272. “Squeak’s Good Idea” by Max Eilenberg

Squeak wanted to go out, but his daddy was busy ironing (I know, how often do you see a daddy by an ironing board, right?) and mommy was reading books to Tumble. Squeak decided to go out… BY HIMSELF. He got dressed really warm, just in case it might get winter-cold and put on his rain-proof gear, for you never know, it might rain. He prepared a picnic basket in case he got  hungry and took off…  to the backyard. It wasn’t cold and it wasn’t raining, but the picnic basket came in handy, especially that his family decided to join him after all. 

Doing things by yourself for the first time can be pretty hard for a little child, but also for the parents.  It is stressful, emotionally loaded, takes lots of preparations… but it can be very rewarding. My son has recently mastered putting on his shoes, undressing himself, as well as going to the bathroom. He was so proud of himself that he called his grandparents to share the news.

“Squeak’s Good Idea” is a good idea indeed, when you are ready to let your child explore the outside world by themselves. I recommend a fenced backyard for the first time. Warm and reassuring story and pictures (by Patrick Benson).

271. “Ready to Read” by Rosemary Wells

Today’s post, which is actually belated yesterday’s entry, is about a picture book slash workbook, that is meant to prepare children for reading. The book reads like a regular picture story. The reader gets to follow Timothy and his friends during their  exciting kindergarten day. What has Mrs. Jenkins prepared for today? There is an alphabet rhyme, and some rhyming riddles, and word building… One can’t be bored and one gets to learn so many things. What’s more, the reader can practice their knowledge of phonics and rhyming skills together with Mrs. Jenkins’s class,  in selected exercises scattered throughout the book.

“Ready to Read” is a great idea very well executed. It is a cute story warmly illustrated and well-chosen exercises, that are actually helpful. If you think your children are ready to read, you should definitely read this book with them.

270. “Beatrice Doesn’t Want To” by Laura Numeroff

We all know Laura Numeroff’s successful “If you give…” series, created in collaboration with Ms. Bond. Today’s book, which is not the part of the series and was illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, is different, yet equally delightful treat for  young readers. Especially for those who don’t care about books. Yet.

Beatrice  was anti-reading and the library was surely not her favorite place to be. But, she had to go there with Henry, her brother slash sitter who needed to work on a report. For the first two times, Beatrice just kept disturbing Henry, but on the third time, the clever boy found a solution. A story time. Of course, Beatrice didn’t want to go, but… as we all know, books can be captivating. So, wouldn’t you know it… When Henry came to pick his sister up, she didn’t want to go home.

A cute and humorous story,  familiar and inviting library setting, warm and bright pictures… at least three reasons for your child to like this book.

269. “Tomato Soup” by Thacher Hurd

Since many of our books I read to our son come from the library, we  are lucky to enjoy even the more ancient stories, from the previous century.  Or from my childhood era. (I can’t believe that these two are synonymous!) Most of the older books are quite charming, indeed. Many of them are classics. But every now and then, I come across a piece of writing that is not only far from classic, but also far from decent.

“Tomato Soup” is an example of good illustrating and poor writing. Sure, not every illustrator is a great writer, but where was the editor?! First of all, the title is completely random. It is a story about a sick mouse that tries to avoid a doctor’s visit and gets into all kinds of troubles. The soup is just one little element, not even a key one. Secondly, the very story is  so poorly structured and with numerous distracting plots that you begin to wonder what it is all about. To be honest, I think that it could do better as a cartoon script than  a book. The author might have had a vision but it turned out pretty flat in a book.

However, regardless of what I have just said, my son was pretty into “Tomato Soup” (despite the bad recipe) and the baby Mouse’s adventures on Farmer Clem’s farm:  escaping from George the Cat and trying to get rid of a stinky medicine.  I guess a picture book doesn’t need to be perfect to serve its purpose: entertain and engage the little readers.

268. “NO GO SLEEP!” by Kate Feiffer

According to the books, you should feed the baby, change the baby, put her in the crib and the baby should fall asleep. Some parents manage to follow the books, indeed. My friends are some people, for example, and their son has been in his bed at 7 pm from day one. Sleeping. Well, many of the less lucky or disciplined parents, however, do whatever it takes and more to make the baby sleep and the results are not always so apparent. Babies have their ways to sabotage the bedtime, don’t they?

It was time to sleep but the baby said “NO” to bedtime. Mommy and daddy asked him to close his eyes, the moon promised to lighten the night for him, birds wanted to tweet a lullaby , trees started to rustle good night, car beeped him to sleep, sheep suggesting counting… but nothing worked. Baby still said “NO!” …and then fell asleep.

Doesn’t it sound familiar?

A wonderful good-night story for every young family. Cozy, dreamy and sprinkled with humor, both writing and pictures by Jules Feiffer.

267. “Dog’s Colorful Day” A Messy Story about Colors and Counting by Emma Dodd

The sub-title is quite explanatory indeed. The book is full of colors and numbers.

Dog has one black spot on his ear. But as the day goes on, Dog collects nine more spots: a  red spot of jam, a green stain of grass, a gray splutter of mud, an orange splash of juice… and a purple smudge of ink. Until Dog gets a bath and there is only one spot left again.

The story is quite basic and  the illustrations are bright and minimalist, which makes this book engaging even for babies as they learn their first colors and numbers. Besides, the little children will love the onomatopoeic vocabulary cleverly used to describe how the spots are created: SPLAT, SWISH, SQUASH… What I also do with my preschooler as we read this story, is a little memory game: which spot comes next and how Dog gets it. We also try to read the number words and memorize different vocabulary for spots:  blob, smudge, drop, splatter.  There are many curious ways to exploit this seemingly simple book.

266. “I Want a Dog!” by Helga Bansch

Regarding pets, my husband and I  have always been on the same page: we’re done with having any. He used to own two cats, which basically owned his place, and I had a hamster once. For all the wrong reasons: because my girlfriends had one.  Lately, however, our pet- free policy is being questioned by our preschooler. He would like to have a cat. Sure, I like cats too, but one thing it is to like a cat and the other thing is to live with one in our carpeted two bedroom apartment.  So far, our son hasn’t started to insist on a pet, but if he does we might face a dilemma. Unless we go for a part-time pet solution, the way Lisa arranged it.

Lisa wanted to have a dog. Badly. Not a china or knitted dog, but a real one. Any kind of real one would do. Yet, according to her parents, the apartment was too small for a dog. Lisa tried a few tricks but  neither being “good as gold” or “truly terrible” helped to change her parents’ mind. Finally Lisa had an out-of- the-box idea. Why not to borrow a dog? She could take it for a walk, play with it, watch it…  She posted an ad. And that’s how Lisa found smart and playful Rollo, whose owner was not able to give him enough exercise anymore.

A cute, feel-good story, written and illustrated with humor and in an engaging manner.  And a great solution for every family whose apartment is too small for a pet. 

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