Monday, July 28, 2008

A Whole Pile of Picture Books

It's probably getting redundant and highly unoriginal to praise Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie books, but dang they're cute! He's put quite a few out, but the ones that we have read are "I Am Invited to a Party!" and "Today I Will Fly!" and both are fabulous. These books are labeled as early or emergent readers. Simple text for beginning readers and yet, these books are so much better than that description sounds. Something Willems excels at is his sense of humor and fun that permeates every book he writes. When I checked "I Am Invited to a Party!" from the library, I didn't expect much. I mean, we're talking very simple text easy enough for my not-yet-kindergartener to be able to read. How funny or complex can it be? Oh my, was I surprised and tickled pink. Mo Willems' drawings tell half the story themselves with wry facial expressions on Elephant and Piggie in "Today I Will Fly!" that cracked me up. Check out these books and be happy you did.

Speaking of cracking up, "Imogene's Antlers" by David Small was very funny and charming. Imogene wakes up one morning with a full set of antlers. Small also illustrates this book and it was so entertaining to see how Imogene copes with having antlers that are bigger than she is. And her mother fainting away every other page was hilarious. Not unlike what my reaction might be if my child woke up looking like an elk. My kids loved this book best of all the lot we got that week at the library. I've also decided that David Small is one of my newest favorite illustrators.

I don't know about you, but the word "whatever" has become one of those words that make my skin crawl. It's the epitome of apathy. "Whatever" by William Bee is about a little boy who says "whatever" about everything. Let's just say he gets what he deserves. Heaven help my kids if they ever start uttering the word.

The concept behind "Danny's Drawing Book" by Sue Heap is really cool. Danny and his friend Ettie go to the zoo. Danny draws a funny story about the animals he sees and when he draws in himself and Ettie, the book becomes Danny's drawing book. When the story is done, you flip and page and pop! you're back to Danny's world. You have to read it to see it.

Graphic novels and books are all the rage these days. Everybody is writing them. This is not quite in that style, but has the feel of it. I don't have boys, but I think I can relate to "A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever" by Marla Frazee. Most often, friends have fun because of being together, not because of the activities planned for them. I had to explain some of the visual jokes to my kids, but for the most part, it was a cute and fun read.

The title of this book caught my eye and since I know my kids so well, I grabbed it. "Badness for Beginners" by Ian Whybrow and Tony Ross is about the Wolf Family, namely Mom and Dad, Little and Baby. Baby also goes by Smellybreff since he is the stinkiest. How to wolves become so Big and Bad, you might wonder? Because their parents teach them, of course. Mom and Dad Wolf take their boys on an outing and teaching them how to be truly rotten at the same time. Smellybreff has a gift for the awful, but Little has to work at it. He keeps saying "thank you" and picking up after himself. A real disappointment to his parents, you see. My kids loved it.


  1. I'll have to add these to my list for our next trip to the library. I love children's books that are clever and unpredictable. Nothing turns me off from reading to my kids like having to read the same inane yawner over and over again!

  2. Thanks for more recommendations! I have a stack of super lame books from the library right now that I've been dreading to read to Jacob for the last 3 weeks, and now I have some choices that should be better.

  3. Those look good enough for a Grandma to borrow as well, just out of curiosity as to what my grandchildren are reading.