76. “I Stink” by Kate and Jim McMullan

Have you ever wondered what a garbage truck thinks about itself? Well, first of all, it is very much aware of its importance, that’s what! And it is very competent, that too! And if you want to know more about its busy day, or night, actually, it will gladly introduce you to its stinky-not-so-stinky work routine. Oh, oh! The trash truck spotted some garbage bags on the side of the street. Pull over! “Tail gate?  Say AH! Feed me!” There is still room for a load of alphabet soup. The ingredients? Dirty Diapers, Jam Jars, Nasty Neckties, Zipped-up Ziti with Zucchini… How does it sound to you? Eventually, the truck unloads the garbage on a barge by the river.  It is empty and beat. It is time for a little snooze. Have you ever thought we could do without this mighty stinker?  Well, think  “Mount Trash-o-rama, baby.”

Brilliant! First of all the genius idea of making a garbage truck a children’s book hero. A stinky truck is supposed to conquer the hearts of our little preschoolers? No doubt about it!  Secondly, the story is basically one big garbage truck’s monologue, bursting with numerous sound words, slang words, rhetorical questions. It is so incredibly engaging! Then, let me mention the most wacky educational element: the most disgusting Alphabet Soup Recipe, to teach the letters to our sweeties. How can they like that? Oh, my son just loves it!

And last but not least, the relevance of the message: we produce so much trash that our cities can drown in it. Shouldn’t we do something about it? Perhaps a little bit of green thinking on a daily basis? Giving up individually packed products for the sake of bigger packages, using washable towels, swapping bottled water for filtered water… And always respect your garbage truck. It stinks, but without it, we would more.

75. “Thirsty Thursday” by Phyllis Root

One Thursday, everyone was thirsty on Bonnie Bumble’s farm. Everyone was getting cranky. “The snapdragons snapped. The tiger lilies growled. But the clouds refused to drop by.” When Bonnie saw one little cloud blowing past, she got an idea that will surely make you giggle…

This sunny and smily story is truly a poetic treasure. The unique metaphors bring the reader into a totally new world, where flowers are ready to fight when they are thirsty and purr with joy when they are satisfied. You can simply tickle a cloud and make her giggle to tears, or as we call it, rain.

Superb writing and wonderful pictures by Helen Craig. A feel-good story at its best!


74. “The Trucker” by Barbara Samuels

Leo was a trucker through and through. Since he was a baby, he played with trucks, ate with trucks (you need to see for yourself), his mommy almost ate a truck. There was no truck-free zone in the house and surely not in Leo’s brain. Leo was a happy trucker, until his peace was violated by an intruder, Lola the Cat. She would follow Leo around, play with his trucks and sleep on his trucks. Shooo! Well, Lola had nothing left than to show Leo that she was a trucker at heart too.

This book is by far the most amusing piece of work I have recently read. The humor that bursts out of each sentence and picture is of the finest kind. You just read it over and over (upon your own little trucker’s demand), and you unload new giggles every time. The way the text and illustrations play together is superbly engaging. And let me mention the characters!  Leo’s mom is a riot. Every little details about her, from her chic socks to her funny faces, is hyper hilarious.

Since he was a little baby, my son has been a racer. No wonder, “The Trucker” has become our favorite read. We can totally relate. I am not planning on buying a cat any time soon, but perhaps a little brother or sister would prove a worthy passenger in his race cars?

73. “Little Bear’s Big Sweater” by David Bedford

Little Bear wanted to do whatever Big Bear did. He was especially happy and proud when his older brother outgrew his favorite sweater and it was Little Bear’s turn to wear it. Little Bear loved playing with his bigger brother. Unfortunately, not to the Big Bear’s delight. He didn’t really enjoy being a role-model and he didn’t need a little copy-cat follower. One day, after Big Bear told Little Bear off for spoiling his “wibble-wobble” fun and ruining the sweater in the mud, the little guy ran away into the woods. At first the big guy was happy about being alone, but eventually he started missing the little trouble-maker. He set out to look for him and he found him thanks to… the sweater. The story ends with hugs and apologies and enough sweaters for everyone. 

This story is a real celebration of brotherly love. It is filled with bickering and rivalry but it is built on a strong foundation. Little guys look up to their older siblings and basically promote them to a hero-level. And the older ones? At first act annoyed and bothered, but eventually quietly beam with pride.

I recommend this touching story (and  a touch-and-feel book at the same time) with extra cute pictures by Caroline Pedler to every parent of siblings who struggle to define their relationship.


72. “All for Pie Pie for All” by David Martin

I love books with a message and a purpose, but every now and then I appreciate just  a little feel-good story.  Or even better,  a smell-good, taste-good piece of work.

Grandma Cat made an apple pie. The whole Cat family had a piece and there was still one piece left. Not for long though. The Mouse family spotted the scrumptious leftover, and they could not resist the temptation. The pie was so good that there were just six crumbs left. Perfectly enough for a  family of Ants. It’s time for Grandma Cat to bake another pie. Who will help her?

I can already smell that pie. Yum! Isn’t this little story just a perfect summer delight? And the pictures by Valeri Gorbachev are surely the icing on the cake, or rather ice-cream that goes with the pie. Have a treat and read this book!

By the way, do you have a favorite pie recipe that you’d like to share with us?

71. “Shark vs. Train” by Chris Barton

Whether your child likes challenges and competitions, is still to find out, but that we live in a cruelly competitive world is a matter of fact. Which is better: this apple or that? Which is better: apple or pear? Comparing, measuring, analyzing… it is beyond control.  Whatever our personalities, we have to be tough and learn how to  handle the win-or-lose game  just to survive. “Shark vs. Train” is a unique take on this complex matter.

If a Shark and a Train were to challenge each other in a duel (how absurd is that!), who do you think would win? As it turns out, the answer is not so straightforward. Apparently it all depends on a setting. Imagine a train in a diving competition, or a shark roasting marshmallows. Who would win  a race on a railroad  and who would excel at eating pies? Sometimes, however neither party would have the leanest chances for the winner’s crown, like in a piano recital or even a simple game of hide-and-seek. So what is the total score? It all depends…

I think that in the 21st century, more than ever, it is important to teach our children a healthy approach to competing. It should be about challenging themselves, breaking their own records and  discovering their new skills.   I want my son to always strive for the gold,  but also learn how to lose with dignity.  And last but not least, always and always play fair.

But on a less serious note, the shark and train story is truly hilarious  and the  cartoonish pictures by Tom Lichtenheld will crack you up. I have to admit that I had some reservations about this book, but my son’s engagement proved me wrong.



70. “Soup Day” by Melissa Iwai

I don’t want to jump into conclusions but the summer is wrapping it’s business around here. Mornings and evenings are California style and it’s been quite rainy and stormy lately. Before we know it, ice cream days will turn into soup days. Let’s start cooking then!

A little girl goes grocery shopping with her mom to buy carrots, potatoes, onions and other fresh ingredients needed for soup.  At home they wash the vegetables, cut them in a variety of shapes and then cook everything in a big pot with oil and water. Last goes in the alphabet pasta. While the soup is cooking, the two chefs pass the time playing, reading and hiding from monsters. Finally, the soup is ready, daddy is home and it is time to serve the yummy dinner. “Mmmm! I love soup day.”

“Soup Day”  is basically a Snowy Day Vegetable Soup recipe with detailed cooking instructions, written in a Sesame-Street-style.  It is clear and informative, but also fun and very engaging. It teaches children all the important facts about hygiene and safety: we must wash vegetables before eating them, children should use a plastic knife, etc.  The book can be used as tool to practice colors and shapes: “green celery, yellow onions… the carrots become circles, potatoes become cubes…” But first of all, “Soup Day” promotes cooking together with children and eating soup. I support that 100%! My son is only three but he’s been my sous-chef for a while now. He adds salt when we cook pasta, he stirs pancake batter and rolls out the cookie dough. The food tastes so much better with his magical touch.

Have you discovered your children’s cooking skills yet? What are their signature dishes?

69. “Charlie’s Mom’s Banana Soup” by Aga Chapas-Charo

It is Charlie’s birthday, but nothing makes him happy. He doesn’t care about the gifts and the party.  He misses his mom’s banana soup. He can’t make it, as he doesn’t know the exact recipe. A helpful friend, Parrot, decides that they should travel the world to find the secret ingredient. Will they find it? What will it be? 

Yesterday it was Little Tim’s birthday. He turned ONE! Hooray! He loves books so I gave him this book as a gift. I hope that soon he can enjoy the adventures of a curious banana lover, Charlie, and his loyal and inventive companion, Parrot, as they travel from north to south, and west to east in order  to find a surprising secret of theee banana soup. This amusing story is quite entertaining a geography lesson, so I hope it will make him laugh a lot and learn a lot about our great big world. And let me mention the bright pictures by Natalya Yampolsky, which were an inspiration for the book. It is impossible not to love the cute characters Natalya has created. Enjoy your trip with Charlie and Parrot! And enjoy the banana soup too!

The book can be previewed and purchased via http://www.blurb.com or on Amazon

68. “Bubbles, Bubbles” by Kathi Appelt

What can be a better way to start a day  than a morning shower? While my son races cars in my bedroom, I can enjoy my time in my private bathroom spa.  And then it is his turn. Scrubba-dubba-do and five minutes later, we are all nice and clean.

But it hasn’t always been this way. For a long time my son’s bath  was a long ritual, with lots of rubbery toys, containers and foamy alphabet swimming all around the tub. Washing my son’s hair was always executed with his excruciating screaming and getting my son out of the tub was always a challenging and often tricky process. My shower time, on the other hand, was a five minute’s long scrubba-dubba-do. Giving up my morning spa was painful but, actually,  it also saved my sanity. Every moment in the shower cabin was a lifetime of worrying. Is my little baby was safe in his bouncer? Won’t he wake up? How fast can I get out of the shower when he starts crying? Oh, boy, I am so happy this era is behind us.

Anyway, if you want a little story to celebrate bath times, how about “Bubbles, Bubbles”. The story is accompanied by warm pictures ( by Fumi Kosaka) and written in cute rhyme, which should appeal even to little children. And the adorable baby character,  thoroughly scrubbing his tommy and washing his hair with a beaming smile, is a real role model.  So without further ado, “Bubbles, bubbles in the tubbles, splishy, splashy, splooshy scrubbles.” 

67. “I Am a Backhoe” by Anna Grossnickle Hines

If your child likes trucks then I am sure that reading books about trucks are a part of your daily routine. Most likely, you also have toy trucks scattered around your house and perhaps even a construction worker outfit  hanging in your child’s closet. We’ve been reading about trucks, watching truck videos and playing with trucks as well, but since we discovered the book “I Am a Backhoe” , we added one more item to our already heavily loaded repertoire. Now we also pretend we are trucks. All kinds of trucks. Here you are, guess what I am: “I stretch my arms into the sky, way up high. Bend, hook, lift. Swooooshhh. Swing, Drop. I am…”  

This is truly so much fun! We read, we think, we play and we exercise at the same time. Very creative and 100% engaging!

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