Have begun work in earnest on a collection of artwork based on fairy tales and children’s poetry…
Introducing The Princess and the Pea!
Perhaps I am just a sucker for bemused looking animals, but Jon Klassen’s book I Want My Hat Back is one of my new all-time favorites. I mean, seriously. Just look at that bear’s face. It’s irresistibly droll. The book offers a simple story, really. No bells and whistles here. But for anyone with a slightly bent sense of humor and a great appreciation for clever writing, this is the book for you. Simply told, bear’s hat is missing. And he’s not too thrilled with the situation. Using the age-old repetitive trope of such classics as The Gingerbread Man and The Little Red Hen, the creatures of the forest encounter the peeved bear one by one, offering little-to-no guidance on his chapeau search. That is, until a graceful deer triggers a faint memory in the bear’s fuzzy brain. And with that, the true mystery of the hat takes off on little furry feet. And don’t even ask me what happens to the bunny. I’m not telling. You’ll just have to immediately go out and buy this adorably naughty book and find out for yourself.
For anyone who has not yet encountered the wonderfulness of the “Who Was….” series of biographical children’s books, it’s never too late to get your kids addicted to them. These books, with subjects ranging from Jim Henson to Albert Einstein, make history fun for your little ones. They’re well-written, easy to read chapter books with fascinating and entertaining information on every page. And in honor of the upcoming President’s Day weekend, I thought I’d send a special shout-out to our dear ole George. Roberta Edwards’ biography of our first President includes all of the pertinent information history buffs require with a lot of extra fun facts that your kids will eat up. They’re great for every day reading, and FABULOUS for book reports…Start a collection today – your kids will thank you for it!
To prove the point that love is out there for everyone, I’d like everyone to sit down right this instant and read my favorite Valentine’s Day book of all time, A Sweetheart for Valentine. I grew up absolutely loving this book, published in 1979, and have continued my love affair with it to this day. In the tiny village of St. Valentine, a great and howling noise wakes the residents – and they come to find a giant baby girl deposited on the steps of the village hall. A kind and generous village, the people decide right then and there to adopt this rather large child and raise her the best they can – feeding her enormous amounts of food, making her clothes from whatever they can find to fit and loving her collectively with tenderness and understanding as to her big-boned frame. But when sweet Valentine is old enough to marry, can they find a suitably-sized suitor? Lorna Balian’s sweet book is a testament to finding love in the least likely of places and a wonderful tale to share with your loved ones on Valentine’s Day. (Plus, Balian’s illustrations of Valentine’s giant pink fanny are sure to elicit a few giggles. )
So, basically, Shel Silverstein can do no wrong. From The Giving Tree (which, incidentally I starred in as the tree in my 4th grade assembly) to Where the Sidewalk Ends and every line of verse in between, Silverstein is the best children’s authors can be. He’s fun, irreverent, brilliant, a little bit naughty and every bit a genius. And today I want to recommend one of my favorite Silverstein books, The Missing Piece not only because it is beautifully written and illustrated in that completely signature Silverstein way, but because it offers one of the most valuable lessons a child (or adult for that matter) can learn in one’s lifetime – that fulfillment, completion and self-worth are entirely within our own hearts. And somehow, that deep philosophical notion is made abundantly clear in a few simple line drawings of a circle with a chunk missing from it. It’s amazing what children’s books can do. And even more amazing what Silverstein can accomplish with his pen. Need more Silverstein in your day? Take a peek at his wonderful web site..www.shelsilverstein.com.
Happy Women’s History Month, everyone! To celebrate, I’d like everyone to raise a glass or sippy cup as the case may be and toast all of the remarkable women who have contributed to the proud progress of our country. And what better way to celebrate that with this fabulous alphabet book, A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women. By utilizing the alphabet as a springboard, this book catalogs the achievements and success of a bevy of groundbreaking women – from Abigail Adams to Sandra Day O’Connor to Emily Dickinson to Nellie Bly. It’s a treasure trove of information all brought to you by none other than Lynne Cheney. Yes, that Lynne Cheney (with whom I worked in my younger, more impressionable days) – and whether you like her (or her husband) or not is irrelevant in the presence of this wonderful little book. Robin Preiss Glasser provides much-appreciated whimsy and delight with her illustrations. Overall, a great book to check out this month to teach all of our little ones just how fabulous we gals can be.
Last night at dinner, we were talking about my son’s impending slumber party and the excitement inherent in such an adventure. Pizza! Movies! Cake with store-bought frosting! And I remembered my own delight at the prospect of slumber parties growing up – playing “light as a feather stiff as a board”, my friend Damara’s mother reading Edgar Allen Poe stories to us in our sleeping bags (the coolest mom ever!)…And my husband remembered, all those years ago, reading a book about sleeping over at someone’s house, but couldn’t quite remember the name of it, but it had a little boy and a teddy bear. Fast forward to a trip to Barnes and Noble and a walk down memory lane, and you’ve got Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber. How could I have ever forgotten this little gem of a book? In it, a little boy named Ira is excited beyond belief for an upcoming sleepover at his friend Reggie’s house. But when his older sister asksif he’ll be taking his teddy bear, Tah Tah, to Reggie’s house, Ira starts to wonder what his friend’s reaction could be to this. Will Reggie make fun of him? Will he want to be friends anymore? Ira decides to leave Tah Tah at home, only to find that Reggie has a little secret of his own…and the two friends share a wonderful, touching moment together. Written in 1975, Waber’s book not only stands the test of time for any child today – but it lingers in the memories of nostalgic grown-ups too…