168. “Me and Meow” by Adam Guedeon

Meet  a little girl, Me, and her cat, Meow. Join them in their daily routine: breakfast, time in the park, lunch, nap, fine dinner, back to bed… Sound typical and quite boring the way I put it, doesn’t it? But Adam Guedeon had a more creative and more engaging idea. He combined a minimalist script, which basically consists of bullet points and elliptical sentences, with bright, cartoonish and hyper hilarious pictures,  and arrived at a superbly amusing piece of work. I wasn’t sure if my little reader would enjoy it as much as I did, but he did. In other words, I recommend  this inventive and innovative story for boys and girls alike. Have fun!


167. “Think Happy” by Nancy Carlson

What do all parents have in common, regardless of their parenting styles, social status or income?  We all try to make our children happy, don’t we?  Happy children make us happy, and unhappy children will make unhappy parents, right? Unfortunately, there is a little twist to this way of thinking, which makes the whole pursuit of happiness a parents’ dream and the children become responsible for their parents happiness. Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around? If we really want our children to be happy, we should teach them how to be happy. And since the most effective teaching method means leading by example, we should learn how to be happy ourselves.

“Think Happy” is a brightly illustrated, little book, which is truly a call for action: think happy. If you have a bad day, look in the mirror and tell yourself that you look cool. If you feel good, throw a party, with cakes and candles, why not? Make your life a celebration. Hop, dance, meditate, what not.  Not only will it make your life more colorful, but it will spark happiness in other people. I have already mentioned that happy is magnetizing. I am just going to add, that it is also very contagious. So without further ado, read “Think Happy” to your children and show them how this stuff really works!

A real treasure! A perfect holiday gift for children and everyone who needs some more positives in their life.

166/ “Terrific” by Jon Agee

Jon Agee’s work has already been featured in my blog before and today is the time for another terrific piece of writing by this terrific writer and illustrator, with the driest sense of humor possible.

Eugene has won a trip to Bermuda. “Terrific.” Now he will get a sunburn. Well, the ship got wrecked in the storm, but Eugene was saved from sharks and landed on a tiny island. Is he going to be eaten by cannibals? Most likely not, as the only living creature on the island is a parrot. What good is a parrot? Well, thee parrot taught Eugene how to build a boat, which indirectly brought Eugene to Bermuda. Why indirectly? Well, Eugene and parrot had to make one unplanned stop… where Eugene got to meet Lenny .

You think the whole story doesn’t make any sense? Well, perhaps not, but what a terrific story it is regardless! Besides, I just love the malcontent character and and his beige raincoat for 32 dollars!


165. “The Most Perfect Spot” by Diane Goode

Do you know those moments when you think that you have everything planned out and under control until you realize that you don’t?

Well, Jack had a perfect plan for the day: a perfect picnic in the perfect spot in the park. He even knew how to make his mama buy into his plan. Everything was perfect indeed, especially the spot by the lake, until… a flock of ducks decided to take the ownership of the lake. Before long, Jack and his mama were all soaking wet. They would have dried in the sun alright if not for a bunch of horse riders galloping nearby. Covered in mud, Jack and mama moved on to the carousel, which, who knows why, suddenly went out of control… And then, on top of all that, it began to rain. What about the picnic in the “most perfect” spot? Let me just tell you that Jack and mama didn’t give up…

The picnic weather is perhaps over in many places but it if you think out of the box, like Jack and his mom, you might learn how to picnic all year round.

And it is always a good time for an entertaining story bursting with surprises, and illustrated with warm, engaging and very memorable pictures.

164. “The Dirty Little Boy” by Margaret Wise Brown

This one must have been written PURELY for laughs…

A little boy wanted to wash off the jam from his face and chocolate from his knee, so we asked his “big, round mother” to give him a bath. She was busy doing laundry so she asked her son to go outside and learn how to get cleaned from the animals. And so the boy did. He saw a bird splashing in a puddle, so he wanted to try that method too. Then he saw pigs rolling in mud. oh, how fun. Now, how to get that dirt off? Perhaps the way a cat does it?  Or brushing it off like a horse. Finally, the boy dirtier than ever went back to his “big round mother”, who gave him a big, soapy bath.

Purely delightful! Sheer pleasure! Margaret Wise Brown and Steven Salerno, the illustrator, have created real bubbles with this feel-great story for all ages.


163. “Ernest the Moose Who Doesn’t Fit” by Catherine Rayner

Whatever it is, the Moose surely have some kind of X-factor that makes picture book writers keep writing about them. “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” or  “Moose on the Loose” are just a few examples, that you can find in my earlier posts. Today, let’s talk a bit about Ernest.

He badly wanted to be in a picture book, but unfortunately, his size wasn’t really picture-perfect. He wouldn’t fit on a page. When his head would be covered, his legs would be left out. When his tail was in the book, his nose wasn’t. What was Ernest supposed to do? Luckily, his mini friend, chipmunk had an idea larger than the moose itself. How about a bigger book?

However crazy it sounds, the chipmunk is right. We don’t need to change ourselves to fit somewhere. It is the “somewhere” that needs to be changed or adjusted. A very cute book with very interesting graphics: appealing, minimalist style, and great and playful interaction between the pictures and the script.

I hope your children will meet this inventive moose soon. I know, that we are approaching the Rudolph season, but if they need some variation…



162. “When Mommy Was Mad” by Lynne Jonell

When my mom got mad,  it was never fun for me and my brothers. She was a yeller and she always translated her bad mood in lots of uncontrolled wording and acting. Although I am more of a quiet  type, it does happen to me slam a door in anger. Usually when I can’t find my purse or keys and I am already running late.  It wasn’t an issue in my single years, when I lived by myself. Nobody could see me stomping in the middle of the room.  But now, I have my little Big Brother watching and copying everything I do or say…

And thanks goodness! Last time I was about to scream in the air as I couldn’t find my phone, my son came to me and asked: “Do you need a hug, Mommy?” I melted instantaneously. Oh, yes, I needed a hug.

Robbie and Christopher’s mom didn’t have the best day. She was quiet and “prickly”. She forgot to smile and kiss daddy good-bye. The boys were wondering if they had done something wrong. They tried to make mom smile with drawing within the lines, but with no results. What’s more, mom’s anger became infectious. Now Robbie was as “prickly” as mommy. Finally, mom noticed that something was going on and soon after the boys got their soft and snuggly mommy back. 

The book is a real eye-opener. It shows how our mood affect others.  Naturally, we are only humans and we can’t pretend we have only great days, but it is important to realize that our bad days can turn other people’s good days into bad ones as well…  A domino effect . The story is especially touching as it is told from the children’s point of view. The child-like, crayon colored pictures by Petra Mathers couldn’t be a better match.



161. “Alice the Fairy” by David Shannon

Although Cinderella is no longer as present is in the lives of little girls as it used to be in their moms’, her Godmother Fairy is still quite popular, at least that is what I gathered from Halloween costume choices.

Alice is a fairy as well. A Temporary fairy, that is. She can fly fast, but not too high. She can change her dad into a horse, but not a frog quite yet. Other people’s cookies can be changed into hers, though and a bowl of oatmeal into a dessert. She is not perfect at spells, but she practices on her dog. Alice would like to be a Permanent fairy, capable of performing more advanced tricks, like changing the bathwater into strawberry jell-o, but on the other hand… perhaps being a Temporary fairy permanently is not a bad idea?

A very cute and amusing take on the contemporary art of magic. As always with this great writer and illustrator, he captivates the reader with a character with a flair, and a story full of surprises. Every page is filled with humor and bright colors.

A magical gift from David Shannon to every little fairy!

160. “Big Bad Wolves at School” by Stephen Krensky

Raising children comes with numerous challenges every step of the way. The recurring question I am trying to answer is how to help my child develop his full potential without me overly influencing his choices.  As a linguist at heart, I  chose a foreign language immersion program for my son, instead of a typical preschool. Was my preference in line with his own idea of the early education? As parents, we always want to keep the best interests of our children in mind, hope to expose them to great opportunities, but how to make sure we will succeed?

Rufus, a young wolf, seemed pretty happy idling away.   As he was passing his days running with the wind and rolling in grass, his parents’ days were passing  on worrying about their son’s future.  Finally, they decided to send him to the Bad Wolf Academy,  an elite school, where the young wolves were supposed to toughen up and acquire solid education in order to leave the school as bad wolves. Not Rufus, though. He didn’t show any interest in learning how  how to speak sheep or wear disguise. He missed his old life. As everybody was studying the difference between lurking and sneaking or how to enter a hen’s house, Rufus couldn’t care less. So how did Rufus manage to pass his graduation exam with flying colors? 

The ending might surprise you. I am just going to add, that what I am gathering from this book is that the knowledge and skills we get from books and school are not necessary what we need to pass unpredictable tests of life. Rufus did what suited him best, not what was expected of him, and that was what was making him happy and what he was good at.

A clever book with entertaining illustrations by Brad Sneed.

159.”Thomas & Friends” based on The Railway Series by The Reverend W. Awdry

Usually someone writes a book, a publishing house turns it into a bestseller and then they make  it into a movie for the unfulfilled masses. Usually the book is better than a movie. Usually it is better to read the book before watching a movie. Usually, but not always. Sometimes, however, the whole process can go backwards. A book might live a quiet life and then someone makes a movie that inspires publishers. I don’t know if I would ever pick books about Thomas, if not for the timeless TV series about a cheeky engine Thomas and his friends from the island of Sodor.

Today’s post is different  as I am not writing about a particular book, but the Thomas & Friends series as a whole. Whether it is a “Lost At Sea”, which we read yesterday or “Thomas Gets Tricked” or “James Goes Buzz Buzz” adventure, they all spark off similar giggles from my son and reflections on my side. It is truly amazing how such a little steam engine crew have conquered the hearts of little children and what a massive marketing phenomenon it has become. Toys, clothes, coloring books, events… you name it. Luckily my son does not insist on living in the Thomas world, but he has been under his spell at some point. Do I want him to watch dvds all day long, even though cute and sending good messages? Of course not. That’s why I am so happy we have the books that we can come back to anytime of the day. So far, “Thomas and Percy and The Dragon” has been our Number 1, due to a seemingly scary, yellow parade dragon. But your children might fall in love with another story and with a different engine. Serious Gordon, helpful Percy… They all have their own personalities, that fascinate children in a special way.

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