Tag Archives: mystery reader books

Mother Bruce

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

A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee

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

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.

Author: Adam Rubin
Illustrator: Daniel Salmieri


Duck for President


Like When Dinosaurs Came with Everything and Monkey and Me, this book arrived in a Cheerios box in 2008 (as I’ve mentioned before, the best year ever for the spoonfuls of stories promotion in our house). Although they don’t get the legion of historical/political references yet, the boys love Duck (who was first introduced in Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type) and this book (in which Duck makes his way from the farm to the Governor’s Mansion to the White House and back home again) is very popular.

Author: Doreen Cronin
Illustrator: Betsy Lewin

Those Darn Squirrels!


Old Man Fookwire has only one pleasure in life: painting birds. But some clever squirrels have invaded his beautiful birdfeeders. What happens next is not what you would expect.

This very funny book is a great read aloud. We first read it at a local library and ordered a copy as soon as we came home.

Author: Adam Rubin
Illustrator: Daniel Salmieri


If I Built a Car


Jack, from the backseat, said to his dad,
This car is OK.  This car is not bad.
But it’s just a car.  Nothing great.  Nothing grand.
It’s nothing at all like the car I have planned.

This may be the perfect picture book.  The rhymes, cadence, and illustrations are irresistible (not for nothing did this book win the E.B. White Read Aloud Award).  Also, we all really, REALLY want Jack’s car.  (An instant snack bar?  A pool?  An impeccable safety record?  A built-in robot chauffeur?  The ability to sail, submerge, and fly?  SIGN US UP.)  This is the first book my oldest learned by heart; it is simply addictive.

Author:  Chris Van Dusen
Illustrator:  Chris Van Dusen

Mrs. Armitage and the Big Wave


I’ve always associated Quentin Blake with his illustrations for Roald Dahl’s books, but Blake has both written and illustrated over thirty books of his own.  In his three-book Armitage series, a quirky character reacts to seemingly mundane situations in increasingly unusual ways.

In the Big Wave, the second Armitage book, the title character triumphantly turns a simple surfboard into something more akin to a flotilla, based on repeated discoveries of “what we need here” while waiting for the Big Wave with her faithful dog.  In the other Armitage books, Mrs. Armitage seems a bit scattered and disaster prone.  But the Big Wave shows Mrs. Armitage at her most creative, competent, and engaging.  (Mrs. Armitage, Queen of the Road is also popular in our house; Mrs. Armitage on Wheels is not.)

Author:  Quentin Blake
Illustrator:  Quentin Blake

The Seven Silly Eaters


This book is a pure pleasure to read aloud.  The rhymes are clever and apparently effortless.  My boys laugh and laugh at the ever increasing number of children in the family (the seven silly eaters of the title) and their ridiculously specific list of food demands.  The pictures are absolutely wonderful–Marla Frazee is an amazing artist and her renditions of the goings on are priceless.  My only qualm is that the mom seems responsible for just about everything (you see the dad in the background now and then, but he is barely mentioned in the text) and she spends a decade getting more and more frazzled before she finally lets the family know that she’s “a wreck.”

Sometimes we talk about how how the rest of the family could have pitched in more and how the mom could have put her foot down (much, much) sooner.  But only sometimes.  Most of the time we too busy giggling at the pictures and chanting along with the lines.

Author:  Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrator:  Marla Frazee