Category: Books for Kids

What Mama Couldn’t Use More Zen in Her Life?

I’m fascinated by tales from other parts of the world, and being from Iowa, equally fascinated by all deer not on the grill of my car. Tenzin’s Deer by Barbara Soros is lyrically written and illustrations from Danuta Mayer keep little squirmers glued to the page. The book (which apparently has a cult-like following among some moms) is about a young boy who finds an injured musk deer and learns in his dreams how to cure the deer and then finally to let it go back to the wild. It’s also about the value of letting answers come to...

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The Pigeon Wants 1. A Puppy, 2. To Take Over Story Hour Completely

I am such a crazy Mo Willems stalker-fan that when I heard I missed meeting him at Toy Fair this year by about 30 seconds I nearly cried. His collection of children’s books are this generation’s Dr. Seuss or Curious George. Willems’ newest release in the laugh-out-loud funny pigeon series: The Pigeon Wants a Puppy in which our perpetually unfulfilled winged hero uses his charm, humor, and trademark begging to make his latest request. The story isn’t entirely as linear or repetitive as previous books Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up...

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The Much Overlooked Turnip Gets Its Literary Due At Last

The Gigantic Turnip, the classic Russian folktale retold by Alexsei Tolstoy with Niamn Sharkey’s amazing illustrations, had me at its cover. I want to paint my house with the color palette, and I think I’d like to frame a picture of the old man’s cow. The story line is very simple: Big turnip, can’t pull it out, enlist the entire barnyard to help, cooperation, yay team, turnip soup ’till you puke. Beginning readers should find success with the large font, simple words, and engaging repetitions. As for me, I like a book where the mouse wins in the end....

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Happy Birthday, You Little Rat

We’re big fans of Chinese zodiac-themed items for unique baby gifts. Although let’s face it, this lunar year being the year of the rat doesn’t inherently provide as many cute options as say, the year of the monkey or the year of the pig. One gift that we’re loving, is the appropriately named The Year of the Rat: Tales From the Chinese Zodiac, the next in Oliver Chin’s wonderful series. Miah Alcorn’s illustrations have a frenetic, smile-inducing, Cartoon Network feel about them – a perfect complement to the engaging story of a baby rat infused with "rat" characteristics of...

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One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

I love books for my kids that are interactive. And I don’t mean pressing a button to activate some evil voice chip which shouts commands like FIND THE LETTER T! More like Who’s Hiding, a favorite new staple of our children’s bookshelf. Each page is filled with rows of Japanese author/illustrator Satoru Onishi’s colorful little animals, then asks a question like Who’s Backwards? Who’s Sleeping? Who’s Hiding? It’s the reader’s job to comb through them and discern the oddball of the lot. Hallelujah for books that can keep the little readers engaged without a battery in sight....

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It’s Cute and the Kids Like It and It Gives You 45 Minutes to Yourself. Sold.

They claim to be a "new concept in kid’s entertainment," but in saying as much, I think Giddio has sold themselves short. Their audio adventures may indeed be new, but the concept itself is old, and I mean that in the best possible way: These are stories that hearken back to the radio program days, when the family would gather ’round to hear what their favorite characters were up to that week. More than audio books, Giddio creates full-featured audio productions featuring Billy Brown, a gruff-sounding bear with a gentle heart. The sound effects are perfect and the voice...

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“Just One More Book,” Definitely Preferable to “Just One More Cookie”

My three-year-old daughter (the little angel) has entirely too many dumb books, which is killing me softly, because why waste time on dumb books ever in your life? My problem: Only children’s boutique bookstores have the right level of selection, and libraries can be so chaotic. Proper research takes time, and I don’t have any time, except…when I’m commuting. Just One More Book is a site full of podcasts about children’s books. How smart! Why didn’t I think of that? The site is organized very well and the first podcast I listened to was number 317. I can’t believe...

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Children’s Books the Way They Used to Be. Literally.

I’m so excited to have discovered (at Toy Fair, of all places) the wonderfully named Seattle-based Laughing Elephant Books. If you’re feeling nostalgic for beautifully illustrated, printed and bound books of your youth – or more likely the ones passed down by your grandparents – then skip the local Borders and hit their website for your next literary gifts. You’ll find all kinds of books and gift items incorporating ye olde time-y artwork including my favorite, the soft-covered, sturdy die-cut children’s books which faithfully reproduce originals from the early 1900s. Don’t expect dumbed down prose or touchy-feely 21st century...

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Bloomin’ Cute

It’s not coincidental that Bloom: A Little Book About Finding Love, comes out just in time for February’s Hallmark holiday. And yet Dutch-born author/illustrator Maria Van Lieshout’s sweet little tome on loving the one you’re with will delight kids the rest of the year as well. In fact my daughter can attest to this after making me read it about sixteen times in a row. It’s a simple, charmingly illustrated tale of a pig who’d rather smell flowers and chase butterflies than wallow in the mud with a potential soulmate. One broken heart and one overdramatic display of self-pity...

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Obama? Hillary? Duck?

I admit that my eyes have been glued to the Presidential debates and caucuses, much to the chagrin of my Noggin-addicted three-year-old. So instead of fighting about when she gets to watch the Backyardigans next, I’m going to get her fired up about a better show: The 2008 Elections. What better way to do it than with the timely re-release of Duck for President, the third book from author Doreen Cronin and illustrator Betsy Lewin. This delightful duo tells the tale of a duck who grows tired of his chores and decides to hold an election to replace Farmer Brown. His disgruntlement...

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Not Your Ordinary Mortal Alphabet Book

I’ve been calling my daughter Wonderbaby for, like, forever. She’s always seemed the type of child – even when she was only days old – who might just take off at any moment and leap tall buildings in a single bound. So when a dear friend sent me The Adventures Of WonderBaby From A To Z, I was pretty excited. An alphabet book! About Wonderbaby, for Wonderbaby!  I wasn’t sure how it was that author Oliver Chin and comic illustrator Joe Chiodo knew about my kid (did they read my blog?), but still: cool. Each letter of the alphabet...

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Definitely Beats a Big Sibling T-Shirt

As surprised as I was by my third pregnancy, my older daughter was downright shocked. She may have actually gotten used to the idea more quickly than I did, thanks in part to Making Me: The Pregnancy Activity Book for My Big Brother or Sister. Written by mom Julie Carr, this engaging book actively involves older siblings in learning about how the wee critter is developing. Each page includes an update on the baby’s growth, along with an activity like coloring, journaling or answering questions about themselves. (Bonus points for the page that calls for the older sibling to...

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Our Kind of Princess

With a princess-obsessed three year-old, I’m always on the lookout for pretty much any book that has absolutely nothing to do with them. And yes, I know it’s cruel to cut her off entirely from the little crowned ladies just because they drive me nuts. So if you’ve got a little girl like mine, I urge you to get your hands on The Paper Bag Princess, a book featuring one of the smartest, strongest, and most independent princess characters anywhere. What starts as a fairly typical princess story by author Robert Munsch takes a turn in the end, becoming...

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Humpty Dunce

I know I’m not the only new mom who spent sweet quiet moments alone with my newborn singing the theme song from Happy Days. What can I say, I could never quite recall an appropriate tune when I needed to. I’d have been in better shape had Jennifer Griffin’s delightful Humpty Who? been out a couple of years ago. The subtitle, A Crash Course in 80 Nursery Rhymes for Clueless Moms and Dads, pretty much sums it up. This truly terrific book and the very helpful companion CD hooks you up proper with the classics, delivers all nine verses...

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Stroking the Kid’s Ego With the Printed Word

In African folklore the aardvark is much admired for its diligence. This is a completely appropriate characteristic for the Aardvark Adventure Stories namesake, because this can-do online shop has some of the best, most on-top-of-it customer service that I’ve encountered. Oh, yeah, and they also make cool personalized books for kids These books include up to six different photos of your favorite kid, plus more specific details about him than any I’ve seen. Since my son can only count to six, he needed help to count up the 16 different "me" photos placed throughout his Zoom Zoom Zoom book...

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Pop[up] Art

Whoever (or maybe that’s just my mother-in-law) said you need batteries and talking toys to get kids interested in learning has obviously never seen How Many, Ron Van der Meer’s new pop-up art book that will have any kid over five enraptured. Van der Meer, a bona fide paper engineer, takes pop-up books to the next level by creating a series of interconnecting and intertwining Frank Ghery meets Willy Wonka 3-D figures. They’re not only visually stimulating but great for the noggin–each page asks different "how many" questions, but with an seemingly infinite number of stars or cubes or circles, there’s no...

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Possibly the Only Holiday Travel Without Delays

When I popped the Travel Time Stories CD in and a sweet woman’s voice called my daughter by name and proceeded to tell her a story, just for her, well, it was like magic. Magic spun by fairies while dancing on rainbows with shiny golden unicorns. The very nicely produced fairy tales on the three different volumes are classics: The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, The Three Little Pigs…pretty much your standard grade-school fare. What’s really cool however is that each track has a personalized introduction that greets the child then describes what to expect next. It’s a...

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Phooey!

Back in my younger days, I had a thing for the Tin Tin series of comics on my shelf. They were in French. I didn’t speak French. It didn’t matter. The illustrations allowed me to create my own story in my head. That’s just what I was reminded of when I got a copy of Phooey! by the wonderful author/illustrator Marc Rosenthal. It’s a simple story about a kid complaining about how "nothing ever happens around here," when all the while–you guessed it–crazy things are happening. It doesn’t matter if your kid can yet read the Batman-esque sounds of...

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Yo Ho Ho, The Reading’s Life For Me

My son has decided he wants to be a pirate. For Halloween. And for a living. This is in large part because recently he’s become the star of a wonderful personalized book called Here There Be Pirates from Flatten Me. Just seeing his cute little face immortalized in a store-quality printed pirate adventure makes him want to major in plundering and pillaging. But when I think about it, isn’t that what reading is all about? Putting yourself in different shoes and situations? Mom of four and entrepreneur Margo Redfern gets this. She knows if kids are personally invested in...

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Scribble Me This

If I have to draw one more cat or tree or apple on demand for my daughter, I think I might just lose it. Let’s just say I’m best equipped for being the guesser at Pictionary. But thanks to Taro Gomi’s amazing Scribbles: A Really Giant Coloring and Drawing Book, I’ve been totally off the hook. First of all, it is really giant. Just like the title says. And it’s chock full of drawing prompts for kids 3-99 — everything from adding noses to already-drawn funny faces or drawing hats and bows on kids, to saving fish from the...

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Say My Name, Say My Name

As a certifiable word nerd, I’m not a fan of children’s books that seem to be written by marketers and not authors. While I like a good gimmick as much as the next parent, I also want a book that’s worth reading once you get beyond the “look what a cool idea!” stage.

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“Who Effed Up The Toys???”

I can’t take credit for the headline – it’s was written by my friend Karen as the subject of an email she sent yesterday, alerting us all to yet another toy recall. I’m ready to just dump anything in the toy chest that wasn’t made by hand out from virgin pine by monks.

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Book Snob Heaven

My family and I are serious book lovers. Okay, we’re full-on snobs. I admit it. We only have eyes for the worthwhile page-turners and even my toddler has learned to resist the call of the flashy but content-lite pages in the bargain bins and head straight for the award winners. That’s my girl!

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Ooh-La-L’Alphabet

Although I’m a straight-up English speaker (with a little French thrown in on those really bad days — ahem), I’ve always thought it would be wonderful for my daughter to learn another language. Most folks say that starting early is the best way to go but the idea of toddler language classes has always seemed just a bit…much for me.

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