A Picture Book Favorite

My four-year-old daughter’s favorite book this summer was Sharee Miller’s Don’t Touch My Hair! The book stars Aria, a black girl with a great head of hair. But unfortunately, people are so intrigued by her hair that they constantly feel the need to touch it. They don’t bother to ask permission or consider Aria’s feelings. While Aria tries to wiggle out of the way, do some ninja moves to escape unwanted hands, or escape to far off places, nothing seems to work. Finally, she reaches her breaking point. It’s only with a shout of, “Don’t touch my hair!” that people finally understand that they have to respect Aria and her hair. 

The book is simple, but impactful. While I know my daughter didn’t catch all of the nuances related to black culture or bodily consent, it still clearly resonated with her. We read this book night after night after night. Now that my daughter visits the library every Tuesday with her junior kindergarten class, she has even checked the book out two more times already! One thing my daughter and I both loved about the book is the illustrations. My daughter liked acting out the different moves that Aria tries, and she liked how some of the pictures gave clues about what would be on the next page. Meanwhile, I liked the pictures so much that I’ve even been following Sharee Miller, who is both the author and the illustrator, on instagram. She posts artwork daily and I love all of it. She excels at colorful, playful fashions and showing strong, beautiful girls in all shapes and colors.   

Be sure to look out for this bright yellow book the next time you’re looking for a picture book with heart and art.

A Presidential Picture Book

As we await the final results of Tuesday’s election, I wanted to share my favorite political read of the year: Grace for President written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by LeUyen Pham.

When her teacher unveils a poster with all of the presidents on it, Grace asks the obvious question, “Where are the girls?” Grace decides that she would like to be president, so her teacher is inspired to hold an election at their school. As it turns out, the other class nominates Thomas as their candidate. The rest of the students in the class choose a state to represent and then learn that each state has a different number of electoral votes. Grace will have to earn at least 270 electoral votes in order to win. Grace creates posters, listens to the issues that are important to her classmates, creates a productive list of promises, meets with her constituents, gives speeches, joins the safety squad, organizes a committee, and volunteers at her school. Meanwhile, Thomas realizes that if all the boys vote for him, he’ll win, so he plays soccer and makes a few glittering promises. Finally, it’s time to have the election. Each representative stands up and casts their votes. The race is neck and neck. It all comes down to one final state: Wyoming. Even though Wyoming is represented by a boy, he decides to cast his three votes for Grace – making her the winner.

This book is clever, frustrating, and inspiring, all at the same time. It’s clever because Kelly DiPucchio’s text is tongue-in-cheek. On one hand, it’s a simple story about a class election, but the adults will catch the nuances of a girl – of color, nonetheless – running against a white boy. Frustratingly, even though she clearly works harder, has good intentions, and runs a fair race, she barely scrapes by with the win. Luckily, Grace’s win makes the story inspiring. There’s also a great picture of grown-up Grace at her presidential inauguration on the final page of the book, next to an author’s note explaining a few more details about how the electoral college works. Honestly, I got a bit teary-eyed as I read this story out loud. The illustrations are darling, and I love how you can read Grace’s emotions on her face. I’m already thinking about several friends that I want to gift this picture book to – Christmas gifts, perhaps?

Other Kelly DiPucchio Books We’ve Enjoyed:

  • Everyone Loves Bacon
  • Everyone Loves Cupcake
  • Dragon Was Terrible

Toddler Book Talk: An Interview

I’ve tried my best to pass on my love of reading to my daughter. We have books all over the house, we make frequent trips to the library, and we read lots of books at bedtime because this kid doesn’t need sleep like the rest of us do! She just turned three at the beginning of November and she is a busy, goofy girl. She cracks me up and she’s always surprising me with the things she says and knows. I thought it would be fun to hear her talk about books in an impromptu interview.

Me: What’s your favorite book right now?

C: Hmmm…blughertymum (incomprehensible mumbling)

Me: What’s your favorite kind of book?

C: Hmm, I yike princess books.

Me: Why do you like princess books?

C: Because I yuv, yuv, yuv princesses.

Me: Let’s talk about some of the new books you got recently. How many books did you get for your birthday?

C: One, two, and three, and five, and two.

(There are seven books!)

Me: Out of all those books, which one is the best?

C: This one (points to Naughty Mabel by Nathan Lane and Devlin Elliott).

Me: Why do you like Naughty Mabel?

C: Because I yuv it! I also yike this one and this one (points to Princesses Wear Pants by Savannah Guthrie and Allison Oppenheim and Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey).

Me: What do you like about those?

C: This one’s so glittery and sparkly (Princesses Wear Pants).

Me: And the other one?

C: Because he says, “I want to eat mommy’s blueberries” (Blueberries for Sal).

Me: Do you like to read books with mommy?

C: Yeah.

Me: Why?

C: Because I yike you.

Me: Any other thoughts you’d like to share about books?

C: I yike reading a story and playing games.

 

Naughty Mabel by Nathan Lane and Devlin Elliott

As for me, I wouldn’t say that I loved Naughty Mabel, a story about a dog named Mabel who gets in lots of trouble and gets called “Naughty” by her owners. The story didn’t feel entirely cohesive to me, and I didn’t like how proud Mabel was of herself for being naughty. However, the artwork was very fun. I enjoyed the illustrations more than the text.

Princesses Wear Pants by Savannah Guthrie and Allison Oppenheim

This book also had cute, colorful illustrations – but it also had a better story to back it up. Princess Penelope Pineapple has a great life and lots of fabulous dresses, but she also has a great collection of pants so that she can skateboard, do yoga, garden, be a pilot, and host a science fair. When there’s an emergency at a fancy party, Princess Penelope comes to the rescue thanks to her pants! The illustrations by Eva Byrne, a fashion illustrator, perfectly match the cute story.

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Great-Grandma Shirley picked out this book for us after we told her about going to pick blueberries this summer. The book, originally published in 1948, is about Sal and her mother as they head out to Blueberry Hill to pick blueberries so they can take them home and can them for winter. Meanwhile, a baby bear and his mother head to the hill to eat blueberries before winter arrives. Sal and baby bear get mixed up and have to find their mothers! The illustrations are simple but graphic and detailed – despite only being printed in one color. My three year old loves looking at the print that is on the book’s end pages, a scene of Sal and her mother canning blueberries in an old-fashioned kitchen. I can see why this classic is still in print.   

 

What books do you recommend for three-year-olds?

Baby’s Books of the Week: Lions Roar and Giraffes Stretch

babysbookoftheweek

My baby just turned two earlier this week, so she’s not really a baby anymore, but she does still enjoy books. She was really into the board books Lions Roar and Giraffes Stretch last week. We had to read them over, and over, and over, and over.

giraffeslionsEach book is incredibly short at only 14 pages, but the large, colorful photographs of real animals were impressive. There is very little text on the pages. For instance, one layout read, “Slurp, Slurp. Giraffes bend down for water.” Not much plot going on in these stories!

Even so, my daughter and I enjoyed stretching and bending and sticking out our tongues like giraffes, and roaring like lions. We counted how many giraffes were on the page and my daughter liked pointing out the daddy and mommy lions. For being such short, simplistic books, they provided plenty of interaction. We look forward to finding more books from this series at our local libraries.

These books can be found on Amazon, as well as the Amicus publishing website at https://www.amicuspublishing.us/books/amicus-ink/giraffes-stretch.

  • Giraffes Stretch by Rebecca Glaser ISBN: 9781681520698
  • Lions Roar by Rebecca Glaser ISBN: 9781681520711

Honorable Mention:

  • Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthallittlehoot

This humorous board book features a little owl who is tired and wants to go to bed, but his parents make him stay up late because that is what owls do! He needs to practice his pondering and gazing left and right. His dad even tells him, “I don’t give a hoot what time your friends go to bed. In this house, we stay up late.” Little Hoot keeps himself awake by jumping on his bed, skateboarding, and building a fort – but he doesn’t enjoy it at all. His parents try to keep him up later by offering him another bedtime story and a glass of water, but Little Hoot is not interested! He falls right to sleep. The artwork, mainly featuring brown and green tones, is cute and goes very well with the text.

I think I enjoyed this book more than my daughter. It was funny to me that the kid wanted to go to bed but the parents were forcing him to stay awake. Since our household is always up late (and all because our darling child can play forever), this was just the chuckle I needed.

Baby’s Book of the Week: I Like it When…/Me gusta cuando…

babysbookoftheweek

The last three nights, my baby has been obsessed with Mary Murphy’s bilingual book I Like it When…/Me gusta cuando… My husband was born and raised in Mexico, so it’s very important to us that our daughter learns Spanish. We have several books that are in Spanish or have both English and Spanish translations. We like this book because Mommy can read the English parts and then Daddy reads the Spanish parts. I Like it When… had been part of Baby’s bedtime routine for a long time, but there is a renewed interest in it this week. As soon as I read the last page, Baby says, “ma ma,” short for “mas” (which means “more” in Spanish). I’m not even exaggerating when I say I read it eight times in a row last night! Baby giggled each time I started reading the first page again – which, of course, makes it all worthwhile.

imageI Like it When…/Me gusta cuando… is a board book featuring illustrations of a big and little penguin. The illustrations are lively and bold – only the colors red, blue, green, yellow, black, and white are used. The little penguin lists things he or she likes doing throughout the day with the big penguin. These are things like dancing together, reading stories, eating new foods, holding hands, and saying good night. Since this is the bilingual version, each page is translated into Spanish as well. “I like it when we play peekaboo. Boo! Me gusta cuando jugamos al escondite. Bu!” It’s a simple book, but an instant favorite.

Other Spanish/bilingual Books Baby Loves:

  • Opuestos and Buenas Noches a Todos by Sandra Boynton. These translations of Opposites and The Going to Bed Book are must-haves at our house.
  • I Love My Daddy Because/Quiero a mi papa Porque by Laurel Porter-Gaylord, illustrated by Ashley Wolff. This book features great illustrations of baby animals interacting with their daddies in the wild. image

Baby’s Book of the Week: Dr. Seuss’s ABC

babysbookoftheweekDuring our most recent trip to the library, Baby thought it would spice things up to walk down the aisles and pull books from the shelves at random! This kept me on my toes, but also introduced us to some cute books we might not have noticed otherwise. We read Where Do Balloons Go? by author and actor Jamie Lee Curtis and Mommy Calls Me Monkeypants – which is just such a great title! At home, Baby has been really into Dr. Seuss’s ABC book. I have to read it over and over, and it is a bit of a tongue twister, let me tell you.

imageLike all Dr. Seuss books, the ABC book has great rhythm, rhyme, and (most importantly for an alphabet book) alliteration. “Big A. Little a. What begins with A? Aunt Annie’s alligator. A….a…..A.” Each letter of the alphabet has several examples of words beginning with that letter. Some are normal; for example, the letter B is for barber, baby, bubbles, and a bumblebee. However, some are silly or even made up. For instance, the letter Z is for the Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz. The illustrations are classically Seuss, with simple pops of color. This is a book both parents and children can enjoy.

This Week’s Honorable Mention:
The Christmas Story by Jane Werner Watsonimage

This is a Little Golden Book, originally published in 1952. As the title suggests, it tells the story of Jesus’s birth. My daughter received this book as a gift from her great-grandmother. The first day she got it, Baby carried it around the house for hours. People tried to read it to her, but she wouldn’t have any of that! Weeks later, I still haven’t been able to read more than the first few pages to her. She just likes to carry it around. Sometimes she will sit and flip through the pages on her own. This is okay. I know she’ll read it some day. I’m sure we will pull it out every Christmas. For now, I’m glad to see that she isn’t trying to eat the book or rip the pages. She’s learning to treat books nicely, and that’s an important skill, too.

Baby’s Book of the Week: My Big Animal Book

babysbookoftheweek

This week, Baby has been busy reading My Big Animal Book by Roger Priddy. This book doesn’t have a story. Or very many pages. But it does have a lot of animal pictures!

imageEach spread of this large, sturdy book (12″x12″) has a title like Baby Animals, Pets, On the Farm, Birds, and At the Zoo, then showcases animal photographs. Each animal is set against a bright, colorful background, and has its name listed below it.

The sturdiness of this book is great, as my one year old isn’t very careful with paper pages yet. She loves to flip through the pages and do the animal noises that she knows. Strangely enough, she likes to give the parrot a kiss – even though the pages full of birds kind of creep me out! You could use this book to teach new animals and animal noises, or have your child point out different animals or colors.

This Week’s Honorable Mention:

In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Flemingimage

The Goodreads book blurb states, “If you were a fuzzy caterpillar crawling through the tall, tall grass on a sunny afternoon, what would you see? Beginning as the sun is high in the sky and ending as fireflies blink and the moon rises above, this backyard tour is one no child will want to miss.” The rhyming phrases are short (crunch, munch, caterpillars lunch) and the illustrations are colorful. They remind me a bit of Eric Carle’s style. My baby keeps bringing me this book to read, even though she doesn’t sit down long enough to get through the entire book. She must just like the sound of this one.