Saturday, January 12, 2008

Rapid-fire Book Reviews, part 2: Picture Books

On this blog, I have reviewed several "grown up" books and a couple of children's novels. This time I decided to give children's picture books some time. With two Little Ones in the house, you can imagine that we read our share of these treasures each day. Here are some of our recent favorites.

I'm Dirty! by Kate and Jim McMullan. Isn't that a funny title? We discovered this one quite by accident, but it has become one of A's favorites. For our vacation last fall, we checked out "Mike Mulligan" DVD from the library that had the prequel, I Stink! on it. A (3yo) fell in love with the funny, grumpy, "trashy" book about a garbage truck. When I saw I'm Dirty - about a backhoe loader with an attitude - I just had to buy it for Christmas. We all love it, though Mommy and Daddy are going hoarse from reading it in the tough-guy voice it demands. Cute book with funny illustrations. There are several other titles in this series, and we plan to check out all of them.

The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman. Another funny title and fun book. Hoberman describes the picky, comical eating habits of one silly family. The illustrations alone tell the story - capturing with humor the essence of a harried mom busy with many children. The author uses rhyming verse to cleverly express each child's preferences. Here's a few lines about Lucy, one of the Silly Seven:
"She hated milk, both cold and hot,
And warm was worst of all. Instead
Whenever Lucy dear was fed,
She bellowed for pink lemonade,
Not from a can...
Oh, no..
A dear friend in my hometown recommended it just before Christmas, and I'm so glad she did. We have read this book as a family countless times already, and we always laugh!

The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett. Jan Brett's books are favorites in our house. I bought several copies of this one to give as Christmas gifts, and kept one to give to my own little K (19mo.) It is Brett's retelling of the Goldilocks story, set in the Arctic with an Inuit girl and three polar bears. The story is sweet and has the fun, repetitive elements ("somebody's been eating from my bowl...") that makes this tale so fun for preschoolers. The real treasure here is, of course, Jan Brett's rich illustrations and attention to detail. A book to own, not merely check out. A great addition to the family library.

Lost in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy by Carl R. Sams. When we visited the North Georgia Mountains last year, M (8) found the sweetest little plush deer at a gift shop. The clerk told us the little fawn was from a book called Lost in the Woods. We forgot about it for a year, then finally put it on the Christmas list. It is a precious book with gorgeous nature photographs, telling the story of a little lost deer, Tiny Star. Unlike the movie Bambi, however, this one has a happy ending. Gorgeous book, perfect for nature lovers.

Read Aloud Bible Stories, vol. 1 by Ella K. Lindvall. I have wanted these for years and finally, thanks to my dear sis-in-law, got volume 1 for Christmas. It is a large-sized hardcover book with bold, simple illustrations - easy for preschoolers to see, even if in a group. The stories are geared toward the younger set with repetitive language, rhyming, and sound effects. As the title hints, these stories are meant to be read aloud. Ms. Lindvall cleverly works in a little theology along with the stories - on an age-appropriate level. For example, we learn about the omniscience of God in the story of Zacchaeus (Jesus knew Zacchaeus was in that tree and He knew his name!) We learn about the omnipotence of God in the story of Jesus calming the wind and the waves. (Jesus has power over storms. He can take care of us.) Wonderful faith-building books. I hope to add the other three volumes to our collection as well.

I'm hoping the next reviews on this blog will be from my sons. We're working on writing skills and I'm going to have them review their current favorites. Until then, Happy Reading!


Wendy said...

I love Jan Brett books! I'll have to look into some of the other ones you listed. Thanks.

How are you liking "Grace Based Parenting?"

Mary@notbefore7 said...

I don't have any of these. I will have to write them down on a list to check out. Thanks Jennifer!

jennifer h said...

I'll have to look for these in the library. Since my youngest is now 4, I am trying not to add too many books to our picture book collection. But it is great to have some good ideas for library visits.

Kate said...

I love Jan Brett books too. We have almost all of them. Her art draws me in. Did you know you can get monthly emails from her site? There's tons to do there... check it out.

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

Yes, I've been on Jan Brett's list before. I love her site! We've used the ABC and calendar coloring pages several times! Her art draws me in, too. I love how each page has little "windows" showing the rest of the story.

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

Jennifer - We're all addicted to picture books and even though my eldest is 13, if I sit down to read A and K a picture book, they all still pile on to hear the story!

Mary - I think your girls would really get a kick out of the Silly Eaters!