Category: Books for Kids

A pocket full of books

Games on the iPhone are nice, having books on hand make you feel a little less guilty about trying to keep the kid occupied on mile-long supermarket checkout lines. Now you can always have books on hand without carting around pounds of hardbacks: PicPocket Books adapts great kids’ books for the iPhone, and they start at just a buck apiece in iTunes. You can read the stories aloud or turn on the built-in narration, and kids can learn along as each spoken word is highlighted, too. Sure, there’s a little bit of (subtle) animation, in some stories, and sometimes...

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Not your same old Nutcracker story

We’ve amassed quite the collection of Christmas-themed picture books, but I’m always on the lookout for cool new titles to replace some of the ones we were given when the kids were little (I’m looking at you, Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Merry Christmas). Perennial CMP favorite publisher, and beloved 2009 Holiday Gift Guide sponsor, Chronicle Books, has just released the new A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas which looks like it will make a lovely addition to our collection of holiday stories. With a whimsical new spin on the original tale (you know, a girl, her prince, and a whole lot of...

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Last minute gift idea – A book of the month club with no lame choices

Last year, we recommended the Gift Lit book of the month series as a cool children’s gift, and it still is. But it makes smart last-minute gift for a fully grown adult too. You can just tell the thoughtful book choices in each series have been curated by a panel of librarians and publishing experts, and not someone trying to push best-sellers or remnant books. I know quite a few relatives of mine who would enjoy that history series of books; the favorites for women actually do justice to the category name; and the food + wine series has...

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A trip around the world this Christmas for $19.99? Sign me up.

I don’t do much overseas traveling. Okay, none, really. And I can’t even blame my kids, since I barely did it before they were born, either. A passionate desire for a reduced carbon footprint or sheer laziness? I’ll let you decide.   But, I have to admit, my kids might like to venture out of the country once in a while. So, while I intend to remain close to home this holiday season, the least I can do is expose them to the rest of the world from the comfort of our story corner.  Barefoot Books now offers a lovely...

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Love the children’s book? Get the artwork.

We’ve been keeping our eyes open for those extra special holiday gifts, like for a baby’s first Christmas. I’m very intrigued by Picture Book Originals which offers which offers original illustrations and signed giclee prints from children’s picture books. It’s not like you’re going to find Maurice Sendak here – or not yet, anyway. Publishing vet and mom of two Anna Johnson has assembled five artists for starters, including a nice selection of signed Rosemary Wells illustrations which Max & Ruby fans like my kids will appreciate. Prices go from very affordable up into the hundreds, but there’s also...

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Oh! what a cool book

Browsing the Picasso Museum gift shop in Barcelona last week (I know, totally rubbing it in) I came across the most wonderful little book called Oh! by Josse Goffin. I had an idea that my two year-old wouldn’t be able to put it down and indeed, that’s just how it’s played out. Each spread has a colorful, happy, quirky illustration of one thing — say, a smiling moon — but when you open a flap it reveals the moon transforming into something totally new and wonderful and weird, like a snake holding a paddle ball racket. Each page conceptually...

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And then he ate the naughty children. The end.

Pat the Bunny is the essential baby gift book for about a zillion people–including me–so it’s not surprising that it’s spawned a number of parodies. Now there’s one more to add to the list: The very funny Pat the Beastie. Henrik Drescher’s outrageous “pull and poke book” is actually a cautionary tale about being nice to pets, although kids may be too busy jiggling the beastie’s eyes or pulling out his worm boogers (seriously, ew) along with Paul and Judy to get the message. This isn’t one for kids who are easily freaked out, but my two and four...

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More scanimation, please.

I am so excited about artist Rufus Butler Seder’s third “scanimation” book, Waddle!. Um, I mean my kids are. If you’re not familiar with these so cool they’re almost magic books, they blend engaging rhyming prose about animals with graphic images that give the illusion of animating when the previous page is turned. My kids can hardly resist acting out the alliterative, evocative descriptions, whether they’re prancing like a pig or slithering like a snake, and it is probably the only thing keeping them from fighting over who gets to turn the page next. Plus the cheeky ending about...

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Let’s hear it for the girls!

CD audiobooks, or what I still call “books on tape,” are my secret weapon against boredom in the car. Our newest gem is Tell Me a Story 3: Women of Wonder which follows in the footsteps of its much loved predecessors, Tell Me a Story and Tell Me a Story 2: Animal Magic. And, as the mother of two girls, I am thrilled that the heroes of these new stories by Amy Friedman are actually heroines. In just over an hour’s drive, my kids move from Cambodia to Turkey to the old, Wild West in these six stories culled...

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Go ahead, kids, draw on the art

Even though I realize that the amazing Charley Harper Coloring Book is intended for younger audiences, it’s so sophisticated that I can’t help but want to save a couple of pages for me. American illustrator Charley Harper’s “minimal realism” style, which I gushed about after seeing his ABC book, makes for a wonderful coloring book. The pictures are detailed but not fussy, which means my older kids and littlest scribbler can all enjoy deciding what colors to make his happy dog, little bird or delicate ladybug. And, as someone whose refrigerator is absolutely covered in my kids’ works of...

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A female pirate? Ahoy.

We love Oliver Chin, author of the Tales from the Chinese Zodiac Series. In his latest book, Baltazar and the Flying Pirates, Chin teams up with illustrator (and blogger!) Justin Roth in this, um, high-flying tale of adventure and fortune. The best part? The head pirate, Captain Redlocks, is a redheaded woman. Oh yes she is. And she captains the Cutlass, the fastest ship in the skies. Because not only men can be all swarthy and adventurous and brandish swords and wear cool black eye patches. (Does anyone besides me see a hat tip to My Lady’s Cutlass, the...

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The gift the kids will love to ruin

With the kids heading back to school, the birthday party circuit will be starting up again. If your kid is old enough to read, you may understand my temptation to give other kids books rather than more toys. The problem is that while their parents might love you for it, not every kid is delighted to receive a book. Except that every kid will be delighted to receive this book: Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal. It’s a masterpiece manual of embracing creativity and bucking the ordinary, and entirely made to be destroyed. Really! So yes, by all means, write...

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Personalized children’s books you could hang on the walls

I’m pretty sure there’s nothing most kids love more than seeing their name or likeness in anything, hence the slew of personalized books that cram my daughter’s bookshelves. Her most recent birthday gift was a personalized book found at MJM Books, a cool company founded by three brothers. (Matt, Jeff, and Mike – get it?)  What’s special about these custom books is that they incorporate real artwork by real artists – no clip art or photoshopping at all. The cute stories all made to order and printed on recycled paper, seamlessly infuse your kiddo’s name and likeness; all you...

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Read it again (and again and again and again)

We’ve all been there; the kid has found his Most Favorite Book Ever, and he wants to hear it over and over. Sure, you were a patient and loving model parent the first 5,000 times, but after that I think you get a pass. With One More Story, not only your kid get his book fix, he can start learning how to read on his own, too. Their online library of awesome children’s books (about 50 so far of both old classics and new favorites) allows your child to view and listen to the actual book pages on screen,...

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Comicon fans, this one’s for you. Or your kids.

From skateboard and sneaker design to children’s picture books, Australian artist Luke Feldman has created quite a cult following of his waif-like illustrated characters known as Skaffs. They hang in the Cartoon Art Museum, they delight hipster animation fans, and now they come to life in the vibrant children’s book Chaff n’ Skaffs: Mai and the Lost Moskivvy, created along with illustrator and co-author Amanda Chin. Mai (the lead Skaff in this story) heads on an outrageous adventure with her strange, large, round, gray, top hat-wearing Chaff pal and escort Moskivvy, the lost Australian mosquito, while meeting monks and...

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A gift for the littlest graduate (or maybe even bigger ones)

If you’re looking for a graduation gift for the preschooler in your life – or even the high schooler who’s not so cool she can’t appreciate a sweet children’s book –  Peep: A Little Book About Taking a Leap gets a big thumbs up from me. Maria van Lieshout’s charming story of a baby chick trying to follow his mom down off a big scary curb wlll captivate kids with the old “try, try again” theme. Think The Little Engine that Could meets the Mo Willems’ pigeon books, but without the edge. I love the adorably sparse art direction...

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Rabbit season. Duck season. Rabbit season. Duck season.

The wonderful Duck! Rabbit! is the newest book from the prolific Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who you might know for children’s books like Little Pea or even her wonderful adult book, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. In this title, she’s teamed up with pirates-and-monsters artist Tom Lichtenheld to breathe new life into the classic duck/rabbit optical illusion. Are those phalanges a duck’s bill or a rabbit’s ears? Is the eye facing left or right? The (heated) discussion continues between two unseen narrators on every page. Though she has no opinion regarding whether it’s a DUCK! or RABBIT! my daughter likes it best when I change up...

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Art + poetry = more than just another alphabet book

I recently got a look at Alphabetica: Odes to the Alphabet,  Diana Spieker and Krista Skehan’s mind-blowing alphabet book filled with multisyllabic metaphors and modern, deep-inked illustrations. This book bursts with detail. Each page contains more than twenty individual pictures, and the poet in me appreciates the meter and complexity of each stand-alone verse. You could easily pull out any page and frame it. Alphabetica started as a collection of whimsical poems written by Spieker for her baby son. Spieker thought maybe she’d taken the collection down to the local copy shop and have them bound up as a...

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Read only the best, seriously.

I bet you’ve wondered how we find the great children’s books we review here at Cool Mom Picks. Well, we will share one hot tip: Bookmark sites like the brand new One Potato. This children’s book site is like literary nirvana for book-loving parents. Jay Bushara, a Columbia-educated SAHD features up to ten forgotten or stand-out kids’ books a week, and I find they are always worth reading.  It’s a great way to bring back truly worthy kids’ books and avoid a sea of badly rhymed grocery store endcaps. (My daughter loves those, too.) And of course, you can...

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Get a green start to your Earth Day

This year for Earth Day, instead of confusing my four year-old son with talk of his “carbon footprint,” I plan to mark the day by sharing the four age-appropriate “Green Start” board books from Innovative Kids. The adorable soy-based ink illustrations seem to pop off the thick brown pages that are made almost entirely from recycled materials. I love the smooth, substantial feel of these board books, which will withstand a toddlers’ rough handling and a baby’s tendency to turn everything into a teething toy. Each Green Start kids’ book covers a different topic, like One Tree, which teaches...

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B is for Blondie

I completely understand that repetition breeds learning, but seriously, can someone come up with something other than the extremely original A is for Alligator and B is for Bumblebee? Well leave it to the Aussies to shake things up with Never Mind Your Ps and Qs: Here’s the Punk Alphabet the much anticipated sequel to M is for Metal. Definitely not for the easily offended, this book takes you from A to Z, punk rock style. Your kids will be schooled in the likes of Sid Vicious and Iggy Pop, all through bold and bright illustrations and hilarious rhyming...

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The incredible, edible, obedient egg

Raising two voracious but sometimes picky readers, I’ve learned that there are a few factors that go into a guaranteed successful kids’ board book: Simple concepts, not too many words on each page, and ideally, anything a kid can touch/move/smell/poke/feel or otherwise interact with. Well hooray for Barney Saltzberg (yes, that Barney Saltzberg) who nailed them all with his lovely new interactive board book, Good Egg. Toddlers will have a blast declaring “Good egg!” each time that they lift a flap or pull a tab to make the hero egg of the story sit, roll over, and even speak....

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Hip Hop Speaks to Children (and their parents)

I thought I knew what hip hop was, but after picking up the kids’ CD-and-book set Hip Hop Speaks to Children, I have a whole new appreciation for this diverse and often moving art form of “poetry with a beat.” Edited by poet, writer and activist Nikki Giovanni, this children’s book gave my decidedly white family a glimpse of what it means to grow up black in America–not in some dry, textbooky way, but through incredibly creative poetry and a toe-tapping beat. With fifty poems from the likes of Maya Angelou and Ja Jahanes on colorful, full-page illustrations, my...

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Keeping them in the tub without having to sing

I don’t know about you, but I can only reprise the entire Annie soundtrack for so long without wishing for amazing tricks to keep my daughter motivated to scrub. And now, I can. By whipping up amazing dinosaurs (yes, dinosaurs) with Jurassic Towel Origami by Alison Jenkins.  The author of the original Little Book of Towel Origami expands her focus to plesiosaurs, pteranodons and saber-toothed tigers in this step-by-step instruction book complete with helpful photos and educational little factoids about each prehistoric creature. All you need is milk cartons, buttons, and you know — towels. – Rita Find Alison...

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Double-dare you not to love this book

When The Daring Book for Girls came out, I bought copies not just for my own girls, but for their friends.  If I could have afforded it, I would have gone around handing out the book like a missionary. Authors Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz are back starting today with a new compilation of how-to and how-come tidbits that every girl ought to know.  From inspirational stories about daring women throughout history to step-by-step directions for classic games and cool tricks, The Double-Daring Book for Girls takes the daring phenomenon to the next level for our female future leaders....

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Francophiles rejoice, for Nicholas is here. And he speaks English too.

Every kid needs a Nicholas in his life. That is, the endearing French storybook by René Gosciny (of Asterix and Obelix fame) with charming illustrations by the beloved New Yorker cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempé. The series was an instant hit from its first publication back in 1959, and after a few decades of mega-popularity around the world, it’s finally been translated into English (thanks Phaidon!) and bound in a beautiful, cloth-covered volume that chronicles 19 of Nicholas’s misadventures. Early grade-schoolers will love getting to know the precocious Nicolas, his croissant-eating best friend Alec, the soccer-playing tomboy crush Louise, and the...

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Neil Gaiman turns his attention towards children again and with that we rejoice

If you’re a fan of graphic-novel superstar Neil Gaiman, then you’ll be doubly excited that he’s teamed up with mixed-media god Dave McKeen in the children’s book, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. But even if you’ve never heard either of those names, you (and of course the kids) will love this story of a sarcastic brother/sister duo who tromp all over town to find their father. Honestly, I can’t decide which part of this book is better: the story or the illustrations. McKean’s whimsical drawings and vibrant photography render this book worthy of front-facing shelf...

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A St Patrick’s Day book for kids that’s entirely free of green sparkles

This St. Patrick’s Day, instead of wearing the green plastic crap my quarter-Irish mother insists on sending us in the mail every year, we’re celebrating by hauling out the wonderful children’s book, Fiona’s Luck. The story by Teresa Bateman with illustrations by Kelly Murphy, centers on Fiona, who tricked the leprechauns of Ireland by pretending to be luckier than she really was– an excellent lesson in my fake-it-till-you-make-it themed world. I imagine we’ll be reading this book again and again well after the green beer and bagels are a distant memory.– Rita Find Fiona’s Luck in time for St....

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Everybody farts

We made a trip to the emergency room recently with the wee one (everything is fine).  She was scared, we were scared, and only maudlin humor would do. Fortunately, we had along Fiona Bayrock’s Bubble Homes and Fish Farts, an entire nonfiction children’s book about bubbles and their extreme usefulness to marine creatures.  Illustrated by the talented Carolyn Conahan, this highly educational book finally explained to me how sea otters stay warm (bubbles) and how herrings talk (farting bubbles!). Are farts funny? Totally. Are farts funny to kids? Without a doubt. Did our extreme fit of giggles let all...

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Books for boys, beyond baseball

When I go to teacher conferences, the thing I hear the most about my son– always said with great reverence– is, Wow, he sure likes to read! I come from an entire family of readers, so this doesn’t seem odd to me… but it is odd, because boys trail girls in literacy, and often it takes extra effort to get them into a book when there are video games to be played. One mother decided to take matters into her own hands, and that’s when Book Club 4 Boys was born. Not only does her blog make recommendations on...

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