Sunday, May 31, 2009

Top Picture Books Poll: What We've Read

We posted before about the results of Fuse #8 Production's Top 100 Picture Book Poll of 2009.  Bookworm's Booklist is asking bloggers to repost the top 30 books from the list and highlight the books that we've read with our children.  We have some work to do, but I think we've done pretty well for 18 months.  The red ones are the ones we've read.

#1: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963)

#2: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (1947)

#3: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1979)

#4: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (1962)

#5: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (2003)

#6: Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (1941)

#7: Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (1955)

#8: Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (1939)

#9: Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag (1928)

#10: Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems (2004)

#11: The Story of Ferdinand y Monroe Leaf, ill. Robert Lawson (1936)

#12: Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann (1994)

#13: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (1948)

#14: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, ill. Lane Smith(1989)

#15: Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (1996)

#16: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (1987)

#17: Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (1947)

#18: In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak (1970)

#19: Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (1982)

#20: George and Martha by James Marshall (1972)

#21: Bark, George by Jules Feiffer (1999)

#22: The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone, ill. by Mike Smollin (1971)

#23: Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban (1964)

#24: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, ill. Lois Ehlert (1989)

#25: The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (1942)

#26: Corduroy by Donald Freeman (1976)

#27: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (1902)

#28: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, ill. Ray Cruz(1972)

#29: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig (1969)

#30: Brown, Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin Jr., ill. Eric Carle (1967)

Which book that we have NOT highlighted do you think we should read next?  I'm thinking maybe Blueberries for Sal, because our little guy LOVES freeze-dried blueberries, so that might appeal to him.  I'm also curious about Bread and Jam for Frances.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Books for Father's Day (part 2)

Last week, I posted recommendations for a few children's books about Father's Day.  I asked readers to comment with any other books they enjoyed about fathers.  Karen at Mommy's Favorite Children's Books suggested the book below, and it was a big hit.  Here is our reaction to it. 

I Love My Daddy (Hardcover), by Sebastien Braun. This beautiful book follows a father bear and his cub, explaining in very simple text and gorgeous illustrations all of the things that the father bear does for his son. I love that it is a non board-book but has simple enough language for the very youngest readers to follow. It is a perfect choice for someone just graduating from board books. Actually, I think it would appeal to the board book crowd right on up to, well, adults.


"My daddy plays with me. / My daddy chases me. / My daddy sits with me."

Bookworm's interest at 18 months: I made it a point to explain that it was a book about a daddy and baby. He instantly ran to the front door (where Daddy comes home). I lured him back, we read one page, and it was back to the door again. He was extremely excited about the book, but apparently wanted Daddy to read it to him. When Daddy got home, he happily brought it to him, climbed into his lap, and enjoyed it. Our favorite part is when he gets to "My daddy cuddles me," and he leans over and gives his dad a cuddle.

Parent's Peeve: "My daddy reads to me" would have been a nice additional page! It's not a peeve, though; this really is a perfect book. I think I'll put it in our next "to buy" list.

For additional books about Father's Day, check out No Time For Flashcard's lists, the first of which just went up.  Our little man always seems to love her suggestions.  Or all of our Father's Day related book reviews here.

Do you have any books that your children insist on reading with one or the other parent?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What My Child Is Reading This Week (new feature)

The Well Read Child has started a new Thursday feature in which participants post about what their children are reading that week.  Of course, we're in!

We just went to the library today for the first time in awhile, so we're stocked up on some new books.  Before today's influx of new reads, the most popular book this week had been Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever (click title to see our previous review of it).

Among the new ones we picked up today are these three:

1) I finally succumbed to all of the wonderful reviews I've read of this first book and picked up a copy.  I can't remember all of the places I read rave reviews, but recent blogs mentioning it were Book Aunt and Booklights.  I finally got to see what all of the fuss is about.

How to Heal a Broken Wing (Hardcover), by Bob Graham. This is a lovely picture book that lives up to the praise it has been garnering. The text was simpler than I had expected (which was wonderful, since we were reading it to a 1 1/2 year old). The story begins with a bird, in a busy city, that falls to the ground. No one notices, except a young boy (and his mother), who takes the bird home to nurse it back to health and set it free again. The sweet simplicity of the story draws you in. One of my favorite parts of the book is a two-page spread of a bustling city with about 100 passersby, and the small boy bending down to tend to the bird, illuminated in a bright light (like the cover photo shown).


"High above the city, no one heard the soft thud of feathers against glass. / No one saw the bird fall. / No one looked down ... / except Will."

Bookworm's interest at 18 months: He enjoyed this story. We've read it twice, and he sat through it both times, and interacted with me as we read it, particularly the second time. I made an effort to explain the illustrations in language he'd understand, and he used his signs to echo the story. For instance, I explained that the bird had fallen down. So he sat down too. Then he made an up sign, because we often say "What do you do when you fall down? You get back up." I explained that the bird couldn't get up by himself; he needed help. Then he did his help sign... etc. It is such a delight to see him start to consistently understand storylines. I've always loved reading to him, but now it is getting really fun.

2) This second one we picked up off of the library staff recommendation's shelf.

There Are Cats in This Book (Hardcover), by Viviane Schwarz. This book features a trio of playful cats as they enjoy a romp with some yarn, cardboard boxes, a pillow fight, and a fish chase turned treacherous through an unexpected tidal wave. Unusually shaped pages, interactive flaps, and playful text engage the reader. In a style slightly reminiscent of "There is a Monster at The End of This Book," one of my childhood favorites, the cats sometimes speak directly to the reader, coaxing him/her to turn the page, or go back a page, or even, at the end, to blow on the pages. The interaction makes it a fun read for a wide range of ages.


"Let's go back to the yarn! Yes, turn the page back! / No! Keep going this way. Look! There are cardboard boxes!"

Bookworm's interest at 18 months: I knew we had a winner when he sat and read through it at the library, where he is always too overstimulated to read. He enjoyed it again when we got home (especially finding the yellow cat on every page). When we got to the end, he happily flipped back through it himself. When he saw a loan dog on the sofa, he made a bit of a "woof woof" sound, which excited us, since "W" is a new sound for him.

3) And this one I requested based on a comment from Thrifty Craft Mama that her child really enjoys it.  

Night Is Coming (Picture Puffins) (Paperback), by W. Nikola-Lisa. Written by an author who grew up in a small town in Southern Texas, Night is Coming tells the story of the slow settling down for bedtime on a farm. The language is sweet and poetic, and the illustrations live up to the text. I love the adorable illustration of four sheep snuggled up sleeping together ("Night is coming, and out among the wildflowers at the edge of Grandpa's farm, you can hear the lambs bleating as they nestle warm and close." I think this book would especially appeal to any children growing up on a farm.


"Night is coming, creeping through the forest, / slipping through the valley, silencing the day. / Night is coming. Still are the feet. / Night is coming. Quiet is the land. / Night is coming. Calm is the heart."

Bookworm's interest at 18 months: We only made it halfway through this one, but I'm looking forward to reading through it more tomorrow. He had many new books at once today. He enjoyed identifying the animals he recognized, as well as the pumpkins.

We love to get comments from parents about books that their children love; it's how we've discovered many of our son's favorites.  That's why we're so excited to participate in this Thursday weekly "meme".  A big thanks to the Well Read Child for hosting.  

As always, we'd love a comment with any favorite book titles you think we should pick up!

ABC and 123 Summer Prize Picnic

ABC and 123 are hosting a "Prize Picnic" this summer, and today is the day for introductions.

  picnic button

For those visiting for the first time from the "Picnic":

Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile is a blog about the literary undertakings of our 18-month old son.  We record and review most of the books he reads (and maintain a full clickable list of book titles).  His latest obsession is children's books about transportation vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses, and fire engines.  I also occasionally review books that are beyond his current age range.  Sometimes we toss in some related crafts or tidbits about our life, but for the most part, we're all about the books.  We also have a second, newer blog, that focuses on my son's food allergies.  If you have a child with confirmed or suspected allergies, feel free to stop by and visit us there at Crazy Allergy Mama.  In my free time (thinking back to when I had some), I enjoy quilting, and hope to get back to the sewing machine once we've moved into our new home this month.  As for the little bibliophile, he'll be spending the summer exploring every nook and cranny of our new backyard.

If you'd like to follow our book reviews, consider subscribing to our RSS feed using the buttons at the top of the page.  You can also follow us on Twitter at "I_Bibliophile". Thanks for stopping by and to ABC & 123 for hosting the virtual picnic! Before you go, drop us a quick comment with your favorite children's book.

Monday, May 25, 2009

What have I done? (Twitter)

Well, curiosity got the best of me and I signed up for Twitter.  As if I need another distraction.   I'm not really sure how to use it yet.  Are you signed up?  Want me to follow you?  Comment with your username please!  I'm "I_Bibliophile" there.

Memorial Day / Nonfiction Monday

In honor of both Memorial Day and Non-Fiction Monday, I'm reposting a review of a patriotic-themed book from our shelves. The review was written when he was 13 months old, but it is still accurate today at 18 months.

My Red, White & Blue (Musical Board Book) (Board book), by Sally Williams Chapin. This patriotic board book would make a nice gift around the Fourth of July, or to any budding history buff. It includes a large "push me" button that plays the Star Spangled Banner. The button is easily operated by small fingers. The accompanying text tells the story of the American flag, beginning with its creation by Betsy Ross.


"Betsy Ross got busy with her needle, thread and thimble,/When General Washington asked her to make/Our country's greatest symbol."

Bookworm's interest at 13 months: The button, of course!

Parent's Peeve: The rhymes seem a little forced, but I guess I can live with that in exchange for him getting a mini history lesson.

Thanks to Mommy's Favorite Children's Books for the idea to post a patriotic book for Memorial Day. You can find more Non-Fiction Monday books at the Miss Rumphius Effect this week.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Children's books about Dad

With Father's Day coming up in a few weeks, I thought I'd share a few of our favorite books about dads.  We'll try to share more in the coming weeks.  I think these make adorable gifts for a soon-to-be or new dad (or a well established Dad, for that matter!).

Daddy Hugs (Board book), by Karen Katz. I've only had this board book for about 18 hours, and it is growing on me. I've heard it mentioned often as a potential Father's Day gift, so I thought I should check it out. I feared it would be overly sappy. Each page presents a different kind of "daddy hug," like "peekaboo pajama hugs" and "'don't be afraid of the dark' hugs". The variety of "hugs" that Katz presents is realistic and fun.


"eight dancing on Daddy's feet cha-cha hugs"

Bookworm's interest at 15 months: Wasn't interested upon first read, but we waited a few days, and then he loved it. As soon as I pointed out that there was a "Daddy" in it, he was a fan. Bonus: he snuggled into my lap and "hugged" after every page.

Daddy Loves Me (Hardcover), by DK Publishing. Earlier this year, my husband found "Mommy Loves Me" at the library, and our little one really enjoyed it. So when I saw "Daddy Loves Me," I knew we had to bring it home. It is a small board book, with a slightly puffy cover, and real photographs of dads and babies throughout. My favorite two-page spread shows a Daddy and son standing back to back "My daddy thinks he's very tall," and then with the son on his Dad's shoulders, "But I'm the biggest of them all!" It's a sappy book, for sure, but it's sweet, and babies love photographs of other babies. I think this makes a wonderful present for new dads around father's day.


"With Daddy's help, I do great things / I climb, I slide, I fly on swings!"

Bookworm's interest at 16 months: He enjoys this one very much.

Hop on Pop (Beginner Books(R)) (Hardcover), by Dr. Seuss. This is one of those famous Dr. Seuss books that I had never read (at least that I can remember), so I thought we'd give it a try. Unlike the other Seuss early readers we've read, this has a couple of short words in big bold all caps on each page, clearly targeting those learning to read. A sentence follows beneath the words on each page. It makes it a little awkward to read aloud, but we just dropped the capitalized words and went with the sentences, and then it worked fine. This is a fun book with a number of different scenarious/storylines contained in its 64 pages.


"HOP POP We like to hop. We like to hop on top of Pop. / STOP You must not hop on Pop."

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: Our little guy loves to hop on me (as I say "oof!"), so that is what made me think we had to read this book. Now when he hops on me, he whines until I recite the hop line. He understood it was about hopping on a Dad, but since Dada was sick at the time we read it, he wasn't allowed to try it out on him. And now I'm the well established hop-ee. (Or however you might spell that made up word).

Parent's Peeve: I don't really care for pages 14-16 ("DAY PLAY We play all day. / NIGHT FIGHT We fight all night. / HE ME He is after me. / HIM JIM Jim is after him.") Besides the idea of fighting all night not really being a good lesson for kids, the "HIM JIM" page shows a boy biting a creature's tail. It's just a little creepy.

What are your favorite children's books starring Dads?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Review: It's Useful to Have a Boy/Duck

This clever book-in-a-box kept our little guy amused for awhile tonight, so I thought it was about time I reviewed it.

It's Useful to Have a Duck (Hardcover), by Isol. This is unlike any board book I've seen. A hard box (see image) holds a thick board book that slides out either side of the box. The book (It's Useful to Have a Duck) is accordion-style, so the whole thing unfolds to one long page. The story involves a boy who finds a duck, picks him up, and involves him in his day in various ways. What makes the book unique is that the reader can flip it over and it then becomes a book (It's Useful to Have a Boy) that tells the same story from the duck's perspective! This is a clever design, and it might be a nice way to introduce perspective to a young reader.


[On "It's Useful to Have a Duck" side, with illustration of duck on boy's head:] "I use him for a hat." [And on reverse side, from duck's perspective:] "I use his head to see the view."

Bookworm's interest at 18 months: He wasn't interested in it at the library, but I was intrigued by the novelty of it, so I took it home anyway. I didn't have much luck with the first few reads, but tonight he had a lot of fun with it with Dad. They read it a few times, and then he enjoyed just holding it and opening up the accordion pages, and also playing hide and seek beneath it.

For additional books about birds or other animals, check out our round-up of children's books about animals.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Review: Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever

Thanks to a library trip with Daddy, the little guy has a new favorite book this week: Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever.  Here is our review:

Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever (Giant Little Golden Book) [SPECIAL EDITION] (School & Library Binding), by Richard Scarry. This large word book is jam packed with scenes of every day life, Richard Scarry style. 71 colorful pages focus on a whole host of fun topics, like fire engines, trucks, counting, seasons, foods, toys, the playground, and the beach. There are a few sentences per oversized page (see excerpt), but the words/pictures really steal the show. In fact, I'm not sure I'd even read the sentences until I opened the book to type up this review.


"The Pigs are buying groceries for their family. What would you like to buy next time you go to the market? Would you like to buy a pickle?""

Bookworm's interest at 18 months: He loves the entire book. It is 71 pages long and he signs "more" as soon as he gets to the last page. He loves to be quizzed to find items in it.

Parent's Peeve: Looks like we'll have to buy a copy!

If you like the sound of this book, check out our reviews of Richard Scarry's Biggest Word Book Ever, In the Town All Year 'Round, and Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks from A to Z -- all favorites in our house.

Note: Apologies if my posts come up with wacky font sizing this week.  Firefox keeps freezing up on me, so I've started posting in Safari, which seems to be randomly resizing my text.  

Monday, May 18, 2009

New blog

Well, I've gone and done it.  Whether I'll manage to keep up with it or not, time will tell, but I have created another blog: Crazy Allergy Mama.  Come by and say hi!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday

The little guy enjoyed "Muffin Tin Monday" so much last week that I decided to join in again this week... except that we cheated and did it on Sunday!  This week's theme is "choose your own."  I had planned to do it on Monday, but he found the cookie cutter on Sunday and was asking me to use it, so I thought I might as well do it a day early.

We did a breakfast/love tin, with heart shaped (gluten-, dairy-, egg-free) pancakes, freeze-dried raspberries and blueberries, a glass of diluted white grape juice, and a companion book to read (Guess How Much I Love You).  He loves to play with the heart cookie cutter, making an H sound to show off that he knows it's a heart, so I kept that in the tin too.  There was a fourth pancake, but it was in his mouth when I took this photo!  I tried to read him the book, but it's just not one of his favorites.  He asked me to read a couple of books about cars and trucks instead, and I obliged. That's love, right?

See more Muffin Tin Monday participants over at Her Cup Overfloweth.

You can find my recipe for the pancakes here; we've started making them every day.  This batch had some chopped up bacon in the them.  Other days we do blueberry or peach varieties.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Top Picture Books/Children's Book Week

Many thanks to Mommy's Favorite Children's Books for reminding me that Fuse #8 Production's List of the Top 100 Picture Books has been revealed.  This was compiled by asking readers to send in their top 10 lists.  I thought it might be fun to see how many of these that our little guy has read.  At 18 months, he is still too young for most of them, but I was tickled to see that he has "read" the top 7, so it inspired me to keep counting.  I think he's read about 18 of them, although some he wasn't very interested in and just gave them a quick glance.  I'm excited to check out some more of these, now and in future years.  This is definitely a "bookmarkable" list!

By the way, Happy Children's Book Week (May 12-18, 2009)!  We haven't done anything overly special to celebrate, since books are a big part of our life anyway.  If you are looking for something to do today, though, you might check your local library calendar.  Many libraries are featuring author readings and book signings in celebration of book week.

Weekly Geeks (Boston-focused children's books)

This week, Weekly Geeks asks participating bloggers to do the following:

This week take us on a literary tour of your hometown!  Do you live in a place where a famous author was born? Does your town have any cool literary museums or monuments? Does Stephen King live at the end of your street? Was Twilight set in your hometown?  Share your fun literary facts about the town or area where you live. You can talk about famous (or not so famous) authors who live there, novels that have been set in your area, or any other literary facts that you know about where you live. Feel free to embellish with pictures of places and/or authors, maps of the area, and fun facts about the authors.  As usual, feel free to personalize this. Don’t like your hometown? Pick another! Do you live in a literary wasteland? Feel free to expand and discuss a region. Feel like returning to a place you lived 20 years ago? Go for it!

I'd like to post about Boston -- a city that's near and dear to my heart, and so full of literary history, I don't dare cover it all in a blog post.  Here are a few photos (I could have sworn I had a Boston skyline photo or two in my iphoto library, but they must be hiding):

(Photos: Mike's Pastry in the North End, Butterfly at the Boston Science Museum, Swan Boats at the Boston Public Garden, Quincy Market, Swan Boats Sign, "Dewey, Cheetham and Howe" in Harvard Square).

I love to buy city-specific children's books as gifts.  Often parents have never heard of the books (like the first two reviews below), or, in the case of a more classic choice like Make Way for Ducklings, they don't own a personal copy.  Impending parenthood often warms people to the idea of putting down roots, and the city around them that seemed like a fun town now becomes "home," which I think makes people very happy to receive books like these.  Here are three Boston-focused books we own:

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.


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

Bookworm's interest at 14 months: He has pretty consistently enjoyed this one. It's one that he tends to pick off the shelf and make us read 4 or 5 times in a row.

Note: Goodnight, Cape Cod is also available.

Hello, Wally! (Library Binding), by Jerry Remy. A book for little Red Sox fans, about Wally the Green Monster mascot (admission: I had no idea he existed before I read this book, but I have seen references to him all around since). I like trying to read it with a strong Boston accent.


"Wally stopped at the statue of Ted Williams, one of the greatest hitters that ever lived. As fans admired the statue, they waved, 'Hello, Wally!'"

Bookworm's interest at 15 months: He enjoyed it now and then when very young. He won't sit still for the whole thing now, but may in a few more months.

Make Way for Ducklings (Viking Kestrel Picture Books) (Hardcover), by Robert McCloskey. A Caldecott Award winner, this book follows Mr. and Mrs. Mallard as they set up home on the Charles River in Boston and attempt to navigate the city's intersections with a row of ducklings in tow. The entire tale is illustrated with brown sketches.


"One day the ducklings hatched out. First came Jack, then Kack, and then Lack, then Mack and Nack and Ouack and Pack and Quack. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were bursting with pride. It was a great responsibility taking care of so many ducklings, and it kept them very busy."

Bookworm's interest at 14 months: The pages had been too delicate for him to handle until recently (14 months). I think the lack of color in the illustrations makes it hard to engage him at this point, but this would make a beautiful gift for an older child or one that a younger child can grow into.

Famous authors from Boston and other parts of Massachusetts include such heavy hitters as Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Lowell, Edgar Allen Poe, E. E. Cummings, Margaret Fuller, Horatio Alger, Emily Dickenson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Jack Kerouac, Sylvia Plath, and Henry David Thoreau, among others. Boston is a city full of history, charm, family-friendly activities, and literary backbone... not to mention the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, and Bruins.

Do you have any children's books about your hometown? We'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Children's books about doctor visits

This week is Food Allergy Awareness Week, and how serendipitous that we were able to get squeezed into a last minute cancellation for an allergy appointment today.  The news wasn't really what we had hoped to hear; it appears our little man is allergic to: wheat, egg, milk, nuts (four different kinds), and sesame.  Holy cow!  He might outgrow some of them (he better!), but for now, that's what we're working with.  On a bright note, his beloved french fries and watermelon are safe.  Expect some allergy-related children's book reviews in the near future, but for now, I thought I'd review these books we have on doctor visits.  I took them out of the library to prep our son for his next round of vaccinations.  I don't expect to eliminate crying altogether, but I'm hoping we can at least delay the wailing until the actual vaccination (it currently starts at the stethoscope!).  

Caillou: The Doctor (Little Dipper) (Board book), by Joceline Sanschagrin. I had never heard of Caillou when I picked up this board book (what can I say? We don't have a TV). I was looking for board books on this topic, so I chose this one online site unseen. The bright, cheerful illustrations drew us in instantly. The story follows the young boy as he gets sick with a cold and goes to the doctor for treatment.


"Caillou is sick. He has a fever and is coughing. Mommy takes good care of Caillou. She brings him lots of juice and rubs his back. 'Hold me tight, Mommy,' says Caillou."

Bookworm's interest at 18 months: We didn't quite make it through the whole thing, but he was definitely interested. In fact, he fake-coughed when Caillou was coughing!

Say "Ahhh!": Dora Goes to the Doctor (Paperback), by Phoebe Beinstein. This cute Dora book has a nice amount of detail for a slightly older child than ours. I like the explanatory text (comparing the tongue depressor to a "frozen ice-pop stick" for instance). The book also has fun ways to engage the reader throughout the storyline, such as: "The next tool Dr. Lopez needs is a little hammer to test my reflexes. Do you see something that looks like a little hammer?" A great book for Dora fans that need to be made a little more comfortable with the whole doctor visit experience.


"Dr. Lopez asks me to open my mouth wide and make an 'ahhh' sound so she can look at my throat. Make an 'ahhh' sound with me. Say 'Ahhh!'

Bookworm's interest at 18 months: He didn't make it very far when I first tried it. He has no idea who Dora is, though, and the text is geared for an older child (age 3-7).

A Trip to the Doctor (DK READERS) (Hardcover), by Deborah Lock. This book from DK Publishing, geared toward those just starting to read, pairs actual photographs with text about a boy's check-up appointment. The explanatory text includes phonetic pronunciation guides for some of the longer words.


"The nurse said, 'Now I'll check how well your heart is pumping blood through your body.' / She put a cuff on Jame's arm. 'It's like a small balloon,' she said. It became tighter and tighter as it filled with air."

Bookworm's interest at 18 months: He enjoyed the photos. The text is a bit advanced for him.

Clifford Visits The Hospital (Paperback), by Norman Bridwell. This book features a visit to the hospital to see an ailing Grandma, and the mischievous antics of Clifford (the lovable red dog). From tasting Grandma's medicine, to knocking over a cart of hospital food, to a romp through the newborn nursery, Clifford makes the rounds. This is less suitable for children needing to understand their routine check-ups than for those in the hospital to visit family members.


"The nurse had to give Grandma a shot. That's when Clifford decided to leave. He hates needles."

Bookworm's interest at 18 months: He's not a big Clifford fan (yet?), and this didn't really hold his attention much, but I'm going to try it another day. I think he might enjoy it if I make a big effort to explain what's going on more.

Have other books about the doctor's office that your kids enjoy? Or any other tips for calming vaccination jitters? We'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Trucks galore

We made a fun splurge purchase today (more on that below), and it reminded me that we have a couple of transportation books here that we haven't yet shared reviews of.  So for all of the other truck-loving children out there, we recommend:

My Big Machine Book (Board book), by Ellen Kirk. This board book bears the Smithsonian Institute name on its cover, which caught my eye. It's a sturdy, simple board book with real photographs and one sentence of explanatory text (see excerpt) per vehicle. The "machines" are all construction type vehicles, which suits my little reader just fine.


"Builders must dig a deep hole. What big machine do they need? An EXCAVATOR!"

Bookworm's interest at 18 months: It seems like something else is always catching his eye when we're reading this, but I'd still recommend it wholeheartedly. I think he just has a lot of truck books at the moment.

School Bus (Hardcover), by Donald Crews. For school-bus loving kids (I must not have the only one), this book can't be beat. From front cover to back, it is filled with bright yellow buses. The text is scant (the excerpt is about as long as it gets, and some pages just contain words like "STOP.") The illustrations are clear and bright. A fun addition to a transportation library.


"Empty yellow buses cross the town."

Bookworm's interest at 18 months: It was "buh buh buh buh" overload! He had to say "buh" for every bus, and the entire book is full of buses. I could barely get the text out over his shouting.

And our splurge? We picked up these three uber cool trucks for the backyard. They're indoor/outdoor use, and made from recycled plastic and wood. They feel like plastic, but smell like wood! I have been wanting to buy our little guy some outdoor trucks, but he showed no interest at all in the stores when I showed them to him (strange). I guess he was waiting for an environmentally-friendly set, because he was crazy happy to play with these in the store and at home.

How cool are they?!

You can read all of our transportation related book reviews here. We LOVE recommendations, so feel free to comment with any suggestions for our bookworm.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Review (What Can You Do With an Old Red Shoe?)

I was delighted to recently win a copy of What Can You Do With An Old Red Shoe from Katie's Literature Lounge.  I have been reading about it often on the Blue Rose Girls site, and in many positive reviews during a blog tour around the time of Earth Day.  I think some of my frugal/thrifty mom readers might really enjoy this one.

What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?: A Green Activity Book About Reuse (Hardcover), by Anna Alter. This environmentally-friendly craft book features suggestions for repurposing every day objects like old shoes, shower curtains, and used wrapping paper into fun activities and useful items. The ones we're most likely to try: melting down old bits of crayon to create crayon cubes and using old wrapping paper to create new greeting cards. The table of contents helpfully stars activities that require adult assistance, and the last few pages contain additional information about supporting reuse and recycling, as well as hand-sewing tips. All of these ideas are illustrated by charming little crafty animals demonstrating the projects.


"The waves came in creeping, stealing, and sweeping -- they snatched Sarah's flip-flop, and took it away! The shoe went afloat, like a pink plastic boat, and some lazy old crab had a ship for a day! What can you do with one flip-flop?"

Bookworm's interest at 18 months: While he is obviously too young to read it, I was surprised by how much he enjoyed flipping through this book when it arrived in the mail. I also think he'd enjoy some of these projects, with a lot of assistance of course.

Author Anna Alter has also launched her own site dedicated to recycling, reuses, and crafts.  You can check it out here.  

Monday, May 11, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday

As the mom of a picky eating toddler, I always enjoy reading about what other moms feed their kids, and I particularly enjoy the Muffin Tin Monday feature at Her Cup Overfloweth.  I've thought about participating, but it always seemed a little too tangential for a books blog.  This week's theme, though, was right up our alley: Children's Literature!

So, we decided to give it a try.  We almost missed it entirely as the bookworm took a 3 hour nap right through lunch.  But when we woke up, I quickly threw together this tin.  His favorite books lately are all about trucks, buses, and cars, so that's what we did:

Top row (left to right): marshmallows, chopped up bacon, and freeze-dried blueberries -- all as "gravel" for his dump truck.
Bottom row (left to right): gluten-free chicken nuggets, potato chips, and quaker kettle-corn flavored mini rice cakes -- all as "wheels."

If you're visiting for the first time, take a look here at our many transportation-related book reviews that inspired this children's literature related muffin tin.

He really enjoyed it, and even as I type this, he keeps pointing to the screen and running to the other room yelling "muhmuh!" to show he knows what a muffin tin is.  

Ocean books (Nonfiction Monday)

We recently won a give away of two Silver Dolphin books at  I thought I'd review them today for "nonfiction Monday," which is being hosted by Book Scoops this week.

Uncover a Dolphin (Uncover Books) (Hardcover), by David Gordon. This fun book is labeled for ages 8 and up. It contains small plastic pieces that make it unsuitable for infants prone to mouthing toys. The book's unique design features a model of the inside of a dolphin, including the skeletal, cardiopulmonary, and digestive systems, among others. This would be great for young kids interested in ocean life and/or biology. The text is quite detailed and full of information I didn't know.


"Underwater 'Aunties' [:] The arrival of a newborn dolphin is usually greeted with enthusiasm by other dolphins nearby. Sometimes, one dolphin will serve as a personal attendant to the new mother and her calf. This 'auntie,' in the language of dolphin watchers, may be male or female. He or she will offer assistance, helping the mother to gently nudge her calf to the surface for its first breaths of air. This auntie may be the only other dolphin that a mother will allow near her calf."

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: We didn't try it, except an initial quick peek, because he is so obviously too young for it.

A Kaleidopops Book: Oceans (Paperback), by Ruth Martin. This is a fun, informative popup book featuring a range of colorful fish and sea creatures. There is a lot of text, making the book suitable for older readers (recommended for ages 5 and up according to the book cover), but younger ones should enjoy the popups and bright, clear illustrations too.


"Mandarin fish. The vivid colors of the mandarin fish warn predators that it is covered in a slime that smells and tastes disgusting!"

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: We've had bad experiences with popup books in the past (and vacuums, and packing tape.. but that's another story), so I was a bit hesitant to open this one up. But he enjoyed it right away and didn't seem to mind the popups, at least this time. He also likes the noise the cover fish makes when you run your nails over it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!  My day started out with a cup of tea in bed and the following gifts from my little charmer (the fine print: "The undersigned party promises to play nicely with Dada, while Mama:"). Unfortunately it might end with a trip to the ER if the little guy's wheezing doesn't slow down.  

I hope you're all having a wonderful, relaxing day.  I haven't had much time for book hunting lately, so I'm going to just refer you all to No Time For Flashcard's wonderful list of Mother's Day books if you're looking for some reading ideas. 

How did you spend your day?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New children's books

Thanks to the generosity of Penguin Press and Amanda at A Patchwork of Books, we recently received nine advance review copies of some fun new children's books. Here they are, roughly in order of the bookworm's interest (most are geared toward slightly older kids).

Kitty Up! (Hardcover)(ARC), by Elizabeth Wojtusik. A fun little book for cat lovers (and especially families with cats and dogs). The book's simple repetitive text follows around a kitten through his day, including some playful snuggling with a dog, sleeping and dreaming, and frolicking around outside.


"Kitty hunt. Kitty creep. / Kitty drowsy. Kitty sleep."

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: This was his favorite of the bunch of ARC's. He likes searching for the butterfly on a number of the pages. He also loves the last couple of pages, which just feature little drawings of the cat in various positions, like in a pot, hiding under clothes, etc.

All of Baby, Nose to Toes (Hardcover)(ARC), by Victoria Adler. Baby's cute body parts star in this rhyming book perfect for the youngest readers.


"Baby's got a nose, a neat little nose. / Sniffs at a rose nose. Honks when it blows nose. Wrinkles when it goes nose - goes kerchoo. Who loves baby's nose? / Me! I do."

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: He really enjoys this one, especially when we take the time to show him his corresponding body part.

Parent's Peeve: If I thought it a bit corny at first, I quickly forgave the author, since the little guy loves it.

Doggone Dogs (Hardcover)(ARC), by Karen Beaumont. As the title suggests, dogs abound in this playful story of an owner outnumbered by his fun-loving, mischief-causing canine population. The illustrations have a unique caricature feel to them.


"'COME, DOGS! SIT, DOGS! LIE DOWN! STAY!' Doggone dogs do not obey. They turn and run the other way!"

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: He doesn't usually make it through the whole thing.

Be Gentle With the Dog Dear (Hardcover)(ARC), by Matthew Baek. This tale follows the troubles of Tag, the beloved family pet who faces the unbridled affection of baby Elisa. It's a situation I'm sure any cat- or dog- owning family with young kids will relate to.


"There there's Elisa, their daughter. She's a precious baby ... when she's sleeping. / Other times she's not so precious. Like when ... she squeeze Tag,..."

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: I don't think we've made it through it yet, although he was somewhat interested, so I'm going to keep trying.

A You're Adorable (Paperback)(ARC), by Martha Alexander. Cute alphabet book to the 1940's tune of "A You're Adorable."

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: He likes when I start to sing, but loses interest. I think he'll enjoy it with a few more tries.

Bridget Fidget and The Most Perfect Pet (Hardcover)(ARC), by Joe Berger. Bridget Fidget describes the arrival of a large box for unicorn-loving Bridget and her sidekick Captain Cat. Page by page follow Bridget unpacking the box (which she's certain contains a new pet), as it gets smaller and smaller, the possibilities for what it could be dwindling...


"This box wouldn't open. Bridget sniffed it. It didn't smell. Bridget shook it. It didn't squeak. Bridget rolled it. It didn't skitter. Maybe it's NOT a mouse."

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: None (too young).

Welcome to the Zoo! (Hardcover)(ARC), by Alison Jay. In an original "cracked" illustration style (apologies to the illustrator; I don't know the formal term!), this textless picture book features packed scenes of the zoo. Not the ordinary animals in cages kind of zoo; monkeys fill the trees, ride on tire swings, read books, and buy ice cream from the vendor alongside the guests. Bison, raccoons, porcupines, and all manner of animals similarly partake in the lovely afternoon.

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: I can't explain it, but he won't let me turn to even the first page. I'll have to try harder to draw him in, because he would normally like being quizzed to find things in this sort of book.

School Fever (Hardcover)(ARC), by Brod Bagert. This fun poetry book is full of school-focused poems, covering a range of topics from the cafeteria to friendship, sick days to the uncontrollable urge to wiggle in your seat!


"Please forgive me if I'm rude, I'm in a very grumpy mood. I woke up to that noisy clock, It gave my brain an awful shock. I searched but couldn't find a brush, I couldn't make the toilet flush."

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: None (too young).

Silly School Riddles (Dial Easy to Read - Level 3) (Hardcover), by Lisa Eisenberg. I would have enjoyed this punny riddle book when I was a kid.


"Why did the silly goose feel sorry for the math book? It had so many problems!"

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: None (too young)

What have you all been reading lately?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Vroom vroom: more truck books

Two more transportation books entered our life this week...

First Picture Trucks (First Picture Board Books) (Board book), by Emma Helbrough. Kudos to Dad for finding this book at the library with the bookworm. Each two page spread in this large board book features a different vehicle, and a few sentences about it. I like that the sentences are scattered around, so they don't seem like too much text for small readers, even though the book contains more information than a typical board book. Parts of the trucks are also labeled (like, for the concrete mixer, "water tank," "drum," and "chute.") The trucks pictured are actually photographs of toy trucks, which gives the book a playful feel. The last two pages contain photos of all of the trucks, as well as different items included on the earlier pages, and challenge readers to spot them in the book. Trucks included are: container truck, dump truck, desert rescue truck, concrete mixer truck, fire truck, flatbed truck, and rubbish truck." It just occurred to me that the book uses British terminology like "rubbish" (as does Dad). It was published in London.


"Concrete mixer truck This truck brings concrete for builders to use. Filling the truck Wet concrete pouts into the truck's drum. The drum turns to stop the concrete going hard / At the building site, the concrete pours down a chute."

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: He enjoys this one, but that is no surprise! Dad was quite impressed that after 1/2 day with it, he can already recognize a "desert rescue truck."

Transportation: A Pictorial History of the Past One Thousand Years (Millennium) (Library Binding), by John Hamilton. Another library sale find, this book is intended for children older than our bookworm, but he enjoys flipping through it. Each page contains a good deal of text, coupled with small photos and the occasional diagram. See the excerpt for an idea of the reading level. I haven't actually read all of the text yet, so I can't review it properly, except to say that it looks interesting and is a fun flip-through for us.


"Jet Engines There are three common types of jet engines: the turbojet, turboprop, and turbofan. All work on the principle of mixing compressed air with fuel, creating large amounts of thrust that propel jet aircraft at high speeds."

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: He enjoys the cover most of all. He recently learned signs for "car" and "motorcycle," and he does them whenever he sees this book.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Quick review (Berenstain Bears' New Baby)

The Berenstain Bears' New Baby (Paperback), by Stan Berenstain. I always loved Berenstain Bear books when I was younger, so I was very excited to see this children's book about welcoming a new baby home (to any relatives reading this: no, no new baby on the way for us). As the title suggests, the story revolves around the birth of "Small Bear"'s sister. Papa Bear takes Small Bear out to build a new bed, as he has outgrown his old bed, and meanwhile, Mama Bear manages to give birth to a baby girl. Small Bear seems quite content with the discovery that the new addition to the family has taken over his old bed, and the book ends on a happy note: "That night he stretched out proudly in his bigger bed. 'Aah!' he said. 'Being a big brother is going to be fun.' May all of you with new additions on the way have such an easy birth and seamless transition.


"...'You outgrew it just in time,' called Mama Bear from the next room. 'Come and see.' / It was true! There was his snug little bed with a new little baby in it. Small Bear had outgrown his snug little bed just in time for his new baby sister. And now he was a big brother!"

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: He enjoyed the first few pages, but lost interest. He's still too young for it at this point. I can't wait until he can enjoy these as much as I did.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Help Me Give my Google Reader New Life!

I've been a little distracted from book blogging this month, as we've been househunting.  We found a house, and I already have a nice sunny spot picked out for a reading chair and bookshelf!  While I'm still enjoying the book blog world, I'm also feeling like I could use some fresh diversions.  So, I'm turning to you...  My Google reader is mostly filled with blogs that focus on books, parenting, crafts, and frugal living.  What OTHER blogs do you enjoy that don't fit into those categories?  I'm especially eager to find one or two home improvement type blogs.  And maybe one or two about gardening; while it's not a passion of mine (yet), I have to become worthy of our darling little yard.  Please comment about your favorite blogs (or your own!).  I promise to visit them all.

P.S.  Apparently this is my 101st post!

P.P.S.  Photo courtesy of our beloved Canon Digital Rebel and an accommodating butterfly at an indoor garden in New Zealand.