Since we’re heading out on a road trip on Friday, we had to return three weeks worth of picture books to the library today. Understand that, on average, we check out about 20 items from the library in a given trip, and some of these are mommy-sized books. Today, our library books overfilled two reusable grocery bags, and I opted to return them in the outside slot because my arms were going to break from holding Sailor, both bags, and a purse.
So, this list doesn’t contain every book we checked out for those weeks. Mostly just the highlights. However, I am including my first Terrible rating in this post, just so you know not to waste the space on your library card checking it out. Seriously, it was that bad.
Top of the Pile
Pigs to the Rescue by John Himmelman
If you’ve read (or own, as we do) Chickens to the Rescue, you will find this book hysterically funny. So funny that my husband and I couldn’t read anymore. I’m not sure if it would be quite as funny if you hadn’t read the first book millions of times, but that’s not a problem, since Chickens to the Rescue is awesome.
One by Kathryn Otoshi
Absolutely fabulous book. Clean illustrations, non-repetitive counting practice, strong moral message at appropriate toddler level. Monkey asked for this book, and the sequel Zero frequently.
Dinosaur vs. the Potty by Bob Shea
I do love these “Dinosaur vs.” books because of the hilarious illustrations. They’re quite funny, not the kind of book I’d suggest everyone own unless they really fit your personality, but certainly worth a look.
Penguin and the Cupcake by Ashley Spires
I would have loved to read the query letter for this: “a meta children’s book about a penguin who flies north looking for cupcakes, fails, and flies home only to have his dreams rescued by an old lady on the plane.” Usually, I love books that are self-conscious about being stories and poke fun at it, but it was utterly painful in this book. Really, it just doesn’t work, which is unfortunate, because the title had such promise.
Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion by Mo Willems
. . . but you didn’t need me to tell you that. It’s Mo Willems. Seriously the best of the Knuffle Bunny books, with several laughing-so-hard-we-can’t-read moments. Still just as funny the umpty-millionth time.
Lemons are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Although her books seem to be getting a little predictable, I still am fascinated by the gimmick of Seeger’s cut-out books. This one in no exception. Simple text, but keep away from grabby toddlers who will rip the cut-outs. (I apologize the Springville, UT, library for our past sins.)
Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson
A lovely quirky story about protecting seedling apples crossing the plains. Very original. I liked the story and the illustrations, but it was a bit long for Monkey and a lot of the puns went way over his head. I will definitely try this again later, though.
Press Here by Herve Tulliet
A good attempt at an “interactive” storybook where the kids “press” the buttons and things happen. Certainly better than most I’ve read. You can have a lot of fun with this at playtime, but I don’t know that it’s a good storytime read.
The Little Read Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges
The illustrations weren’t really my style, but it was a twist on the classic tale that actually worked.
The OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Of course Monkey loved it since it was all about a person made of letters. But a good non-story (there’s no plot to speak of, but it works) about perfectionism and learning to just try things.
The Magic School Bus: Inside the Earth by Joanna Cole
A classic MSB, not one based off the TV show episodes. I loved these as a kid. Monkey’s a little young for them, but it gets his little brain thinking about things.
Elmer, Elmer’s Special Day, and Elmer and the Rainbow by David McKee
The concept worked, but the plot kind of fizzles from lack of conflict in these books. They seem to come from the camp of people who believe any contention or stress in children’s books is bad, which drives me nuts.
Bonus Music and DVD Reviews
Baby Signing Time! Volume 2: Here I Go
I’ll be the first to admit that the songs on these DVDs are total earworms and you will be singing them for years to come. However, I do think the DVDs are effective at teaching baby sign. First, watching it with your baby helps you learn and remember the signs. Also, you can do the signs with your baby while watching it for double emphasis. I watched these videos every day with Monkey for about four months, and signed to him during the day, and he really caught on. I was even able to teach him, at 16 months old, the concept of waiting thanks to these songs. I’m all for it. (Do you know how hard it is to type a paragraph that contains both “sing” and “sign”? Gosh.)
Sing-Along Travel Songs by Sesame Street
Several classic songs from the big SS all about travel, perfect for vacationing. However, I have to warn you that Elmo singing “Baby, You Can Drive My Car” is totally creepy. This was not helped by the fact that this was Monkey’s favorite song.
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.