“Hug Machine” by Scott Campbell


Have you ever met the Hug Machine? He looks like an ordinary child, except, he is exceptional at hugging. Actually, if you are on his “to hug” list, and chances are quite high you are, you might experience it first hand. For the Hug Machine there is nothing too big or too small, too hard or too soft to be hugged. He is on the hugging mission.  From calming to uplifting, his hugs can do wonders. And if you wonder from where the Hug Machine gets his hugging powers, the answer is one word: pizza. Having said that, if you come across the Hug Machine in your area, let him give you a hug. And don’t forget, even the Hug Machine could use a hug from time to time. 

What a heart-warming story! You read it and you immediately want to hug someone. Especially your very own hug machines, to whom you are reading the story. With simple language and cartoonish pictures, Scott Campbell sends us a powerful message: hugging is so good for us. Or even better, the combo of reading and hugging. Let’s make both a habit.

My younger son, and our family hugging machine, knows the power of the hug all too well.  He never asks to be carried or held. He goes with “Hug me up, please.” Who can resist such a request! I tried it once, considering my son is almost 4 years old and weighs almost 40 lbs. His response came quickly and on top of his lungs. “Nobody wants to hug me!!!!” I just wonder what the people in the park must have been thinking…






“Meet the Dullards” by Sara Pennypacker


A boring book deserves a boring write-up. So, here we go, without further ado, meet the Dullards.

The Dullards’ child-rearing strategy was quite… boring. But kids don’t always listen to their parents and  Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud would sometimes come up with such crazy ideas like playing outside,  going to school or reading books. The Dullards couldn’t tolerate such behavior. If it wasn’t the genes, it must have been the place.  “It’s like a circus around here.” It was time to move somewhere duller. But nothing is perfect. Perfectly boring that is. Can you imagine a welcome by an excited neighbor with a chunky applesauce cake? However, even that couldn’t compare to the bright and flowery wallpaper….

Will the Dullards find a perfectly dull place to raise their children? Will the children keep trying to escape the monotony?

This book is so boring through and through. Dull pictures by Daniel Salmieri, uninteresting characters, dry humor… Add it all up and you’ve got an extra hilarious story! ( The exclamation mark is to annoy the Dullards). A story not only for children.

I don’t wish any child to be raised by the Dullards, but I think that a dull moment here and there would not be a bad idea for our over-scheduled and overstimulated kids. Let’s dare to be Dullards once in a while. Boredom can be good. Even inspiring. It can lead to creativity. Our bored kids can actually surprise us with something not so boring after all.



Dinosaur Starts School by Pamela Duncan Edwards


With the school year about to start or just started in most schools, a book about the thrill, or trauma, of the first day of school might be a good idea. How to explain to a little kindergartner what it is going to be like at the big-kid school? How to make the first day a positive experience for an anxious five or six-year old? How to prepare for the worst case scenario? Perhaps reading about how Dinosaur and his friend do it might help?

When Dinosaur sulks, roars, stamps his feet and finds numerous excuses why he shouldn’t go to school, his friend tells him about all the fun he can have and all the things he can learn at school. He tells him not to worry about messing up his painting because that might be a way to create something beautiful. And he tells him not to overthink the yucky lunch menu. There is always a salad for herbivores. Dinosaur learns he shouldn’t worry about being shy, because there will sure be other shy dinosaurs with whom he can build sand castles and play tag. After a pep talk like this, there is nothing left for Dinosaur than to smile his “big, toothy, Dinosaur smile”.

And that’s what you will get from your own Dinosaurs after reading this warm and reassuring story, so brightly illustrated by Deborah Allwright. May it be a great school year for everyone!

“If You Give a Cat a Cupcake” by Laura Numeroff


The other day my two-year-old asked for a carrot. I gave him a crunchy, juicy carrot to eat. But the carrot make my son think of an orange crayon, so instead of eating it, he decided to put it to work on his brother’s TaeKwonDo uniform, which apparently made him think of a white sheet of paper… And we were just about to leave for the big brother’s sparring class…

This “artistic” incident made me think of Laura Numeroff’s “If You Give a Cat a Cupcake” and other books from this amusing series, which currently experience a renaissance at our home. We used to read them with my older son, but to be honest, I always found the stories a bit too far fetched and the plot too forced. Well, not any more. My younger son’s logic and his readiness to execute the most outrageous plan prove that there are kids out there who can fully relate to the Cat, Dog or Moose and their outlandish ideas.

From cupcakes, to sprinkles, from sprinkles to the beach… the Cat’s brain makes some unpredictable connections that lead from one adventure to another. A ride on a carousele whale brings him to the science museum and the sand on the way back home, brings back the memories of sprinkles, which, naturally, trigger the thought of cupcakes… 

If your children think the way the Cat and my younger son do, they will love this entertaining story and lively pictures by the Numeroff- Bond duo.

“The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!’ by Mo Willems

I always knew that the gift or reading would open a totally new world for my son, I just didn’t know it would be the world of … fast food.

The other day, as we were driving by (note: not driving thru) a house of Big Mac & Co, my six-year-old suddenly asked. “Mommy, when can we go to this M [si:] Donald’s restaurant?” As a language purist I was ready to correct him, but the food purist in me had won and I just beamed with pride. Viva ignorance! As long as it lasts. I know that no later than in high school, he will learn more the pronunciation of junk food.

His interest in the snazzy billboard content and his questions about the fast food menu (“Are tacos  from Taco Bell are as good as yours?”)  made me think about the curious little Duckling from “The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!”

Pigeon finds a hot dog. He just can’t wait to eat it, but here comes a curious duckling with never-ending questions about the treat in the bun… “Would you say that it tastes like chicken?”  Will Pigeon get to enjoy his hot dog? Will the clever duckling finally taste the hot dog?

Just like other books from the Pigeon series, “The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!” will make you giggle on every page. The pictures and dialogues entertain every time you read this book. And you do want to read it over and over again.

By the way, unlike the duckling, my son prefers his hot dogs with ketchup. And unlike the Pigeon, I am not going to let my little duckling outsmart me. We will keep driving by, not driving thru.

“Tickle Monster” by Jossie Bissett

Yes, I know, I said I wouldn’t be writing for a while. And I meant it. Yet somehow, as soon as I verbalized my frustration,  I felt some overpowering need to challenge myself. I am not a person who gives up. I am not a person who can’t. Where there is a will, there is a way, after all. And so, I’ve  magically been finding both an inspiration and a way to fit my blog into my days again.IMG_0889

The book I’d like to recommend today is meant to both entertain you and tire you out. From wiggling and giggling.

A monster that is not scary? That can only be a Tickle Monster from Planet Tickle. Tickling is his greatest talent and when he visits you, no part of your body is safe. From your “adorable footsie” to “boney knee” and “little tum-tum”, Tickle Monster won’t stop tickling you until he is exhausted from fun and laughter.  There will be only one thing left to do before he leaves…

In order to find out what it is, you need to read this hilarious story, filled with amusingly inventive expressions and so brightly and whimsically illustrated by Kevan J. Atteberry.

Reading and writing about monsters reminded me of a bedtime conversation I had with my son (2.5 y/o) the other night.

Konrad: “Mommy, I want more milk.”

Me: “You’ve had enough milk. It’s time to sleep.

Konrad: “I want more.”

Me, trying to be clever: “I can’t bring you milk. There are monsters in the kitchen.”

Konrad, after a bit of thinking: “There are no monsters there. Monsters are only on TV.”

Me, feeling guilty for adding to my son’s nightmares: “You’re right. Monsters are only on TV.”

Konrad: “Go bring the milk then!”


“How To Cheer Up Dad” by Fred Koehler


A little tribute to Dads and a great gift of read-together for Father’s Day and every day!

Little Jumbo’s dad’s day wasn’t up for a good start.  First it was the raisins rain that threw him off,  then a fight over a bath and brown overalls. Little Jumbo suggested a time-out for dad. Well, it was Jumbo who got one instead. He decided to think of a way to cheer his dad up. Between a trip to the park and ice-cream store, fishing and reading books, dad’s mood’s improved indeed. Thanks goodness Little Jumbo knows how to cheer up his dad, because a cape cut out of the curtain won’t do the trick…

Enjoy the story and have a great Father’s Day!

“Library Mouse” by Daniel Kirk


Sam was a literate mouse, who lived at the library. He ate cheese like a rodent and swallowed books like a bookworm. When his head was spilling over with information and ideas, it was time for Sam to write a book of his own. His autobiography, “Squeak”, was followed by a picture book and a whodunit, which Sam put on bookshelves for children to read. Everyone wondered who the mysterious author was and the librarian decided to write him a note and invite him to the library. Sam knew that he was too shy to read in front of people, so what was he supposed to do? He put his creativity to work and children got their meet-the-author event indeed. 

The ending of this story is so creative that I just can’t spill all the beans. You need to read it for yourselves. But for the rest of my post to make sense, I must mention that clever Sam found a neat way to inspire children to write their own books. In Sam’s mind, writing wasn’t as hard as people thought. “If only they would try, they might find out that writing was really lots of fun.”

Considering Sam’s approach to writing, I have a feeling that he must have been acquainted with the work of Carol S.Dweck, Ph.D. In her book “Mindset”, she proves that we can do a lot more than we think, if only we set our mind on learning and try our hardest. From Picasso to Mozart, from sports stars to writers, the most achieved individuals got to the top and stayed there, not because they had some incredible, beyond-human talents, that we, normal people, don’t possess, but because they worked extra hard to fulfill their dreams.

Back to writing, I don’t claim that the love of writing will make all of our children published authors, but following Mrs. Dweck’s research and Sam’s way of thinking, it might be fun to try and learn a new skill. Our potential is unknown.  Who knows what might happen when we encourage our children to put their ideas, thoughts and dreams on paper?

An immensely inspirational story, greatly valuable for libraries, schools and writing workshops.

The Secret of Banana Soup” by Agnieszka Chapas

The secret is out. My latest book is out. Check it out!

The pictures by Natalya Yampolsky are just enchanting. And the story? This amusing tale of two friends, Charlie and Parrot, is a colorful geography lesson for young travelers and a little treat for fans of mom’s cooking.

“Almost” by Richard Torrey

Jack is almost six and, in his world, he is almost grown up. He can almost wear his older brother’s clothes, ride a big bike or make his breakfast. Never mind that his brother doesn’t let Jack touch his shirts, Jack’s feet can’t reach the pedals of the big bike and he spills milk all over the counter instead pouring it over the cereal. Luckily, despite being so almost adult and so almost accomplished, he is not too grown up to give his mom a hug every now and then.

Our children want to grow up so fast, don’t they? They can’t be just five or six years old. They are always five and a half or six and three-quarters. Yet, at the same time (and thanks goodness), there will always be moments when they don’t mind forgetting about their age (real or imaginary) and being just our little children. My head is full of examples, but it is kind of secret worth keeping, isn’t it. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Sweet, amusing and so true a story, which perfectly captures the paradox and dilemmas of growing up.  In our family it is the two-year-old who thinks he is six, like his brother.  And he sure acts like one. Almost, that is.

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