Sunday, November 29, 2009

ANOTHER Monster at the End of This Book!!

This is officially my first book purchase for Christmas (although I have others sitting in my cart on Amazon).  Except that I couldn't resist reading it... in the supermarket aisle, crouched down by my son's stroller.  And I can't really in good conscience call it a gift for him, because I was just SO excited to see and buy this.  Whenever people name their favorite children's books, I'm always delighted to see "The Monster at the End of This Book" make so many lists.  I loved the book when I was younger, and of course, for all I knew, I was the only one in the world who read it.  Grover was, after all, clearly talking to ME.  Who knew little kids all over the world were loving it just as much?  

We also own two other  Jon Stone books starring "lovable, furry old Grover" - you can read our reviews of them here:

So, you can imagine my delight when I was skimming the Little Golden Books at the supermarket yesterday and found this:

Another Monster at the End of This Book (Sesame Street Series) , by Jon Stone. My immense enthusiasm at spotting this book was only slightly tempered by my fear at Elmo's presence. (I know many love Elmo, and I'm trying to learn to love him. It is easier in books, when I can't hear his voice). Could this really have the charm of my old-school favorite? YES, it really does! Grover implores both the reader and Elmo not to turn the pages, as Elmo defies him and asks the reader to do the opposite. Ultimately, Grover comes up with a plan: "All right. We will go see the Monster. But just one little peek. When I say, "turn the page," you jump in from the back of the book and I will jump in from the front. We will see the Monster and then we will run like bunny rabbits!" SPOILER Near the end of the book, there is a wonderful two page spread in which Grover and Elmo jump out and frighten each other. Of course, they end up being the monsters at the end of the book. I still can't read this, or the original, without smiling.


"This will stop you from turning pages! I, Grover, have put up a thick, steel wall so no one can ever turn this page. / What do you say to that, little Elmo? Elmo? Where are you Elmo? Elmo is on the next page."

Bookworm's interest at 24 months: To my delight, he happily read the whole thing with me, occasionally giggling. We have a winner.

This got me wondering how many other Jon Stone books in this series I have missed.  So I did some perusing, and I feel fairly certain that we have now read them all.  ("The Monster At the End of this Book" seems to alternately be titled "Please Do Not Open This Book," but looks to be the same book inside).  Can we hope for more sometime?  Sadly, not from Jon Stone, who passed away in 1997.  He certainly left his mark.  RIP.  

Did you enjoy the original as much as I did?  Have you read this sequel?  

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bring on the Christmas/Winter/Holiday Books

We put up our Christmas tree yesterday, but I started to get excited about Christmas a couple of weeks ago.  Part of my enthusiasm came from putting together this allergy-friendly gingerbread house from A&J bakery (the house is gluten-, egg-, dairy-, nut-free).  I have a few Christmas (or snow/winter) books that I have been saving to review until after Thanksgiving, so I plan to share them a few at a time this week. 

The first two books are music-themed.  The Infant Bibliophile was born around this time of year, and I loved rocking him while singing Away in a Manger, Silent Night, etc.  There was something magical about sitting in a warm house, in a cozy robe, snuggling a newborn, with snow falling outside, and singing Christmas carols softly.  It made me a little less cranky about it being 3:46AM.

Away in a Manger (Paperback), by Thomas Kinkade (illustrations). Beautiful! Away in a Manger is one of my favorite Christmas carols (if not my single favorite). Here, the lyrics are spread out, one line per two pages. Thomas Kinkade illustrated the book, and, as you might expect, the images are gorgeous. I particularly love the stars shining down on Jesus asleep in the hay.


"The stars in the sky looked down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay."

Bookworm's interest at 24 months: He loved the book, and since, loves me to sing him the song. We sometimes mix up words in songs and nursery rhymes on him, and he corrects us (just a silly game we play), and the night after we read it, I inserted his name into the song, and he corrected me: "No! Jesus!"

Parent's Peeve: Now I want a Silent Night version. Oh, and it looks like there was one!. In 2006. Reprint, please!

Source: Review copy from publisher.

Sing-along Christmas Carols (Board book), by Roger Priddy. A few weeks before Christmas last year, in the height of my holiday spirit, I went on the hunt for a book with a companion Christmas carols CD. I was thrilled to see one by Roger Priddy, who some days I feel like has authored half the books on our shelves. The book is a nice large board book style, with colorful illustrations drawn as if they were appliqued on, complete with very slightly raised "stitches" around each piece. The book contains 15 carols, listed below. Unfortunately, the Infant Bibliophile wouldn't sit still to look through the book at all (at age 1), and I was a little disappointed in the carols. I think I'll have much better luck this year... if I can find the CD, which I seem to have lost. I'm still happy to have it on our shelf for future holidays to come.


Carols included: Away in a Manger, Silent Night, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, Good King Wenceslas, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, O Little Town of Bethlehem, The Holly and the Ivy, I Saw Three Ships, Once in Royal David's City, The First Noel, O Christmas Tree, We Three Kings of Orient Are, and In the Bleak Midwinter.

Bookworm's interest at 13 months: None at 13 months. Much improved by age 2.

Parent's Peeve: I would have liked to have had Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer included. They did manage to fit many songs into a board book; I would have replaced "In the Bleak Midwinter," "The Holly and the Ivy," and "Once in Royal David's City," because I don't really know those, but perhaps they have special meaning to others.

Dream Snow (Hardcover), by Eric Carle. This is a beautiful book that we were lucky enough to find at the local library book sale. It would make a delightful Christmas gift for a child of any age. At only 14 months, the bookworm already loves it. The story involves a farmer with five animals (and a tree). The farmer falls asleep and dreams of snow blanketing himself and his animals. This is depicted using sturdy transparent overlay sheets with falling snow. The result is that as the little reader turns the page, he sees a mound of white and more snow falling, and when he turns the page, it reveals the animal that had been covered. Our bibliophile loves this "hiding" element. The farmer wakes up to find it really HAS snowed. He then dresses up (to look remarkably like a certain other bearded red-suited character) and decorates his tree. As if this weren't all enough to win over our little reader, the last page contains a press button that plays a beautiful Christmas noise. It is a lovely sound (perhaps bells jingling), instantly identifiable as Christmas, but not overly "beepy" or annoying to parents, who will certainly find themselves listening to this one over and over again. I would have gladly paid full price for this lovely book.


"Soon he dreamed of falling snowflakes. They gently covered him with a white blanket."

Bookworm's interest at 14 months: All, but especially the animals as they are covered by the falling snow, and the sound at the end of the book. He also enjoys pointing to each animal, the tree, and the cup of tea.

What are your favorite Christmas/winter-themed books? Do you pack them away and only take them out at this time of year or leave them out year round (as we do)? Any favorite Christmas carols?

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Favorite Children's Book Recommendations: Age 12-24 months

Yesterday we shared favorite children's book recommendations for ages 0-12 months.  Can we really manage to pick out only 15 books from ages 12-24 months?  It seems like the bibliophile's interest in books exploded during that time.  (My first attempt at this list was 30 books long).  Here are the standout favorites he read during 12-24 months.  Many of these would be great choices for older kids too, as he shows no signs of having "outgrown" them by any means:

1.  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...'"

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: 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. He also likes to make an "H" sound for "hot" when he sees the dragon breathing fire.

2. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Board book), by Eric Carle. This board book version of the modern classic features a host of brightly colored animals and sing-songy repetition as each animal in turn is asked and answers about what the animal sees (the next animal in the story).


"Blue Horse, Blue Horse, What do you see?/ I see a green frog looking at me."

Bookworm's interest at 12 months: When he was only a few months old and his eye sight still developing, this was the first book that the bookworm seemed to focus on (the black and white page with the dog) He enjoyed it more as he got older.

Parent's Peeve: The drawing of the teacher is not very attractive.

Note: for children who have and love Brown Bear, Brown Bear, consider Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?.

3. Bubble Bath Pirates (Hardcover), by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. He pulled this off of the shelf at the library, out of the bigger kids' section. It was larger than the books he normally reads, and not a board book. I have a sneaking suspicion he just wanted to throw it on the floor. But once he got it home, he loved it. He 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"). The pirate lingo is cute, the bath theme is one he can identify with, and the illustrations are large and colorful, somehow capturing and keeping his attention better than other non-board books. I think we may need to get our own copy soon. "Arrr, this be a great book."

Bookworm's interest at 13 months: He especially likes to point to the "Pirate Mommy" and say "mamama" and to find the rubber duck on every page.

4.  Cars and Trucks and Things That Go (Giant Little Golden Book) (Hardcover), by Richard Scarry. 69 pages full of Richard Scarry's trademark illustrations and madcap adventures involving all sorts of vehicles piloted by pigs, bunny rabbits, foxes, dogs, cats, and turtles (among others). Those who love Richard Scarry's other books won't be disappointed, and those just discovering his work will quickly come to appreciate his silly, busy style.


"The baggage compartment on the bus has come open. Someone's things are flying out! Duck, Pa! Duck, Ma! Oh dear, Ma didn't duck soon enough."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He loves all of Scarry's books, and this one is no exception. He likes to have the text read to him, or to be quizzed on finding particular objects. The illustrations are so full of detail that he is constantly learning new vocabulary from perusing the book with me.

(Really many Richard Scarry books would make this list for us; others we love are:

5.  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition (Hardcover), by Jr, Bill Martin. I had never heard of this book until recently, and since then I seem to hear reference to it everywhere. The story is set to a song starring the letters of the alphabet climbing up a coconut tree. If you need to know the tune (I admit I did!), there is a fun, animated YouTube video (just search by the book's title). We took it out of the library to test it out, and we'll be getting our own copy this week.


"'Whee!' said D to E, F, G, 'I'll beat you to the top of the coconut tree.' Chicka chicka boom boom! Will there be enough room? Here comes H up the coconut tree..."

Bookworm's interest at 15 months: He especially likes the phrase "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and calls "buh! buh!" when he picks out the book. He generally loses interest in the large version right where the board book would end. I'm debating whether that means we should get the full or board book version, but I think we'll go with the full one because we can always close the book now, and he'll grow into the whole thing eventually.

6.  Construction Countdown (Hardcover), by K.C. Olson. Apparently I have some learning to do about construction vehicles. I thought knowing what a "digger" and "cherry picker" were would be sufficient, but our little guy's growing affection for transportation vehicles leads me to believe some advance knowledge on my part may be required. But that's OK, because there are plenty of books (like this one) to teach me what earthmovers and payloaders look like. This is a great book, with simple rhyming text to describe each two-page spread of vehicles. The ending is particularly delightful.


"Ten mighty dump trucks rolling down the road"

Bookworm's interest at 16 months: He enjoyed this one quite a bit from the first read (and the second, and the third...). A repeat read is the ultimate compliment, right? He likes to point to the trucks while I count them, or to make me point to them, or to point to the people driving the trucks. The cement mixers seem to be his favorite, maybe because we occasionally see them drive by outside.

7. Counting Colors: Seek & Find (Hardcover), by Roger Priddy. This has been a favorite since Christmas (approximately age one). Each two-page spread features a certain color, and little readers can search for the items, like balls, ducks, santas, and gingerbread men. It has been great at building vocabulary and passing winter hours stuck inside. We love this book.

Bookworm's interest at 13 months: At first there were a handful of items he enjoyed finding, but in the span of a month or two, he became familiar with almost all of them and loves pointing at them when we call them out. Since he developed his "siren noise," the fire engines are probably his favorite.

8. Farm Animal Friends: A Mega Sticker Book (Paperback), by Siobhan Ciminera. This is possibly my favorite sticker book so far, for a few reasons. It contains more than 750 stickers, mostly of farm animals (but also flowers and Easter egg decorating designs). What I prefer in this book over other, similar, books is that the pages with the stickers instruct you to the set of pages that the stickers should be placed upon (like, "use these stickers on pages 28-29"). It saves a lot of useless flipping. Also, the variety of activities are great. Some pages just include a scene (like an open field and barn) on which the stickers should be placed, but others focus on color placement (bright flowers to be placed on a rainbow by color), numbers, matching stickers to outlines, matching pairs of animals, and identifying animal sounds. I think this would make the book appealing to a wide range of ages. There is, however, far less informational text (none really) than the "Things that go" sticker book, for instance.


"Clip! Clop! Clip! Clop! The horses are on the move. Add the horse stickers to the pasture scene."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He has really been enjoying this. We sat outside in the shade on a glider and used it for 1/2 hour straight this evening (stopping only because Daddy came home), and then he brought it to me a few more times later before bed. At first, he was interested in the cats, horses, and cows - just placing them on there appropriate pages. Then he started the counting activities, with a lot of help (he can count to 3). Tonight, he enjoyed the rainbow color pages.

Another favorite sticker book: 

9. 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."

Bookworm's interest at 14 months: He likes locating many of the items, including the red balloon, kittens, and mittens. Eventually, he realized that the balloon inexplicably disappears in a couple of the illustrations, and this bugs him.

10. In the Town All Year 'Round (Hardcover), by Rotraut Susanne Berner. I had high expectations of this book after reading a very positive review of it, and it did not disappoint. It is very Richard Scarry-esque, but without the picture labels (except on certain pages) and no pretend vehicles like pickle cars. Like Scarry's word books, these pages are chock full of fun images, and the illustrations are beautifully detailed. The people (many of whom appear to don subtle ethnic dress, unless it's my imagination) are engaged in normal (shopping, a parade) to slightly wacky (taking a bath in a tin tub outdoors) activities. We really enjoyed this one and will probably pick up a copy for our personal collection.

Bookworm's interest at 15 months: Not only did the bookworm happily read this in his stroller at the library (where he is always too overstimulated to sit through a book), but when we got home, he reached under the stroller to pull it out and start in on it again. A blue bus makes a repeat appearance on the first few pages, so that drew him in, but he also find many other favorite images, like balloons, cars, birds, and farm animals. There is so much going on on every page that I can tell his interest will be constant as he learns to recognize more of the objects.

Parent's Peeve: People are smoking here and there (not very noticeable, given the amazing detail in the illustrations). I mention it because we hate smoking, but we still bought our own copy and recommend it to everyone.

11. I Spy A To Z (Hardcover), by Jean Marzollo. Real photographs of objects, from toy cars and trains to paperclips and crayons, fill the pages of this book. Text at the bottom of each page highlights four items for the reader to locate, in the typical "I Spy" language. There is a loose alphabetical order to the items, with every page or two focusing on a new letter, which is highlighted in red in the text. This is our first I Spy book, and we had a great time with it. For the most part, I ignored the text at the bottom and just asked our little guy to find whatever items I thought he would recognize, or new words I wanted to teach him.


"I spy a baseball, a marble that's blue, a bucket of sand, and a block with a 2."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He has a blast with it! He always loves being "quizzed," so I knew this book would be a big hit. I'm thinking we'll have to hunt down other I Spy books for him. I know he'll love them. I've put this I Spy Christmas bookon his Christmas list.

12.  Lemons Are Not Red (Hardcover), by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. This is a beautifully original book about colors. Cutouts in the pages play a key role in the flow of the text. "Lemons are not / red," the book says, as a red lemon adorns the page. As the reader turns the page, the left page explains that lemons are yellow, and the red page on the right (that had made the lemon appear red through the cutout) is now a large apple ("apples are red"). I don't know if I've explained that very well, but the design is effective, and the images simple but appealing.


"Flamingos are not / GRAY / Flamingos are PINK / Elephants are GRAY"

Bookworm's interest at 15 months: When I saw the book, I thought he'd be too young for it, but not so; he loved it right away. We generally do two or three reads in a row. I'm not sure he REALLY gets the concept at this point. He enjoys shaking his head whenever I say the word "not," and he has recently taken to signing for "apple" when he sees the image. There is a dog at the end of the book that he also loves to spot, sometimes skipping the whole middle of the book to get to the end to see the dog again, and sign for "sleep" as the dog lays down. I love this kind of book, that he gets some enjoyment out of now, but that he'll clearly grow into more as he is older too.

13. Let's Listen: Nursey Rhymes for Listening and Learning (Mother Goose) (Board book), by Studio Mouse. This book was a gift and an unexpected delight. For awhile, we listened to it every day, giving us a new activity to fill the long winter days. He will occasionally bounce up and down (his "dancing"), look longingly at the CD player, and start saying something along the lines of "Mmmm! A-dee! Neee!" until I put it on. Our three favorites are the first three songs - The Farmer in the Dell, Old King Cole, and Sing a Song of Sixpence. He is pretty good about reading the book at the same time, although near the end he'll start to just flip around. I enjoyed this one so much that I started pulling the CD's out of the other books we had that had come with music that we had just ignored. Most of them were awful, making me appreciate this one all the more. One caveat: every now and then, he will become terrified of the book and music and we'll have to put it away for awhile. Why? We'll have to wait until he can tell us.


Rhymes include: The Farmer in the Dell; Old King Cole; Sing a Song of Six Pence; Little Miss Muffet; Gingerbread Man; Hickory, Dickory, Dock; Little Bo Peep; Jack and Jill; Star Light, Star Bright; Mary Mary Quite Contrary; Hey Diddle Diddle; Rain Rain Go Away; and Yankee Doodle.

Bookworm's interest at 12 months: He especially likes the last line of Farmer in the can see him gearing up for it before it comes: "Hi-Ho, the derry-o/The farmer in the dellllllll." Always makes him smile.

Parent's Peeve: Animals as people. Old King Cole is a frog for instance. When he points to him I have to explain, "That's Old King Cole. And a Frog. Old King Cole is a frog, but only in this book." Or worse, ambiguous animal characters: "That's Jack and Jill. They are bears. Or porcupines. Or moles." It is still a great book, though!

14. Moo, Baa, La La La! (Board book), by Sandra Boynton. This is one of our favorite Sandra Boynton books, and one of the bookworm's favorite books overall. When we start reading it, we're always in for at least 3 or 4 read-throughs. The rhyming text is fun and clever, focusing on animals and their noises.


"A sheep says Baa./Three singing pigs say LA LA LA!/'No, No!' you say, that isn't right./The pigs say OINK all day and night."

Bookworm's interest at 12 months: All.

Note: Other Sandra Boynton books we love: 
Belly Button Book(mom loves; little guy not so much)

15. The B Book (Bright & Early Books) (Paperback), by Stan Berenstain. He has always liked this book, which involves an alliterative tale of a big brown bear, a blue bull, and a beautiful baboon, and various "B" activities. I'm impressed that he sits still for this at this age, when he gets bored with many other books of this size (like a number of Seuss ones). He loves bringing it to me now that he knows the "B" means "buh." If he's particularly squirmy, I don't repeat the whole tale each page, but just the new part. (Instead of "big brown bear, blue bull, beautiful baboon, biking backwards, etc.," for instance, I just add "biking backwards" on that page).


"Big brown bear, blue bull, beautiful baboon blowing bubbles biking backward..."

Bookworm's interest at 14 months: He prefers the less cluttered pages at the beginning of the book, but that will probably change as he ages.

Parent's Peeve: I just wish they made one of these for every letter. It would be a fun series. For all I know, they did, but I can't find it now.

Here are the titles that almost made the list:
My Truck is Stuck!(this is on our Christmas list)

If you're buying from Amazon, make sure to check out their 3 for 4 promotion right now (buy 3 qualifying books and get 1 free).  I also noticed that they had a deal for a free Dr. Seuss book when you buy any other two qualifying Dr. Seuss books.

What were your children's favorites books during the 12-24 month years?  Any favorites from this list?  Any of these your kids didn't like?

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Favorite Children's Book Recommendations: Age 0-12 months

Happy Black Friday everyone!!  Are you hitting the stores today?  I considered it, but I'm such a targeted shopper... I think I'll do better just shopping from home, so I'll probably spend a good bit of the day scouring Amazon's Black Friday deals.  I'm getting just a little bit obsessed with their "lightening deals."

Today I want to share a review of a board book that we read this week that has gone right onto my list of favorites for the very youngest readers:

Fisher-Price: Look at Baby!: Fun with Faces (Board book), by Emily Sollinger. When I saw the mirror on the cover, I knew we would love this book. One of the Infant Bibliophile's favorite books when he was younger was Nina Laden's Peek-a-Who, which had a mirror on the last page. We would prop it open on a quilt on the floor, and he'd practice crawling toward it. Later, he got into the habit of kissing the mirror every time he turned to that page. "Look at Baby!" has not one mirror, but four! The playfully illustrated pages ask little readers if they can wave hello, play peekaboo, blow a kiss, wiggle their noses, and wink.


"Frog likes to blow a kiss! / Can you blow a kiss?"

Bookworm's interest at 24 months: At two, he loves to read the book and follow the instructions (he's still trying to figure out how to wiggle his nose!). We must have read it at least 5 times in a row the first time. He would have loved this at a much younger age too, I'm sure.

Source: Review copy from publisher.

This book got me reminiscing about the first books to really catch our little guy's eye.  So, I decided to put together a list of the top 15 books -- 10 was too hard! -- that we recommend for ages 0-12 months, according to the Infant Bibliophile.  If you're a parent of a newborn or know someone who is expecting (or recently conceived), these books are fantastic gift choices.

1. 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.

Bookworm's interest at under 12 months: In addition to reading it, he always loved teething on this more than any other book, but it has held up well to the abuse.

2. Baby's First Library - Words (Hardcover), by Yoyo Books. The images in these First Library books are bright and simple.

Bookworm's interest at under 12 months: The bookworm really enjoyed flipping the thick pages himself, and he'd sit independently "reading" them (what a gift!). As he got older, he began to make connections between the items in the book and our house, like the globe and drum, and he liked to practice some of his sign language with the images too (like "hat").

Parent's Peeve: Why is there a banana in the fridge?

3. 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. The pages are full of a wide variety of fun photographs, organized by topics like "things that go," "bathtime," "bedtime," etc.

Bookworm's interest at 13 months: Now he loves to point to and identify objects in it, practicing his words or sign language.

4. Cloth Book Fluffy Chick (Touch and Feel Cloth Books), by Roger Priddy. This (and Fuzzy Bee and Friends, by the same author) were the only cloth books he liked much. The rhymes are cute, the cover is nicely crinkly, and the pages contain different tactile sensations, like a springy pigtail and a cushioned cow's nose.


"When the duck is swimming in the lake, "quack, quack," is the sound she'll make."

Bookworm's interest at under 12 months: He'd sit and play with this one while I made lunch when he was an infant.

Parent's Peeve: Fluffy chick isn't actually in the book.

5. Curious George at the Zoo A Touch and Feel TV Board Book (A Touch and Feel Book) (Board book), by H. A. Rey. This cute book about George hiding in various places around the zoo (and the animals around him) is full of fun textures. He seems to enjoy locating little George on each page (hiding behind a plant or in a basket, etc.) even more than the textures, with the exception of the last page. This has been pretty consistently one of his favorites.

Bookworm's interest at under 12 months: The "bumpy basket" on the last page was extremely appealing for awhile.

6. 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.


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

Bookworm's interest at under 12 months: This is one of our favorites.

7. 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.


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

Bookworm's interest at under 12 months: 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.

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.

8. 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. The bookworm has always liked this book.

Bookworm's interest at under 12 months: He doesn't pay any attention to the tags.

9. Fisher-Price: Look at Baby!: Fun with Faces (Board book), by Emily Sollinger. See review above. Definitely going on my list of books to buy for new babies.

10. 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. The little guy really enjoys flipping through it. Categories include "food and drink," "your body," and "things we wear," among others.

Bookworm's interest at under 12 months: Everything.

11. 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.


"Who says 'Moo?'"

Bookworm's interest at under 12 months: He loves the whole thing.

12. 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!"

Bookworm's interest at under 12 months: All, but especially the mirror at the end.

13. 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!"

Bookworm's interest at under 12 months: He likes the whole thing, and especially the flaps of course.

14. The Pudgy Peek-a-boo Book (A Pudgy Board Book) (Board book), by Amye Rosenberg. A cute, short board book - perfectly sized for tiny hands - with colorful drawings of cats and bunnies playing peek a boo.


"Look inside the basket./Look behind the door./Find a peek-a-boo friend./ And then find some more."

Bookworm's interest at 14 months: He especially likes the drawing of the cat hiding under the blanket at the end (since he likes to hide under a small quilt). But he smiles the whole time we read this one.

Parent's Peeve: Whoa is me. I've turned into someone who praises a book about bunnies and cats playing peekaboo. But he loves it, and that's what counts.

15. 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."

Bookworm's interest at under 12 months: He seems to like the whole book equally, but has become fascinated by mom's belly button since reading this book.

Note: numbers 1, 11, and 15 are small books that would fit well in a stocking.

I'll try to suggest book recommendations for different age ranges and interest areas throughout the coming month, to help with holiday shopping.  You can access a full list of all of the books we have reviewed by clicking here.  If you're looking for any book ideas, feel free to leave a comment, and we can all help each other.  

Are you buying any books (adult of children's) as gifts this year?  Are you hitting the stores for Black Friday?  Camping out by your computer, today or on "Cyber Monday"?  Leave a comment and let us know.

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