Tag Archives: alphabet books

Library Hits – 4/4/2012

(And we’re back from the dead.)

I’ve recently decided that lists on a blog is no way to keep track of books.  It’s not searchable, it’s not taggable, it’s not organized, gosh darn it!  In fact, given what we all know about me, I can’t believe I didn’t realize this earlier.  After a failed attempt at creating a spreadsheet (too much by-hand input required and still not searchable), I remembered a lovely book organizing tool I found back in college: LibraryThing!

So now I’ve been busy inputting recommended reading lists into the database (almost done with the Book Crush list, then on the the award lists) along with our recent library hits.  You can browse my database by heading over to my LibraryThing page. I hope this database can be useful to other people as, ideally, it will be made up of only truly awesome picture books without the drivel and the twaddle. (On a side note, “drivel” and “twaddle” are technical terms in my book, “drivel” referring to overly sentimental children’s lit and “twaddle” being overly commercialized pulp lit.)

Since I’m not really including the bad stuff in this database, I’ll limit my library hits reviews to the actual hits. Unless of course there’s something outstandingly bad enough that I just have to share and mock it.  :D

Top of the Pile

Question Boy meets Little Miss Know-It-All by Peter Catalanotto
Awesome
Our entire family adored this book, and that’s rare since reading picture books is the bane of my husband’s existence. The book is pretty much what the title suggests it is, with superhero costumes for all, even the garbage man.  The plotting is awesome and for once, the ending of a picture book is every bit as satisfying as a novel.  Illustrations are also spot on and hilarious.

The Stacks

Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger
Check-out
When this came up on the Book Crush list I was entering, I vaguely remembered the pictures of it from my childhood.  The pictures were just as stunning as ever, but the writing was a little weak.  I mean, it just sort of ends, with no elaboration on this little mythic world it’s created.

Zelda and Ivy by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
Buy
The beginning of a good early reader series.  I think the story of two sisters and how they interact and get along is interesting.  Probably would have been even more awesome were there any sisters in our household . . . .

Alphabetter by Dan Bar-el
Check-out
Decent alphabet book.  Story in the tradition of each person having what the next one needs, and so they all swap at the end.  The text on the jacket cover is misleading though; it’s not about them working together at all.

A Second is a Hiccup by H. J. Hutchins
Buy
I love a good educational book that’s actually readable.  This book, in a poetic way, gives kids a sense of the scale of different measures of time.

Rating Scale

In homage to Harry Potter, our rating scale contains no simple numbers, but is useful nonetheless, and largely self-explanatory:
Awesome
Buy
Check-out
Filler
Obnoxious
Terrible

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.

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Filed under Library Hits, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Library Hits – 9/12/2011

This week’s library returns and and what we thought of them.

Top of the Pile

Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel

Buy
Monkey loved this book.  Granted, it was his first experience with books with chapters, and it took a long time to convince him that one section of the book counted as one story, rather than the entire book.  But the stories are lovely, and just out of Monkey’s easy reading range.

You’re Mean, Lily Jean!  by Frieda Wishinski
Buy
An unexpected favorite of the week.  I loved the illustrations, and the understated, easily resolved story of avoiding bullying, bossy playmates.  Sandy’s solution worked well with the playful ethos of the Busby family.

The Stacks

The Old Woman and the Rice Thief by Betsy Bang
Terrible
Granted that this folk tale is from another culture, but really?  It was totally odd and made little sense.

The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett
Check-out
This book was read at least twice a day for about a week, so it’s an understatement to say Monkey liked it.  However, I wasn’t as much of a fan, especially since the ending seemed really rushed.  It’s an Eskimo cultured version of Goldilocks, in case you were wondering.

Al Pha’s Bet  by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Obnoxious
I’ve read my share of alphabet books, and this is not a good one.  It’s supposed to be the story of how the alphabet got in order, but the order is arbitrary and not cute or memorable.  Blegh.

ABC Apple Pie by Alison Murray
Check-out
Now this is what I call an alphabet book.  Simple, clever alphabet words, with not too many stretches.  And for a bonus, it has a compelling plot, which is rare in alphabet books.

Tap Tap Bang Bang  by Emma Garcia
Buy
Garcia’s books are very memorable and some of Monkey’s favorites.  Every time he sees one on the shelf, he checks it out.  Overall, this one is my least favorite, simply because there are so many sound words and Monkey insists we read them all each time they appear.  I prefer Honk Honk Beep Beep or Tip Tip Dig Dig.

The Bunnies are not in their Beds  by Marisabina Russo
Check-out
I can’t whole-heartedly recommend this book.  Although it’s funny and cute, something strikes me wrong about the ending of the bunnies getting out of bed and playing when Mom and Dad go to sleep.  Just not the idea I want to put into my kids’ heads.

Rating Scale

In homage to Harry Potter, our rating scale contains no simple numbers, but is useful nonetheless, and largely self-explanatory:
Awesome
Buy
Check-out
Filler
Obnoxious
Terrible

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Library Hits, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Library Hits – 8/1/2011

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
Awesome
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. Continue reading

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Filed under Library Hits, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Library Hits – 6/27/2011

I don’t know about other parents out there, but I am particular about the picture books I like to read.  I don’t like mushy sentimental books with no substance, but I also don’t like plodding through a plot that’s been used a bunch of times.  I like picture books that are innovative, funny, ironic, and aesthetically pleasing to adult eyes as well as children.

And I don’t like having to read the same books over and over, which is why we are regular patrons of our local library system.  But how to wade through the unwashed masses of children’s picture books is a mystery to me.  I heard from my more writer-ly friends that it is exceedingly difficult to publish a picture book, but I have a hard time believing it because it seems like some pretty lame stuff gets out there.  Sometimes a book looks great but turns out lame when we actually read it.  (Can’t read it before checking out because I’m trying to wrangle children.)  Or I’ve been looking at some book on display for weeks thinking how dumb it looks, and when we finally check it out, it’s a hit.  (Turns out librarians have pretty good taste.)

Anyway, my current picture book obtaining routine includes a lot of different things to get us out of our comfort zone and finding new books which might be hidden gold.  First, we pick some easy readers for Monkey to practice his reading on.  Possibly we visit the folk tale section to pick up some classics.  Some non-fiction on whatever concept Monkey is interested in this week.  And a few board books for good measure.  Then to the general picture book section, which I will from now on refer to as the stacks.  Lately, I’ve been picking some sort of book topic and go through a random section of shelves looking for books about bunnies.  Or trains.  Or the alphabet.  (Usually the alphabet.)  I pick up 3-5, so that we have a good chance of finding something not annoying.  And then Monkey usually grabs a few books on his way out.

All this is to say that we read a lot of very random picture books.  My goal with “Library Hits” is to review them for anyone searching for good picture books, and also to remind me of what we’ve read in case I want to find it for other toddlers in my future. :D  Here are my thoughts on the books headed back to the library this week. Continue reading

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Filed under Library Hits, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)