, really tries, which is where a lot of the humor comes in), his life will never be the same.
This book kicked off a series, but we never picked up the later books; by the time they came out, my boys’ interest in new picture books was waning.
Author: Ryan T. Higgins Illustrator: Ryan T. Higgins