107. “If You Give a Pig a Party” by Laura Numeroff

I have already mentioned a Moose that was fond of muffins, now let me introduce you to a real party animal, Pig.

What will happen if you pass a little party idea by a little Pig? Well, she will want to get all dressed up, decorate the house with balloons and will call a bunch of her friends. Unfortunately they won’t be home, so you and Pig will have to go and look for them. Since you will happen to find them at the street fair, you won’t avoid a few rides, games and messy ice-creams. Well, Pig will need to go home to get changed and everybody will tag along. You will have a big dinner to prep and a mass sleep-over to arrange. Somehow, during making a fortress out of blankets, Pig will think about balloons. “And chances are, if you give her some balloons, she is going to ask you for a party.”

Another delightfully absurd chain of events, based on the logic that only children can consider logical. Lots of laughter at every unpredictable idea of  little Pig and her guests, illustrated by humorous pictures by Felicia Bond. Every detail broadens your smile. My favorite page is the hide-and seek game with most creative hiding spots. Can your child find the hidden animals? Have fun! And let’s hope that when you need to throw a party for your little one, their follow-up ideas won’t be as crazy.

106. “The Adventures of Taxi Dog” by Debra and Sal Barracca

Yesterday we dealt with a dog in a truck, today let me introduce a dog in a taxi cab.

Maxi,  was a New yorker. Born and raised. He didn’t belong to the Manhattan elite, though. He was a homeless dog. Luckily, his rough life turned around when he met Jim, a taxi driver.  AS a result of this encounter, Maxi has got a home and  Jim has gained a loyal companion. ” Me and Jim- we’re a team! I’m always there at his side.” And indeed, now, Jim and Maxi spend all days driving around the city in their yellow cab. Their passengers are far from ordinary: singers, clowns, parents-to-be. Everybody has to get somewhere fast, and  Jim and Maxi must bring them there on time.  Who knows, perhaps one day you will be their passenger as well. Don’t forget to tip them well! Apparently Maxi puts on a big-tip worthy show during the ride.

As I was reading this delightful rhyme to my son, I couldn’t help thinking about a comment by an established writer’s agent, regarding rhymes. It seems that rhymed manuscript submitted to agents are not even being considered anymore, as rhymed stories are not sophisticated enough for our children.  Go figure! Look, I want to raise a smart and well-read child too, but am I supposed to expose him to Oscar Wilde at the age of three? Come on!

But I agree that rhymes have to be well written. This book is certainly one of those treasures. It tells a touching story and it does it with humor, and in a form that shows a lot of skill and creativity on the side of the writers.  And let’s not forget about the illustrations by Mark Buehner, which wonderfully bring out the spirit of the Big Apple.

105.”Pug in a Truck” by Nancy Coffelt

They say that dogs and their owners tend to share certain features. I guess people choose pets with traits that appeal to them and seem familiar on some level. But how about a dog that looks like his owner’s truck?  Meet, Pug. His nose is as flat as the truck’s front. But that is not the only similarity. They both are tough, they both are loud. Both, the dog and the truck’s breaks, bark. They both need to fuel up at the truck stop!

“Pug in a Truck” is a hilarious take on a life behind the wheel, as seen by a dog. It is written in a very simple language and illustrated with bright pictures, that appeal to children. At the same time, the text is studded with humorous jargon, which makes reading this book even more fun. Your little truckers can learn a new meaning of such words like roller skate, toothpicks or dragon wagon.

By the way, did you know that pugs are one of the oldest breeds? I am not an expert in pugs myself but lately my knowledge has broadened drastically thanks to a little puppy, Daisy. I have to say, mini pugs are quite cute indeed!

104. “Matthew’s Truck” by Katherine Ayres

Matthew and his truck like to be on the road. They drive on bumpy roads, a.k.a. carpet, or  slippery, hard-wood roads. They zoom up a handrail or a hill, as they would call it, or tumble down the stairs, which in their pretend games serve as cliffs. Sometimes they have to climb a steep Mount Sofa or splash into a deep Fish Bowl Lake. Wherever they go, they are always together. Even at night, the truck is safely parked next to Matthew’s pillow…

Whether your child is called Matthew, knows someone called Matthew, or perhaps he or she just likes trucks, this story  is surely a reading delight for everyone. The simplicity of the structure, limited wording and well-selected auto-jargon and interesting pacing, turn this book into a fun truck ride, which together with bright pictures by Hideko Takahasi can tickle everybody’s imagination at the first glance. A very cute picture book!  A perfect gift for every little Matthew and not only. My son found this book personal on many levels: his middle name is Matthew, his dad is called Matthew and so are many of his park friends.

103. “Stinky Smelly Feet” by Margie Palatini

Although shoe shopping counts as a hobby for many women, I find it horribly frustrating. It always takes me forever to find what I need and when I do find the right pair, I just pray I can wear them as long as I can, to avoid hitting stores again. Now, that I have to shop for my son’s shoes as well, the frustration has doubled. I wish he could wear Crocs all year round, but unfortunately, he also needs sandals and sneakers. And for a person as undecided as me,  it is not easy to find the shoes that would be great for running, wouldn’t let in the sand in and keep the wood chips from the park away. Last summer, I have also learned to avoid smelly shoes. That’s right. Some children’s shoes can make you fade.

I know that Dolores can relate. Her prince charming, Douglas, had stinky shoes as well. Or feet. Whether it was one or the other was never concluded but taking off shoes by Douglas in the presence of Dolores was always risky. She passed out during a romantic outing in the park, when the couple were about to “let the grass tickle their toes”. A long bubbly bath was supposed to help, but when Douglas was trying to take out a pebble stuck in his shoe, while in the movie theatre, Dolores, as well as the rest of the audience, fainted again. Even taking precautions at the beach, like providing Dolores with a clothes pin for her nose, wouldn’t prevent her from blacking out. Throwing away the stinky pile of shoes Douglas had in his closet was a temporary solution, but his stinky feet stayed stinky, no matter what. But Douglas and Dolores had true love and this was what really mattered.

Here you go, my first love story recommendation for little children. A romantic comedy, I would even say. Even though it is quite long, it is very engaging and provides lots of laughter from cover to cover. Ethan Long’s cartoonish illustrations greatly interact with the text. The humor that sparks from every picture is first class. Dolores doing her pedicure is just a riot! Very funny, indeed!

102. “The Bridge is Up! by Babs Bell

Who likes waiting? It was a rhetorical question. I don’t know anyone with such unusual preferences. Not within the children category anyways. They want everything to happen immediately, even if it is not physically possible. However, “The Bridge is Up” proves that watching others wait is totally a different kind of game. It can be fun! Especially if those waiting are a bus, a car, a tractor and  a few other machines on wheels, with pigs and dogs as drivers and passengers. When “The bridge is up… everyone has to wait”. But when “the bridge is down”, then “nobody has to wait!”

This cute picture book, next to being a sunny and funny story, it is also a brightly illustrated (by Rob Hefferan) lesson of grammar. It shows the practical use of pronouns everybody and nobody, and the modals can and can’t. Besides, the story consists of lists and repetitions, that enhance children’s memory and diction: “The bus can’t go, the car can’t go and the bike can’t go”. The line grow longer as new vehicles approach the bridge. Children can have lots of fun trying to memorize which vehicle was the first, second, third and so on.

After reading this book, waiting at the traffic lights, or waiting for a bridge to go down, or a railway gate to go up will never be the same for your little passengers.

101. “Busy, Busy Mouse” by Virginia Kroll

Although mice  and people do not mix, there are some exceptions. Who doesn’t love Micky Mouse for example? Today I ‘d like you to meet another charming and a very busy rodent and his family. Oh, yes, he does have a family. Or perhaps just roommates. Actually, they don’t even know about his existence,  but since their paths never cross anyway, it’s better to stay incognito.

As the family start their day, the Mouse gets ready for bed. They fry eggs for breakfast, he has milk and cookies. The family play and talk, and the Mouse is fast asleep. But as the people sit down to dinner, they don’t even realize that their mini roommate is just waking up and getting ready for a night of wild adventures. 

The story is truly ingenious. Or should I say: stories. With the very minimum number of words, Virginia Kroll and Fumi Kosaka (illustrator) created a lively picture of a busy house that actually never sleeps.  The melodic rhyme and illustrations wonderfully complement each other and keep the reader fully engaged. There are so many details to giggle about!

This book sheds a new light on rodents in our houses. I don’t wish you having mice as your tenants, but if you happen to hear some mini-noises at night, don’t panic. It is just  a busy mouse having fun.

 

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