Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Tooth Fairy

by Peter Collington


I discovered this enchanting wordless picture book one day last week, while at the local library with my girls.  They begged me to "read" it to them that night for their bedtime book.  I started to wasn't really something I could read since there were no words, but instead sighed and opened its pages.  Then, we were all whisked away into the secret life of a humble, yet magical creature we call the tooth fairy!  I felt like a visitor in her sweet home as I peeked into her life to discover how it all works.  The details on each page kept all of ours eyes moving from one corner to the next, as we smiled, giggled, and "ohhh"ed at the whimsy.  This is exactly the fairy that I would want to visit my house deep into the night.  I would gladly give her all my lost teeth, even without the payment of her priceless, handmade coin, just to know that my teeth would be used in such a brilliant way!  You'll have to check this book out to realize just how clever and endearing this little fairy is.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Friday My Radio Flyer Flew


 by Zachary Pullen 

This one will bring anyone back to their childhood!  We have all either had our own Radio Flyer, knew someone who had one, or at least dreamed of riding on one!  As I read, I felt the anticipation of each day leading up to the big fly on Friday.  I especially loved the role the boy's dad played in making his dream happen.  Though the words and concept were fairly simple, the illustrations took it to another level.  This book is a reminder that anything can be achieved through a child's healthy imagination.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fairly Fairy Tales

by Esme Raji Codell
pictures by Elisa Chavarri


Adorable pictures and amusing twists on several classic fairy tales.  Few words and  fun illustrations make it great for the very young (with short attention spans) as well as older children (who are sure to get a good laugh!)  For full appreciation of this book the readers should be familiar with the tales of "The three Pigs," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Cinderella," Hansel and Gretel," and "The Three Bears."

Me and You

by Anthony Browne


I love this artistic version of Goldilocks and the three bears.  It takes place in a modern, urban setting where the human-like bears seem to coexist with people.  It is told from the baby bear's colorful perspective, but we also get Goldilocks's angle through black and white pictures.  Their two stories collide as color meets black and white.  I love the deeper meaning in this book...the pictures tell a story that goes far beyond the expressed words.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sector 7

by David Wiesner


I haven't found a David Wiesner book that I haven't loved. Words are unnecessary in his books. As you turn the pages of his masterpieces you can't help but be drawn into the extraordinary and compelling stories he tells with his illustrations alone. This book is no different. He once again shows his creative genius with the whimsical story of a boy and a cloud that meet on the observation deck of the Empire State Building and create an unlikely friendship. I wish I could give it six stars!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Jim Copp, Will You Tell Me a Story?

by Jim Copp
pictures by Lindsay duPont


So this one is for all of you out there who like quirky. These three tales come from Jim Copp's original recordings from the 1950's. Those of you who don't know anything about Jim Copp have got to listen to him tell these stories before you can fully appreciate them in book form. This collection of three of his stories came out in 2008 and includes a CD with the original recordings. The pictures are comical and fit in well with Copp's humorous style.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Today I Will Fly!

by Mo Willems


This is a simple book with very few words...great for a reader who is just starting out, but the message is a great one. And it is presented in such a funny way! Worth checking out.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing

by Judi Barrett
pictures by Ron Barrett


This one definitely made me laugh hard! The author came up with some very funny scenarios of animals in clothes and why they would just not work! The illustrator matches the author's hilarity with his comical drawings! A good one to have on your home-library shelf for a day you need a "pick me up!"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Princess Hyacinth (the Surprising Tale of a Girl who Floated)

by Florence Parry Heide
pictures by Lane Smith

This princess faces an unexpected dilemma: For some unexplained reason, she floats! So she spends her days literally tied down to the furniture or weighed down with extremely heavy clothing. She is the quintessential confined princess, until one day (against all caution) she removes her clothing and lets herself float away. Her adventure not only leads her to a new friend, but to a new way of life! Funny pictures and clever text make this a great read. I also really liked the hues in the artwork and the page layouts...different (which I like.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Pink Refrigerator

by Tim Egan

The greatness of this find was very unexpected. My four-year-old daughter picked it out from the library shelf, because who wouldn't love a story about a pink refrigerator? (ask any four-year-old girl!) Upon reading it we discovered a valuable message about the importance of learning, exploring, and trying new things.

Dodsworth is a mouse who finds a new note on an old pink refrigerator each time he visits it, but the most exciting discovery is what's inside! This is a new favorite of our whole family (including my husband!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Duck on a Bike

by David Shannon


My four-year-old picked this one out at a book fair, and I am so glad she did! Its a hilarious story that satisfies even the keenest of imaginations with its wonderful imagery of farm animals riding two-wheelers! Shannon's bright colors and comical style make this story a keeper.

Monday, November 16, 2009

When Lightning Comes in a Jar

by Patricia Polacco


I actually got this recommendation from a fellow blogger who also enjoys reading books with her kids. Its amazing how many extraordinary children's books there are out there. I loved this one! I've read Patricia Polacco before, but I've never happened upon this gem. It made me wish to be transported to this simpler time of listening to old relative's stories, having sack races, and catching fireflies in a jar. It truly made me long to be a kid again.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Babies Don't Eat Pizza

by Dianne Danzig
pictures by Debbie Tilley


With a brand new baby at our house we have checked out about every children's book on the subject of newborns, being a big sister, and how to adjust to a new life with baby. There have been some good ones, but I think this is my favorite. It speaks to kids in a comical way about what to expect with a new baby. It discusses everything from the funny way babies look when they come home from the hospital (i.e. misshaped head, peach fuzz, peely skin) to their noisy cries, to the large amounts of stinky diapers. It is filled with colorful pictures that show how fun a new baby can be, as well as some things to look out for!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Manfish, A Story of Jacques Cousteau

by Jennifer Berne
pictures by Eric Puybaret


This book did a great job of telling who Jacques Cousteau was and what he did for the sea and our understanding of it today. The story format and beautiful pictures really appealed to both me and my kids. What I liked best about it was how it intrigued them to learn more. They asked a lot of questions about Cousteau and expressed interest in seeing his early films about the sea. So I found a video at the library featuring one of his films...and I've already placed it on hold! I just love learning with my kids!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Curious Garden

by Peter Brown


It's been a while since I reviewed what I consider a five star book (or reviewed any book for that matter.) This one definitely deserves it! It's one of my new favorites. I really like the determination of the main character and the pictures are absolutely fabulous. My girls and I have read this book over and over, and I honestly don't get tired of it. This one is worth checking out!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Birthday Tree

by Paul Fleischman
pictures by Barry Root


I thought this was a beautiful story, but it went a bit over my kids' heads. The author drew a parallel between a boy, Jack, and the tree his parents planted when he was born. After he left home his parents were able to know how Jack was, based on the tree's appearance (sounds weird, but I promise it's better than I'm making it sound!) My kids did enjoy it when I read it to them, even though they did give me a few puzzled looks and said, "what?" more than once! I guess some books were intended more for the pleasure of the parents reading them...and there's nothing wrong with that!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How Mama Brought the Spring

by Fran Manushkin
pictures by Holly Berry


This book, with its wintry setting that turns spring, is not exactly what you'd expect kids to pick out in the hottest part of the summer, but mine did! I think it's a manifestation of the power a book can have in carrying us off to another world (a snowy day in Minsk is just about as distant as you can get from a scorching hot day in Central Valley, California!)

This is a lovely story of a mother who tells her daughter a tale from her own childhood in Minsk, in order to motivate her out of bed on a freezing Chicago morning. I can imagine the imagery of her own mother's magical blintzes (a cheese-filled breakfast pastry) warming me and my girls on a cold day. I definitely want to check this one out again when that time comes and I am longing for warmer days. I'll probably even try the recipe for "Mama's Cheese Blintzes" found at the back of the book!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Big Tidy-Up

by Norah Smaridge
pictures by Les Gray


For spunky, spiky-haired Jennifer cleaning her room is just not a priority. She finds it convenient to throw her hat on the ivy plant and store pie under her pillow for a bed-time snack. When her mom declares her room a "Keep Out" zone, Jen delights in her mess and passes her time there quite happily...that is until she realizes she is tired of living in chaos and clutter! Jennifer decides the only way out is to do a BIG tidy-up.

My kids have asked me to read this one over and over again in the two weeks we've had it from the Library. They enjoy the colorful pictures and methodical rhymes. Unfortunately it hasn't sparked a "big tidy-up" of their own...yet!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


by Bernard Waber


Courage takes many forms, and Bernard Waber does a great job depicting these through words and pictures. My favorite of his explanations include: "Courage is tasting the vegetable before making the face" and "Courage is explaining the rip in your brand-new pants." My kids really enjoyed his many definitions of courage...and even added on a few of their own!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Friend Like Ed

by Karen Wagner
pictures by Janet Pedersen


This is a cute story about a mouse named Mildred and her quirky best friend Ed. Ed collects buttons and pencil stubs, invents things like a string bean picker, and recites poetry about everything (all things which embarrass Mildred.) Mildred decides that she needs a more "normal" friend who won't embarrass her, but in the end finds that Ed is the best friend for her.
Ed is a good reminder that being yourself is the best way to be!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters

by John Steptoe


This book was inspired by old African folktale collected in the late 1800's from people living near the Zimbabwe ruins. It is the story of two very different sisters. Although both are extremely beautiful, one is kind and selfless while the other is bad-tempered and prideful to a fault. After a series of unknown tests, the girls' true characters are revealed and rewarded accordingly. The illustrations are beautiful, and are based on actual ruins and vegetation in Zimbabwe.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Road Trip

by Roger Eschbacher
pictures by Thor Wickstrom


I really enjoyed reading this fun book of "road trip" poetry aloud with my kids. I really like how this compilation of poems tells one larger story and how each poem leads into the next. Although told in a series of poems, it documents one family's two day trip across country to Grandma's house. It honestly made me want to pack up the car with my family and head east for a on-the-road adventure!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Gardener

by Sarah Stewart
pictures by David Small


A very cute story told through the letters of little Lydia Grace Finch. She moves to the city to live with her straight-faced uncle, and help in his bakery. While living there she secretly creates a roof-top garden for him in hopes that it will get him to finally smile. This book won a Caldecott Honor in 1998.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Grasshopper on the Road

by Arnold Lobel


This book can be enjoyed on so many different levels. From my three-year-old thumbing through the pages to admire the funny pictures, to my five-year-old sounding out the words on her own, to my own appreciation for Lobel's witty humor and contemplative themes (it's much deeper than you would think an "I Can Read" book would be!) Grasshopper's journey down the road seems to be a metaphor for life, and all the bugs he runs into represent the day to day things that distract us from what's really important (from the narrow-minded beetles who can't accept any view besides their own, to the fireflies who zoom around so quickly that they don't even notice the flowers and leaves.) Anyway, more simply put it is very fun read for kids and adults!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Amelia Bedelia

by Peggy Parish
pictures by Fritz Siebel


This story is about an absent minded, yet lovable house maid with a name as silly as she is! She takes her new employers' directions way too literally resulting in things like dressing a raw chicken carcass in trousers with suspenders (her instructions were to "dress the chicken.") Great humor for both kids and adults (although I did have to explain to my kids why some things were funny....they were with Amelia on a few of the things; dress a chicken?!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young

selected by Jack Prelutsky
pictures by Marc Brown


This is a wonderful book of children's poetry. When I start reading this one with my kids, it is quite literally hard to stop...they always want to read just one more! Prelutsky does a fabulous job of selecting poems that are so relevant to a child's life. And page after page of Marc Brown's colorful illustrations only add to the fun!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


by Peter Spier


I believe this book is out of print, but it is definitely worth purchasing from a used bookstore (just do a google search.) In this wordless picture book, Spier brings the clouds to life by illustrating what two children see in the sky as they lay in a meadow and stare at the changing white cumuli. This book is so imaginative and encourages my kids to look a little longer, and a little closer at things around them.

Another wonderful book by Peter Spier: Noah's Ark

Monday, March 9, 2009

Zen Shorts

by Jon J. Muth


This charming book tells the story of three young siblings that meet a large panda named Stillwater. He teaches each of them profound life lessons through the simple stories he shares. Two of Stillwater's anecdotes are based on stories from Zen Buddhist literature, and the third comes from an ancient Taoist tale. The paintings in this book are done in watercolor and are absolutely breathtaking. Muth earned a Caldecott Honor for the illustrations in this book in 2006.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Story About Ping

by Marjorie Flack
pictures by Kurt Wiese


This is an old favorite (really old...original copyright 1933.) It's a story of a little duck that gets separated from his family (to be more specific his mother, father, 2 sisters, 3 brothers, 11 aunts, 7 uncles, and 42 cousins!) It all ends well though, as Ping finds his way back home after he almost ends up as dinner for a local fisherman's family. He also learns a lesson through it all, which is always nice!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bats at the Library

by Brian Lies


This is a clever story about a colony of bats that take advantage of a window left open at the library. Seeing their opportunity, they fly in and the fun begins. While some read and research, others play in the water fountain, with the overhead projector, or make copies of themselves with the Xerox machine! Young bats play in pop-up books and have story time. The best part is that each bat is "completely swallowed up and lives inside a book instead of simply hearing something read." I love that the author shows this by painting recognizable scenes from well-loved children's books and incorporating the bats in them (i.e. Pippy Longstocking as a bat, or bats crossing the road instead of ducks in Make Way for Ducklings by Robert Mccloskey .) It's very funny and illustrates to kids just how fun it can be to get lost in a book.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World

by Faith McNulty
pictures by Marc Simont


After my five-year-old daughter's inquisitive questions on what is under the sidewalk (my answer: "dirt"); then what's under the dirt? ("more dirt, and rock"); what's under the rock...and so forth, we decided to research the topic at the library. We found several good non-fiction books that had great pictures of the earth's layers and core, but the explanations were not very exciting to a young child. And then we found this is so great! It is like taking a trip through each layer of earth, to the center, and out the other side. It kept both my girls griped as it explained exactly what one would find if she dug a hole right to the other side of the world. It's a total learning adventure!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

by Simms Taback


Joseph starts out with an overcoat. When it is worn he makes it into a jacket...and then a vest, etc...until it is just a tiny button. The text is based on an old Yiddish folk song that the author loved as a child. The artwork is bright and entertaining. Taback won the Caldecott medal in 2000 for his illustrations in this book.

Another fun book by Simms Taback is There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nine O' Clock Lullaby

by Marilyn Singer
pictures by Frane' Lessac


This is a really good book for broadening a young child's view of the world. It explores different locations and cultures by jumping from time zone to time zone around the world. From 9 p.m. in Brooklyn, New York, to 3 a.m in Zaire, to noon in Sydney, Australia; kids really can get a sense that there is always something happening in this great big world of ours. Remember three stars is still a good rating...this one is definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Grandfather's Journey

by Allen Say


A simple, but moving story of Allen Say's Grandfather's life in Japan and America. In telling about his Grandfather's story and love for both countries, he also reveals his own deep connection to both places. He says "...the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other." For some reason this book always makes me choke-up. The pictures are beautiful and the reminiscent story-telling is tender. Say won the Caldecott Medal for this book in 1994.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

by Chris Van Allsburg


Chris Van Allsburg is an amazing illustrator and has won the Caldecott Medal twice (Jumanji in 1982 and The Polar Express in 1986.) What I love about this book is not just the awesome illustrations, but the way they spark the reader's imagination. The book begins with a fictional letter of introduction from the author/illustrator. It tells of a mysterious encounter one book publisher had with a man named Harris Burdick, who leaves a sample of artwork for his stories. Burdick never returns for the mysterious drawings. The pages that follow are the collection of drawings that are so bizarre and intriguing, that they inspire the reader to come to his own conclusions about these untold stories.
The concept was a little beyond my three and five year-old, but they still had fun looking at the unusual pictures. I definitely want this one for my own library.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Brave Charlotte

by Anu Stohner
pictures by Henrike Wilson


I read this for the first time last week after my three-year-old picked it out at the library. She chose was a very fun read! Charlotte is a little sheep who is very unlike the other sheep in her flock (who often "tsk, tsk" her wild tactics.) The day soon comes that little Charlotte's courage is just what her shepherd and flock need. This is a charming story that shows that there's a place for everyone...even a daredevil sheep!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Miss Nelson is Missing

by Harry Allard
pictures by James Marshall


A no-nonsense Miss Viola Swamp shows up to substitute Miss Nelson's class after she is determined missing. The kids in Room 207 certainly learn a lesson in respect after several days with "The Swamp." The best part is the twist makes kids want to flip back and read the story all over again!

Friday, February 13, 2009

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato

by Lauren Child


Years ago, long before there was a Charlie and Lola TV show on the Disney channel, I read this fabulous find as an Elementary Education major at BYU. I love this brother and sister combo. Charlie is level-headed but fun, and is good at understanding his precocious little sister Lola. In this story he cleverly convinces her to eat all the foods she profusely rejects, by calling them different names (i.e. mashed potatoes=cloud fluff.) We have applied this tactic more than once at our house (in fact, we still refer to peas as "green drops" from time to time!) Lauren Child not only writes a funny story, but also creates unique art by incorporating big, colorful patterns and real life images into her drawings. She won the Kate Greenaway Medal (the Caldecott equivalent in the UK) for this book in 2000.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fancy Nancy

by Jane O'Connor
pictures by Robin Preiss Glasser


This book is a big hit at my house...but then again I have two girly girls. Nancy is a lovable character whose fancy for fancy influences her clothes, her room, her words, and even how she holds her cup ("pinkies up Darling!") I love how her family humors her (even though they aren't particularly fancy themselves), and truly appreciates the big personality she has.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Relatives Came

by Cynthia Rylant
pictures by Stephen Gammell


From the leaving at four in the morning to the ice chest full of soda pop, this book reminds me of my own long journeys to relatives as a kid. I get a kick out of the narrator's childlike perspective on the relatives' visit. The description of events is so easy to relate to, and the deep love this extended family has for one another is very believable. The vivid illustrations earned a Caldecott honor in 1986.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Martha Speaks

by Susan Meddaugh


This is a good-humored story about a dog that gains the ability to talk after eating her owner's alphabet soup (the letters go to her brain instead of her stomach.) It's funny to hear the kinds of things a dog would say...if she only had the chance! There are other Martha books that followed this one (although I haven't read any of them), and apparently PBS has a new show based on this book.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hot Air

by Marjorie Priceman


This book brings together two elements that I love: hilarious illustrations that tell their own story, and an actual historical event. This is the "mostly true story" of the first hot air balloon ride. The author starts off by verbally painting the setting of Versailles, France in 1783. She describes the people present on this historical day, but makes it clear that this book is not about them. She then cleverly goes into her own account of three barn yard animals' journey on the balloon ride (the part about the farm animals being the first passengers is actually true...Priceman just embellishes what happens on their ride!) A very entertaining, and educational read. Hot Air was a 2006 Caldecott Honor book.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

by William Steig


In this book a young donkey, named Sylvester, finds a magic pebble. To make a long story short, he winds up as a rock until a fortunate encounter at the end of the book sets him free. Another winner by William Steig (literally...he won the 1970 Caldecott) that causes me to again ask, "Where does he come up with this stuff? (and I mean that in a good way!)

Thursday, February 5, 2009


by David Wiesner


In this wordless picture book, David Wiesner takes you to a different world with his illustrations. An intriguing story is revealed when a boy finds an old-fashioned, underwater camera that washes ashore. Flotsam won Wiesner his third Caldecott Medal (in 2007)...he's amazing.

Another favorite by this author:

Tuesday (2002 Caldecott Medal)--a hilarious wordless tale of flying frogs.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Nutshell Library

by Maurice Sendak


This is a collection of four little books: Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup with Rice, One Was Johnny, and Pierre. I love these little rhyming books. They teach essential concepts like the alphabet, months of the year, and counting; and do it in such a clever and entertaining way! My kids love to sing "Chicken Soup with Rice" (Carole King made songs out of all of these poems....definitely worth hearing.)

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

by Judith Viorst
pictures by Ray Cruz


We all have days like this, even (and especially) kids. Not only is this book full of funny situations, but it helps us realize that we can look back on our own terrible days and laugh (hopefully!) I also like the references to is so like a kid to think of some obscure place where life must be better!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Hat

by Tomi Ungerer


I don't think this book is currently available (unless you buy it used.) Perhaps my taste differs here from the popular view, considering that it is out of print, but for some reason I just really enjoy this book! It's a quirky story about an enchanted hat that saves the day several times over, giving credit to an old veteran named Benito. For the full effect, this book should be read with an exaggerated Italian accent!