“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.

 

“Is there a dog in this book?” by Viviane Schwarz

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You might think you have already seen everything from the world of tail tales.  After all, it’s been raining cats and dogs in kid lit for a while. But have you read “Is there a dog in this book?” by Viviane Schwarz? The furry pups and purry felines have never been more entertaining.

Andre, Moonpie and Tiny suspect there is an intruder in their book. A dog. The older cats know of dogs and they are dreading a potential encounter with the yappy, smelly, scary cat hater. They try to find a safe place to hide: behind a sofa, in the piano,  in a suitcase? As the fear of the dog grows in the older cats, so does the curiosity in Tiny. He wants to know what dog is. He wants to pet it. He finds is friendly. Thanks to brave little Tiny, Andre and Moonpie learn that even though they know of some dogs, they haven’t seen all dogs yet. Some dogs are soft, friendly and they love cats. But wait a minute… Where is that dog now? 

Next to bright, humorous illustrations, pages filled with inventive flaps, the book is written in the breaking the fourth wall format, to fully engage the reader in this hysterical hide-and-seek.

But it’s not only the humor that strikes me in this story. It’s more about what a serious message this amusing tale conveys. Andre and Moonpie show us so clearly that it is not always true that the older we grow the wiser we get. Our experiences often lead us to bias, bitterness and various prejudices. As a result we can’t see things with Tiny’s innocence and genuine curiosity. But perhaps we should try? Perhaps every now and then we should try to look at the world the way children do? They clearly have lots of fun exploring and gathering their own, positive, experiences. They can even teach us something new.

The other day, my three-year old taught me for example that if I dropped my IPhone into the bathtub filled with water, it would still work…  I thought otherwise but he proved me wrong. Yeah, I know, that’s not the lesson I had in mind…;-)

361. “Where’s My Tail?” by Susan Schafer

Tails seems to be one of the most intriguing animal parts, for children and for children’s book writers alike. No wonder, the sheer number of different types of tails is already mind-boggling. But what are the tails for anyway? Do animals need them?

As Little Lizard discovered, when his own tail magically fell off, tails are indispensable. So what happened to the Little Lizard’s?  Perhaps a frog could help him solve the puzzle? After all, she seems to have lost hers too. Well, the frog’s tail fell off when she was a tadpole and she didn’t care about having one now. It would weigh her down when jumping into the water. What about a bear? He looks tail-less too. Oh, no, one must not ignore bear’s stubby little tail. Did raccoon ever lose his tail? Nope, he needs his bushy tail to blend with the background when in danger. What about a snake? His tail is so long that he could share it with Little Lizard, perhaps? The snake did not like that idea.  But actually, Little Lizard didn’t need to borrow any tail anymore, as his own had already grown back.

Isn’t is amazing? Lizards lose their tails when grabbed by an enemy, but in most cases, the tails grow back. Your children can learn this and other curious facts about the animal tails from this entertaining and very educational Little Lizard’s adventure. Highly engaging, colorful pictures by Doug Cushman.

346. “Charlie Hits It Big” by Deborah Blumenthal

Charlie was a little guinea pig with a big dream: Hollywood. He decided to leave his cosy cage and his friend, Sophie, for a glamorous career. How did it work for him? His dream came true, but as he found out, it was not exactly what he had expected… It was time to come back home.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as the saying goes. Sometimes we need to leave, in order to know why we should come back.

A delightful story about friendship, dreams of stardom and choosing what’s best for you, whether it is a big life and camera flashes, or a “Fruity-Nut Buffet, Buy 1, Get 1 Free!” with your friend.

Lively tone, a hilarious story and lots of humor in illustrations, by Denise Brunkus.