Saturday, January 31, 2009

Weekly Geeks (quilting!)

When I read this week's Weekly Geeks activity, I nearly set up a new blog for it:

#1. What are you passionate about besides reading and blogging? For example, are you crafty (knitting, woodworking, scrapbooking, model building)? Do you cook? Into gaming (computer or board)? Sports (player or spectator)? Photography? Maybe you like geocaching, rock climbing? Or love attending events like renaissance fairs, concerts? Music? Dancing? You get the idea.

Tell us why you're passionate about it. Post photos of what you've made or of yourself doing whatever it is you love doing. #2. Get us involved. Link to tutorials, recipes, Youtube videos, websites, fan sites, etc, anything that will help us learn more about your interest or how to do your hobby. Maybe you'd like to link to another hobbyist whose work you admire or tell us about a book or magazine related to your interest.

I've been quilting for longer than I've been reading children's books (as a parent, anyway), so I really could fill a whole blog easily. I'd done a lot of crafty things growing up - crochet, knitting, cross-stitch, scrapbooking, etc., but discovered quilting about five years ago, when I saw a copy of Carol Doak's 50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars. I was instantly hooked.

For the most part, I enjoy creating busy, colorful machine-pieced and quilted projects more than quietly hand quilting, although I would like to try more of the latter someday. I have a shelf or two full of quilting books (of course), and reading them makes my mind spin from one planned project to another to another until I generally fall asleep. For those who don't know, quilters tend to be fabric hoarders, and I have even more fabric scraps than books...entire drawers full of colorful kids-type prints, a drawer of bright florals collected in Tahiti, stacks of "fat quarters" (a particular quilter's cut) in case I'd ever like to make a polka-dotted quilt, a fish-themed quilt, a candy quilt, a red and white quilt, etc. Like bibliophiles, if I live to be 100, I could never accomplish all I have planned. I guess that is one benchmark of a good hobby.

If the spacing works out, you'll see photos of some of the quilty things I've made along the lefthand side of this post. Most of them I machine pieced and quilted, sometimes from a pattern (like the batik Moons Over Mountains quit at the top, from a Fons and Porter magazine or the windmills quilt on the bottom, from a John Flynn kit), and others (like the music-themed "blues" quilt) of my own design. I quilted them all by machine, except for the Moons Over Mountains, which I sent out for quilting when I was pregnant and knew I'd never finish it myself by winter. The quilt made for the baby bookworm (third from the top) is an "I-spy" quilt, perfect for tossing down on the ground and reading books on! Each square pictures an every day or cartoonish image, like blueberries, Charlie Brown, trains, and birds, and is repeated twice, so he can hunt for the matching object. At 14 months, he already really enjoys hunting for the items he knows (blueberries, birds, hat...).

In terms of #2, there are so many websites and blogs related to quilting that I don't really know how to begin to answer this. I haven't even looked at quilting blogs since I started blogging, because I thought it might make me long for what I can't seem to find time to do anymore, but I know there are many many great blogs out there.

A fun online community of quilters is rec.crafts.textiles.quilting. And Quilter's Cache, which contains free quilt block patterns, is a real gift to quilters. Online (and real life) quilt stores abound; a few that are fun to browse are,, and

For the most part, I have preferred to get most of my quilting "fix" from magazines (like Fons and Porter: Love of Quilting, American Patchwork and Quilting, and New Zealand Quilter) and books galore. Some of the many quilting authors on my shelf are Carol Doak, Evelyn Sloppy, Eleanor Burns, Kathy Sandbach, Sally Schneider, and Sharon Pederson. I have had the opportunity to take classes with a number of these authors (check out your local quilt festivals), and they were all down-to-earth, fun, extremely talented women.

To keep this on topic, I'll squeeze in a review of one of our favorite children's books which gets bonus points for containing a lovely scrappy quilt on the child's bed:

A Lion in the Meadow (Picture Puffin) (Paperback), by Margaret Mahy. This book came all the way from New Zealand to join our book collection. Although it arrived at a time when he mostly only liked board books, he took to this one right away. It is a lovely little story about a boy who sees a lion in the meadow by his house. He alerts his mother, who gently scolds him for making up stories and plays along with him by giving him a matchbox which she says will release a dragon. He obeys, releasing a large dragon into the meadow, which frightens the lion into the house, where they become buddies.


""'That is how it is,' said the lion. 'Some stories are true, and some aren't...'"

Infant's Interest: He loves to locate the baby in the book and wave his arms frantically practicing his sign language for it. But he also enjoys the whole story.

I believe there are a number of children's picture books starring quilts, and I look forward to reading those aloud when he's ready for them. We'd love any recommendations.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Baby books about sleep

I have sleep on the brain lately. We could certainly use more of it. But after a heavenly hour and a half long nap today, I feel a burst of energy and thought I'd post some of the baby books we've read lately that relate to sleep. Of course there are hundreds more out there. I like the idea of reading books about sleep just before bedtime, so we'll probably be tracking down more soon.

Of course, one of the most well known books about sleep is Goodnight Moon. I just reviewed that recently, so I won't repeat it. You can read our review of it here.

One of our favorite sleep books is Sandra Boynton's Going to Bed Book. Maybe it's because I spent many an hour rocking our little man to sleep, but I like the sleepy end of the book, as well as the amusing lead-up to it:

The Going-To-Bed Book (Board book), by Sandra Boynton. I'm a Boynton fan, although the little one's reception can be spotty at times, depending on the book. This is one he really enjoys, and without any gimmicks or things he particularly likes pointing out (hats, trees, birds, etc.). The plot revolves around a hodge podge group of animals on a boat getting ready to sleep.


"The moon is high. The sea is deep. They rock and rock and rock to sleep."

Another recent favorite around here is a musical Sesame Street book:

Musical Lullaby Treasury Elmo Recov (CTW Sesame Street Good-Night Stories) (Board book), by Brooke Zimmerman. I admit I was very frightened when I saw "musical lullaby" and "Elmo" on this book. But, the music is not Elmo singing, but a beepy version of Brahm's Lullaby. The book is fairly large, with a nicely padded cover, and a collection of short stories starring Sesame Street characters and the concepts of sleep, dreaming, and lullabies. The stories contain lullabies within them that can be sung to the tune of Brahm's Lullaby. My (Mom's) favorite story is the one where Grover goes on a rescue mission (dressed in appropriate protective gear) to get his teddy bear out from under his bed. I also like the alien/gibberish lullaby in Ernie's story. There is quite a bit of text per page, so not the one or two sentences per page in early board books. Our little reader couldn't operate the little push button at first, but it didn't take all that long for him to figure it out (he got it for Christmas and was pushing it like a champ by the end of January - 14 months old).


"Elmo wondered if all his friends knew about this kind of song. Elmo threw back the covers, tumbled out of bed, and darted out the door. He couldn't wait to share his lullaby!"

Infant's Interest: At 14 months, he hunts and signs for the frequently appearing birds.

Parent's Peeve: Why oh why does Elmo have to talk in the third person? Mommy no like that.

He also really enjoys Goodnight, Boston:

Good Night Boston (Good Night Our World series) (Board book), by Adam Gamble. A cute little bedtime book that bids good morning, afternoon, and night to various Boston landmarks. This makes a fun gift for pregnant Bostonians or Red Sox/Patriots/Celtics fans. Our son has pretty consistently enjoyed this one, including now (14 months). It's one that he tends to pick off the shelf and make us read 4 or 5 times in a row.


"Good afternoon, statue of 'Make Way for Ducklings.'/Good afternoon, Swan Boat."

All Asleep (Board book), by Joanna Walsh. A cute little book about sleeping babies. Unfortunately, it hasn't really grabbed the bookworm's attention, despite his love of babies.


"Babies asleep in cribs, in bibs. Babies in cradles able to rock. Babies on kitchen tables. Babies in one sock."

Good Night, Gorilla (Hardcover), by Peggy Rathmann. A charming tale about a zookeeper locking up a zoo for the night, or so he thinks, as a naughty gorilla follows him to let out the animals as he bids them goodnight. They precede to parade behind him, and some even crawl into bed with him and his wife. The book is scant on text, and the illustrations - the look of surprise on the wife's face, the sneaking step of the gorilla - will have you giggling.


"Good night, Hyena. Good night, Giraffe.

Bookworm's interest at 14 months: In less than a week, this became a favorite. He particularly likes pointing out the globe in the elephant's cage (because he have a stuffed Hug-a-Plant globe), the balloon floating in the air, and the mouse tugging a banana along.

Parent's Peeve: I can't seem to find the full version on amazon, and I think the board book lacks some of the text.

I wish I could say that he reads these books and then curls up happily in bed and falls asleep on his own. On the other hand, I can't help but feel a slight swell of pride as he grabs another book, shoves it into our hands, turns the first page, and sits up straight with rapt attention. If it's a scam to get out of sleeping, consider me scammed.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A few favorite board books at 14 months

First, a quick thank you to Natasha over at Maw Books for the recommendation many moons ago (here) to check out Leslie Patricelli's board books. We've only read "No No Yes Yes" so far, but I have a request for "Quiet Loud" in also, and I suspect these might join our personal collection someday.

No No Yes Yes (Leslie Patricelli board books) (Board book), by Leslie Patricelli. "No No Yes Yes", which contains side by side pages of "no" and "yes" activities (no to ripping a book, yes to reading a book; no to pulling a cat's tail, yes to petting the cat, etc.) received the ultimate complement tonight when we brought it home from the library for the first time. I stopped counting at FIFTEEN repeat reads by our 14 month old. What more can I say?


"No No" [Eating dog's food]/"Yes Yes" [Eating a banana while dog eats dogfood.]"

Infant's Interest: He especially likes the page with the hammer/workbench toy, since he has a similar one. He likes everything except the last two-page spread of "more no, no things" and "more yes yes things."

And since I still have 50+ books we've read and haven't posted the reviews for...I'll post another recent favorite around here:

Peekaboo Morning (Board Book), by Rachel Isadora. This one really appeals to the little bibliophile. We've gotten it out of the library twice, and he enjoyed many reads of it both times. It features a small child happily interacting with his family, toys, and animals, with accompanying text in a peekaboo style.


"Peekaboo! I see.../ my grandma"

Infant's Interest: The frog that "grandma" is holding gets special attention, but he likes the whole book.

And a few by one of his favorite authors, Nina Laden. These are in our personal library, and they're great for tossing in a diaper bag or purse. I think I used some of these to get him through the church service of the first wedding he attended (along with his toothbrush - hey, it worked!):

The first Nina Laden book we received was Peek-a-Who. I've reviewed it before, but I'll repaste here:

Peek-A Who? (Board book), by Nina Laden. Peek a Who was an instant hit. The rhymes are cute, the images are simple, the pages are thick and perfectly sized for small hands, and best of all, the last page contains a mirror. Just keep a washcloth handy in case your bookworm develops the habit that ours did -- a kiss on the mirror after every read. And there were MANY reads of Peek a Who.


"Peek a/ZOO!"

Infant's Interest: All, but especially the mirror at the end.

I then ordered all of these:

Grow Up! (Board book), by Nina Laden. Bought after the extremely warm reception that Nina Laden's "Peek-a-who" received by our little guy, "Grow Up!" didn't disappoint. Circular cutouts throughout the book provide a peek at the next page, as each pair of pages explains what a baby tadpole, chick, puppy, etc. grow up to be.


"A seedling grows up to be a/TREE!/Baby grows up to be/ME!"

Infant's Interest: The mirror at the end of the book always delights, but he enjoys the whole thing.

Ready, Set, Go! (Board book), by Nina Laden. We love Nina Laden books around here. After Peek-A-Who was such a huge hit, I bought two or three others, and they have been almost equally well received. This one follows the pattern, "Ready, Set..." with words that all rhyme with "Go" ("Snow," "Throw," etc.). Circular cutouts provide a window to the next page, so an image that appeared to be, for instance, a cloud transforms into a snowman when you turn the page. Like all of Laden's books, we're never asked to read this one just once!


"Ready set/row!"

Parent's Peeve: Unlike some of Laden's other books, which end with a (very well loved) mirror, this one ends with a pull tab feature that makes a flower bloom. It is kind of stiff and difficult for tiny hands to operate, though. He just started to be able to pull it at 14 months, although we could of course pull it for him before then.

Who Loves You, Baby? (Board book), by Nina Laden. This one is probably my least favorite of the four Nina Laden board books we own, but it's still cute and equally well received by the little bookworm. The text refers to the baby/reader by various terms of affection, with an accompanying image, like "lucky ducky" and "busy bee."


"You are my wild crocodile."

Infant's Interest: Again with the mirror at the end (he loves it!).

Parent's Peeve: You might expect from the title for the text to list out people who love the baby (relatives, etc.) but that isn't the storyline.

I think those are the only four board books by Nina Laden in that style, but now I see that Nina Laden is a much more prolific author than I realized (see Nina Laden). We're off to browse and add to our "to be read" list! If you've read any other books by her, we'd love to know what you thought of them.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fun birthday/holiday book gift (Richard Scarry's Biggest Word Book Ever!)

The Jean Little Library blog has a wonderful recommendation today (read it here) for a book called In The Town, All Year 'Round, by Rotraut Susanne Berner. It looks fantastic, and I've added it to our "to be read" list. Her post is labeled "the new Richard Scarry!," and I can certainly see why from the book's cover. The recommended age group for the book on amazon is 4-8 years, but it looks like our little guy would enjoy it now as well. I love books like this that seem like they'll appeal for years.

Reading that review reminded me of one of our little guy's favorite Christmas gifts this year - a super-sized (at two feet tall, about as tall as a toddler!) Scarry book that was so much fun to watch him unwrap. This is going on my list of things to remember to buy for friends' children when I'm struggling for original ideas. I can't really remember reading Richard Scarry when I was little, although I'm sure I did. We currently only have this one book by him, but I'm sure he would enjoy checking out some others. Here is our review:

Richard Scarry's Biggest Word Book Ever! (Board book), by Richard Scarry. This over-sized book (24 inches tall!) makes a really fun gift. I was so excited to buy it for the little bookworm for Christmas this year (at just over one year). He lays it down and crawls right into it. If you're familiar with Richard Scarry's style, this follows suit...happily cluttered pages chock full of busy scenes of every day life, with a little extra silliness (like fruit cars) thrown in.

Infant's Interest: At 14 months, he loves to find the watermelons most of all, but enjoys the whole book.

To anyone reading, what are your favorite Richard Scarry books?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wednesday Watermelon Award (Whose Knees Are These)

It's nearly Wednesday, and that means it's time for another Watermelon Award. I'm jumping the gun by a few hours and posting Tuesday night. For those who missed last week and don't feel like scrolling, each Wednesday, we'll highlight one book that our baby bookworm loves, regardless of his parents' opinions on the matter. We'll also try to write the review from his perspective. Why watermelon? The French Fries Award doesn't have a nice a ring to it, and there are few things more loved in our home than books, watermelon, and french fries. This week's selection for the Watermelon Award is Whose Knees Are These?. We ordered are own copy tonight (after multiple borrows from the library), , along with Bubblebath Pirates (reviewed here) and Goodnight Moon (reviewed here).

Whose Knees are These? (Board book), by Jabari Asim. This board book, found by Dad at the library and since purchased for our own collection, was a surprise hit. It follows a pair of knees, asking the reader in various ways who they belong to, and complementing their loveliness. After we had it out of the library for awhile, I started saying "knee" (only my 10th or so "word," loosely defined). We eventually returned it, and a few weeks later, when mama asked me to point to my knee, I excitedly crawled to the bookshelf shouting "Knee! Knee!" The book was gone! Luckily, the library's copy was on the shelves that day, but our own copy is now in the mail.


"Left knee, right knee, climbing up a stair./ Right knee, left knee, such a mighty pair!"

The same author has also written Whose Toes Are Those?. Here's our mini review of that one.

Whose Toes are Those? (Board book), by Jabari Asim. By the author of "Whose Knees Are These," "Whose Toes" stars a little girl instead of a little boy. We all like "Knees" slightly more, but this one is also cute.


"Who do you suppose has such fine toes?"

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Weekly Geeks" assignment and random musings

I came across the "Weekly Geeks" blog as I was browsing children's book review sites, setting up my own blog. It seemed like a neat way to find other interesting blogs to check out, and a fun weekly activity. Every Friday, a new activity comes out, which readers post on their own blog with their answers. The subject this week is the Classics, defined as anything over 100 years old and still in print.

Edit: I have a problem with writing...I always need to reread and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. I could never keep a diary for this reason. Every time I try, I end up wanting to rewrite or rip out pages. I've been trying to resist the urge to rewrite since creating this blog, but it is bugging me that the answers I gave before don't fit in well with the theme of this blog. So, here goes -- I'm replacing my answers with ones that address children's literature instead.

For your assignment this week, choose two or more of the following questions (these are the two I chose):

How do you feel about classic literature? Are you intimidated by it? Love it? Not sure because you never actually tried it? Don't get why anyone reads anything else? Which classics, if any, have you truly loved? Which would you recommend for someone who has very little experience reading older books? Go all out, sell us on it!

(First, I have to say that I finally read War and Peace while pregnant - yeah!). Answering from the perspective of children's literature, however, defining a classic as 100 years old limits the pickings quite a bit. I know there are vintage children's books (and blogs about them!) out there, but I've never read them. Ali over at Worducopia alerted me to the existence of McGuffey Readers, and now I'm considering buying a set (like this). It sounds like the old versions took some heat for racial and religious bias, so that would be my only concern with buying the new one, but I would hope they've been expunged.

Broadening the date window for "classics" a bit more, we're able to include the Complete Winnie the Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner (1928), which I loved reading to our bibliophile when he was truly an infant (and unable to squirm away). I'm looking forward to revisiting them in a year or two, and we already have a children's set of the books all ready for him, thanks to Nana, as well as Dad's personal copy. For someone who has very little experience reading older classic children's books, I'd say to try Anne of Green Gables, which surprisingly was published in 1908 (for an older child), or perhaps Goodnight Moon, which doesn't technically qualify as 100 years old (published in 1944), but is a classic in many households. Here is a review of it that I wrote recently:

Goodnight Moon (Hardcover), by Margaret Wise Brown. I must be one of the only people that doesn't remember reading this classic tale about bedtime as a child. Still, I've heard it mentioned enough that I went hunting for it. The board book wasn't available, so we settled for the full sized version (which I'm glad about really). On the opening page, a bunny lays in bed in a "great green room," filled with objects that the reader bids goodnight, page by page. At first, I was disappointed that he wouldn't look at it. But after a few days, it made a fast recovery, aided by the appeal of a red balloon. Now I'm contemplating buying a copy for our collection. Anything that encourages sleep is welcome around here!


"Goodnight light and the red balloon/ Goodnight bears/Goodnight chairs."

Infant's Interest: He likes locating many of the items, including the red balloon, kittens, and mittens.

"Let's say you're vacationing with your dear cousin Myrtle, and she forgot to bring a book. The two of you venture into the hip independent bookstore around the corner, where she primly announces that she only reads classic literature. If you don't find her a book, she'll never let you get any reading done! What contemporary book/s with classic appeal would you pull off the shelf for her?"

Well, I'll have to assume cousin Myrtle has a child, who she has heretofore only allowed to read vintage children's books. I don't know if these really have classic appeal, but two books that I think of as classics just because I enjoyed them so much as a child are Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955) (which I can't wait for him to grow into) and Hand, Hand, Fingers Thumb (1969)(which thankfully he loves now). Mini reviews of both are below. Harold, with its monochromatic sketch illustrations, probably has more of a classic look, but "Hand, Hand" is too fun not to mention.

Harold and the Purple Crayon 50th Anniversary Edition (Purple Crayon Books) (Paperback), by Crockett Johnson. I loved these books as a child, and can't wait to read them to our son. At just over a year, he's not interested in them yet. But he will be, if I have anything to say about it! As the title suggests, the story centers around a young boy (Harold) and his magical purple crayon, which seemingly brings to life whatever he draws. He uses his crayon to create (and escape) from all sorts of exciting adventures. I just love the spirit of imagination in these books, and maybe even a hint of a deeper message about being able create the world you'd like to exist around you.


"He didn't want to get lost in the woods. So he made a very small forest, with just one tree in it."

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb (Bright & Early Books(R)) (Hardcover), by Al Perkins. One of mom's favorite books from when she was younger, and thankfully our bookworm loves it too! The rhythm of the text is very fun, and the illustrations keep his interest really well. I love that the monkeys have sideburns.


"One hand/Two hands/Drumming on a drum./Dum Ditty/Dum Ditty/Dum dum dum."
Let me know what you think of these books! And I promise not to rewrite this post again... at least, not very much.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Favorite lift the flap board books

The books our bookworm likes us to read over and over again are maybe 1/10 of the books he reads. But if you add flaps to the books, we're probably talking more like 9/10. Here are some of the lift the flap books we've been reading lately, and why we like them.

Curious George Bigger and Smaller Lift-the-Flap Board Book (Board book), by Editors of Houghton Mifflin Company. The flaps on this one are a little different, folding out to cover three words (like "big, bigger, biggest" or "messy, messier, messiest") rather than just a window like most flap books. The flaps are fairly thin, but have held up very well. The text is pleasantly non-annoying, George is as cute as ever, and the flaps cover useful concepts.


"George is curious about...being neat. George is clean. But it's hard to stay that way! Getting messy/Messier/Messiest"

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book (Board book), by Rod Campbell. A fun tale about a boy who asks the zoo to send him a pet. The zoo sends all sorts of different animals (covered by flaps), each of which is sent back due to a slight flaw (the monkey is too naughty, the lion is too fierce, etc.). Each flap page explains, "they sent me a..." and makes the reader open the flap to see the next animal. The flaps are nice and thick. This is one of our favorites.


"They sent me a/[Lion] He was too fierce! I sent him back."

Eyes, Nose, Toes (Dk Peekaboo) (Board book), by DK Publishing. We recently found this one at the library, and I knew he'd like it, since it is very similar to Playtime Peekaboo (see below).


"Where are the bunny's ears? There they are! Big ears for the bunny!"

Parent's Peeve: The language is a bit corny for my parental taste.

Open the Barn Door (A Chunky Book(R)) (Board book), by Christopher Santoro. This was the first flap book we owned. The book itself is very small (perfect for tiny hands), and the flaps are even smaller, so parental assistance was definitely required to operate them for awhile. But that didn't damper his enthusiasm for this book, which we read over and over (and over and over and over...) again.

Peekaboo Playtime (Board book), by DK Publishing. This was one of the first flap books we bought, before he was born I think. The "flaps" are large, like fold out pages, and they're holding up well despite a LOT of wear. Parental challenge: making an elephant noise, which is apparently spelled "Braloooo!"

What Does Baby Say? (Board book), by Begin Smart Books. A library find. The flaps on this one are nearly full page. It's not one of mom's favorites, but dad read it often upon special request while we had it out.

Where Is Baby's Belly Button? (Board book), by Karen Katz. Karen Katz is the queen of lift the flap books. Her "Where is Baby's..." catalog now includes everything from "Where is Baby's Mommy" and "Where is Baby's Valentine" to "Where is Baby's Dreidel." We should pick up a few more, because he really enjoys "Where is Baby's Belly Button." Each page highlights a different object, hidden beneath, under, or behind something else. The flaps are on the thinnish side, but are holding up fairly well.


"Where is baby's belly button? Under her shirt."

Infant's Interest: He seems to like the whole book equally, but has become fascinated by mom's belly button since reading this book.

Whose Nose? (Paperback), by Jeanette Rowe.

Each pair of pages includes half of an animal's face, covering their noses and asking the reader to guess, "whose nose?" This seems like it might be fun for an older baby to guess the animals. For now, our bookworm just likes to turn the pages/flaps and say "nnnnnn" for "nose."

Click on any of the book covers or titles to link directly to the amazon listings for these books for additional reviews or to pick up your own copies.

I'm proud (and a bit surprised) to say that we haven't yet needed scotch tape on any of these. I'd be disappointed if lift the flap books were the only type of books he read, because they can feel almost like a gimmick at times. But they add variety (and maybe a little increased dexterity), so we'll keep reading them as long as they appeal to our infant bibliophile.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New feature: Wednesday Watermelon Award (Bubblebath Pirates)

Here at Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile, every feature is a new feature. Today we'll be launching a particularly new new feature: the Wednesday Watermelon Award. What is it? Each Wednesday, we'll highlight one book that our baby bookworm loves, regardless of his parents' opinions on the matter. We'll also try to write the review from his perspective. Why watermelon? The French Fries Award doesn't have a nice a ring to it, and there are few things more loved in our home than books, watermelon, and french fries.

If I get this running properly, you'll be able to see a watermelon next to each of our picks in the complete list of books read here.

This week's tasty Watermelon Award goes to (drumroll)...

Bubble Bath Pirates (Hardcover), by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. I pulled this off of the shelf at the library, out of the bigger kids' section. It was larger than the books I normally read, and not a board book. My mother has a sneaking suspicion I just wanted to throw it on the floor. But once I got it home, I loved it. I can follow what's happening in the story, which involves a fun-spirited mother giving her boys a pirate-themed bath (full of pirate speak like "all hands on deck," "blimey!," and "shiver me timbers"). I like to point to the "Pirate Mommy" and say "mamama" and to find the rubber duck on every page. The pirate lingo is cute, the bath theme is one I can identify with, and the illustrations are very large and colorful, somehow capturing and keeping my attention better than other non-board books. I think we may need to get our own copy soon. "Arrr, this be a great book."

For fun stuff related to Bubble Bath Pirates or Krosoczka's other books, check out his website here. Among other things, it includes free printable coloring pages.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Baby book gift ideas for new mothers and newborns

I love to give books as gifts for pregnant or new mothers. It's something that most people haven't starting stocking up on yet, so you're not likely to get something they already own, and they always seem to be appreciated. Plus, you get the feel-good bonus of knowing you're helping to create another baby bookworm. I thought I'd review the ten or so books that were most appealing to our bibliophile from birth through about six months. It's a tough call, because before he could express much preference, we could of course read him anything. I enjoyed reading him books -- like the classic Winnie the Pooh stories, the Cat in the Hat, and Green Eggs and Ham -- that are difficult to get him to sit still for at this point.

The books I'm listing below are the ones that HE really loved, for one reason or another. These were all slightly before he had the dexterity for the flap books, which I might cover in another post. It's worth mentioning that while these were his favorites at 0-6 months, almost every one of them is still a hit now, meaning he never refuses the offer of a read. Now that's the sign of a good book.

In no particular order, here are my suggested top ten (12 really, but who's counting!) baby board book gifts for 0-6 month olds:

1. Dr. Seuss's ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book! (Board book), by Dr. Seuss. We have the board book and full versions of Dr. Seuss's A, B, C, and mom and dad know both versions by heart. This is quite possibly the book we've read the most since our bookworm was born. At times, we've had to hone our speed reading skills to keep pace with the frantic page turning, but it has remained a consistent hit in our house.


"Big A, little A, what begins with A? Aunt Annie's Alligator, A, A, A."

Parent's Peeve: I'm not a big fan of the Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz. Why not a zipped up zebra zooming through the zoo? But I love the rest.

2. Big Board First 100 Words (Bright Baby) (Board book), by Roger Priddy. This large board book, which features nine objects per page, was one of his favorite books to flip through by himself while we ate breakfast in bed with him. Now he loves to point to and identify objects in it, practicing his words or sign language. The pages are full of a wide variety of fun photographs, organized by topics like "things that go," "bathtime," "bedtime," etc.

3. Fuzzy Bee and Friends (Cloth Books), by Roger Priddy. This (along with Fluffy Chick and Friends by the same author) were the only cloth books Kevin liked much. The rhymes are cute, the cover is nicely crinkly, and the pages contain different tactile sensations, like a satiny butterfly and net-like dragonfly wings.


"Don't be fooled by a scary name./The dragonfly is really tame."

Parent's Peeve: Fuzzy bee isn't actually in the book.

4. Itsy-bitsy Spider (My First Taggies Book) (Board book), by Jill McDonald. This is a short, simple book with text that will be familiar to every parent already. K has always liked it. He doesn't pay any attention to the tags on it, though, which I admit makes me a bit proud.

5. My Little Word Book (My Little Books) (Board book), by Roger Priddy. Much like First 100 Words, My Little Word Book is stock full of photographs. K really enjoys flipping through it. Categories include "food and drink," "your body," and "things we wear," among others.

6. One Fish, Two Fish, Three, Four, Five Fish (Dr. Seuss Nursery Collection) (Board book), by Dr. Seuss. K has always liked the board book version of this book. The little plastic fish on the top are a bonus, but the book is what keeps his interest.


"Three fish/four fish/Here come more fish!"

7. Open the Barn Door (A Chunky Book(R)) (Board book), by Christopher Santoro. This was the first flap book we owned. The book itself is very small (perfect for tiny hands), and the flaps are even smaller, so parental assistance was definitely required to operate them for awhile. But that didn't damper his enthusiasm for this book, which we read over and over (and over and over and over...) again.

8. Peek-A Who? (Board book), by Nina Laden. Peek a Who was an instant hit. The rhymes are cute, the images are simple, the pages are thick and perfectly sized for small hands, and best of all, the last page contains a mirror. Just keep a washcloth handy in case your bookworm develops the habit that ours did -- a kiss on the mirror after every read. And there were MANY reads of Peek a Who.


"Peek a/ZOO!"

Infant's Interest: All, but especially the mirror at the end.

9. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Board book), by Eric Carle. This was the first book that K seemed to focus on (the black and white page with the dog), which was so exciting that it earned its way into the top 10.

10. A B C Board Book (Board book), by DK Publishing. This very small, sturdy book was the first free book we got at the doctor's office through the Reach Out and Read Program. The images are actual photographs, and our bookworm loved it. He always, for some reason, loved teething on it more than any other book, but it held up well to the abuse.

It was difficult to limit it to just ten, and I had to cheat a little to do it. Did I mention the best part about buying books as baby gifts? Picking them out!