45. “Nicky and Big Bad Wolves” by Valeri Gorbachev

Another great story by Valeri the Great, I mean Valeri Gorbachev. I know, there are other children’s writers worth mentioning in my blog, but as I have told you earlier, obsessive- compulsive is surely one of my traits…

When my son first saw the book,  he immediately asked: ” So, how many Big Bad Wolves are there?” Funny as it sounds, it is a valid question. Both Three Little Pigs and  Little Red Riding Hood were bothered by just one beast, weren’t they?

Coming back to Nicky, a little rabbit with big imagination. One night, his carrot-sweet dreams were interrupted by a horrible nightmare: he was chased by a pack of wolves. They were riding bikes or flying a balloon. There were a hundred of them, or fifty, or perhaps just fifteen. Either way, they were finally gone thanks to brave Mother Rabbit and her broom.

If your child is scared of monsters under the bed, or wakes up at night screaming, read them the story about Nicky and his bad dream. Wait till the daytime, though. The book might help them to understand the difference between the real and not real. And if not, it is still a great story that will keep them excited till the very last page.

By the way, where do children get an idea of monsters in the first place? We never mentioned anything to our son, and yet recently, when I turn out the light , he pops a question about potential monsters in his room. Isn’t that weird?

44. “Nicky and the Rainy Day” by Valeri Gorbachev

Every time the rain is expected, the first thought that runs through my head is: “What a bummer! What are we going to do at home?” Our stamina for playing Candy Land, finger painting and reading books is above average, but so is our energy.  I can’t speak for all the stay-at-home-moms, but I tend to fill the day with a variety of outdoors activities. Not only because I love the fresh air and my son thrives in the park or swimming pool. Mostly, because otherwise he will spend hours jumping on the couch, racing around the house and performing the wildest acrobatics, and I will be one step closer to getting a heart attack or losing my sanity. Whichever comes first.

Now, what does it all have to do with Nicky? Nicky and his brothers and sisters stayed at home on a rainy day. How about going to a desert, mountains, jungle, south pole…? Nicky was full of ideas what to do instead of staying at home.  As the children were discussing their impossible, according tho their mother, options, they didn’t even notice that the rain stopped and they could go out to play in the puddles.

I like that.  Even if it rains outside, we can always make it sunny in our heads. Our imagination can bring us to any place and on any adventure we like. A magical adventure, that is.

The story, as always by this great writer, strikes with lively, humorous, child-like conversations and the warm pictures of a bunch of cute and funny rabbits appeal to both, big and small readers.

22. “The Missing Chick” by Valeri Gorbachev

High time for another reading delight by my favorite children’s writer and illustrator. ” The Missing Chick” is basically a detective story. CSI for children, you might say. Mother Hen thought  that her seven chickens were helping her hanging the clothes on the clothes line, but as Mrs. Duck found out there were just six of them. Where is the seventh child??? The whole village engages in the search, including the fire brigade and policemen. Will they find him?

Of course they will. Children’s story without a happy ending is useless. The chick is found and he promises not to get lost again. Until he does of course.

Don’t you know it the first hand? “Mommy, I will not do it again,” my son would look at me with his big eyes after I would tell him off for jumping on the bed. Sure he won’t. Until five minutes later…

6. “What’s the Big Idea, Molly?” by Valeri Gorbachev

I can’t wait any longer to introduce this great writer. He has definitely earned his spot and made his name in the children’s literature. Not sure whether it is his Ukrainian background that speaks to my Polish roots, or the universal relevance of his stories, but I am a big fan and I would surely add Valeri Gorbachev’s work to any preschooler’s must-read list.

“What’s the Big Idea, Molly?” is perhaps not as great in my eyes as “Red, Red, Red”, for example. somewhere in the middle my son seems a bit distracted, as if he wanted to fast forward a few pages. But this is what we’ve been reading today, so why not to talk about it?

As a little mouse Molly struggles finding some poetic inspiration, her friends struggle with a great idea for  Turtle’s birthday. They keep suggesting the same things, until Molly gets a bright idea and they all work together to prepare a great gift for Turtle. By the way, working on the gift project turned out to be pretty inspiring for Molly.

The story, as usual in Gorbachev’s books, is super simple. The dialogues and narratives are very straightforward,  the wording is limited but carefully selected. The simplicity is not boring and awkward but appeals to children, speaks on their level. At the same time, there is always some deeper meaning, lesson or message hidden in the story. Working together, playing together, being good friends, being nice to each other. Core values conveyed in a subtle and touching  way.

I think it is great to read to our children books filled with numbers, letters and other elements that make them great students. But let’s not forget about the books that make them great friends and great people.