What We’re Reading: Sam McBratney’s You’re All My Favorites (and more!)

Three timeless, lovely, and adventurous books have been chosen by the Simple Kids Book Review team for this week’s What We’re Reading Wednesday:

Preschool

from Amy (Girlfriends Get Real)

allmyfavoritesAt Christmastime we are always looking for new books for our girls. Last Christmas we came across the book You’re All My Favorites by Sam McBratney. With three girls in the house trying to get attention from Mom and Dad, this book was perfect.

In the book three baby bears want to know, “Which one of us do you like most? Who is your favorite? We can’t all be the best.” Mommy and Daddy Bear try to explain that they are all the most wonderful baby bears in the whole world. However, the baby bears start to doubt that they can all be a favorite. In the end Mommy and Daddy bear explained that each of the bears is different and they love them equally.

This book illustrates how each child in your family can be unique and different, but our hearts are big enough to love each one the same.

Early Elementary

from MJ Wieland (turnitupmom)

The End of the BeginningThe End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (and an Even Smaller Ant) is an amusing chapter book that chronicles the adventures of Avon, a small snail, and Edward, an even smaller ant. Newberry Award winner Avi writes with such wit and wisdom that even the most reluctant reader will want to journey with these entertaining characters.

Avon, the snail, has never been on an adventure of his own; he has only read about them. And adventures, he concludes, are the key to a happy life. So, he sets out on a journey with his neighbor, a small but self-assured ant. Along the way, the spirited pair gets lost, writes poetry, encounters a “dragon,” and meets other wise and weird creatures, including a worm who cannot determine his front end from his back end.

Avi writes with a dry sense of humor that appeals to all ages. When Avon reluctantly fights a famous “battle” (against another ridiculously slow snail), and Edward asks if he’s won, Avon replies, “I don’t know. It all happened so quickly.” Avi’s play on words and clever use of language leaves both kids and adults giggling their way through these silly adventures.

While this story is humorous and at times nonsensical, it is also philosophical and profound. Avi gives deeper meaning to the ordinary and even dull events that transpire, and the more mature reader will experience this tale on a different emotional and intellectual level.  Embedded in this adventure are thought-provoking statements such as this: “Getting yourself lost is easy. Happens all the time. It’s finding yourself that’s hard.”

Ultimately, the end of the beginning is the start of a beautiful friendship between two unlikely adventurers. Tricia Tusa’s pen and ink illustrations are the perfect complement to this charming little tale. If you’ve enjoyed Frog and Toad, I think you’ll find this pair to be quirky and oh, so lovable!

Upper Elementary

from Diana (Holes in my Shiny Veneer)

zorgamazooMy pick for this month is a seasonal one – Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston.  I say seasonal because it has just the right amount of macabre and fantasy for the upcoming Halloween festivities.  Fans of The Series of Unfortunate Events will delight in this tale which finds Katrina Katrell, our luckless heroine, being pursued by her guardian for a lobotomy.  The impetus for this impromptu brain surgery is Katrina’s sighting of Morty the Zorgle in a subway tunnel—such “imagination” is intolerable to the narrow-minded Mrs. Krabone.

Yet Katrina was not imagining.  She really did see a Zorgle, whom she eventually encounters again.  As she joins Morty’s reluctant quest to discover what happened to the missing Zorgles of Zorgamazoo, the two of them are eventually kidnapped and taken hostage on the moon with all sorts of other fantastical creatures that have gone missing from our world:  griffins, yetis, dragons, and more.

Katrina’s tale of cunning and escape is quite a remarkable novel.  Remarkable not only because it is Weston’s first, but because the entire novel is written in verse!  Imagine Dr. Seuss writing nearly 300 pages and you’ll get an idea of how incredible this is.  Naturally, Zorgamazoo is the perfect candidate for a read-aloud. In fact, it was given a 2009 E.B. White Older Reader Honors award. You can hear the first few chapters read aloud on Weston’s site if this little tidbit isn’t enough:

So if you’re a person who’s tired or pooped
if the edge of your mind has been drearily drooped,
then of course you’d ignore any zorgally face,
that perhaps you would see in some shadowy place.

So if you’ve no time for the whimsical things,
for pirates and gadgets and creatures and kings,
if you spurn the fantastic to never return,
then PUT THIS BOOK DOWN…for it’s not your concern.

* * * * *

Congratulations to commenter Cary who is the winner of the Crafting Fun and Cooking Fun giveaway.  She shared about her favorite childhood memories of creating:

“My favorite cooking memory with my mom as a child was making rice crispie bars.  Our recipe used the microwave rather than the stove so she would let us do most of it ourselves encouraging us all the way.  My favorite cooking memory with my dad is helping him make scalloped potatoes and ham from scratch which was a huge treat.  We would help measure out all the ingredients, and he would have us 1 1/3 the recipe or 1 1/2 the reicpe just to test our math skills.  My favorite new memory with my little ones is our tradition of making breadsticks every Sunday night.  Great fun and they help with everything!”

Thanks to everyone for such wonderful comments.  I hope you’ve been inspired to add Rae Grant’s lovely books to your home library!

What We’re Reading: Mem Fox’s Time for Bed (and more!)

Three new book reviews and recommendations for this What We’re Reading Wednesday!

Baby and Toddler

from Catherine (Adventures with Kids)

timeforbedMem Fox is my favourite children’s author and Time for Bed is one of my favourite children’s books.  This is a delightful book, perfect for sharing with your baby at quiet times (or even at bedtime!).

Darkness is falling and all the little animals are getting ready to sleep. Their mum’s and dad’s are tucking them in and saying goodnight …


It’s time to sleep, little bird, little bird,
So close your eyes, not another word.

It’s time to sleep, little bee, little bee,
Yes, I love you and you love me.

Each page is accompanied by an illustration showing the little animals snuggling with their mummy or daddy.  And you’ll smile at some of the lines, as baby animals seem to do the same little things to avoid sleep as human babies.

The rhythm and repetition through this story make it easy to read aloud and soothing for your child.  And if you use a read-aloud tip from Mem Fox and drag out the last line to create a feeling of reader satisfaction, by the end of the story your little one will be ready to kiss goodnight and go to sleep.

Preschool

from Emily (Homespun Light)

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big, Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood.

bighungrybearThe mouse might be small, but he is brave and clever. The reader warns him that a big, hungry bear will find the mouse’s strawberry…”no matter where it is hidden, or who is guarding it, or how it is disguised.” Together, however, the reader and mouse are able to come up with a perfect solution: sharing!

The illustrations are visually appealing and funny. The simple text keeps the story moving along. The best part, though, is the characters: you (the reader) and the mouse. You can’t help but pull for the cute, nervous mouse.

Early Elementary

from Amy Anderson (Let’s Explore)

newkidI love sharing poetry with my girls – poems are a great example of just how fun words can be!  If we’re in the mood for something silly, we often pull out one of Jack Prelutsky’s poetry collections, The New Kid on the Block.

Prelutsky’s poems are filled with colorful descriptive language, great rhythm (and often rhyme), and some silly nonsense words for good measure.  Here’s a snippet from one of our favorite poems from New Kid on the Block, “Bleezer’s Ice Cream”:

Tutti-fruitti stewed tomato
Tuna taco baked potato
Lobster litchi lima bean
Mozzarella mangosteen

Yes, crazy ice cream flavors!  Because poems and imagination go hand-in-hand, my girls are often inspired to create their own wacky menus or silly monsters after listening to a few of these poems.  From “Do Oysters Sneeze?” to “Eggs!” to “The Flimsy Fleek,” there’s plenty of giggling to be had!

You can read more samples of Jack Prelutsky’s poems on his really fun website.  If you have a few minutes during snack time or while brushing teeth, why not read a poem?  Happy reading!

The List – Children’s Literature We Love!

booksLast month, I asked you – the Simple Kids community – to share some of your unsung favorites of children’s literature.  The overwhelming response resulted in a list of more than one hundred literature recommendations for children from birth through upper elementary.  What an amazing resource!  But not as useful – or simple – as it had the potential to be while still in the format of a comments section.

I asked for volunteers to help sort through and organize the book recommendations and several of you offered your help right away.  Life picked up its pace and before I knew it, weeks had gone by without me having time to organize the volunteers.  You can only imagine my utter shock and surprise when someone in our community emailed to let me know she had taken up the task of organizing that list all on her own!

Emily of The Pilot’s Wife is an absolutely wonderful, sweet, funny, and helpful woman I met at the Tulsa Mom’s Night Out for Oklahoma Women Bloggers.  As a former elementary school teacher, she is well-practiced in the work of organizing learning material – even when that material lives in a virtual context.  In just a matter of a few days, she had broken that massive list of recommendations into three age groups and then alphabetized within by author’s last name.  What follows is the result of her magnanimous gesture for this community.

After you review this outstanding resource, please take a moment to offer a word of gratitude to Emily for her hard work on this project!  (And if your recommendation inadvertently got left off of this list, please do let me know!)

Books for Babies & Toddlers

Aigner, Julie.  Mimi’s Toes
Barton, Byron.  My Car
Bauer, Marion Dane. Toes, Ears & Nose! A Lift the Flap Book
Benjamen, A.H.  Baa! Moo! What Will We Do?
Boynton, Sandra.  Belly Button Book
Boynton, Sandra.  Snuggle Puppy
Cyrus, Kurt.  Slow Train to Oxmox
Fox, Mem.  It’s Time for Bed
Freedman, Claire.  Snuggle Up, Sleepy Ones
Joel, Billy.  Goodnight My Angel
Katz, Karen.  Ten Tiny Tickles
Kent, Jack.  Socks for Supper
Lindgren, Barbro.  Sam’s Potty
Maccarone, Grace.  Bless Me: A Child’s Goodnight Prayer
Maccourt, Lisa.  I Love You Stinky Face
McCue, Dick.  Bunny’s Numbers
Perkins, Al. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb
Rathmann, Peggy.  Goodnight Gorilla
Shustak, Bernadette Rossetti.  I Love You Through and Through
Tankard, Jeremy.  Grumpy Bird
Waddell, Martin.  Owl Babies
Whybrow, Ian.  Say Hello to the Animals

Books for Preschool thru Elementary-Aged Children

Adler, David A.  Cam Jansen series
Ahlberg, Allan and Janet.  Each Peach Pear Plum
Alborough, Jez.  Fix-it Duck
Allard, Harry.  Miss Nelson is Missing
Anderson, C.W. Billy and Blaze Series
Asch, Frank.  Happy Birthday Moon
Aylesworth, Jim.  The Full Belly Bowl
Barklem, Jill.  The Brambly Hedge books
Barrett, Judi and Ron.  Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Bemelmans, Ludwig.  Madeline
Beskow, Elsa.  The Children of the Forest
Beskow, Elsa.  Aunt Green, Aunt Brown, and Aunt Lavender
Beskow, Elsa.  Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip
Bland, Nick.  The Very Cranky Bear
Bond, Michael.  Paddington
Bradfield, Jolly Roger.  Pickle-Chiffon Pie
Brett, Jan.  Annie and the Wild Animals
Brett, Jan.  The Mitten
Broach, Elise.  Wet Dog
Brown, Margaret Wise.  Big Red Barn
Bunting, Eve.  Riding the Tiger
Burton, Virginia Lee.  Katy and the Big Snow
Burton, Virginia Lee.  The Little House
Burton, Virginia Lee.  Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Cannon, Janell.  Stellaluna
Carle, Eric.  The Very Busy Spider
Cosgrove, Stephen.  Leo the Lop
Crews, Donald.  Freight Trane
Cronin, Doreen.  Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type
Curtis, Carolyn.  I Took the Moon for a Walk
Cusimano, Maryann. You Are My I Love You
Degen, Bruce.  Jamberry
Demi.  The Empty Pot
dePaola, Tomie.  Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs
deVarennes, Monique.  The Sugar Child
Devlin, Harry.  Cranberry Thanksgiving
Dewdney, Anna.  Llama llama Mad at Mama
Eastman, P.D. Are You My Mother?
Flack, Marjorie.  Angus and the Cat
Fox, Mem.  Harriet You’ll Drive Me Wild
Freedman, Clair.  Aliens Love Underpants
Gilman, Pheobe.  The Balloon Tree
Gilman, Pheobe.  Something From Nothing
Godden, Rumer.  The Story of Holly and Ivy
Gollub, Mathew.  The Jazz Fly
Guarino, Deborah.  Is Your Mama a Llama?
Gurney, Nancy.  The King, the Mice, and the Cheese
Hargreaves, Roger.  Little Miss Bossy
Hefter, Richard.  Sweet Pickle Series
Henkes, Kevin.  Sheila Rae, the Brave
Hennessy, B.G.  The Boy Who Cried Wolf
Hest, Amy.  Kiss Goodnight
Hoban, Rusell.  Bedtime for Frances
Hoberman, Mary Ann.  The Seven Silly Eaters
Hoberman, Mary Ann.  Mary Had a Little Lamb
Hobbie, Hollie.  Toot & Puddle
Hutchins, Pat.  Ten Red Apples
Isaacs, Anne.  Swamp Angel
Jeffers, Oliver.  The Incredible Book Eating Boy
Jeffers, Susan.  The Three Jovial Huntsmen
Johnson, Crockett.  Harold and the Purple Crayon
Johnson, Paul Brett.  On Top of Spaghetti
Kahl, Virginia.  The Duchess Bakes a Cake
Klein, Abby.  Ready, Freddy! Series
Kleven, Elisa.  The Paper Princess
Kuskin, Karla.  James and the Rain
Krause, Robert.  Leo the Late Bloomer
Lamarche, Jim.  The Raft
Lasky, Kathryn.  Humphrey, Albert, and the Flying Machine
Lawler, Janet.  If Kisses Were Colors
Lear, Edward.  The Owl and the Pussy Cat
Lester, Helen.  Tacky the Penguin
Lillegard, Dee.  The Big Bug Ball
Lindvall, Ella K.  Read Aloud Bible Stories
Lithgow, John.  The Remarkable Farkle McBride
Lobel, Arnold.  The Frog and Toad Collection
Long, Melinda and Shannon, David.  How I Became a Pirate
Loyd-Jones, Sally.  The Jesus Storybook Bible
Lucado, Max.  You Are Special
Lucado, Max.  You Are Mine
Marshall, James. George and Martha books
Martin, Bill Jr.  A Beasty Story
Martin, Bill Jr.  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Martin, Bill Jr. Chicka Chicka 1 2 3
McBratney, Sam. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
McCloskey, Robert.  Blueberries for Sal
McMullan, Kate and Jim.  I’m Dirty
McMullan, Kate and Jim.  I Stink
Milne, A.A. Winnie the Pooh and the Pebble Hunt
Morgan, Stacy.  The Cuddlers
Munsch, Robert.  Andrew’s Loose Tooth
Munsch, Robert.  Mmmm… Cookies
Muth, Jon J.  Zen Shorts
Napoli, Donna Jo.  Albert
Numeroff, Laura.  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Oakley, Graham.  The Church Mice Chronicles
Osborne, Mary Pope. The Magic Tree House Series
Palatini, Margie.  Stinky, Smelly Feet: A Love Story
Park, Barbara.  Junie B. Jones books
Pfister, Marcus.  The Rainbow Fish
Pfister, Marcus.  The Happy Hedgehog
Polacco, Patricia.  Thunder Cake
Portis, Antoinette. Not a Box
Portis, Antoinette.  Not a Stick
Potter, Beatrix.  The Tale of Samuel Whiskers
Relf, Adam.  Fox Makes Friends
Rey, H.A. Curious George
Reynolds, Peter.  Ish
Reynolds, Peter. The Dot
Risom, Ole.  I Am a Bunny
Rohmann, Eric.  My Friend Rabbit
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse.  Cookies: Bite Sized Life Lessons
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse.  Little Pea
Rylant, Cynthia.  Tulip See America
Scarry, Richard.  A Day at the Airport
Schachner, Judy.  Skippyjon Jones
Seuss, Dr.  Dr. Seuss’s ABC
Schwartz, Amy.  A Teeny Tiny Baby
Sierra, Judy.  Wild About Books
Silverstein, Shel.  The Giving Tree
Smath, Jerry.  But No Elephants
Smith, Maggie.  Counting Our Way to Maine
Seuss, Dr.  Dr. Seuss’s ABC
Tudor, Tasha.  A Time to Keep: The Tasha Tudor Book of Holidays
Tunnell, Michael O.  Halloween Pie
Tunnell, Michael O.  Mailing May
Van Allsburg, Chris.  The Wretched Stone
Viorst, Judith.  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Von Olfers, Sibylle.  Mother Earth and Her Children
Weeks, Sarah.  If I Were a Lion
Wiesner, David.  Sector 7
Wiesner, David.  Tuesday
Willems, Mo.  Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
Willems, Mo.  Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed
Williams, Vera B.  A Chair for My Mother
Wood, Audrey.  The Napping House
Wood, Audrey.  Quick as a Cricket
Wood, Don.  The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear
Yashima, Taro.  Umbrella
Yolen, Jane.  The Flying Witch
Yolen, Jane.  Owl Moon
Zion, Gene.  Harry the Dirty Dog

Books for Upper Elementary Children and Beyond

Birney, Betty.  The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs
Blyton, Enid.  Adventure’s of the Wishing Chair
Blyton, Enid.  The Magic Faraway Tree
Brooks, Walter.  Freddy the Detective
Cleary, Beverly.  Ramona Quimby, Age 8
Dahl, Roald.  James and the Giant Peach
DiCamillo, Kate.  The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Edwards, Julie Andrews.  The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
Gannett, Ruth Stiles.  My Father’s Dragon
Jansson, Tove.  Moomintrolls books
Lindgren, Astrid.  The Children of Noisy Village
Lindgren, Astrid.  Happy Times in Noisy Village
Peck, Richard.  A Long Way From Chicago
Wells, Rosemary.  A Voyage to Bunny Planet
White, E.B. Stuart Little

Is there another book you would like to see added to the list? Leave a comment and I will get it added!

photo by kennymatic