I wrote these reviews before creating this blog.
1. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, Mo Willems
I wouldn't call myself a die-hard Mo Willems fan. (His very popular Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
was only so-so at best. Maybe it will be funnier when Aaron is a little
older.) But Knuffle Bunny was easy to fall in love with.
quick summary, Trixie is a toddler, absolutely in love with her stuffed
bunny. Tragedy strikes when Knuffle Bunny is accidentally left at the
laundromat, but Trixie doesn't have the language skills to tell her
I can completely relate to the frustration of
communication barriers between toddler and parent. Aaron and Max LOVE
the page where Trixie desperately tries to make the words come out:
"Aggle, Flaggle, Klabble!" (or something like that). I have to read that
page over and over again, and it's always met with a duet of giggles.
The illustrations are very unique: ink sketches superimposed over photographs of Brooklyn. Unlike Soup Day, which also combines different artistic elements but in a random way, I love these pictures. Very fun.
And just for the record, in our house we've decided, after much
deliberation and research, that the correct pronunciation is
"Kuh-nuffle." We beg you to differ.
2. Press Here, Herve Tullet
book is so simple, why didn't I think of it myself? Seriously, WHY?! I
could have even provided my own illustrations...and there are not many
books I can say that about.
Really, this book is so clever in its
simplicity. It is interactive without any flaps, touch-and-feel, or
pop-outs. The concept is this: the reader is asked to "press here"...a
single yellow dot...and turn the page. Wonder of wonders, there are now
TWO yellow dots! Press the dot again, and now there are THREE. You get
the idea: by performing certain actions on the dot or the book, the
reader is led through all kinds of fascinating changes. And of course,
to a child, it looks like he's initiated all the changes.
I love it! Imagination WITHOUT having to tape back on the flaps or glue the pop-outs back together.
3. Bubble, Bubble, Mercer Mayer
grown up on nearly every Little Critter book available, I have always
loved Mercer Mayer. But this particular book is a newly acquired
The basic premise reminded me a lot of Chalk:
a boy buys some "magic" bubbles. He creates all kind of shapes and
pictures, including some dangerous animals. Using his quick wit, he
blows bigger bubble animals to scare off the others. Finally, he gets
tired of the game, and with one finger, he pop, pop, pops all the
The text is very simple, and the illustrations are
delightful. Maxwell loves bubbles, and it is one of the few words he can
say, so we have read this story quite a bit.
*There is something
about the cover that makes me feel so reminiscent...I'm not sure why
since I had never read the book until last week...I think it's just
Mercer Mayer's style.
4. The Seven Silly Eaters, Mary Ann Hoberman, illust. Marla Frazee
know how there are some books where you love the illustrations, but the
text is just downright awful?...like you're thinking, "someone was
actually paid to write that?!" or "the 'author' gets to be acknowledged
on the cover for writing three ridiculous sentences?" It can go the
other way, too...delightful text, poor illustrations.
is NOT one of THOSE books. I repeat, THIS is NOT one of THOSE books.
Both the text and the illustrations deserve awards, they're that clever
and adorable and memorable. Seriously, every time I read this book I
can't decide if I like the story or the pictures better. So, I give up.
I love them both. In fact, I wish I could quote a part of the text
here, but sadly, the book is back at the library, and my pregnant brain
can't remember it verbatim.
Anyway, anyone from a big family can
relate to this book (and if you didn't grow up in a big family, you'll
wonder, "is it really like that," and yes, it is). By the end of the
book, there are seven children, and each one has a favorite food (pink
lemonade for Lucy, homemade applesauce for Jack, etc.). Mrs. Peters is
simply frazzled by the end, trying to meet the demands of all her
"darling little Peters." I can well remember my own mom telling us that
she was not a short-order cook when we would make similar requests.
is one illustration that I particularly love: Mrs. Peters is at her
wit's end, and the house is an absolute disaster: overflowing bread
coming out of the oven, folded (and unfolded) laundry on the kitchen
table, dirty dishes everywhere...it just looks so real.
The book has a very sweet, very clever ending, which I won't spoil
here, but needless to say, this is a book I would highly recommend. Five
stars all the way.
5. Eating the Alphabet and Planting a Rainbow, Lois Ehlert
These are two books that, I'll admit, I'm a little surprised Aaron likes so much.
The first one, Eating the Alphabet,
showcases each letter of the alphabet by showing every fruit and
vegetable beginning with the showcased letter. Some letters, like "P,"
have four pages filled to the brim with yummy produce. Some letters,
like "X," get less than half a page because, honestly, can you think of
any fruit or vegetable that begins with "X"? (Well, there's
one...xigua...a type of watermelon grown in China; now you know.)
The second book, Planting a Rainbow,
goes through the process of planting a flower garden: planting the
bulbs, buying the seeds, watering the plants, and enjoying beautiful
bouquets of blossoms.
I guess my surprise comes because I never
suspected Aaron to have a fascination with swiss chard or papaya or
artichokes. I didn't know he would love zinnias and tulips and
So, in Aaron's love for these books, I have to give Lois Ehlert ALL the
credit. Her illustrations are so bold and bright, without any
unnecessary detail. Some artists you love for their lifelike depictions,
for all the little things they can pack onto a page. Lois Ehlert is the
opposite. You love her for all the things she chooses not to include and for her use of bold shapes and solid colors, with limited shading and shadows.
And just as a random fact: we tried swiss chard for the very first time yesterday. It's really not too bad.
6. Good Dog, Carl, Alexandra Day
has been a family favorite for a long time, but it has recently
reclaimed a prominent position in our most-read pile because Max is
currently obsessed with dogs. And I think it's his dream to have a dog
as his babysitter.
Carl, a Rottweiler I believe, is left in
charge of the baby while the mother runs a few errands. Carl is the
epitome of a good babysitter: he entertains, feeds, and bathes the baby.
Shortly before the mother gets home, Carl cleans up the house and puts
everything back in order. The mother finds everything exactly as she
We happen to have a Rottweiler that lives on the other
side of our duplex. I'm not thrilled about it. Rottweilers are big,
muscular, usually aggressive dogs, and I would never trust one alone
with my children. But there's something so lovable and endearing about
Carl, so he definitely gives his breed a good face!