248. “Mine” by Shutta Crum

Children’s books can’t be hard to write, right? At least that’s what many aspiring writers and readers wrongly believe. After all, the script can be construed during one evening and you don’t even need to worry about the illustrations. That’s someone else’s job.  Well, the reality is that it does take a talent to think of  a memorable story, but I do understand where the misconception comes from looking at the books like “Mine”

It is a cute picture story. It really is. Two children and a puppy are trying to establish their rule over a bunch of toys. Everyone claims that the toys are “MINE”. The assertive interaction between the little guys, who still need to master their art of sharing, leads to amusing incidents, which are quite fun to observe and surely relate to. In other words Patrice Barton created a series of wonderfully expressive and engaging pictures.  She was the one who told the story in images. But wait a minute, the official writer is Shutta Crum. Does she  even deserve to get a credit ( and most likely the royalties) for writing the book, if the script consists of just two words: “mine” and “woof”? Hmm, if that’s the case, then writing children’s books could not be easier indeed.

247. “So Sleepy Story” by Uri Shulevitz

Everything is sleepy in a sleepy house: sleepy chairs, sleepy clock, sleepy boy in  a sleepy bed…  Suddenly,  the house magically fills with music, which gets louder and louder. Sleepy chairs start to rock, sleepy plates begin to dance on the shelves and the boy wakes up. Until the music  softly drifts away  and the whole house goes to sleep again.

On one hand the book reminds me of  the classic “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise-Brown. It is equally lyrical. But in the “So Sleepy Story”, the night is not all cosy and quiet. In this book,  going to bed is just the beginning of a magical adventure. Anything can happen in dream.

A truly enchanting bedtime story. You virtually feel the music. Very imaginative  pictures.

 

246. “Tico and the Golden Wings” by Leo Lionni

Do you remember Calvin the bookworm? He had full-fledged wings, but didn’t bother using them. Well, Tico, on the other hand, wanted to fly more than anything in the world, but he didn’t have the wings. Luckily, he did have good friends. He also had his dream of flying. Until the  big dream came true thanks to a wishingbird and a pair of golden wings. Tico couldn’t be happier! Unfortunately his excitement was not shared by his friends, who accused Tico of trying to be better than the rest with his golden feathers. “Was being different bad?” Tico wondered as he flew off to discover the world and the value of his wings. With the gold, Tico helped a lot of people:  a sick child got medicine, and a lost sailor received  a compass. Finally,  Tico’s golden wings turned black, as his friends’. They liked him again, because he was like them. But Tico knew that “We are all different. Each for his own memories and his own invisible golden dreams.”

This is certainly a book I am going to come back to as my son grows older. Tico’s story offers a valuable lesson for a young person. We all should have our dreams and never give up on them. And when they come true, we should not feel guilty for being happy. We should not be afraid to use our gifts, as we have them for a reason.  We can use them to make others happy. A good singer can become an inspiring artist and a charismatic speaker can turn into a great leader. Why trying to fit in if we are all different anyways?

245. “Mommy, I Want to Sleep in YOUR Bed!” by Harriet Ziefert

Referring to the yesterday’s story, some children are attached to their sock monkeys, dolls or dump trucks, some other prefer a live Teddy Bear, a.k.a. Mommy. Mommy is the ultimate natural sedative and the most effective lullaby. There is no other way to fall asleep, but with mommy. Well, in many parts of the world, co-sleeping is found natural and convenient and people don’t make a big deal out of it. In the US, however, parents are advised to keep children in their own bedrooms. After all, why do we have such big houses, right? I am saying there is no right or wrong here, as long as it is safe for the child and keeps mom sane and rested. But if you’d like your child to fall asleep by themselves in their room, and you wonder how to get there, today’s book might come in handy.

It was about bedtime in Charlie’s house. A parakeet and a bunny went to sleep in their cages. A baby girl was closing her eyes in her crib, mommy and daddy  were getting ready to sleep in their bed and Charlie was supposed to have sweet dreams in his. It didn’t happen though.  Before long, Charlie was crying outside his parents’ room. “I want to sleep in your bed!” You want to know what the smart parents did? They tried to explain to Charlie, that since everyone sleeps in their own beds, so should he. It didn’t work immediately, of course, because it is hard to reason with a sleepy toddler, but after a little bedtime story by mom and yet another little trick, Charlie was happily dreaming in his own room. 

Hope this helps. Otherwise you might consider what Brad and Angelina did and order an extra large bed to fit the whole family.

244. “I Must Have BOBO” by Eileen Rosenthal

Bobo was just a silly sock monkey, but for Willy Bobo was an indispensable and irreplaceable companion. Bobo had special powers, you see. He protected Willy from a big dog and  was a dare-devil on the slide. But one morning as Willy woke up, Bobo was nowhere to be found. “Maybe he was stolen by pirates!” Or does Earl the cat have something to do with it? 

Hmm. Playful or mischievous, Earl does like playing a game of hide-and-seek with Willy. And you might like seeing how the boy and the cat try to outsmart each other.

A greatly amusing and engaging picture story. Very appealing in its minimalism. I love the interaction between the humorous, cartoonish pictures, by Marc Rosenthal, and the equally skimpy text.

243. “Calvin Can’t Fly” The Story of a Bookworm Birdie by Jennifer Berne

Some parents pray for their children to be well-read and well-educated, some others, like Calvin’s parents,  wish their offsprings were  just a tiny bit less into books…

While his siblings and cousins explored the world from the bird’s-eye view, Calvin chose explored books in the library. It was especially worrying, as Calvin was a starling. Birds need to learn how to fly and catch worms, instead of turning into book-worms themselves.   But Calvin couldn’t care less about using his wings and spent all his days utilizing his brains: learning about dinosaurs, planets and pirates. “His books took him to places wings never could”  and the library offered a safe shelter for the picked-on odd erudite. But what about heading south for the winter? Well, if you can’t fly you have to be towed, and that’s how Calvin joined the formation. Even more, he helped his fellows to escape from a fearful hurricane. Everything thanks to the books he had read. And what about flying? Well, everything in due time…

Great read for every parent worrying about the future of their  nerdies. A very inspirational, uplifting and well written story and most  “adorkable’ character. Greatly amusing and engaging pictures by Keith Bendis.

 

 

242. “Mama’s Coming Home” by Kate Banks

A loooooooong, looooooong time ago things were simple: the man was the bread-winner and the woman was the home-maker. Then things started to get complicated. With the industrial revolution, women commonly joined the work force. What’s more, they have gradually and gladly advanced from being nurses, teachers and secretaries, to managers, politicians and lawyers.  In the current economic situation, a woman’s right to work is more of a need to work, depending on the size of the mortgage, yet many career women don’t seem to mind it.  Consequently, I am also seeing more and more men who choose (or agree) to stay home and take care of the children, which would never happen a looooong time ago.  Not every man’s ego is strong enough to go for the challenge, and not every woman’s job pays enough to feed a family, but it does work for many couples, indeed.

In today’s book, the mom is the one who comes home from work. On one hand, the reader can experience the excitement of the family waiting for mom. Dad cooks dinner, the children set the table, everyone is glued to the window, because “Mama’s coming home.” On the other side, you get to follow the mom’s hurried footsteps, across the city, to the train, in the rain… Until finally “Mama’s home” and dad’s home-made pizza is served.

A very warm story about the family reunion by the end of the day.  The rhythmical script is a great way to bring out the hustle and bustle at home and in the city. I love Tomek Bogacki’s pictures: so bright, lively and full of engaging details.

241. “There’s A Nightmare In My Closet” by Mercer Mayer

Do you remember the resolute little  red-pajama boy who used to have an alligator under his bed? Well, it seems like it wasn’t the only monster the little guy had to deal with in his room. He also had a nightmare in his closet. Imagine that!  The boy knew that the beast kept creeping out of the closet at night. Finally, he decided to catch it red-handed. He was just about to shoot it, but the nightmare started to cry, which was not a part of the plan. What if it would awake mom and dad? The boy shushed the crying beast by… putting it into his bed… right next to him.

It was surely an unusual solution, but who knows, perhaps, it is not a bad way to get rid of nightmares lurking in closets. Just sleep on it. Or with it.

Once again, a hilariously absurd bedtime story for the thrill-loving little readers.

240. “Big Brothers don’t take naps” by Louise Borden

It is great to have a big brother like James. He can tell you his secrets and  hold your hand when crossing the street. He will team up with you for trick-or-treating.  He can read books to you,  show you movies on the computer, and  teach you counting backwards. You get to wear the clothes that he has outgrown. Having an older brother is the best. The only better thing is to be a big brother yourself. Big brothers don’t take naps!  So, welcome to the world, little sister Grace!

A fresh and original  take on the bond between two brothers, seen with the eyes of the younger boy, Nick He admires his older sibling and he wants to be like him. And luckily for him, James  doesn’t mind being a role model. Very inspiring and heart-warming story,  as well as bright,  feel-good pictures by Emma Dodd.

239. “It’s Mine!” by Leo Lionni

“It’s mine!” If you are a parent, you are bound to hear this phrase coming out from your sweetly babbling baby’s mouth. Interestingly, children master “mine” even before they learn to use the super simple pronoun “I”. Luckily, there is no need to panic and question our parenting techniques. We are not raising a selfish child. It is just  the “independence” phase. Sooner or later,  children learn to share. Uff.  Or not.

Milton, Rupert and Lydia were three quarrelsome frogs that lived together on an island. They bickered about everything: Milton claimed that he owned the water, the earth was Rupert’s property and Lydia liked to believe she could have the air for herself. Until an old toad couldn’t take it anymore and gave the selfish frogs a talking to. It didn’t stopped the frogs from bickering, though. A storm did. As the frogs had nowhere to hide from the terrifying thunders, but for a little rock, they discovered that “they felt better now that they were together, sharing the same fears and hopes.”

In other words, for some people “It’s mine!” is not just a phase. They are a Scrooge for a living.  But even those people change their minds eventually. They just need something mega-terrible to happen first. Where is the logic here? Go figure.

Another wise and relevant story by this master of story-telling.

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