Young Reader in the Making

Young Reader in the Making

Friday, December 23, 2011

Book 98: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Books I Buy for Christmas:

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, written by Bill Martin, illustrated by Lois Ehlert, Beach Lane Books; Anv edition (September 22, 2009).  (Preschool)

Thomas checked this book out from the library about a month ago and I had to sneak it out of his room to return it (on time, of course). So, I had to buy him his own copy. He just has to wait until Christmas.

Right now, he is really into letters. He'll pick up a "V" and say "V is for violin", all through his alphabet letter, but in random order. He also picks up a book and "reads" it by recognizing letters. Maybe that's why he likes alphabet books in general. He likes Chicka Chicka Boom Boom in particular because of the sounds of the words within; i.e., Chicka Chicka BOOM BOOM. He even helps me read it.

His favorite book to hear every night is still Top Cat, written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, so naturally he is drawn to her illustrations in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. They are vivid, dimensional and deceptively simple.

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Book 97: Bad Kitty

Books I Buy for Christmas:

Bad Kitty, Nick Bruel, Roaring Press Books 2007.  (Preschool/Early Elementary)

The star of Bad Kitty is a black and white female kitty who is very sweet, until her food dish is empty. Then she becomes a terror through the alphabet. The concept is funny and even oddly educational, with the alphabet words and the cautionary tale, and the illustrations are delightfully quirky.

I have a sweet black and white cat and a sweet female cat, who both turn into not-so-pleasant kitties when their food dish is empty. When I was recovering from a broken leg, their food dish was empty more often than usual. So, Bad Kitty, I bought for my husband. I'm sure it will end up in my son's room, but it will amuse me on Christmas Day when my husband opens this gift.

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book 96: I Want My Hat Back

Books I Buy for Christmas:

I Want My Hat Back, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen, Candlewick Press 2011.  (Preschool)

This is a fun, quirky little book. Most reviewers/purchasers loved this book because of the twisted ending. Some hated it because they felt the ending suspended reality too much (as if talking animals didn't do that already). Anyway, the talking bear is wonderfully polite, if not terribly understanding.

The illustrations, not surprisingly, are fun and quirky. So the only real surprise is the ending, and I'm not telling you what it is.

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book 95: Knuffle Bunny

Books I Buy for Christmas:

Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems, Hyperion Books 2004.  (Toddler/Preschool)

In this cautionary tale written and illustrated by the talented Mo Willems, Trixie is a toddler who carries a toy rabbit named Knuffle Bunny with her everywhere she goes. When Trixie misplaces her toy rabbit, she becomes most upset.

In my house, Thomas is a toddler who carries a toy rabbit named Hop Hop with him everywhere he goes. When Thomas misplaces his toy rabbit, he becomes most upset.

'Nuff said.

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book 94: Boom Chicka Rock

Books I Buy for Christmas:

Boom Chicka Rock, by John Archambault, illustrated by Suzanne Tanner Chitwood, Philomel Books 2004.  (Preschool)

A few weeks ago, my little boy checked out Chicka Chicka Boom Boom from the library. He loved the rhythm of the book. So I did a little research and found Boom Chicka Rock. Boom Chicka Rock used numbers like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom uses letters (that will be another review), and is every bit as silly and fun.

The illustrations are bright and intense, although a bit too rough for my taste. That doesn't mean they won't appeal to a three-year-old, because he often surprises me.

Anyway, I can't wait until I can read this little rhythmic gem to my son. After Christmas, of course.

For other reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book 93: The Spirit of Christmas

Books I Buy for Christmas:

(Preschool/Early Elementary)

The Spirit of Christmas was another Kohl's Cares find. I'll try not to gush, but I do love the Kohl's Cares program. This book came with an adorable plush lion, which represents the most striking illustration in this book. All of the artwork is truly beautiful, but the double pages containing the lion, lamb and dove and arresting in their simplicity and beauty.

The words for the book again came from a song, so they again read like a poem. The words are fine, and at time quite good; however this book with a lesser artist would not have worked nearly as well.

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Monday, December 5, 2011

Book 92: It's Time to Sleep, My Love

Books I Buy for Christmas:

It's Time to Sleep, My Love, written by Eric Metaxas, illustrated by Nancy Tillman, MacMillan 2008, reissued through Kohl's Cares.  (Preschool/Early Elementary)

I know I've raved about the Kohl's Cares program in the past, so today I will try to contain myself. Still, a beautiful, hardbound book for $5, and the proceeds go to a cause that helps children -- what's not to love?

Even though there were four titles available the day I went to Kohl's, I settled for two and bought the plush animals that went with both titles. When I flipped through It's Time to Sleep, My Love, I fell in love with the tiger illustration: It is breathtakingly beautiful. My son wanted a panda bear, and since the panda bear went with the book, this book was an easy choice.

All the illustrations in the book are stunning. The writing is broken down so there are only a few lines of text per illustration; therefore, more stunning illustration. The text originally was a song, so naturally it reads like a well-rhythmed poem. The writing is good, but honestly I don't think you buy this book for the writing. You buy it for the spectacular artwork. And the panda. And to benefit children.

For more reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book 91: Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Suess, Random House 1960.  (Preschool/Early Elementary)

Yesterday I took my brother to the main VA building in downtown Charleston. As usual, I had my little boy with me as well. The very kind lady at the Information Desk gave my son a book to read while we were there. It was: Green Eggs and Ham.

I've tried reading a few other Suess books to my son before but they just seemed a bit too long for him. Not so with Green Eggs and Ham. He sat still and listened to the entire story. And so did most of the grizzled veterans that were sitting with us in the waiting room. It turns out that Green Eggs and Ham is my brother's favorite book (not just one of his favorites).

When we finished at the VA I tried to return the book to very kind lady. She wouldn't take it back and told us it was for my little boy. So now, not only do I love this book, I love the memory associated with it.

Even as I type, my brother is giving a dramatic reading of this book to my little boy. Yet another happy memory being created.

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Book 90: Brainy Baby, Animals

Brainy Baby, Animals, Brainy Baby Company LLC 2005.  (Baby/Toddler)

OK, I've covered pretty much all there is to say about these books with the other three in the series. My son loves this book just as much as the other three...

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Book 89: Brainy Baby ABC's

Brainy Baby ABC's, Brainy Baby Company LLC 2005.  (Baby/Toddler)

This will be a fairly short review because I've already written about two other books in this collection.

I've been enjoying watching my little boy "read" this book lately because he recognizes almost every animal or item, and if he doesn't, he'll say "What's that?", and because he recognizes all the capital letters and is starting to learn the lower-case ones. A year or so ago, we were lucky if he spotted the dog or cat or moon or zebra. It's great fun to watch your child grow smarter by the day.

For other reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book 88: Brainy Baby -- 123's

Brainy Baby -- 123's, Brainy Baby Company 2005.  (Baby/Toddler)

Brainy Baby -- 123's was another book in the four-book set I bought when I first found out I was pregnant. The great thing about buying books like this: They are gender-neutral. Whoo-hoo! Anyway, these books having been kicking around our house for three-and-a-half years and have been in the hands of our little boy for nearly three years. Of all the books in the series, this is the only one that is shedding its paper cover (with little boy help, of course). I still have to give this book set points for virtual indestructibility.

Even before Thomas was learning to count, he loved the pictures of the cats, monkey, dogs and rubber ducks. Then, when he was learning to count to ten, he liked to count the objects. Now that he can count to ten, and most days even twenty, he likes to recognize the numbers on the page.

So, all in all, another very solid investment if you are looking for books for a soon-to-be baby, a baby or a toddler.

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book 87: Guess How Much I Love You

Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram, Walker Book 1994.  (Preschool)

I remember one of my co-workers raving about how much her two little girls loved this book -- those "little girls" are now in their twenties. I wonder if they still love this book.

This was another book that I put in my son's Easter basket this years. Since then, whenever anyone says "I love you" to him, he's been adding "so much". It is irresistibly cute. The last line of this book is also irresistible. Seriously, if anyone told me he loved me "right up to the moon -- and back", I'd be tempted to run away with him.

"Little Nutbrown Hare" and "Big Nutbrown Hare" trip me up with every reading, and, besides my son thinks that "hare" is what is on his head, so he gets confused. He does, however, know what a rabbit is. He thinks the adorably quirky illustrations are rabbits, so that works.

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book 86: BANANA!

BANANA! by Ed Vere, Puffin Book 2007.  (Baby to Preschool)

One of my friends, Louise, recommended this book in her review blog (Louise's Blog). It sounded interesting, and, since our local library did not have a copy, I ordered it.

The first thing I noticed about the book was how similar the author's name was to the name of the man who may have written Shakespeare's plays (Edward DeVere) -- and now a movie is coming out about him (DeVere, not Vere). That little bit of trivia has nothing to do with this book.

Two words are all that are employed in this book. One, of course, being "banana"; the second being the magic word. So this is a very simple book: My son can read it.

The illustration is knock-out; almost literally as the color is so intense that it nearly jumps off the page. My son loves the stunning background colors and the exaggerated expressions of the monkeys. He has no trouble following the spirit of this story.

All in all, I am so glad my friend found this little gem for me.

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book 85: The House At Pooh Corner

The House At Pooh Corner, written by A. A. Milne, with decoration by Ernest H. Shepard, 1928 E. P. Dutton.  (Preschool/Elementary)

My little boy has turned his affection to the Pooh cast of characters. He still has to have both Hop-Hops to sleep at night, but quite often there is a Pooh Bear or Piglet or both in that same bed. Eeyore waits for Thomas in the back seat of our car. He is still looking for his tail. And right now Tigger is perched atop the tea trolley in the kitchen, just ready to bounce into action. So buying the second Pooh book for that little boy was a pretty sure bet. The tales contained within are every bit as charming as those in the first.

Once again the beautiful work of E. H. Shepard graces the pages of the book. Only this time, those lovely pen and ink illustrations have been tinted, so they virtually pop off the pages they grace.

*For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book 84: Winnie-the-Pooh

Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne, decorated by Ernest H. Shepard, E.P. Dutton 1926.  (Preschool/Elementary)

When Winnie-the-Pooh and House at Pooh Corner first came out in 1926, Dorothy Parker reviewed them. She famously wrote that she "frowed up". If I were reading the books as an adult without the view of children, I'd probably agree -- but then why would I be reading it as an adult? As I did read the books as a child and I do now have a child, however much I admire Ms. Parker, I'd have to disagree with her wittily caustic review. Winnie-the-Pooh is a delightful read for children.

The first illustration of Christopher Robin dragging Edward Bear down the stairs looked made me laugh because it looks very much like my son dragging Hop-Hop down the stairs, and Hop-Hop is his most cherished possession. E. H. Shepard is one of the best children's illustrators. The movement and spirit he captures in simple pen and ink drawings is nothing short of amazing.

Please note, there is no mention of Walt Disney in the above review. There is a reason for that.

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book 83: Animalogy: Animal Analogies

Animalogy: Animal Analogies, written by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Cathy Morrison, Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2011.  (Preschool/Elementary)

I have another book downstairs to review. This one came in through the front door by way of the post because it is a brand-new book.

As with all of Marianne Berkes' books, when I first read it I thought "What a great idea! Why didn't I think of that?" And that is what makes the books of Marianne Berkes stand out in a crowd. In my years as a children's librarian and later as a mother of an avid "reader", I have read classics, old and new, but never have I read a book like Animalogy. I've read several opposite books. I've read quite a few comparison books. But I have never read an analogy book for toddlers/preschooler before. Even if my not-quite-three-year-old does not fully understand the concept of analogy, at least when it is presented to him in school, it will be a reacquaintance and not a new introduction.

The illustrations in this book are sharp. I would have thought almost too sharp, especially the lion's and dog's teeth; however, my little boy does not seem to agree with me. At his age, he still likes cute and cuddly -- Classic Winnie the Pooh, but he also likes sharp and spiky -- rubbery, ugly dinosaurs. I think he likes the danger that can be found in the natural environment, from a safe distance, of course. Anyway, the animals are instantly recognizable to him and he seems to prefer that over the silly cartoony ones that could be one thing as easily as another. And, when it comes down to it, so do I.

So, if you are like me and are hoping to raise a genius (or at least a smart, young reader), you will need to add this book to your children's library.

*For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book 82: Big Red Barn

Big Red Barn, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Felicia Bond, HarperCollins 1995.  (Baby/Toddler)

Another book has migrated downstairs for my review. Before I wrote this review, I had to do a little research on the author. I vaguely remembered that she had no children and died young -- I was right: she never married, had no children and died of a post-surgery blood clot in 1952 at the age of 42. Yet her work lives on in a big way. Why?

Big Red Barn, like Goodnight Moon, reads like a lullaby. It is about impossible to not lull your voice when reading it. Its phrases end with a gentle rhyme, not forced-feeling rhyming couplets. And, also like Goodnight Moon, as the book winds down, the phrases become shorter until they just disappear and the story is over. That's why an adult at a child's bedtime would like. Why a toddler likes it, I don't know. It could be the animal noises interspersed in the story. It could be the lullaby effect of the book. It could be anything. I just know that my toddler likes it.

Felicia Bond is very well-known for her illustrations in the "If You Give..." series, and rightfully so. Her pictures brim with personality, color and humor. None of those qualities are lost in this edition of Margaret Wise Brown's classic.

For other reviews on books to borrow, see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book 81: Brainy Baby -- Shapes and Colors

Brainy Baby -- Shapes and Colors, Brainy Baby Company LLC, 2005.  (Baby/Toddler)

When I first found out I was pregnant, I went shopping at my local Waldenbooks to pick up some board books. Sadly, the Waldenbooks is gone now, but I still have the books I found on that trip.

I spotted the Brainy Baby collection and knew I just had to have it for my little peanut. After all, I wanted him (or her) to have every advantage. Shapes and Colors is one of a set of four, and I'm reviewing it first, because it happens to be downstairs (thanks, Thomas), and carrying things up and down the stairs is still a challenge.

What to say about this book? Well, first it is very sturdy. This was one of the first books I let my little boy hold when he was still a baby, and it still is in near-perfect shape. As the title would indicate, it is very colorful. It does present shapes in an easy-for-a-toddler-to-understand way. Apart from calling a rectangle a square, my not-yet-three-year-old has mastered this book. And toddlers/preschoolers really seem to love it. After all, my little boy brought it downstairs for me to read with him.

The other three books in this collection are just as good, and I'll be reviewing them as they show up down the stairs.

For reviews on books to borrow, see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book 80: How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten?

How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten?, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague, Blue Sky Press 2004.   Toddler to Preschool

A few weeks ago I reviewed "How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?" and wrote that it was my favorite dinosaur book so far. It still is. However, I think "How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten?" may be my son's favorite.

I'm still recovering from my badly broken leg, so although I can hobble around downstairs or upstairs wearing my boot and not using a crutch or a cane (I look like toddler walking!), and cannot go upstairs or downstairs without using a crutch or a cane and relying on the handrail. Therefore, I cannot carry anything upstairs or downstairs. I thought I was out of books downstairs to review until my son hunted through his library, found this book, and said "again". That "again" is the charm of this book.

The last question in this book is "Now that he's counted from one to ten, how does a dinosaur count again?" And the answer, which my son gave when he handed me this book, is "again". Next to "no", "again" and "more" are probably his favorite words. Because this book was written years before he was born, I'm guessing he is not alone in toddler world in favoring that word. And to have it at the end of a counting story, well, that's just perfection for him.

I love, love, love Mark Teague's illustrations (again!). My only complaint would be that he is so brilliant and I am so jealous -- but I can get over that and buy his brilliantly illustrated books.

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book 79: Over in Australia

Over in Australia: Amazing Animals Down Under, written by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Jill Dubin, Dawn Publications 2011.   Toddler to Preschool to Elementary

Marianne Berkes' books are an absolute delight to read. Not only are they entertaining, as all good pre-school books should be, they are extremely informative. Whenever I read one of her books, I, as well as my toddler, learn something. I can't even imagine how much research must go into these books. So when her newest book about Australia was released this year, I had to buy it. And, of course, have her sign it, because as I've mentioned before, she is very gracious about that.

The illustrators for her books are amazingly creative, especially for the "Over in..." books, using polymer clay for some titles and for this one, paper cuts. The depth created by these three dimensional media is rich and breathtakingly lovely.

Over in Australia, like the other "Over in..." previous titles is set to the tune of Over in the Meadow, so once you work it out for the first one, the following books pretty much fall into place. Over in Australia, also like the other "Over in...", is a beautiful book and an educational and fun (really!) read. I would recommend the entire series for any toddler/pre-schooler.

For other reviews on book to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book 78: How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?

How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague, Blue Sky Press 2009.   Toddler to Preschool

If you know anything about Jane Yolen's fantastic books for young adults, you might be surprised to see her name behind the wildly successful Dinosaur books for toddlers. Then again, maybe you wouldn't be. A well-written book is a well-written book, and Jane Yolen is a master at her craft.

Originally, I bought this book for my son because it appeared on the list of 100 Picture Books put out by the South Carolina State Library. I am familiar with most of the books on the list, having been a children's librarian until fairly recently, and then continuing to follow newly released books through the library, and I'm not crazy about all of them, so I won't be investing in all of them. The Dinosaur book, however, seemed like a safe bet. Even though I didn't know this particular book, I knew enough of the series to think that my son would like it. And I was right.

So far, of all the Dinosaur books I've read, this one is my favorite. When a book starts out "You woke up this morning is such a bad mood", it is pretty easy for me to connect the dinosaurs in the book with my toddler. And, more importantly, it is also pretty easy for my toddler to see a good deal of himself in the dinosaurs.

And do we read it often? Oh, yeah. We've only had this book for about two weeks and already I have the text memorized.

*For reviews on books to borrow, see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Addendum -- Book 39: The Cat Came Back

The Cat Came Back, by Fred Penner, illustrated by Renee Reichert. Roaring Books Press, 2005.  (Preschool/Elementary)

I shattered my leg about three weeks ago, and I live in a two-story house. So, for the past three weeks, I've been living in the first floor of the house. Most of my son's books are upstairs in his room. We brought a few books downstairs so that I could do the bedtime stories with my husband for my son. The Cat Came Back was one of the books my SON brought downstairs.

When I reviewed this book in May of last year, I gave you my opinion. I re-read the review today, and, while I agree with what I wrote, I didn't nearly do this book justice.

Right now, this book is my son's absolute favorite book, even when his daddy sings the song. From repeated readings/singings, he's learned the words at the end of every line. It is hilarious to hear him say "give the cat the boot" and "run amuck", and the "ho, ho, ho" spurts out at the most inopportune (but funny) times, like when the lady tried to cut in front of my husband and son in the grocery store line. But funniest of all must be when he says the lines in the final verse, "crash", "meow" and "roar". This child is a born actor.

So my two-and-a-half year old highly recommends this book for all toddlers.

The Cat Came Back

For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in Blogs I Follow.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book 77: What Floats?

Baby Einstein: What Floats?, by Julie Aigner-Clark, illustrated by Nadeem Zaidi, Hyperion Books 2003.   Baby

As I was reading this very soggy and soap-slimed book to my son in the bathtub tonight (he was in the tub, not me), I realized I had yet to review this book.

I have to say, I did not buy this book; it was given to my son when he was three days old by my former co-worker and dear friend, Louise N. But even though I did not buy the book, it has been read to my son more often, with the exception of Goodnight Moon and Top Cat, than any other book. We started reading it to him when he first started using the big bathtub to take a bath. Not long after that he came down with chickenpox and we would read this book to him four or five times while we were waiting for the Aveeno Oatmeal bath to take effect.

What Floats? is one of those (so far) indestructible, plastic, waterproof books. It is light, squishy and, not surprisingly, floats. It is also a simple rhyming book with very colorful illustrations. And, of course, it is designed to be taken into the tub with the child. My little boy has been through many, many bath toys, but this book has always been right there with them, and he still gets excited when I read it to him.

*For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in the Blogs I Follow.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Book 76: What's Up, Duck?

What's Up, Duck? A Book of Opposites, by Tad Hills, Schwartz & Wade Book, NY 2008.   Toddler

I LOVE the original Duck and Goose book. The only reason I haven't yet bought it is because it is still a little long and a bit advanced for a two-(and-a-half)-year-old. So when I saw this book on the South Carolina Libraries 100 Picture Books for Preschool Children list, I thought it would make a great little board book to put in my son's Easter basket.

Before I bought the book, I did read some buyer's reviews about it and not all were positive. This is a book about opposites, so it is a concept book. With this, as with all concept books, your can't just read it if you want your toddler to understand it. You have to explain and demonstrate. It isn't difficult. For example, for the near and far concept, I held the book really close to my little boy's face and then moved it way back. He gets it and thinks it's funny. He also really likes the loud and quiet (especially the loud).

Anyway, sometimes you can't just read a book and expect the child to grasp the concept and understand -- how easy would potty-training be then?! Sometimes the reader has to do a little extra work. If you do, this is a great book for toddlers. And I love it almost as much as the original Duck and Goose book.

*For reviews on books to borrow, please see Louise's Blog in the Blogs I Follow.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Book 75: Pat the Bunny

Pat the Bunny, by Dorothy Kunhardt, Golden Book 1940.  Baby to Toddler

This year for Easter, my little boy got a basket of books. He also received some small stuffed animals and a little chocolate, but mostly he got books. He loved it. And he loved this book to pieces, literally. In fact, after I write this review I will have to try to mend the book.

I bought this book for his Easter basket because it was on the South Carolina Libraries list of 100 Picture Books for Toddlers. I did not own this book as a child and my mom won't admit to owning a copy. Before I purchased the book, I read some scathing reviews, so I was hesitant, but I figured with a matching rabbit I couldn't go too far wrong.

I should say, as if you don't already know, my son at two-and-a-half is a toddler and probably the exact market for whom this book is written. And he loves it! He would not put it down, except reluctantly for bath-time for a week. I can't tell you exactly what he loves so much about it because he seems to enjoy every page. This book appeals to all his sense (alas, even taste) in every sense.

If I am lacking in supplies and skill to mend this particular copy, I will be looking for another, hardier version, because he really wants this book back.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book 74: Over in the Ocean

Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef, written by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Jeanette Canyon, Dawn Publication, 2004.   Toddler to Preschool to Early Elementary

My son is not yet two-and-a-half, and can count to ten by himself. What does that have to do with this book? Well, Over in the Ocean is a counting-to-ten book, and he has heard this story repeatedly. Never underestimate the power of reading to your children.

Over in the Ocean is also a "song" book (to the tune of Over in the Meadow), and it is a beautifully, polymer clay, illustrated book. It is also another book by my friendly acquaintance, Marianne Berkes. In fact, the first time I heard this book was when the children's library staff was helping her present it to a very full room of children at a summer program. I was really into the song until I got caught out by the seahorse. That one little twist makes the book memorable. And as I've said before, it is beautiful, with its turquoise ocean and brightly colored sea life.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Book 73: The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too!

The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too!, by Mo Willems, Hyperion Books, 2005.  Baby to Toddler

The infamous pigeon is back for an encore performance in the toddler book world. And fortunately, this book arrived in plenty of time to purchase before my son arrived in 2008.

This books does not have much of a story, so if you are looking for that, you may want to stick to the pigeon books for older children. What this book does have is a gamut of emotions. As anyone who has every been a parent to, or even probably around, a two-year-old knows, two-year-olds also have a gamut of emotions. And usually they go through them in about the space of time it takes you to read this very short books. Toddlers don't understand their emotions, and this book does not try to explain them. The book, with its simple text and expressive pigeon, shows them, and that seems to be enough.

If you are wondering if my son still has temper tantrums, the answer is "yes". He has stopped throwing himself to the floors. Now he just "goes boneless" (another Mo Willems book) slowly with the contorted grace of a 1920's ham actor in a death scene.

One caveat: It is probably not a good idea to take yourself too seriously when you are reading this book. I can read it and express the emotions and my son laughs because he thinks I'm being silly. When my husband reads it, my son cries at the angry part.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book 72: The Pigeon Loves Things That Go!

The Pigeon Loves Things That Go!, by Mo Willems, Hyperion Books 2005.   Baby to Toddler

First a personal confession: I love, love, LOVE the pigeon in Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!. So much so that when I was decorating the baby's room in advance of the baby, I worked a little pigeon into all the paintings. Almost three years later, and I still find it amusing. So when I saw that there was a pigeon board book, of course, I just had to buy it.

And I did. Second confession: I don't LOVE this pigeon as much, but I still like it. And what's more, my toddler boy seems to prefer it to the original, at least right now. He loves the vehicles and thinks the pigeon is silly. So, considering that the Smidgeon of Pigeon series is not written for me, but is, in fact, written for toddlers, this book and the others are definitely a great investment if you are buying books for toddlers.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Book 71: The Seals on the Bus

Pretty much everyone who has a child or ever was a child is familiar with "The Wheels on the Bus", but did you know there is a sequel -- and, no I don't mean the fifty-odd verses that seem to go with the original. The sequel is -- you guessed it! -- The Seals on the Bus.

The Seals on the Bus, written by Lenny Holt, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, Henry Holt and Company, 2000.   Preschool to Early Elementary

The Wheels on the Bus is a fun song. The Seals on the Bus is a funny book. If you know the tune for the first, you'll have no trouble singing the second. The illustrations are appropriately silly; this is not the place for realism. So funny book, great illustrations, kids love it -- need I say more?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book 70: What Am I?

What Am I?, Sterling Press 2003.   Baby to Toddler

This was one of those books that my son picked out from the library and didn't want to return. Because I am a former children's librarian, I cannot condone that. To prevent an ethical quandary, I ordered him his own copy before the three-week check-out period ended.

Although this book is wonderfully colorful and delightfully drawn, it is not one I would have bought on my own. Never underestimate the power of concentric circle eyes. Not only does my little boy love to run his finger over the ridges, he also discovered that the eyes are just the right size for the Pier One ceramic balls I bought for Spring. He also discovered that those balls do NOT bounce on a hardwood floor -- that would be another story.

As far as the writing goes, it is super-simple and rhymed, although sometimes the rhyming feels a bit forced. I can't fault it too much, because sometimes so does mine. Anyway, as I said, I would not have decided to buy this book except for the fact that my son loves it so much. And your child loving a book is a pretty darn good reason to buy it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Book 69: Blue Moo

Blue Moo: 17 Jukebox Hits from Way Back Never, by Sandra Boynton, Music by Boynton and Ford, Workman Publishing Company, 2007.   Toddler to Preschool

In earlier posts, I mentioned I like silly books, and song books and Sandra Boynton books. Well, this book has all three. To be honest, I haven't really read the book, except to sing along with the enclosed CD, but the drawings are Sandra Boynton-charming and the words/lyrics are hysterical. What I really love about this book is the enclosed CD.

The CD contains the silly lyrics of a child's song with sophisticated tunes of really, really good music. And the recording artists -- well, B.B. King sings about a missing shoe, just to give you an idea of the quality of the recording artists on this CD. It's crazy. It's outstanding. I love listening to the CD. My son loves the music and loves the accompanying illustrations. Now if I could only get the Uninvited Parade by the Uninvited Loud Precision Band out of my head. Or maybe not. It is a great tune. Even if I don't know all the words. I just boom, boom, boom to the tune and my little boy is in giggles every time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book 68: Over in the Jungle

Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme, written by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Jeanette Canyon, Dawn Publication, 2005 (board book 2008).   Toddler to Preschool to Early Elementary

As mentioned in a previous post, I am a sucker for signed books, so when I saw one of Marianne Berkes' books in a pamphlet of 100 Picture Books for Preschoolers, I just knew I could renew our acquaintance and have her sign a book or three for my son. Actually, Marianne is very gracious and would sign a book for anyone who asks.

Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme was the book listed in the pamphlet, so I'll review it first. This book is deceptively simple. Marianne Berkes takes a simple tune (Over in the Meadow) and replaces the lyrics with counting verses about rainforest animals. Sounds pretty easy in theory, but not so much in practice. Anyway, it works very well in this book.

Jeanette Canyon uses polymer clay to create brilliant, dimensional illustrations. I'm not sure I would like that style of illustration in too many books, but with the rainforest book, it is a perfect marriage.

When I was reading this book for the first time to my two-year-old son, he walked over and pointed to the 4 on the leaf and said "four". I thought he was a genius. Then he pointed at the 5 and said "four" and the six. Oh well. So much for great expectations. :)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Book 67: The Cow That Went Oink

The Cow That Went Oink, written and illustrated by Bernard Most, Voyager Books 1990.  Preschool to Early Elementary

For Valentine's Day this year, I painted a big shipping box to look like a barn and put in it a plush cow and a pig and this book, and gave it to my two-year-old son. Weird -- yeah, maybe. Smart -- yeah, definitely. He likes the toys and the book, and all of his farm animals are now housed in the barn box.

I first encountered this book in its oversized version when my friend and former colleague, Louise N., were looking for books for Reader's Theatre. We found this book, and since we already had the pig and cow puppets, it was a cinch to use. The only challenging part was turning those oversized pages and working the puppets at the same time, but that's another story. Anyway, whether this story is being read to thirty five-year-olds or one two-year-old, it's a riot. Which makes it hold up really well for repeated reading and is one of my standards in buying a child's book.

The title of the book tells about half the story, so I won't give away any more. It does have a happy ending, which is another one of my standards in buying a child's book, especially for a toddler.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Book 66: Bear Snores On

Book 66: Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman, 2002.   Toddler to Preschool

I LOVE Jane Chapman's illustrations. I'd probably buy anything she illustrates. Her animals are adorable without being twee, and personable without being human. Her work is what I would aspire to.

Bear Snores On is my favorite of Karma Wilson's "Bear" book. It is the most poetic of all the "Bear", not just because of the rhyming couplets, but because of rhythm within the lines. And the big scene where the setting changes is the most dramatic of all "Bear" books. There is actually a bit of suspense in a toddler's book, which, of course, resolves happily.

My husband and toddler like to help out with the telling of this story: My husband snores for the bear, and my little boy works the bear puppet. By the time the story is finished, we are all laughing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book 65: The Color Book

The Color Book, Laura Kelly Designs, Ollie Bollie Book 2009.   Baby to Toddler

Back in July, I was getting ready to move from Florida to South Carolina. My husband was already in South Carolina. Our household furnishings were boxed up on a Thursday and not loaded onto a truck until the following Tuesday. Did I mention this was July? In Florida? With my husband not around?

On Friday, I did what any reasonable person would do -- I left the house and went shopping. Although not for any household belongings. More like for lemonade and ice cream. However, I did stop by the Beall's Outlet next door to the Publix, because it was cool, and although a bit chaotic, positively serene compared to my boxed-up house. While I was there, I let my 20-month-old son pick out a book. He picked out The Color Book.

I wasn't expecting to like this book as anything more than a pleasant diversion at a pretty stressful time (for my toddler and for me). My little boy, though, did take to it right away. It is a board book. The text is limited to just the name of the color in a font of that color, and the illustrations are bold and simple.

Anyway, the little boy liked this book in the summer during our move, and now that we've been settled into our new house and he has ALL of his books around him, he still pulls this book off his quite frequently. He didn't even want me to take it downstairs so I could write about it. So, to me, this book is a winner.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Book 64: My Potty Book for Boys

Book 64: My Potty Book for Boys, by DK Publishing 2001.   Baby to Toddler

As I learned when I worked in the children's department of the library, DK publishes really great real-life, photo books. This one is no exception.

I bought this book for my son when he was one and I was very optimistic. He is now two, and I am more realistic, but he does still like this book. He recognized his potty from the pictures in the book. He saw he was supposed to sit on his potty like the boys in the book. He even knows to wash his hands because that what the boys in the book do. So, he never was really afraid of the potty and he has no problem sitting on it, and he can't wait to wash his hands, it's just that middle part that is giving him trouble.

This book, as all books that are given to toddlers to handle to should be, is a board book. It is colorful and simple and using photographs of real children to convey the message. And it works, if I can just get him to sit longer and more often.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book 63: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Philomel 2010.   Toddler to Preschool

Every so often, Kohl's runs their "Kohl's Cares" program and offers really great books at a really great price, and the net proceeds of which benefits children's health and educational issues. Right now, four of Eric Carle's books are featured in this campaign: The Mixed-Up Chameleon, The Grouchy Ladybug, The Foolish Tortoise, and, of course, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Of these four, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is my favorite, and not just because the matching toy at Kohl's was a caterpillar, although that did play a role in my purchasing decision.

For the most people, I probably don't have to explain why the Very Hungry Caterpillar is a wonderful book for any child's library -- it is a counting book, a progressive story, a food story, a color story and a true metamorphosis story. Instead, I will explain why this edition is so wonderful. First of all, the price for a hardback book is outstanding. And it comes with a matching toy (a really large and colorful caterpillar, just like the cover). And it benefits children. And finally, and most exciting to me, there is a foreward by Eric Carle describing how The Very Hungry Caterpillar came into existence.

So, run to Kohl's before this present campaign ends and buy a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (or any of the other three). Not only will you be getting a great book, you'll be helping a very worthwhile cause.