In this charming tale, a tiny goose with a gift for friendship and an overbearing rhinoceros with an interest in riddles slowly form an unexpected bond. This is a particular favorite of my youngest, who loves riddles and animals and is very interested in how friendships work.
Author: Sheila White Samton
Illustrator: Sheila White Samton
The last time I wrote about Frog and Toad, this series didn’t interest the boys much. But recently they developed a strong interest in A Year with Frog and Toad, a musical based on the books (and a wonderful show, if you ever get a chance to see it in person), and now really enjoy the books.
Like Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggy series, the two best friends in this series have very different personalities. The Frog and Toad series is less laugh-out-loud funny than Mr. Willems’, but is still humorous and often tender. Some of our favorite stories are “Shivers,” from Days with Frog and Toad; “Spring” and “A Lost Button,” from Frog and Toad are Friends; “Cookies,” from Frog and Toad Together; and “Down the Hill” and “Ice Cream,” from Frog and Toad All Year.
Author: Arnold Lobel
Illustrator: Arnold Lobel
Posted in Chapter Books, Early Readers
Tagged A Year with Frog and Toad (Original Cast Recording), Animals, Arnold Lobel, Caldecott Honor, Christmas, Days with Frog and Toad, Elephant & Piggie, food, Frog and Toad, Frog and Toad All Year, Frog and Toad are Friends, Frog and Toad Together, garden, I read this as a kid, Mo Willems, Newbery Honor Book, Robert and Willie Reale, series, songs
Each double-page spread in this intriguing book highlights one of the twelve sets of gifts listed in the title song. The twist is that each of these (gorgeous!) spreads has all of the previous gifts lurking within it (so, for example, a partridge in a pear tree and two turtledoves are hidden somewhere in the spread highlighting the three French hens). Some of the previous gifts are easy to find, some of them we still haven’t found yet. But it is a true pleasure to try.
Illustrator: Laurel Long
We enjoy looking at the beautiful pictures in this book and listening to its accompanying (fully orchestrated and narrated) CD. The wolf is delightfully scary, the (slightly edited) ending is happy, and hearing how instruments can create characters is fun (and educational). This is a perfect choice for when you are tired or have a sore throat.
Author: Janet Schulman from the work of Sergei Prokofiev
Illustrator: Peter Malone
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
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
Hush, little alien,
don’t say a word,
Papa’s gonna catch
you a goonie bird.
If that goonie bird flies too far,
Papa’s gonna lasso you a shooting star.
If that shooting star’s too hot,
find you an astronaut!
When my oldest was two, he started singing this song. I thought he was making it up as he went along and was absolutely amazed. Finally I caught on that he had heard it at school, started searching, and found the song has come from this really fun variation on “Hush, Little Baby.” (Of course, I still think my boy hung the moon.)
Caveat: The astronaut Papa finds fights back (with his fist), so the aliens move on to something else. I always just shook my fist, added the line “Put me down, please!” and moved right along, but if you are concerned about any kind of physical confrontation, you may want to skip this one.
Author: Daniel Kirk
Illustrator: Daniel Kirk
Baby beluga in the deep blue sea,
Swim so wild and you swim so free.
Heaven above and the sea below,
And a little white whale on the go.
Baby beluga, baby beluga,
Is the water warm? Is your mama home,
With you so happy?
This book is as adorable as its song and sweetly sends kids off to bed. I have only one small quibble: if you were going to choose one of the thirty-plus species of dolphins to illustrate “way down yonder where the dolphins play” with Baby beluga, would killer whales be at the top of your list?
Illustrator: Ashley Wolff
We love four out of five of the stories in this book, with their charming pictures and constant refrains: Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (“No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”), Five Little Monkeys with Nothing to Do (“There’s nothing do!” “Oh yes there is,” says Mama), Five Little Monkeys Bake a Birthday Cake (“Sh-h-h! Don’t wake up Mama!”), and Five Little Monkeys Wash the Car (“I KNOW!” says one little monkey. “I KNOW!”). I don’t like Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree as much as the rest, but the boys like it fine. As an added bonus, this treasury comes with drawing tips for making your own monkeys and lots of stickers.
If you want to give a really popular birthday present, pair this book with the Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed Game. The game itself isn’t really that exciting. But it doesn’t need to be; it includes a big plastic “bed” with a spring mechanism inside and lots of monkeys to put on top. Push a button on the bed and every so often the spring releases and monkeys go flying.
Author: Eileen Christelow
Illustrator: Eileen Christelow
This is the perfect bedtime story for when your voice is giving out (which makes it very helpful to have in reserve this time of year). Pop in the enclosed CD, let Joni Mitchell provide the vocals, and enjoy the utterly fanciful art (the picture above is my oldest’s favorite).
Author: Joni Mitchell
Illustrator: Brian Froud