Thursday: Ira Sleeps Over

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…

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Friday: You Wouldn’t Want to be Sick in the 16th Century

I don’t know about you, but January and February have been chock-full of colds, coughs, sore throats, vomit, stomach aches and the occasional rash. Seems we just recover from one nasty bug and another one is slowly crawling up our leg. It could be worse, though. We could be sick in the 16th Century and encounter all of the grotesque ways in which doctors of the time attempted to cure unsuspecting folks. Who knew there was such a bevy of repulsive health care practices? Well, apparently Kathryn Senior knew, and wrote her book, You Wouldn’t Want to be Sick in the 16th Century: Diseases You’d Rather Not Catch – a veritable encyclopedia of disgusting medical facts that is just one in a series of You Wouldn’t Want to be… children’s books available. We’ve read You Wouldn’t Want to be a Pyramid Builder (severe rope burn), You Wouldn’t Want to be a Greek Athlete (athlete’s foot galore) and You Wouldn’t Want to be  Salem Witch (is it getting hot in here or is it just me?)…and now we can add the 16th Century to our braintrust of oogey facts. This book series is definitely not for the squeamish and definitely for an older set of kids, but if you’re ready for a richly revolting romp back in time, these books are for you! Cough Cough. Oh, no, not again…

Thursday: Do Not Open This Book

In the spirit of Mo Willem’s Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (which, if you haven’t read it is just one in a series of the most delightful children’s books anywhere…just ask my children), Michaela Muntean’s hilarious book, Do Not Open This Book, gives kids free reign to disobey. A rather disgruntled pig is attempting to write a book, but can’t seem to get any work done since kids keep turning the pages on him. And while he becomes more and more agitated, your kids will become more and more delighted by the idea of driving this poor pig to absolute insanity. The fantasy elements of the pig nailing words to the wall to keep them from falling off the page and the subtext of having to choose one’s words carefully when telling a successful story are all part of what make this little book so entertaining. That, and Pascal Lamaitre’s cartoon-like illustrations bring the pig and his ever-growing frustrations to life. (For those of you old enough to remember the Sesame Street book Please Do Not Open This Book, featuring Grover and a bevy of furry monsters, the premise will seem similar…and yet it’s nice to see a new and different version done so well…) I dare you not to open this book. And I double dog dare you not to love it.