Some classics this week, as well as a few books not to check out to teach your toddler about the country.
Top of the Pile
The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson
Have to say I was skeptical when I first checked out this book when it won the Caldecott in 2009. I thought the poetry was a bit of a stretch, but it really has grown on me. It goes without saying that the illustrations rock. And it’s one of Monkey’s favorite explicitly-about-going-to-sleep books. I need to take my own advice and buy this awesome book so my library can have its copy back.
Blueberries for the Queen by Katherine Patterson
About a little boy who brings blueberries to a queen in exile in WWII, I thought the book was well written, but the fantasy aspect was a little underdeveloped for me. It existed mostly in the illustrations, and could have been more thoroughly developed in the words.
Henny Penny by Vivian French
I enjoyed this (apparent) retelling of Henny Penny. (The retelling would have been more apparent if I was more familiar with the original.) I’m not usually in favor of retellings that remove traditionally grusome ends, but I think this works. But beware that you’ll be tongue-tied after reading “Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Cocky Locky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey” for the tenth time.
Wait! I Want to Tell You a Story by Tom Willans
Interesting concept initially, but I think the author forgot to include an ending or my sense for nonsense is just not as high as his. Would have been better with a little more thought to a clever punchline.
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems
Really, you can’t get a more nouveau-classic than the Knuffle Bunny books. Or really almost anything by Mo Willems. This one is not as much my favorite as the original or the third (coming soon to Library Hits), but it’s worth reading for the line “Trixie’s daddy tried to explain what 2:30 AM means.”
White is for Blueberry by George Shannon
Still bothered by the fact that this author says immature blueberries are white, when the bush outside my door shows they are clearly green. However, Monkey loves the color swapping and I like the idea of looking at things in different ways to encourage creative thinking.
George Washington by Cassie Mayer
Definitely over-detailed for a little kids’ book. Probably more appropriate to 5-7 ages.
The United States by Robin S Doak
Pretty much the same as the above. Can you tell I was desperate for some Fourth of July books but forgot to reserve them early? Oh well, next year. At least this book caused me to get Monkey all confused about whether we lived in Washington or the United States.
W is for Washington
Apparently this is a fairly new series on states, and I loved it. Just enough to spark some talking points about our state without being bogged down with stuff a 2-year-old doesn’t care about. Worthwhile non-fiction.
Utah by Trudi Strain Trueit
A bit long in the text and over Monkey’s attention span level. Way more dates and history than W is for Washington
Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg
Just a little over-long and with a storyline not cohesive enough for Monkey to follow well, I can’t say I recommend this one.
Pecos Bill by Steven Kellogg
I don’t think we ever read this one, probably due to the failure of Johnny Appleseed. I’m putting these on the “try again later” list.
In homage to Harry Potter, our rating scale contains no simple numbers, but is useful nonetheless, and largely self-explanatory:
Disclaimer: These reviews are not intended to be a review of the overall quality of any picture book, but are totally biased and based on their suitability for this mom and her two children reading together. Your mileage may vary based on your children’s maturity, attention span, and interests.