“Mrs. Mo’s Monster” by Paul Beavis

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Mrs. Mo was busy preparing Mr. Mo’s birthday celebration, when she was suddenly interrupted by a very ill-mannered visitor. It was a monster who only liked to “crunch, munch and chew”. Mrs. Mo tried to engage the monster in her painting project, but “he only knew what he knew”. Instead of painting, he crunched on the paintbrush. And then on a string, and a spoon. The patient Mrs. Mo kept trying to encourage the monster to help her, but since it wasn’t munching, crunching and chewing, he couldn’t do it.  Until the stubborn monster saw Mrs. Mo stir the cake batter. That was something he absolutely could do! And that was something Mrs. Mo couldn’t do without the monster.  

Happy Birthday, Mr. Mo! What a clever story. I guess this is one of those books the publishers are looking for these days: an engaging, entertaining story with a very subtle, yet powerful message. It is good to get out of your comfort zone and try new things, indeed. Put on the growing mindset. You can learn to do it. Don’t let fear or laziness drive you! 

I love the writer’s voice. The onomatopoeic word choices, repetitions and witty dialogues are just a perfect mix. Add to it the humorous pictures, and the characters’ personalities come alive as you turn the pages. What a debut, Mr. Beavis!

A brilliant story for so many reasons. The off-beat humor from cover to cover makes this book a delightful treat for readers of any ages. Giggles guaranteed. The birthday twist makes it a fantastic birthday gift. And last but not least, perhaps this is the book to help us and our own little monsters to get out of our comfort zones and try something new from time to time. I am giving billiards a try tomorrow.

 

“Maple & Willow Apart” by Lori Nichols

 

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Maple is a big sister and starts a big-girl school. Willow is a little sister and has to stay at home. Maple brings home endless exciting stories about kindergarten. Willow has to learn to have fun around the house by herself. Maple makes new friends at school, Willow meets Pip by an oak tree. Now Willow has stories to share too. As the girls learn to build their separate routines, they realize that they miss each other and find a way to reconnect and share their new worlds. Willow might be too small to go to school with Maple, but Pip isn’t. 

Yesterday was my son’s last day of the summer vacation. However nervous he felt this morning when I dropped him off at school,  I am positive that when I pick him up, he will be bursting with excitement.  I’m sure that his younger brother, a preschooler, will notice the difference between the summer with his brother and the fall without him.   And that’s why we will read the story of Maple and Willow tonight, to remind my boys that they should never allow the school routine to drift them apart.

“Maple and Willow Apart”, with its sweet pencil illustrations, is certainly a heart-warming celebration of the sisterly bond.  And it is a wonderful book to read at this time of the year, to prevent the school-separation drama.

“The Seven Silly Eaters” by Mary Ann Hoberman

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Some like it hot, some like it cold, and little Peter Peters drank only warm milk. It wasn’t a problem for the patient Mrs. Peters. Her little Peter could always count on a perfectly warm cup of milk. Just like his sister Lucy could always be pleased with the homemade pink lemonade and their brother Mac with lump-free oatmeal. The kind Mrs. Peters ended up catering to preferences of  all of her seven picky eaters. Picky as they were, the children appreciated their mother’s efforts. They tried to show it on Mrs. Peters’s birthday, which lead to the most surprising birthday gift for their hard-working mother. 

In this comic take on the topic of fussy eaters, which suddenly turns into a birthday book, the story is as familiar and fresh as mom’s homemade food. Many a mom can surely relate to Mrs. Peters’s cooking dilemmas and perhaps find her one-meal-for-all solution quite handy. The book is written in delightful rhyme, which only enhances the humor and makes reading aloud a family treat. Together with the engaging and hilarious pictures by Marla Frazee, “The Seven Silly Eaters” is quite a memorable book that will fill the tummies of your little readers with lots of giggles.

I must admit, I can quite relate to Mrs. Peters… There are days when I’m cooking four different meals for the four of us. I am getting smarter though (or more tired) and my list of common favorites starts prevailing on our family menu. Besides, although I respect individual likes and dislikes in the food area, I think it is vital  for the family to share one meal from time to time. That’s one way to make family traditions and memories. Like this one:

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Who can say “no” to baked apple pancake!