158. “Are we there yet, Daddy?” by Virginia Walters

As the holiday season ushers in,  the travel planning picks up. Of course ideally, grandparents would live next door, but the reality is that some of us need to travel hours by car or by plane, as it is in our case, to join the relatives for the festive celebrations.

If you’d like to get your children excited about the journey, today’s book provides a great pretext.

A boy and his dad are leaving the city for grandma’s house. She lives 100 miles away. For the boy this number is abstract, so every 10 miles dad gets to hear the same question over and over again. ” Are we there yet, Daddy?” Dad responds patiently, but when the boys wants to know how much more  miles they have to go, clever Dad simply says: “Just look at the map, Son. Then you will know.”  And so the boy does.  And so the boy learns.

First of all, I must applaud the boy’s Dad.  I fully agree that boys need to learn reading maps. It is a valuable skill for every man. GPS? Sure, provided you are not surrounded by skyscrapers or hiking in national parks. Secondly, I am really impressed with the book. Not only is the story written in a very engaging way (smooth rhyme, rhythm, catchy refrain), but the real highlight of it is a map on which the reader can follow every step of the journey. S. D. Schindler’s pictures make the reading so much more exciting.

Good luck planning your holiday trips and in the meantime enjoy the ride to grandma’s house with the two boys and the map.

 

157. “Llama Llama Home with Mama” by Anna Dewdney

Whether you call it Fall or Autumn, you must agree that its middle name is the season of cough and sneeze. We are just done with runny noses and fuzzy brains. For now, that is.

Llama Llama  isn’t feeling the best either. His head feels hot, throat scratchy and a tissue is his best friend. No school for Llama Llama today. Staying home could be fun, but not when there is nothing to do. Trains, books and other toys seems so boring.  Luckily,  Llama Llama feels better after a nap and  is ready for lunch and drawing. But suddenly Llama Llama hears a big “Ah-choo!”  Is it Mama’s turn to be sick now?

I hope that your little llamas won’t have to skip school to fight off some seasonal bug, but if they do, may their day home  be as nice as Llama Llama’s! After all, they will be home with their mom! What’s better than that, right? And if you want to make that day even more special, “Llama Llama Home with Mama” is truly a feel-good-better-best story. Cute characters, catchy rhyme, warm and bright pictures…  Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama series is consistently engaging and entertaining.

 

 

156. “Mitchell’s Licence” by Hallie Durand

It is 9.30 pm and my son is wide awake. He wants to play cars although me and my husband wouldn’t mind calling it an early night. I guess it is time for bedtime Mitchell’s way.

Since Mitchell’s parents had a hard time putting their son to bed , they let him… drive there. Mitchel had his very own driver’s licence before he even turned four and his own vehicle: “Remote-Control Dad”. Every night the little driver would check his car’s tires, a.k.a. dad’s feet, the engine, or belly if you wish and  after taking a few sharp turns and trying to avoid collisions with Mom, Mitchell would zoom straight to his bedroom. Some nights, the car needed to have oil changed, and on other times, the vehicle needed to fuel up, although the latter was not always approved by the car, especially when the gas station was at the cookie jar…

A very unusual bedtime story, isn’t it? I mean, a story about a very unusual bedtime routine. Together with hilarious pictures by Tony Fucile this picture book is a very memorable and inspiring giggle-trigger.

I guess my son is ready for his bedtime ride. His car surely is.

155. “Dinotrux” by Chris Gall

Since I was never into prehistoric creatures, I thought that my son’s childhood would also pass without digging in dirt. Well, somehow, suddenly, something clicked in my son’s brain and his interest in Tyrannosaurus & Co started to shine through. Especially, after he found out that they can come as a curiously mutated species: Dinotrux.

Did you know that Dinotrux were prehistoric ancestors of the modern machines, known as trucks? They ruled the world millions of years ago. They ruled with fear.  Cranosaurus would spread terror among birds, which were his delicacy. Dumploducus would litter everywhere, Rollodon rolled over everything without paying the least attention,  Garbageadon would gobble everything and everyone in sight… Dinotrux  didn’t get along with anyone, until a great rain storm  came and water covered the earth. Dinotrux began to rust and sink in mud, unless they were the smart ones, that migrated south looking for warmer and dryer weather. The survivors transformed into…TRUCKS.

A very creative story with granted appeal to children’s imagination. Whether they love trucks or dinosaurs, and chances are they are fans of both, they will find the story exciting and engaging. The prehistoric monsters, as pictured by Chris Gall with intense colors and intimidating details, will captivate, fascinate and keep the little reader on the edge.  You better make yourself a big cup of coffee and get ready for a super long reading session.

154. “Who wants Arthur?” by Amanda Graham

Today’s book is in my opinion a real treasure.  It is a book with a soul, capable of touching a reader’s soul with humor, expressive illustrations by Donna Gynell and beyond all, with a relevant message: Be yourself.

Arthur was a dog for sale in a pet shop. Although he was anxious to be sold and start a new life in a home with a pair of old slippers to chew, there was no buyer interested in Arthur. The dog started doubting his “marketability”. Since bunny rabbits were  selling like hot buns, perhaps he should learn to be more like a rabbit? Well, eating carrots and hopping around didn’t help Arthur. How about another popular pet, snake? Arthur decided to learn hissing and slithering. Well, he didn’t attract any customer either. And then, when he already settled to be a permanent dog for sale, a miracle happened. With old slippers to chew and all.

Don’t we all have a little bit of Arthur in us? The desire to be accepted, wanted, loved by someone. Loneliness can be toxic and make us doubt our own value and uniqueness. But we should never question that. We should never try to be like someone else in order to gain popularity or success. That’s like being a wolf dressed as a sheep. Pathetic, right? Everyone of us is worth being loved and will be loved. First, we just have learn to accept and love ourselves. A happy person who knows their value is like a blossoming flower. Happy is MAGNETIC!

153. ” A Fly Went By” by Mike McClintock

As a little boy was sitting by the lake and looking at the sky, he got intrigued by a fearfully looking fly passing by him. The boy found out that the fly was scared of a frog hopping after the poor bug. But as it turned out, the frog wasn’t chasing the fly, but running away from a cat, that ran from a dog. The dog wasn’t trying to catch the cat either, but was trying not to get bitten by a pig. Quite a big pig. Not as big as a cow and not as greedy as a fox and not as loud as a gun held by a man, who was the last link in this chasing chain. Finally the boy got to see a little lame sheep. Could that be the terrifying thing that made everyone run???

Since I couldn’t resist  giving you more than a gist of the  story, I should at least leave that last question without an answer, right? You will have a blast reading this hyper amusing and extra clever rhyme. The pages fly by faster than the fly as you turn them impatiently to find out who or what sparked off the big chasing madness. Next to a great story idea wonderfully executed, sort of  Dr. Seuss style,  I also love the illustrations by Fritz Siebel. Humorous charcoal sketches with color accents are just a perfect visual for this LOL whodunit for all ages. And the older you are, the more you you will read out of it. I think this book is an original take on the issue of crowd stupidity, for example. One mistaken person can trigger an unstoppable domino effect, can’t they?

152. “All About Trains” by Mary Harding, illustrated by Richard Courtney

Since my son turned one and got his first train track for his birthday, he has always been into trains. Like every other boy. Of course, cheeky Thomas has been his primary hero. Like every other boy’s. But since we moved to California and regularly cross the Caltrain track on the way to school, trains have become my son’s real obsession. Every time he sees the gates closing for the train to pass, we have to stop and watch. Isn’t it fun!

No wonder that books like “All About Trains” are a part of our library. The book is an overview of different kinds of trains. You think there re just two kinds: freight and passenger? Think twice: tanks cars, hopper cars, gondola cars… Double decker cars, Shinkansen… The list is as long as exciting and informative, and the pictures are very engaging, colorful, and  full of realistic details that easily catch a little reader’s eye.

All aboard! I am sure your little locomotive driver will not be disappointed if you take him for a little joy ride with this book.

151. “Frederick” by Leo Lionni

It is mid-November. The sun is shining brightly, the leaves are turning read and yellow… Isn’t the Fall a gorgeous season? At the same time, isn’t it quite under-appreciated? The moment the summer heat wave leaves us, we are getting ready for the winter. The shops introduce winter clothing, Coffee shops start selling eggnog flavored coffee and pumpkin,s that had been briefly set out for the Halloween sale are promptly taken away to make room for Christmas trees and holiday decorations.  I have already heard Christmas carols playing in the shopping center and it is not even Thanksgiving yet!  Have I missed something? I want you to meet Frederick.

While his fellow-mice were getting ready for the winter, Frederick was acting quite ignorant. Instead of collecting food for the cold season, he was  taking a full immersion into the summer. He wanted to take it all in: the warmth of the sun rays, the greenery of trees and flowers, the sounds of the nature. Other mice were only rolling eyes at Frederick’s antics and kept working hard to have food and shelter on cold days. However, the winter was long and grey and food and shelter were not enough to keep the mice warm. It was time for Fredericks to share his supplies. He started talking and with his words he painted pictures of warm colors, sounds, and smells of the summer. The very words did wonders!

Perhaps we also should take a little break from our get-ready-for-the-winter routine and enjoy the magic of the Fall a bit more. Perhaps taking a mental picture of this wonderful time is a better preparation for the cold days than cleaning the yard and doing early Christmas shopping? My son is about to wake up from his nap. I am going to take him for a bike ride. It is so beautiful outside!

 

150. “Fire Engine To The Rescue”, published by Backpack Books

Do you know Huggy Buggy Heroes? If so, then you are ahead of me and probably smiling now at the thought of the little vroom-crew from Huggyville. If not, today you will get to know one of them: Fire Engine.

The red truck was just in the middle of a morning shower, when the alarm went off. Someone needed  help. It was a baby Helicopter stuck in a tree. The brave Fire Engine rushed to the rescue. Down the road, up a steep hill, over the puddles, passing other Huggy Buggies… Before long the Fire Truck got to the Huggyville center and got the baby Helicopter back on the ground. The Fire Engine was a real hero indeed.

This picture book is a part of a Huggy Buggy Books series. At first I though it was much too simplistic for my “serious” three years old. The pictures are very basic and lacking details, the characters resemble rubber dummies, and the whole idea is too “cuddly”. But my son was the one who spotted the Huggy Buggy Hero in the bookstore,  insisted on buying the book and carefully listened to the story. On his behalf, I recommend it, not only for the babies. It’s not a great piece. It doesn’t even have and author.  But it is fun and cute.

149. “Squirrel’s World” by Lisa Moser

Squirrel liked to stay “busy, busy, busy” . He liked to “go, go, go”, “help, help, help”, and his talk certainly reflected his full engagement, hyper-eagerness, and extra motivation. Unfortunately, Squirrel’s good intentions often generated less positive results, like when he decided to help Mouse gather food for the winter and he almost killed her with corn and the rain of apples, or like when he wanted to wish Mouse “good-night” and he already woke her up. But on the other hand he was very considerate and good-hearted. He found a way he and Turtle can play together and he taught his friend a great way to fall asleep on a sleepless night. I guess that how things are done in Squirrel’s World!

It is hard not to notice how much Squirrel and our busy-bodies have in common!  “Squirrel’s World” is a cute little story for the whole family. And if I tell you that the warm and humorous pictures are done by nobody else than Valeri Gorbachev, I am sure that you won’t wait long before introducing Squirrel to your children.

 

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