Posts Tagged ‘books my three-year-old loves’
Rilla isn’t sure she likes the look of Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. “Hmm.” She eyes it skeptically. “It doesn’t really look Intresting.”
“I think you’ll like it,” I say. “It’s about a big city growing up around this little pink house.”
Pink is the key word in that sentence. She’ll give almost anything a chance, if there’s pink involved.
“Hot pink,” she murmurs approvingly, studying the cover. There is no higher praise.
“Let’s give it a try,” I suggest. “We can read something else afterward.”
She has a laugh her sisters call the Evil Chipmunk. “Of course! It’s my favorite book.”
Huck climbs half on top of me and begins to count the trees around the little pink house. He’s very into counting, these days.
I love quiet books like The Little House, the kind that tiptoe their way into a child’s heart. The house is built, the countryside blooms, the seasons change. The sun arcs across the page and this must be pored over, wait, Mommy, don’t turn the page yet. And then the next spread, the calendar of moons. We must pause while Rilla touches each crescent and disk, naming the days. The road comes rolling out from the distant city; that’s Huck’s page to study. Steam shovel, big rocks, little rocks, tar, steamroller. He could stay there all day. But the city is encroaching, surrounding, swallowing the little pink house, and Rilla has picked up the urgency. We have to read quickly now; she needs to know. Trolley line, elevated train, subway, skyscrapers, you can hardly see the poor house.
It’s magical, you know, when the movers come to carry it away. A house on the back of a truck! Both children are astounded at this marvel. They’d have taken unicorns and dragons in stride, but a house riding along the road to a new hill in the countryside: clearly this is a wonder of the world.
Later, when Huck is napping, Rilla pounces on me, brandishing the book. The pink house winks from the cover.
“Yes. It’s my favorite book.”
You know how we feel about the work of Tom Lichtenheld here in the Bonny Glen. Shark vs. Train. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site. You can imagine, then, our delight upon receiving a review copy of his latest picture book from his publishers.
E-mergency!—created in collaboration with fourteen-year-old Ezra Fields-Meyer—is another winner. See, the letters of the alphabet all live together in a big house. They come barrelling down the stairs for breakfast and whoops, E misses a step. (This is Huck’s favorite part. “You’re E, Mommy!” And I have to cry “Eeeee!” Then he makes big wide eyes and round mouth: “Oh no!”) E is seriously injured and winds up in the ER (with the help, of course, of EMTs).
Since rest is a vital part of the healing process, the other letters decide to give E a break: O will stand in for his injured pal. That’s when things get wonderfully silly. Cafeteria menus announce “moatloaf” and “groon salad,” road signs proclaim the “spood limit,” and local businesses advertise “danco lossons” and “ico creom.” This is whimsy that tickles my ten-year-old just as surely as it does her younger siblings. The book is filled with comic dialogue and side jokes, increasing its crossover appeal with older kids. And the playful language has utterly entranced Rilla, my emergent reader, who thinks it is hilarious to see what happens to a word when you swap out the vowel.
The ending is perfect. Or should I say: the onding is porfoct?
A Dog Is a Dog by Stephen Shaskan, published by Chronicle Books.
The cover of this delightful picture book grabbed my kids’ attention immediately with its bright orange and turquoise palette; the big grinning doggy face made them giggle.
Those giggles never stopped: this is art that goes straight to a little kid’s funny bone.
In whimsical rhymes and big, comical images, we learn that a dog is a dog no matter what it’s doing—“Whether it suns on the beach, or glides on the ice.” “A dog is a dog, if it’s skinny or fat. A dog is a dog, unless it’s a…CAT!”
Would you believe that grinning doggy unzips his dog suit, and there’s a plump ginger cat inside? This is the point when Rilla’s giggles turned to shrieks of laughter. But the surprises don’t stop there…It seems a cat is a cat unless it’s a…
Oh, no, I’m not telling. But we all howled. I did not see that coming. Nor the next twist, nor the next! One of the things I love about this book is that it manages the near-impossible feat of employing the sort of rhythmic pattern that young children delight in, while simultaneously making unpredictable turns. And this while delivering art that bubbles over with humor and energy. I’ve become a huge Stephen Shaskan fan in one fell swoop. You remember last year when I went nuts over Jeremy Tankard and Tom Lichtenheld? Yeah, Shaskan is on that list. I’m officially (and totally on the spur of the moment) dubbing it the Mo Willems List: storyteller-illustrators whose art has won my heart with its bold black outlines and lively antics and hilarious facial expressions (often on creatures you wouldn’t think would be terribly expressive, like a dump truck or a pigeon or a woolly mammoth or…the thing inside Shaskan’s cat suit). [I’ve recently encountered another artist who belongs on this list, but I’m not allowed to tell you his name yet. And that, my friends, is what you might call a hint.]
Anyway, my dears…A Dog Is a Dog gets high marks from Wonderboy, Rilla, and Huck (not to mention their daddy and some amused big sisters). Enjoy.
Review copy received from publisher, but you know I don’t write about them unless they’re a hit with my own personal focus group.
P.S. Did you know November is Picture Book Month?
Tom Lichtenheld is one of my favorite illustrators. I discovered his work—how was I missing it??—in the wonderful Chris Barton picture book, Shark Vs. Train, that you’ve heard me rave about so many times before. Tom’s bold, energetic style crackles with humor and appeal. My kids are all drawn to his work; his illustrations are the kind you pore over, giggling at the details.
I went on a binge last week and ordered all the Lichtenheld our library system could muster. (The entire second row pictured in this link is sitting on my bed right this minute.) The resulting reading pile is a Rillabooks post-in-progress, but I could not resist interrupting myself to write about one particular book from that pile, the one that has completely enchanted my two-year-old son.
Huck’s a truck kid, through and through. Trucks, cars, and trains. Preferably half-buried in dirt. He has staked a claim on a corner of my veggie garden: it’s where the trucks grow. When I saw that Tom Lichtenheld is the illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, I knew I’d pretty much found Huck’s dream book.
I underestimated. He is CRAZY about this book, carries it everywhere, begs for it a dozen times a day or more. It’s his Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel (you Ramona fans know what I mean), but I’m not in a Beezus place yet because when I read it to him, he is SO. DARN. CUTE.
It’s a bedtime book set in a construction site. Are you thinking: that’s brilliant? Because the moment I saw it, I thought, that’s brilliant. Five big rough, tough construction vehicles finish their day’s work and get ready for bed, one by one. I wish I could show you every page of the art. If you click on the title above, you can view some images from the book. There’s a book trailer there, too, which HUCK MUST NOT SEE or I’ll never pry him away from the computer ever again.
Besides, I’m greedy for the cuddles this book gets me. My busy boy climbs into my lap and more or less acts out the book—raising an arm high when the crane truck lifts one last beam, whirling his hands when the cement mixer mixes a final load—and when the excavator snuggles into its dirt bed, Huck hugs me tight: “Now we ’nuggle, Mommy.” Ridiculously cute, right?
The best part is right in the middle when the dump truck appears. “Dat me!” he says every time.
“You’re the dump truck?”
Shh…goodnight, Dump Truck, goodnight.
Who’s Hiding by Satoru Onishi. Published by Kane/Miller.
I’m filing this under Rillabooks but it could easily be tagged Huckbooks as well. They are equally attached to it—the five-year-old and the two-year-old, if you’ve lost track of their ages.
It’s an appealingly simple concept book: a page full of animals, illustrated in a clean and colorful style, as you can see from the cover. On the first spread, the animals are labeled: dog, tiger, hippopotamus, zebra. On the next spread, the animals are the same, but the background color has changed from white to blue. “Who’s hiding?” asks the text. The blue animal has disappeared against the background and the child has to figure out who is missing (helped along by the bunny’s eyes, ears, and nose showing up against the blue).
As the book progresses, more and more animals are hiding on each page. My littles absolutely love this game of hide and seek.
The “Who’s hiding?” spreads are interspersed with emotion and action spreads. Who’s angry? Who’s sleeping? Who’s crying? (My little goddaughter was distressed by the crying page, so watch out.)
Rilla seems to enjoy the hiding pages the most—the book turns into a game for her, a game involving my looking very intently at the book as I ask who’s hiding, so intently that I, ahem, don’t notice a certain someone has gone missing beside me. “Who’s hiding?” “I AM!” cries a triumphant voice from under the bed.
Huck likes the emotion pages best, or just plain naming the animals. I’m a big fan of Satoru Onishi’s art. I’d love a poster of these animals for the kids’ bedroom wall.
Today: My Very First Mother Goose, the Iona Opie/Rosemary Wells collaboration. A gift from my sister when Jane was tiny, so thoroughly loved by all six children overlappingly and in succession that the binding is cracked and peeling. Huck carts this one (and its companion, the red one, called something like “More Mother Goose” or “My Very Second Mother Goose” and yes, I’m being lazy) all around the house, loving on it, talking to the bunnies and cats, naming the nice big initial letters. Today Rilla chose it for our “quiet reading time” (it is seldom very quiet) and she basically read/recited the whole darn book to me, bearing out Charlotte Mason’s theories about using nursery rhymes to teach reading without actually teaching.
Also: selected poems from Milne’s When We Were Very Young.
Yesterday: Dinosaur vs. Bedtime at least a dozen times. And then three or four more rounds with Huck. This was one of my favorites from the Cybils nominees two years ago, and it is enjoying renewed popularity now that Huck is prime dinosaur material.
I can’t remember if we read anything but Dino v. Bed yesterday, but then again it kind of dominated the whole day, didn’t it? ROAR! DINOSAUR WINS!
The day before that: Diary of a Fly, another repeat request, and I know everyone already loves Doreen Cronin’s hilarious insect diaries so I won’t say much beyond: Cronin’s a riot and Harry Bliss’s art is a delight. I especially love the way this book and its mates (Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Spider) suck my older kids in too and engender such animated discussion afterward. Same goes for Click Clack Moo, which, as someone pointed out on my Goodreads page recently, provides a most excellent jumping-off point for talking about collective bargaining rights.
And finally, two books I pretty much need to mark down for every day this past week: Grumpy Bird and Boo Hoo Bird, both by Jeremy Tankard of Me Hungry fame. I was so enchanted with Tankard’s art in Me Hungry that I absolutely had to track down more of his work. The two bird books do not disappoint. The crabby-face of Grumpy Bird—who wakes up one day too grumpy to fly—actually makes us laugh out loud. We’ve seen that face around here before. Great twist at the end, too. I probably can’t say anything that tops Huck’s endorsement, though. I snuck some video of him ‘reading’ these books after dinner the other night and if I get my act together I’ll try and post it. Made me laugh.
Neither a bird, nor grumpy.
If I really had it together, I’d have pulled some of these books out last week in anticipation of the Supermoon. Truth is, I didn’t even think of these in connection with Saturday’s moon until, well, just now. I did think, sometime Sunday afternoon, Ooh, we should read Owl Moon to Rilla and Wonderboy, but I forgot about thinking that until just now.
What did happen is I was hunting for a package of address labels I thought I’d stashed on a shelf in Wonderboy’s room (which doubles as Scott’s office), and although I didn’t find the labels, I found half a dozen picture books I really love and don’t remember reading in the past year. I gave up my label hunt, addressed the darn package by hand, and snagged Rilla for a readaloud.
That accounts for the first two books in this post. The third one is a quiet marvel of a book and we met it for the first time the weekend before last, when my perfectly scrumptious wee goddaughter came for a visit.
This, along with its companion, Alphonse, Where Are You?, has enchanted each one of my children in turn. I actually kind of squealed when I found it yesterday because I hadn’t seen it in a while and I knew Rilla wouldn’t remember it and it’s such a delight to share it for another first time. Alphonse the goose is the friend and protector of Little Bird. They gaze at the great round moon together, and Alphonse remarks that it’s made of swiss cheese, and Little Bird would like to eat it but alas, it’s glued to the sky. Except—they round a bend and there’s the big swiss-cheese moon floating in the pond. All the geese crowd around, commencing a frenzy of splashing and diving, and though their efforts don’t capture the moon, they do dredge up a swiss cheese sandwich—and if it weren’t for Alphonse, Little Bird would be left without so much as a nibble. I love the gentle interplay between the big goose and the little one, and I wish I had a record of Rilla’s deep chuckle the first time she heard the words “moon sandwich.”
When Moon Fell Down by Linda Smith, illustrated by Kathryn Brown.
It’s funny how you connect books with the people who introduced them to you. Just as I always think of my friend Joan when I read one of the Alphonse and Little Bird books—I think she was the editor of them, and I know they were, like Brave Georgie Goat, gifts from her—my original Little House editor, the great Alix Reid, comes to mind every time I pick up When Moon Fell Down. “You’re going to love this one, Lissa,” she told me. “It’s one of my favorite books I ever worked on.”
fell upon a farmer’s lawn,
rolled about in sheer delight
on fields he’d only shined upon.”
Before long he encounters—who else?—a cow, and the two of them take off for a stroll through town. Moon has never seen the world from this vantage point before; until now, he “didn’t know a horse had knees.” There’s a lush, hushed, magical quality to this book—and thinking over past Rillabooks entries, I think that’s something I’m often drawn to in a picture book, partly because the magic holds my little ones rapt. This art is, well, luminous, and the combination of whimsy and wonder seems to appeal to the children just as much as it does to me.
I’m a big Kevin Henkes fan but somehow I’d missed this book until my pal Kristen pulled it out of her bag last weekend! It’s a great favorite of my little goddaughter, who is just eighteen months old, and Huck and Rilla swooped in upon it immediately. The black-and-white art is magnificent. Like Little Bird above, Kitten spies the big white moon and wants a taste. It looks, after all, just like a gigantic saucer of milk. Kitten climbs a tree, splashes in a pond, tries everything to get to that bowl, to no avail…We were almost as sad to say goodbye to Kitten as we were to Vivi and her parents. This is a book I might just have to add to our collection.
(Which is funny because as godmother, I consider it one of my responsibilities to help curate Vivi’s collection. But on this visit, it was Vivi who introduced us to two keepers. The other was Not a Box by Antoinette Portis, which I keep wanting to rave about here. I fell madly in love with that book. I mean like A Visitor for Bear level, The Maggie B. level, Christina Katerina level—that last is a particularly apt comparison, as you’ll see if you check it out. It’s the kind of deceptively simple artistry that really takes massive talent to pull off, and it speaks so exactly to a child’s sensibility. “What are you doing in that box?” asks the narrator. “It’s NOT a box!” replies the bunny, blasting off in its spaceship.)
(Here, I was going to save it for another post, but now that I’ve gushed about it this much I might as well show you the cover. Only you’ve all seen it already, I bet. I don’t know how I missed it. I mean, look, it’s got the Geisel honor medal! Where’ve I been?)
Now I’ve gone and blown my whole moon theme. This is what happens, though; one book leads to another. I suppose the common thread for all the books in this post is that they came to us by way of dear friends. We can pretend that’s what I was going for the whole time.
Oh but I was going to mention two other moon books we love but haven’t read in a while…I mentioned Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon at the top of this post, and When Moon Fell Down reminded me of The Moon Jumpers, a strange and lyrical little book by Janice May Udry, gorgeously illustrated by Maurice Sendak. I remember Rilla going through a Moon Jumpers attachment about six months ago, but I haven’t seen it in a while. This might be the week to pull it back off the shelf.
I don’t know who gave us those two books. I think I bought Owl Moon when I worked at a children’s bookstore, or if not I bought it because it was part of Before Five in a Row or something. The Moon Jumpers, I must have just picked up myself because I loved the art. I really am crazy about all that early Sendak work.
books I adore, books my five-year-old loves, books my three-year-old loves, Kevin Henkes, Kitten's First Full Moon, Linda Berkowitz, Linda Smith, Maurice Sendak, moon, Moon Jumpers, Not a Box, Owl Moon, Rillabooks, When Moon Fell Down
My very favorite book when I was a preschooler, made all the more wonderful by the art of the inimitable George Booth. “Never tease a weasel, not even once or twice. A weasel wouldn’t like it, and teasing isn’t nice!” This was one of the first books I learned by heart. Loads of fun with language, and that refrain is irresistible.
Bink reminds me of Tib: tiny, fluffy, determined. Gollie is just this side of an Edward Gorey character. Which is to say: I adore ’em both. Rilla won’t let me read this one to her just once. Gotta be two or three times in a row. A smart, funny, sophisticated Early Reader—which sounds like an oxymoron but isn’t. Rilla is captivated by the intense personalities of Bink and Gollie, and by the ups and downs of their relationship. Every time we read it, she wants to discuss and discuss. In a way, this is her first book-club book: that book you love so much you just have to talk about it.
Poor Mr. Pusskins, tormented by that rogueish kitten, and blamed for his hijinks to boot. Wonderful expressions on the feline faces here. Rilla is smitten with cat and kitten.
My SIL recommended this one and I bet I’ve read it a hundred times so far this week. No exaggeration. Huge hit with the three youngest, especially Rilla who is in a big rhyme phase. Bonus: vacuum cleaner sucking noises.
One of my favorites from my stint as a first-round CYBILs picture book judge in 2008. Now a repeat request from Rilla, who loves the quiet, earnest tone of this story about a boy who rescues an injured pigeon. The kind of book you pore over and talk about, heads together.
A family favorite. Grandma Jo loses her glasses the night before Little Lloyd is due for a visit. That’s how she happens to bring home an escaped zoo lion instead. She plies her furry visitor with ice cream and dancing, and they have a fine old time, managing to thwart a burglar while they’re at it. Big belly laughs from my littles over this one.
More book recommendations here.
Alison McGhee, Bink and Gollie, Bob Graham, books I adore, books my five-year-old loves, books my four-year-old loves, books my three-year-old loves, George Booth, Hooray for Grandma Jo, How to Heal a Broken Wing, Jan Thomas, Jean Conder Soule, Kate DiCamillo, Mr Pusskins and Little Whiskers, Never Tease a Weasel, picture books, Rhyming Dust Bunnies, Rillabooks, Sam Lloyd, Thomas McKean, Tony Fucile