Saturday, February 23, 2013

Super Hero Early Readers

Do you have a reluctant reader on your hands?  Trying character-based early readers can be a great way to (re)ignite their love of reading.  We had a slight lull in the Bibliophile's interest in reading last year, and Star Wars early readers were a life saver.  We moved onto graphic novels and character encyclopedias, and then were able to interest him in a variety of subject material again.  Super heroes have never been our thing (they were deemed "too scary"), but we've recently started trying a few from the library, and they have been well received.

Wonder Woman Classic: I Am Wonder Woman (I Can Read Book 2) - nothing to be scared of here.  Both of my children were really interested to learn about Wonder Woman, who apparently they hadn't been exposed to before.

Here is what my 5 year old son has to say about it:
"so, i think that it is sneaky. because she does not want to become queen, so she is a superhero on pages 10, 11 and 12. she has somthing like a wondercar on pages 18 and 19. (compared to the batmobile.)"

Superman Classic: I Am Superman (I Can Read Book 2) -- from the same series.  Because my kids are not all that familiar with super heroes, these introductory "I am..." books are perfect for them.

Thanks to HarperCollins, we've also been sent a few more advanced super hero picture books recently, and the Infant Bibliophile has taken to them.

Superman Classic: Attack of the Toyman -- A toyman put out of business goes on a rampage, until Superman comes to the rescue (of course) and stops him.  We giggle every time we read it at the fact that Lois Lane doesn't recognize Clark Kent as superman, just because he changed his clothes.

Batman Classic: Fowl Play - IB had been reluctant to read this one, thinking it seemed scary, but he just plowed through it by himself a few minutes ago and said he liked it.  The Penguin has been training birds in an underground aviary and sending them out to commit strange crimes.  Of course, Batman takes charge and saves the day. 

Infant Bibliophile says:
"so, he looks funny. he has a clear colored eyepatch/monacle. ...he is like toyman, because he likes toys. and umbrella tricks... i can't think of any more..."
I love that character books like these tend to be inexpensive (less than $5), and really well received by little readers.  I think it would be a mistake if this kind of literature was the only exposure given to children, but they can be a great tool to engage a children's interest in reading, particularly for "reluctant readers".

Disclosure: We were provided copies of the last two books in this post at no cost in order to review them.  If you click on any links in this post and purchase anything, we will earn a small commission through our affiliate relationship with

An Awesome Book of Love!

A few years ago, we read and enjoyed An Awesome Book!, by Dallas Clayton, so we were really excited to have the chance to review An Awesome Book of Love! this month.  It is one of those rare books that pulls off sentimentality without (too much) sap.  It is silly, fun, sweet, and a whole lot of fun to read. I find myself hoping the kids will choose it for me to read aloud to them.

And you know / I'm aglow / with a smile on my face / when I wonder / what magic / you'll make of this place / of this town / of this world / you'll transform your surrounding / that spirit inside you / is truly astounding.

Son (age 5)(in his own words/typing): I think that it is kinda funny,  beacuse after this 1 part, it says:"i love you i love you". It makes it out of beeds,  then paint,  then leaves, then yarn,  then wood, then blocks,  then stitched from a sewing machine.

Daughter (age 2): she likes it too.  No part stands out for her, but she pays attention throughout the book.

Overall, this is a fun book with a beautiful message.  If you like this, you might also like:
An Awesome Book!
An Awesome Book of Thanks!
More on author Dallas Clayton

Companion Activity -- 
Spell "I Love You" out of toys and objects around your house (in keeping with some of the illustrations in the book):

Disclosure: we received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost in order to review it.  If you click on any of the links in this post and purchase anything,

Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: Little Sweet Potato


Little Sweet Potatois a charming story about a sweet potato who accidentally becomes separated from his home/garden patch, and struggles to find a place to belong.  Along the way, he meets some not so welcoming strangers ("And the fact is, you are dumpy, bumpy, and kinda lumpy.  What I'm trying to say, pal, is -- scram . . . He didn't know the world has such mean vegetation in it."  At the end, he finally finds his way home, to a welcoming motley crew of veggies and flowers.

What we thought of it:

Mom: I thought it was cute, and fun to read aloud.  I especially liked this passage: "'Some just like their own kind,' one of the pansies said sweetly.  'But we're the kind that like all kinds.'" 

"Infant Bibliophile" (Age 5): i really like this page. it says:"you're so nice," said sweet potato."i met some flowers that looked just like you, but they weren't very nice."some are, some aren't,"said a friendly carrot. "we are." and i love this page that says "that's how it is, kid," said a gleaming eggplant. "it's not all mulch and sunshine out there."
"oh, i know, said little sweet potato." which is right next to it this way: --------->

Baby Sister (Age 2): She says she liked it.  She rates it a 2.  But that's only because she is 2, so she answers "2" to any numeric question.

Suggested Activities:
Eat some fresh sweet potato, of course!  Bake it, mash it,or  try sweet potato french fries, sweet potato chips, or some sweet potato muffins.  You can also use sweet potatoes to make sweet potato stampers, or a homemade Mr. (Sweet) Potato Head!

Disclosure: We were provided a copy of this book by the publisher at no cost in order to review it.  If you click on any of the links above and purchase anything, we may earn a small commission from

Sunday, February 3, 2013

We heart Fancy Nancy!

Every now and then, I pick up a book series that we haven't ever read, despite having heard it mentioned many times.  We recently discovered Fancy Nancy.  Love!  Harper Collins (thank you!) has sent us a beginner reader (Too Many Tutus)
, a four-book paperback set called Fancy Nancy: The Wonderful World of Fancy Nancy (including Explorer Extraordinaire, Poet Extraordinaire, Aspiring Artist, and Ooh La la! It's Beauty Day) and a chapter book (Secret Admirer).  Quick reviews appear below.  Both of my children (ages two and five) will sit and read them with me, cuddled up on either side of the book.  They have requested a few of these many times; luckily, the ones that they enjoy the most are also the most educational titles.

In case we are not the last family on the planet to have read a Fancy Nancy book, "Fancy Nancy" is a loveable, glamour-loving little girl who loves all things "fancy," including fancy words, which makes the Fancy Nancy books great for vocabulary-building.

Too Many Tutus-- our first Fancy Nancy book.  A cute story about Nancy trading in some of her tutus at a school swap (for... more, but less, tutus!).  Nice message about thoughtfulness, as two of the girls want the same, single tutu.

Fancy Nancy: The Wonderful World of Fancy Nancy-- Includes the next four titles:

Fancy Nancy: Explorer Extraordinaire!-- Nancy and her friends form a club and explore birds, flowers, butterflies, leaves, etc.  Very educational and cute.  We like this one very much.

Fancy Nancy: Poet Extraordinaire!-- Nancy explores different types of poetry, including trying to write her own, despite a case of writer's block.  This is probably the kids' favorite, and I love how much they are learning every time they read it (again and again).

Fancy Nancy: Aspiring Artist-- Very educational, as Nancy learns about different types of art.  My children loved seeing Nancy do some Jackson Pollock painting in the backyard.  This might be my favorite (tied with Poet Extraordinaire). 

Here are my little artists doing some Jackson Pollock painting of their own last year:

Fancy Nancy: Ooh La La! It's Beauty Day-- Nancy gives her mother a makeover.  An entertaining read.  Her mother handles Nancy's ministrations admirably.  Not my favorite of the bunch, because it isn't as educational as some of the others, but still a fun read.

Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Secret Admirer-- We have only read the first chapter of this one so far (It is more difficult to read chapter books with my 2-year old around, and when I have 1-on-1 reading time with the 5 year old, he is opting for Star Wars books lately).  But I am mentioning it here to highlight that chapter books exist.  "Nancy Clancy and her best friend, Bree, have love on the brain -- after all, they're learning about the human heart in science class!  But when the girls decide to play matchmaker, nothing works out as planned.  So the big question is: Will love conquer all?"

Comment: Do you like Fancy Nancy books?  What other undiscovered series should we check out?! 

Disclosure: I was provided copies of all of the above books at no cost in order to write this review.  If you click on any links in this post and purchase anything, I may earn a small commission through my affiliate relationship with