Walter’s Wonderful Web by Tim Hopgood, 2015
(Ages 2 – 5)
Walter, a determined little spider, is doing his best to build the perfect web, but unfortunately the wind keeps knocking down his creations. He tries building his webs into different shapes including a triangle, a square, a rectangle, a diamond, and a circle, but he is defeated by the wind each time. Finally, inspiration hits, and he combines all of the shapes to create a truly amazing web that withstands the mighty gusts of the wind.
My two-year-old daughter loved this book and after reading it, we had fun looking around our family room to find other examples of squares, rectangles, etc. My five-year-old son even joined in our “shape hunt” and fun was had by all. It also inspired me to make my kids spider shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwich!
This book not only provided a terrific introduction to shapes, but also a nice lesson in persistence. Walter never gave up and after continued hard work, he finally achieved his goal. This is a great read aloud that belongs in every preschool classroom.
The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell, 2017
(Ages 3 – 7)
This is a clever new twist on alphabet books that is simply brilliant. Each page features the upper and lower-case letters of the alphabet with almost no other text. The story is told primarily through the comical illustrations. It was fun for my five-year-old son to guess the relevant word based on the letter on the page and complimentary picture. This was a perfect way for him to practice matching sounds with the corresponding letter. Most of the time this was easy for him, but if he ever stumbled, we discovered there is a key at the end of the book that explains what each letter represents.
The story itself follows a little red cat who encounters a myriad of predators who chase him through the alphabet. For example, the first spread features an “Aa” with the image of the cat running into an alligator. He then stumbles upon a bear, chicken, and dragon who pursue him through the jungle, mountains, a kingdom, etc. Each new page presents a new element to the adventure that is engaging and amusing. This book is original, educational, and most of all a lot of fun! This is definitely one of my favorite books of 2017.
I am a big fan of Patrick McDonnell and his work seems to be getting better and better. Check out some of his other great books:
Marigold Bakes a Cake by Mike Malbrough, 2017
(Ages 4 – 8)
Marigold, a bowtie-wearing orange cat, likes things just so. Mondays are his favorite because it is his day to bake in solitude. This particular Monday, Marigold is preparing to create an absolutely fabulous chocolate cake. As he carefully follows each step of his recipe, however, he is rudely interrupted by birds flying in through his open window. Marigold becomes a little more frazzled at each new group of intruders until at last, his tail poofs up, his ears become pinned back, and he chases the birds in a wild feline frenzy. Marigold finally gives up, huffing, “Baking is for the birds.” The reader will notice the birds putting on chef hats and evaluating the baking utensils and will most likely predict that the birds will finish the cake. Boy, would they be wrong. The next page features the birds causing complete havoc in the kitchen creating quite a mess. When Marigold returns and see that even though the birds failed at baking, they at least had tried, he gets the idea to teach them. In a hilarious ending scene, Marigold quickly discovers that birds aren’t any better students than bakers.
Many of the picture books I have read recently have concluded with a sweet, predictable ending, and this one was so unexpected that it made me laugh out loud. My five-year-old son also thought this book was hilarious and particularly enjoyed the illustrations of Marigold losing his cool. He would erupt in a fit of giggles and imitate Marigold’s frantic mew of frustration each time we read the book. I also loved the illustrations and would drool over the page featuring the delicious-looking chocolate shavings. This book is a great recipe for fun that will be enjoyed by aspiring cooks or anyone who likes an unexpected story.
Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman, 2006
(Ages 2 – 6)
We’ve been visiting several farms this fall, so I thought I would pull out one of my favorite books that takes place on a farm. Chickens to the Rescue is as fun to read aloud as it is to listen to. A group of enthusiastic chickens appear on each page to solve a crisis on their farm. Ranging from making dinner to getting a cow out of a tree, there is no emergency too big for these impressive chickens. Each two-page spread presents a different disaster on each day making this a nice tool for reinforcing days of the week to young children. Both my two-year-old and five-year-old have been struggling to remember the order of the days of the week, so this book provided a perfect example and nice jumping off point for our discussion.
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long; illustrated by David Shannon, 2003
(Ages 3 – 7)
We attended a pirate themed birthday party this month, so I thought it would be fun to read a few pirate books before the birthday bash. How I Became a Pirate is one of the more popular pirate stories, so I obviously picked it up from my library. My son didn’t really have a chance to enjoy it because to my surprise my two-year-old daughter confiscated it for her bedtime. I thought it was too old for her, but she asked me to read it every night at bedtime for a solid week. We’ve just started brushing my two-year-old daughter’s teeth with toothpaste and to say she has been resisting the toothpaste is an understatement. When I read this book with my two-year-old, she kept asking me why the pirates teeth were green and why some didn’t have teeth. This became the perfect way to convince her to use toothpaste. I told her she needed to use toothpaste, so that her teeth didn’t end up like the pirates’ teeth and fall out due to lack of care. It worked and it is no longer a battle at bedtime! I’m not sure if she was just fascinated with the pirates’ teeth or it was the entire story that she loved, but it was definitely a favorite this month.
The story is about a little boy who joins a band of pirates. At first he relishes his new life of not having to eat vegetables or go to sleep on time, but he soon realizes it is not all it’s cracked up to be. David Shannon’s illustrations shine as he perfectly captures pirate life. A fun story for any buccaneer.
Here are a few other jolly reads we enjoyed while gearing up for our pirate themed birthday party: