For my art classes, I’m constantly on the look-out for great children’s art books..and Louvre Up Close by Clare d’Harcourt is one of my all-time favorites. In this oversized book, children can really dive in head-first to the best works of the Louvre and play a scavenger hunt along the way. Each two page spread features a piece of art (Mona Lisa, Egyptian Sarcophogi, Snyder’s The Fishmongers, etc) with 10 magnified details for the child to find. Then, in the back of the book, each piece of art is described in detail with an open-the-flap feature that is sure to keep those little ones asking for more. With more than 200 details to find within the book, it’s like an up close and personal tour of the Louvre (minus the croissants you’d inevitably eat after visiting…)
A special thank you to my friend Ally for pointing me in the direction of this wonderful book…Hooway for Wodney Wat is the story of Rodney Rat who, as you could have probably guessed, cannot pronounce his “r’s”. Hence…Wodney Wat. Surely a cruel joke of fate for both of his names to begin with that ever-elusive letter…and Wodney certainly bears the brunt of the teasing and giggling at school. That is, until Camilla Capybara comes to school – and announces that she’s the biggest, meanest and smartest rodent in town. A not-so-friendly game of Simon Says ensues and, lo and behold, Wodney’s pronunciation is the key to successfully humbling Miss Camilla. For anyone who, like my younger son, has a bit of trouble with those dastardly “r’s” or for anyone who just needs a little reassurance that everything is going to be alright, Hooway for Wodney Wat is a remarkably clever and inspiring tail….I mean, tale.
For any parent who’s ever wondered, just who exactly is the boss around here, Marla Frazee’s adorable book, “The Boss Baby” is the one for you. In it, Boss Baby wrecks havoc over the household. He’s demanding, deafening and downright dastardly. And no matter what his parents do, he still wants more, more, more! That is, until the two sole members of his tyrannical corporation faint from exhaustion and Boss Baby must resort to some pretty quick (and polite) thinking to get his staff back on track. Frazee’s text and inimitable illustrations (Boss Baby sports a three-piece suit onesie with a diaper-friendly drop seat) are the key to the success of this little book. And just a suggestion…”Boss Baby” also makes a great gift for first-time parents who probably aren’t yet ready to admit they have a Boss Baby of their own…
Now, I’m not one to be overly effusive about the seemingly endless number of 3-D items made lately (what’s next? a 3-D adaptation of Jane Eyre? “Look out, Rochester! Your mad wife is reaching her pale, white hand out into the audience!”)…..Some things are best left in the realm of 2D…BUT I must insist that you all run out today and purchase a copy of Marie Javins’ “3-D Atlas and World Tour”. This little book, complete with its own fold-out 3-D glasses, breathes new life into the otherwise neglected genre of the world atlas – making all of the greatest parts of our world literally pop! The Grand Canyon? In 3-D! The peaks of Nepal? In 3-D! And the best part is all of the wonderful information that Javin’s puts in to accompany the thrills and chills of each picture. This is 3-D at its best.
It was a day like any other. Mr. Plumbean was enjoying a lovely morning when, out of the blue, a large seagull flies over and drops a can of orange paint right on his roof. Mr. Plumbean quite likes the shock of orange, but his neighbors, who all live in identical brown houses, are aghast and agog. Like a meeting of a Manhattan co-op board, his neighbors decide that Mr. Plumbean must re-paint his house this instant or incur the wrath of the community. And, oh, Mr. Plumbean paints. But he paints with large splotches of colors – blues and purples and reds and even adds a few pretty girls and elephants to the mix. He paints, as he says, a house that looks like “all my dreams” and encourages his neighbors to do the same. What results is a beautiful example of trying something new and sharing that spirit with those around you. D. Manus Pinkwater (what a fab name!) has given us a great tale of bucking the system and creating a space all your own.
In a world of disposable goods and overflowing trash barges, it’s nice once in a while to come across a beautiful, award-winning book that touts the merits of saving and re-using. Long before recycling was even cool, the titular Joseph understood that when things become old, you shouldn’t just throw them away. You can create something new and wonderful out of them! In Simms Taback’s Caldecott Medal book, “Joseph Had a Little Overcoat”, based on a Yiddish song from Taback’s childhood, Joseph wears his overcoat until it gets so old and shabby he must make it into a jacket. When that jacket loses its luster, Joseph makes it into a vest. And so on and so forth until all that’s left is a button which has its own clever uses. Stunningly illustrated and easily singable, Taback’s book is a beautifully crafted fable that will hopefully raise new conversations with our children about the beauty of finding value in something old.
For anyone who has ever had “one of those days” this is the book for you. As grown-ups, those days might be called “Ran out of Gas Day” or “Hair Dryer Broke Day” or even “Toilet Overflowed Day.” But for children, as Amy Krouse Rosenthal so beautifully writes, those days include “Not Big Enough Day” and, even worse, “Nobody’s Listening to You Day.” Like a laundry list of really awful holidays, Rosenthal’s book depicts each potential rotten day with insight and, above all, humor. The book is blessed with Rebecca Doughty’s cartoon-like drawings, which perfectly capture each grimace, groan and “grrr” of the afflicted children. Grown-ups and children alike can both have their days completely derailed by one little thing – like the day my sweater fell in the toilet in 4th grade – and this morning when my toothbrush did. And this lovely little book reminds us that it’s OK to have one of those days. And there’s always tomorrow…
First of all, oodles of thank yous to Victoria for recommending this book to me. It is indeed a treasure and one I am so excited to add to my list of favorite books…Meet Henry – a bear who embodies the spirit of Thoreau and who, in his big hat and red coat, decides to walk the long journey to Fitchburg. His friend, a rather sophisticated city-dweller, opts to take the train and from there we are lucky to witness their differing paths. Much like his namesake, Henry admires the beauty of the walk – the creatures, the flowers, the blue sky. While his locomotive-bound friend misses all the wonder of the adventure by just not stopping to see it. Never before has a children’s book author so effectively brought the true meaning of “Walden” to a young audience and D. B. Johnson’s book is the perfect introduction. Sit with your child, savor that moment of closeness and read this book with your eyes wide open. You’ll find the treasures within just as I did.
When poor little Jack is invited to the Princess’ birthday party, he can’t imagine why. What could he possibly bring as a present that would please the Princess? But Jack is a clever, resourceful little guy, and he bakes the Princess the most beautiful, delicious cake the world has ever seen and sets off by foot for the fiesta. Tragedy strikes in the form of crows, trolls, bears…a whole menagerie who eat and ruin his gorgeous cake. So when Jack finally arrives, empty-handed, at the party, he has nothing for her but the tale of the hungry forest creatures and the ill-fated baked good. Surprisingly, his story, told so vividly and entertainingly, is the Princess’ favorite present. Which just goes to show you that a good story beats out a cake any day of the week. (Unless of course it’s a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting in which case we may have to make some adjustments…) Author Candace Fleming and illustrator G. Brian Karas have created a wonderful tale of the power of the spoken word. A treasure for the entire family!