308. “Miss Bindergarten Plans a Circus with Kindergarten” by Joseph Slate

If you read my previous posts, you have already met this most resourceful teacher, Ms. Bindergarten. She is always full of inspiring ideas, but her latest initiative is certainly the most ambitious and original. She is planning a circus with her class. They paint posters, blow up balloons and prepare the most intricate stunts. Gwen will be showing off her somersaults, Henry his tricks with hula-hoops, Quentin will perform as a weight lifter. Everyone is engaged and everyone will perform, but who is going to be the real circus sensation? Your little readers might want to find out.

A delightfully frolic rhyme, warmly and brightly illustrated by Ashley Wolff. The lively colors just explode from every page as they would in the real circus.  One can have so much fun in kindergarten!

But what I really like about this book is that it does not end with the story. Children get a few bonus pages which focus on colors and mixing colors. Besides, the readers get to meet each and every student of Ms. Bindergarten’s class. All twenty-six of them. Surprisingly, their names begin with different letters of alphabet. What a fun way to learn your ABC’s!

307. “Badness for Beginners” A Little Wolf and Smellybreff Adventure by Ian Whybrow and Tony Ross

Mom and Dad Wolf try hard to raise their two sons big and bad like themselves. They teach them rhymes, like “Never Say Thank You”, promote burping and other misbehavior. The younger, Smellybreff is doing a great job being bad, but Little Wolf just doesn’t have it in him. He tries to put on an angry grin, and people think he smiles. Unlike his baby brother, who destroys a newly repaired bridge, throws up at a restaurant and makes a waitress trip. The parents are proud of Smelly and hope that Little will catch up on badness, until they fall into their own trap…

This is a really tricky story, isn’t it? Totally upside-down. A grown-up or a school age child can easily grasp the humor and filter the message but isn’t it too confusing for the little children, who are always told to do things right, say thank you and be nice to people? I decided to test it on our son. To my surprise he seemed totally into it. Of course, I couldn’t resist commenting as we were reading, that we should NOT follow the Wolf family practices,  but I think he had figured it out by himself.

Quite funny, smart and definitely different. Considering that our children like to do things the opposite way, perhaps a lesson on badness is indeed an effective way to teach them goodness.

306. “The Story of James” by David McPhail

James went fishing with his baby brother. He caught a large fish, but lost the little guy. Where could he had gone? According to the fish, and a curious note, the boy was headed to the seashore. But where was the seashore? A lion agreed to give James a lift and then a weird couple playing checkers  confused him with some conflicting directions. James gave a few coins to an owl for more information on his brother but she wasn’t very helpful. Neither was a turtle. Finally, James got to the seashore but instead of his brother he saw the very same fish that had brought him there. Was James ever going to find his younger sibling? 

I don’t want  to keep you on the edge, so I assure  you that he will. But where, it is up to you to find out.

A really special story. It’s over twenty years old, so hope you can find this little gem, which so wonderfully mixes the reality and magic. A serious issue of responsible big brotherhood is cleverly interwoven with the thrilling world of dreams. As a result, the story  captivates the reader from the first page to the last one. Including the back cover.   It’s storytelling at its best.

305.”The Featherless Chicken” by Chih-Yuan Chen

Chickens have feathers by nature, but one chicken was an exception. He was born without the fluffy outfit and his bare skin caused him a lot of trouble. He was cold and felt ugly. He wanted to go boating with four beautiful, feathered chickens, but they wouldn’t mingle with the featherless one. However, they did find him intriguing when the naked bird approached the pretty group again, dressed in a coat of mud and leaves. And when all the birds got soaking wet during the boating, the featherless bird finally saw that he was not worse or uglier than the rest.

What’s the moral from this lively story? By the end of the day, we are all the same. We all have our fears and dreams, we all need to eat and drink, sleep and shower… We all have a bad hair day and get a pimple every now and then. So feathered or featherless, let’s teach our children to always be proud of themselves.

A smart little tale. Well written. Humorous and deep. Original pictures. Very engaging and memorable.


304. “No Hugs Till Saturday” by Julie Downing

Have you ever  shortened your child’s time-out or let them eat desert before dinner even though you had claimed otherwise?  According to the books, we shouldn’t do that, right? We should stick to our word. We should remember we are in control. But what if we aren’t?

Felix was deprived of his ball “till tomorrow” as a result of playing with it in the house, which was not allowed. He didn’t like it. He decided to reciprocate and “punish” his mom by depriving her of his hugs, till Saturday. But since it was only Sunday, mom found the punishment pretty unbearable and Felix decided to shorten the penalty by a day. By afternoon, the hugging would already resume on Tuesday, and by the end of the day, the ban on hugging was lifted, upon the mutual agreement.  

A pretty hilarious take on discipline, anger and the power of hugs.  Children need structure and parents should not be afraid to impose it. Sensibly,  though, and with love. Anger is human, but we can all learn to manage it, and nobody should be deprived of the basic human need, hugging. Especially moms, and dads and grandmas, and children and friends…

And last but not least, the story is a great pretext and an engaging tool to practice days of the week. I almost forgot to mention the warm and humorous illustrations.


303.”The Bear Who Shared” by Catherine Rayner

There are many life lessons a child needs to learn and one of them is that generosity is good and selfishness is lonely. Most of the parents do a good job teaching “nice sharing” to their children, yet incidents happen and you never know when a child will refuse to share their favorite toy or candy.  Many parents feel obliged to scold or reprimand, in order to show their disapproval of such behavior, yet I believe that the positive reinforcement and good example are much more effective. Today’s book offers a great example.

Norris was a wise bear. He knew that plorringes were the best fruit of all. Norris was also a kind bear. He knew that if he got the last fruit from a plorringe tree, he should share it with Tulip and Violet. Sharing the fruit brought Norris two new friends and lots of more sharing and happiness. 

A very simple, yet powerful little story, warmly illustrated with watercolors. I wish us all lots of wisdom and kindness.

302. “Duck Soup” by Jackie Urbanovic

Yesterday I promoted gardening, today I am proposing a book about cooking. Sounds dull, but not if you do it with Max the Duck and his crazy friends, Brody & Co.  

You might remember from “Duck at the Door”, that Max took to cooking as soon as he moved in with Irene. He enjoyed trying out various recipes, until FOLLOWING the recipes was not enough. Max wanted to create his own soup masterpiece. And while he was in the garden looking for a perfect herb to add the final touch to his creation, Brody, Dakota and Bebe were trying to figure out what soup was cooking in the kitchen. Could it be duck soup?????!!!!!

As always with Max, the story is full of twists and turns and the illustrations are simply hilarious. Lots of  fun for the whole family.

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