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.
When the boys were in early elementary school, by far the most fun way to volunteer at school was to be a mystery reader. The teacher and parent made super-secret plans, far in advance, for the parent to show up midday, books in hand, to read to the class. The kids loved it (especially the mystery reader’s kids). And I’m a total ham, so I loved it too. Of course, when reading to 25 plus kids at once, you need to pick the right books. By which I mean, they have to read very well aloud, they have to have pictures that work even from a good ways away, they can’t be too long, and they HAVE to be funny. A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee was one of my mystery reader books (I’ve made a tag linking to most of the others below, there was one more that will be my next entry) because it easily checked all the boxes. Mr. Magee, and his little dog Dee, go camping in their (adorable!) teardrop camper trailer and havoc quickly ensues. This is one of Chris Van Dusen’s best books, which is extremely high praise (you’ll notice his If I Built a Car was also a mystery reader selection). The other Magee books (Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee and Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee) are also great fun.
Author: Chris Van Dusen Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen
Posted onFebruary 2, 2016|Comments Off on Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
I was about to read this sweet story tonight when my oldest asked to read it to us (a first!). He did so with incredible fluidity and expressiveness and I’m so very, very surprised and delighted.
Although we haven’t read it very often, both of my boys really enjoy this book, which winds down a busy day of work and play by saying goodnight to big trucks one by one. My youngest noted of the picture above that the crane truck has a teddy bear to cuddle, a star for if he wakes up in the night, and that he looks very happy. Me too.
Author: Sherri Duskey
Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld
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Posted onAugust 20, 2015|Comments Off on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is another book that needs no introduction and is utterly wonderful. Though there are many hints of the darkness to come (gulp), the tone is largely playful and the story and setting are as imaginative as ever. And it is here that Ms. Rowling, through Dumbledore, quietly states a message that goes to the heart of the series: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
About a year and a half ago, after we enjoyed reading the first book in this series together, I read half of this second book to my oldest before he lost interest. Now a number of his friends are reading the series and he decided to give it another try. He raced through the rest of the book (mostly by himself) in a matter of days and then hopped straight into the third and fourth books in the series (more on them to follow).
Author: J.K. Rowling
Illustrator: Mary Grandpre
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Posted onJuly 28, 2015|Comments Off on Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of Country Life
Unlike most of the books I feature here, this is not a book for reading aloud from cover to cover. Instead, this is a book for dipping in and out of, admiring the extensive illustrations and learning myriad new things. Chapters on land, barns, tools, planting, animals, food, and crafts provide an entry point for just about any range of interests and this book would make a wonderful present for just about anyone of any age.
Randomly opening the book to a section on poultry, in four pages we learned: the anatomy of an egg, how to identify (by their footprints) predators that could attack the flock, the average number of eggs one hen lays each year, two ways to tell how old an egg is, and the type of duck my mother had as a girl (a Call duck).
My oldest loves to read through this book on his own and is lobbying for us to try some of the recipes (especially the maple fudge).
Author: Julia Rothman
Illustrator: Julia Rothman
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Posted onJune 16, 2015|Comments Off on Those Darn Squirrels Fly South
Genius squirrels follow wintering birds to a tropical paradise. Will their grumpy friend Old Man Fookwire be far behind?
Like the first book in this series, Those Darn Squirrels!, it is difficult to read this book once; as soon as it is done, the boys ask me to read it again. Since they are laughing their heads off for much of the book (no matter how many times we read it), I’m happy to comply.
It was early on market day when Sasifi and her mama
started down the path to the main road. The sky was still
gray. Mama carried a big basket of oranges on her head.
Sasifi carried a smaller one.
“Will we ride in the tap-tap today?” Sasifi asked.
“No,” said Mama. “We will walk to market, the same as
Sasifi has just turned eight and is very proud that she is now big enough to help Mama on market day. But she would love to try traveling in a tap-tap (a brightly painted share taxi) instead of walking. This engaging book deftly portrays a way of life very different than our own (the boys wondered why Sasifi’s family did not just buy a car, which lead to an interesting discussion) and is gently humorous. My youngest especially enjoys it.
Author: Karen Lynn Williams
Illustrator: Catherine Stock
On Market Street, vendors of items from apples to zippers all wear (or are made of) their wares. I’ve loved this beautiful alphabet book from the first time I saw it as a child. The boys prefer The Racecar Alphabet, but this is the week when I share some of the books that I currently enjoy more than they do, in honor of Mother’s Day.
A boy was collecting pinecones in
his wagon when he met a robot.
A boy and robot meet, bond, are temporarily confused by ill-timed power outages and sleep, then play happily ever after. This sweet book allows you to break out your best robot voice and is perfect for bedtime.
Five miles off the coast of Maine
and slightly overdue,
a circus ship was steaming south
in fog as thick as stew.
There is something about Chris Van Dusen–I’m not sure if it is his bouncy rhymes or his bright, beautiful pictures–but the boys go wild for his books. We haven’t had this book terribly long, but it is very frequently requested and seems on track to be as popular as perpetual favorite If I Built a Car. In it, fifteen circus animals find new, much improved, homes on an island in Maine when the ship they are traveling on sinks (finding the animals on the pages is a large part of the fun).
Caveat: The inspiration for this happy story was incredibly grim; Mr. Van Dusen has completely reimagined a true story of an awful shipwreck. Therefore, I suggest saving the author’s note in the back of the book for adults.
Author: Chris Van Dusen
Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen