Harriet You’ll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox

Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild!

Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild!

Well, whether your kids are driving you wild because it’s Purim and they have too much sugar in their bodies or because it’s Tuesday (or Wednesday or…), this is the book to read. In fact, we have several copies of it at home because we read it that often. Sometimes we read it so often that it is no longer about what my kids want to read but what I NEED to read — I need to read Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox, illustrated by the fantastic Marla Frazee. And if they want me to read their stories, I get to read my story.

Harriet Harris was a pesky child. She didn’t mean to be, she just was.

Could that describe our my children any better?

Harriet’s mother has about 10 pages more patience than I do, but still, I like to think we are the same person (if I had a daughter, a lot more patience, stayed at home and, well, OK, she’s not much like me). After each thing that goes wrong (Harriet accientally pulls the tablecloth and lunch dishes to the ground; Harriet drips paint all over the floor as she shows her mom her painting, etc.), Harriet’s mother (“who didn’t like to yell”), gets “angry” and each time, her statements get longer and longer:

Harriet, my darling child. Harriet, you’ll drive me wild..

And of course, each time, Harriet apologizes, as children are sometimes good at doing.

 Until the end, when Harriet pops a pillow and the feathers go everywhere. And then, well, Harriet’s mother starts to yell. And she yells and yells and yells. And then she apologizes.

Basically, it’s an average day at my house.

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Raisel’s Riddle by Erica Silverman

I’m late for Purim. Thanks to the encouragement of my good friend Amy Meltzer (plug: check out her blog at: http://homeshuling.wordpress.com/), I’ve been planning to return to my discarded blog. I had high hopes of getting back in time for Purim but, while today is technically still pre-Purim, my good suggestions are hardly timely enough to help you order some good reads. So apologies and I’m going to go with a classic story that takes place during Purim but can be read all year long.

Raisel's Riddle

Raisel's Riddle

Raisel’s Riddle by Erica Silverman can be thought of as the Jewish Cinderella story — complete with a poor young woman who works for a pittance, the folks around her who mistreat her, the perfect caregiver who has passed away and the stroke of luck that allows her to meet her prince charming and capture his heart. However, while Cinderella is a classic, it also provides us with some dubious morals. Not so for Raisel’s Riddle. Her kindness is what earns her the trip to the ball (here the Purim festival). it’s not Raisel’s beauty that draws the attention of the prince (here the rabbi’s son) to but her intelligence and her wit.

Don’t grow concerned that this is a heavy-handed politically correct too-Jewish for modern comfort fairytale. With lush illustrations by Susan Gaber, and wonderful wordplays from Erica Silverman, Raisel’s Riddle is simply a more upscale version of Cinderella. More importantly, it’s a story that won’t make you cringe. And unlike the original, it’s a version you will be able to stand to read over and over again.

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Time for Bed by Mem Fox

Board books are generally pretty boring. Every so often you get a really funny one but for the most part, you have to read them so many times that even the best start to feel tiresome.

And then there are the bedtime books. My 3 year old still insists on hearing Goodnight Moon every night — so we don’t even read it anymore, it’s one of the “stories” he gets to hear when he’s in his crib (yes, he still sleeps in his crib — truthfully, I’d keep him in there until he’s 10 if it will keep him from getting out of bed!). So it’s high praise when I call a board book one of my favorite bedtime stories.

It's Time For Bed
Time For Bed

Time For Bed by Mem Fox is a perfect bedtime story. The words are lilting, there isn’t too much text and it’s sweet without being too sappy. It has this soothing rhythm that could honestly put my to sleep if I let it and Jane Dyer’s soft illustrations are a perfect complement. If you are dealing with a child who is too awake, there’s also a lot to look at in the book — you can point out all the animals and their animal parents, etc. And it’s the perfect message for the end of the day:

It’s time for bed little mouse, little mouse,
Darkness is falling all over the house.

It’s time for bed little calf, little calf,
What happened today to make you laugh?

Unfortunately, at the end of the day (for that’s what it is when you read this book), even a great bedtime book can’t ensure a great bedtime. Sad, isn’t it?

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Light Years by Tammar Stein

Like many people, I’m thinking a lot about Israel these days. I think that this week, as I get back on track with blogging, I’ll focus on some great Israel books. I’ve already blogged about my new favorite YA Israel novel — Freefall by Anna Levine — now it’s time to go back a bit and blog about one of my other favorite YA Israel novels: Light Years by Tammar Stein.

Light Years

Light Years

Light Years tells the story of Maya, an Israeli young woman who is just finishing her army service when a suicide bombing blows up a restaurant where her boy friend was waiting for her. The trouble is: she was trying to figure out whether to tell him she was going to still go to the U.S. to go to college, even though he didn’t want her to go.  The story is wonderful — the way it carries you back and forth between Maya’s present, where she’s in college in Virginia, and her past, in Israel with Dov in the time leading up to and following the bombing. It’s a great love story — as Maya remembers what it was to be in love with Dov, and what it means to now be falling for someone else.

But more than anything else, it takes you right back to Israel. To the way it feels to be in Israel — not with the threat of bombings, but rather with the taste of the food, the smell of the air, the way people relate to one another. It’s one of those books you don’t put down once you start reading it, that captures you. It’s one of those books that even in the cold beginning of January, in the safety of America, you remember what it feels like to be back in Israel.

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Fancy Aunt Jess by Amy Hest

Fancy Aunt Jess

Fancy Aunt Jess

While writing my post about Amy Schwartz and thinking about my favorites among her books, one book that deserved a post all on its own is Fancy Aunt Jess, written by Amy Hest (of The Friday Nights of Nana fame) and illustrated by Amy Schwartz.

I adore this book. I adore how quiet it is and how sweet it is. I love the portrayal of Becky and her affection for her Aunt Jess, who she thinks of as Fancy Aunt Jess. I love that it’s a bit of a romantic book — because ultimately it concerns the fact that Aunt Jess won’t get married until she meets someone who gives her goosebumps — but it’s not over the top and embarrassing. It’s a bit of a girl book but both my boys sat through it (my oldest is already thinking about who he’s going to marry — at 5 — so he had a vested interest in figuring out how the whole marriage thing works).

But most of all, I love the fact that it turns out the characters are Jewish, which you might not have expected. It turns out that when Becky sleeps over at Aunt Jess’ house, one of the things they do is go to (a clearly Reform) shul on Shabbat. And that in fact, that’s where Aunt Jess meets Harry (uncle to a Becky-like girl Nicole). And I love the fact that the last page of the book features the two getting married — cute and romantic but not Disney — under a chuppah. Just like it’s normal for a chuppah to be the last page of a book. The characters being Jewish is really no big deal to them, it’s not a big part of the story, it’s a character in the story, a detail.

“Mama, they’re Jewish!” my 5-year old yelped when we got to the part where they go to shul. “Just like we’re Jewish.” He sees Jewish people in books all the time, but they are always Jewish books. This one just slipped it in and that made all the difference.

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Mrs. Moskowitz and the Sabbath Candlesticks by Amy Schwartz

Since it’s Friday and I’m thinking ahead to Shabbat, I thought I’d blog about one of my favorite Shabbat books — Mrs. Moskowitz and the Sabbath Candlesticks by Amy Schwartz.
Mrs. Moskowitz and the Sabbath Candlesticks

Mrs. Moskowitz and the Sabbath Candlesticks

Moskowitz (as my children like to call the book), is one of the first books published by the incredibly talented writer/ illustrator, Amy Schwartz, who is responsible for some of my favorite mainstream books — like Bea and Mr. Jones, Annabelle Swift, Kindergartener,  and A Glorious Day, to name a few. In this book, Schwartz creates a very special kind of Shabbat book — one that is perfect for families of all denominations and beliefs — no mean feat to be sure. Moskowitz is the story of an older woman who has moved from her family home where she raised her children into an apartment. “This apartment will never be a home,” she says at the beginning of the story.

However, something almost magical seems to happen when her son Sam brings her a box in her old house, a box that contains her old Shabbat candlesticks. She puts them on the table and when she wakes up the next morning, she sees how tarnished they are in the sunlight. So she buys some polish for them. Once they are polished, they look so beautiful that she can’t help but feel badly that they are sitting on such a plain table, so she finds a tablecloth. And on, and on. While the candles don’t do anything special, by the end of the week, her apartment has been completely unpacked and turned into a home — and she’s decided to invite the family over to have a nice Shabbat dinner. 

It’s a lovely story — perfect for discussing the loneliness that older adults can feel, for playing games with your children that involve having them clean things (!). It’s a great book for sharing with grandparents (in my experience, a lot of parents and grandparents tear up during the story). It’s just plain lovely.

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Bigger, Better, Best! by Stuart J. Murphy

It is sometimes incredibly frustrating how much my sons learn from TV. It’s not suppose to be like that. TV is suppose to turn their brains to mush (according to my dad), not teach them about science (thanks Magic School Bus), music (surprisingly, Backyardiggans), enrich their vocabulary (Martha Speaks) and virtually teach them to read (Word World). And no, they don’t watch that much TV, they just watch many different PBS programs…. oh well. The other day, my 5 year old told me that we shouldn’t watch too much TV because it ruins your powers to think (we were having a sick-kids-means-movies day). “That’s right!” I said, feeling proud that TV hadn’t totally rotted his brain. “Where did you hear that?” I asked. “From Sid the Science Kid,” he said nonchalantly. Stupid PBS. 

Bigger, Better, Best!

Bigger, Better, Best!

Anyway, my kids do learn a lot from books, but the science and match stuff is sometimes hard to get from a book, unless it’s the Magic School Bus. But one book that has really taught my son a lot about math is Bigger, Better, Best! by Stuart J. Murphy, part of his Math Start series. While math stories might have you thinking about two trains heading toward each other at different speeds, this story is actually quite good and applicable to children. Jeff and Jenny are always arguing about whose stuff is better. When they move to their new house, they want to know who has the bigger window, whose room is larger, etc. etc. With the aid of paper sheets, they set out to figure out the surface area of their two different shaped windows and rooms. Figuring out the surface area works nicely into the story and doesn’t turn the book into one of those didactic stories no child wants to read again. Besides, with bickering siblings, kids can relate.

By the way, Jill, the youngest, is clear that her room is best because while it’s the smallest, it’s the farthest from her bickering siblings. So you get math and values. Who said math had to be dull?

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I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child

I suspect there will be a lot of Lauren Child postings to come. She is one of my favorite picture book writer/ illustrators for young kids and each book I read is more fun, and more appropriate to my family, than the last.

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato

So, for those who have yet to meet Charlie and Lola, welcome to two youngsters who you will quickly realize are versions of your children. In I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato, we meet Charlie and his younger sister Lola. Charlie is sometimes in charge getting Lola to eat, which is no easy task because Lola really doesn’t like to eat anything at all. So, as only an inventive older brother can do, Charlie recreates all the food into different foods. You see, you may think that carrots are, well, carrots, but in fact, according to Charlie, they are orange twiglets from Jupiter. Lola doesn’t eat carrots, but she certainly is interested in orange twiglets. You get the idea. 

However, in a sweet little twist, by the end of the book, we’re clear that Lola isn’t quite as gullible as she appears. Neither, I suspect, are my fussy eaters.

The good news is that once you fall in love with this book, which you will, there are many more to keep you happy and your children entertained. Check out I Absolutely Must Do Coloring Now or Painting or Drawing or I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed for starters and then we’ll talk about Clarice Bean

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Rivka’s First Thanksgiving by Elsa Okon Rael

So, it’s still a couple of weeks until Thanksgiving but I’m realizing that when I give book suggestions about a holiday, doing it a day or so before the holiday doesn’t help folks who want to buy the book, or get it from the library. So, with that in mind, this is a great book for getting your kids ready for Thanksgiving.
Rivka's First Thanksgiving

Rivka's First Thanksgiving

Rivka’s First Thanksgiving by Elsa Okon Rael is a real winner. The story takes place on the Lower East Side on NY around 1910. Rivka and her family have recently moved to the U.S. from the old world and, at school, Rivka learns about Thanksgiving. She comes to her grandmother and asks whether they could celebrate Thanksgiving. Not sure, her grandmother heads to her local rabbi who says: NO! And for me, this is the best part: Rivka doesn’t feel good about this decision and so she decides to do something about it. She decides to write a very respectful letter to the rabbi to explain why it would seem to her that they should be able to celebrate Thanksgiving — after all isn’t the story of running from persecution a familiar one to the Jews of the Lower East Side? Celebrating the freedoms afford to one in America was something she felt should be mandated, not disputed.

And, at the end of the story, the rabbi listens to her reasoning and admits he made a mistake. She has to get up in front of their beit din (rabbinic court) and explain her position (it’s a great illustration or this little girl in front of all these men with white beards and black coats) — which she does. It’s a story of standing up for something you believe in. It’s a story about respecting your elders. It’s a story of working within the system for change. Basically, it’s a great story.

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The Flag With Fifty-Six Stars by Susan Goldman Rubin

Today is Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day) and so I’m thinking of the tremendous heroism and sacrifice of the members of the military — now and in the past.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields

Having grown up in Canada where people put poppies on their coats today, and where there is a minute of silence at 11:11 a.m., I wanted to recommend a book about soldiers — preferably one that incorporates In Flanders Fields, the haunting poem we were forced to memorize as children. Sadly, while there is such a book — In Flanders Fields by Linda Granfield — I have to admit that I haven’t read it and so it is difficult to recommend it (though if you try it out, let me know what you think).

However, this week also marks Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass, a night that some point to as the first major act of the Nazi government against the Jews in Germany. So in memory of both of these events, I wanted to recommend a really special, albeit it painful, book.

The Flag With the Fifty-Six Stars

The Flag With the Fifty-Six Stars

The Flag With Fifty-Six Stars by Susan Goldman Rubin is a haunting portrayal of the last days of WW2 when Jewish prisoners in the Mathausen concentration camp have heard that the American army is on their way to liberate them. Despite the fact that the prisoners are sick, having eaten virtually nothing for years and filthy from the squalor they’ve been forced to live in, they decide that they want to give a gift to these American soldiers who are coming to help them. And so, scrimping and saving and looking for scraps, they heroically find enough supplies to create an American flag to greet their saviors. However, while they get the requisite number of stripes right, they wind up creating a flag with fifty-six stars. It’s the true story of the creation of the flag and the incredible courage of the prisoners and the soldiers that Susan Goldman Rubin retells in this fascinating book.

It’s not a story for the faint of heart, but an important story nonetheless as we remember not only the Jews and other nations that were killed in the Holocaust, but also the brave troops that fought, and died, to liberate them.

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Half a World Away by Libby Gleeson

Having moved a number of times in my life, I have often felt very far away from my very best friends. However, the worst was when my childhood best friend Rachel moved across the ocean to England when I was 13.

I think about that a lot these days now that Rachel and I are back in touch, more than 20 years later, and talked on the phone, still across the ocean from one another. It’s in that spirit that I want to recommend another delightful gentle book, Half a World Away by Libby Gleeson.

Half a World Away

Half a World Away

It’s a quiet book, beautifully illustrated in soft but vivid colors by Freya Blackwood. It’s the type of book that makes you sigh when you are done, that makes you feel peaceful — perfect for that last book before bed. In it, Amy and Louie are best friends — children who do everything together, who climb through the fence between their backyards every day, who call each other to play by calling: “Coo-ee Am-ee” or “Coo-ee Lou-ee.” But then Amy, like Rachel many years ago, moves with her family to the other side of the world (presumably from the illustrations, New York) and they are separated.

Louie is despondant and wants to call out “Coo-ee Amy” but everyone tells him that she won’t hear it, that when it’s day for him, it’s night for her. Finally, his grandmother says that maybe Amy would hear it and Louie takes the chance. And that night, in a dream, Amy can hear Louie calling across the ocean: “Coo-ee Am-ee.” Soft and delightful and hopeful — a wonderful bedtime read.

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Zen Ties by Jon Muth

I love all the Stillwater books. I love how beautifully they are illustrated. I love how quiet they are. I love how they teach subtle messages and how you feel good after you read them. I love that each one screams QUALITY.

Zen Ties

Zen Ties

But more than all of the others, I love Zen Ties by Jon Muth, the newest installment in the adventures of Stillwater the panda, Addie, Michael and Karl. In Zen Ties, Stillwater brings the children to visit Miss Whitaker, the cranky old lady who lives on their block. The children don’t want to visit her — she doesn’t seem to like them and yells a lot. But Stillwater insists and while they are there, they learn that under a cranky person is often a lonely person. And they learn that spending a little time can make the difference in someone’s life. And finally they learn that old people have a lot to offer — in this case, a superb understanding of spelling that assists Michael in his spelling bee.

The Zen series is always wonderful but this book goes above and beyond the usual quiet lessons to teach a powerful message about our responsibilities in our community. More than that, it provides an opportunity for an important discussion with your children.

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Mommies Don’t Get Sick by Marylin Hafner

Sadly, I heard that the lovely Marylin Hafner, a great children’s book illustrator and writer, died on Oct. 31st. She illustrated over 100 books in addition to the back page comic strip in Cricket Magazine. While she was in her 80s, she was still working and drawing, and I think it’s a great loss to children’s books.

Mommies Don't Get Sick

Mommies Don't Get Sick

So, in honor of Marylin Hafner, let’s give a big shout-out to one of my favorite of her books, Mommies Don’t Get Sick, which she both wrote and illustrated. It’s out of print so hard to find, but it’s worth looking for a copy on a used book site or at the library. Every so often, we parents do get sick, and this book tells what happens when the inevitable occurs.

Pick it up, it’s delightful. Or look for her other books — it’s well worth the trip to the library or the money on the credit card!

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Abraham’s Search for God by Jacqueline Jules

In synagogues around the world, Jews will be reading about Abraham this Saturday, so I thought I’d provide a nice, kid friendly Abraham book. The problem with Biblical stories is that if you aren’t a true believer or deeply religious, chances are, you feel a bit conflicted about the “truth” of the story. So, do you read the story to the small child as a story just like Leonardo the Terrible Monster? Or, do you make a point of saying this is real or this happened or this is something I/we (kind of) believe in?

Abraham's Search for God

Abraham's Search for God

I’ll let you figure that all out, but in the meantime, here’s a nice story that won’t make you cringe. Based on the midrashim (stories written to fill out gaps of information in the Bible), Abraham’s Search for God by Jacqueline Jules deals with how Abraham “discovered” God. It’s filled with great examples of deductive reasoning and offers a nice way to talk about God (even for those who aren’t sure what they think of God). Possibly best of all, it’s beautifully illustrated with art by Natascia Ugliano.

So here’s the gist: it’s a Bible story that won’t make you squirm, with pictures that are outstanding, on a topic that you probably want to introduce to your child, even if you aren’t a true believer. It might sound like faint praise, but for a Bible story, it’s quite amazing.

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Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Amy reminded me of one of my favorite monster books — Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems.

Leonardo, the Terrible Monster

Leonardo, the Terrible Monster

There are a number of lovely books for children about monsters. Generally, monster books are great for helping children talk about fears since generally it turns out that monsters aren’t nearly as scary as they initally seem to be. So, that’s the standard monster book. Then there are books like Shrek and Leonardo that turn this model on their heads.

Leonardo you see, is a Terrible Monster. Not terrible as in very, very frightening but terrible in that he is very bad at being a monster. He’s not scary or disgusting or creepy, even though he wants to be. He desperately wants to scare someone, but he just can’t seem to be scary enough. Until he meets Sam. Until he makes Sam cry in fact. But it turns out, Sam isn’t scared, he’s just lonely and then Leonard has a big choice to make: continue being a terrible monster or focus instead on being a wonderful friend.

Leonardo doll

Leonardo doll

It’s such a lovely book — oversized with interesting type and fun for adults and children. And it’s sweet. And silly. And apparently, you can get a Leonardo doll as well. Again, who knew?

I think I have to add Mo Willems to my author crushes. Thanks Amy!

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Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

So, I have very mixed feelings about Hallowe’en. On the one hand, it was probably the most important day each year next to my birthday when I was growing up. I thought about it and obsessed about what I would magically transform myself into for months. I was really into Hallowe’en. As a parent though, I have to say that it’s really annoying.

First and foremost, it’s all about candy. And my kids would eat candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner and have room for candy snacks if they had the option. And even the costumes are a pain. I like to think of myself as pretty crafty but I really don’t want to be making Luke Skywalker costumes all night. I’ve been lucky for the past few years on Purim because my kids were still fine wearing Superman PJs and calling that a costume. It’s all changing.

Room on the Broom

Room on the Broom

All my baggage aside, one of my favorite Halloween books is Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson. The witch in this story is quite a lovely woman who keeps losing things (her wand, her hat, her ribbon) as she’s flying along. Every time she loses something, an animal helps her find it and asks if there is room on the broom for him/her. And each time, our lovely little witch says yes. Well, after a while, there are too many creatures on the broom and the broom breaks and that’s when trouble beings. But, it turns out, when you help others, they quickly come to your aid as well. Even when there’s a monster that thinks that “witch with french fries tastes delicious to me”!

Room on the Broom Activity Book

Room on the Broom Activity Book

Donaldson, who also wrote the marvelous The Gruffalo, is definitely an author to look for when you are looking for something new. This book is so much fun to read out loud that I actually used it for the read-aloud for my son’s 4th birthday party. In January.

According to Amazon, you can even get a Room on the Broom Activity Book or CD. Huh, who knew?

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As Good as Anybody by Richard Michelson

Some books just sweep you away. Richard Michelson’s latest illustrated book (because I don’t think that many 8+ year olds would be attracted to the picture book label), As Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom, does just that.

As Good As Anybody

As Good As Anybody

The memorable snapshot of Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel marching together in Selma, Alabama, serves as the jumping off point for the book.  Tracing the childhood events and inspirations for both men’s activism in sparse text, Michelson, aided by Raul Colon’s stunning illustrations, mentions but doesn’t dwell in the prejudice that they both faced, but rather demonstrates the inspiration that both received to stand tall and believe that they were “as good as anybody.”

Picture book biographies can sometimes feel bogged down by the facts, but this one truly doesn’t. By the end, when the two leaders join together for the famous march and “[t]here were not enough police in the state to hold the marchers back. There were not enough mayors and governors and judges to stop them,” you and your children will be hard pressed not to feel inspired as well.

Warning: there are some Holocaust moments in this book but they are not graphic.

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Mr. Putter and Tabby by Cynthia Rylant

I heart Mr. Putter and Tabby.

My author crush on Cynthia Rylant continues. Thank God, my local library updated its collection of The High-Rise Private Eyes stories on CD because I could not cope with my carpool kids without something that engrosses them for the entire ride. But I’ve written about these silly and blessed mysteries for kids. So, here are my thoughts about another Cynthia Rylant series: Mr. Putter and Tabby.

Mr. Putter and Tabby Spin the Yarn

Mr. Putter and Tabby Spin the Yarn

Sigh. If I love High-Rise because it keeps the kids entertained I adore Mr. Putter and Tabby on its own merits. Educators like to say that stories need child protagonists to entertain children but this is a perfect example of a series that breaks all the rules. It’s an easy reader series about an older man, Mr. Putter, and his cat, Tabby, who live next to elderly Mrs. Teaberry and her dog, Zeke. Each book contains a very calm little adventure which contains no light-sabers or pink cupcakes — it’s always a decidedly old-fashioned story. Last night, the 5 year old munchkin and I read Mr. Putter and Tabby Spin the Yarn in which Mrs. Teaberry decides to have a knitting party and Mr. Putter, feeling like Mrs. Teaberry is always cooking him food and all he does is eats it, wants to serve tea at the party for Mrs. Teaberry’s guests. You might think that Mr. Putter would create a huge mess but in fact, it’s Zeke, Mrs. Teaberry’s wild dog, and Tabby, the cat who shouldn’t be near so much yarn, that create all the problems and Mr. Putter does a lovely job of keeping everyone calm and cleaning up.

One thing I will say is that they are stories filled with people doing kind things. Whether Mr. Putter is worrying that he doesn’t do as much for Mrs. Teaberry as she does for him, or Mr. Putter is offering to walk Mrs. Teaberry’s crazy dog Zeke when she hurts her foot in Mr. Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog, it’s nice to read about people who take care of neighbors and are just plain nice.

Mr. Putter and Tabby Write the Book

Mr. Putter and Tabby Write the Book

Last week, we read about the time that Mr. Putter decided to write a novel, which took a lot of thinking and a lot of naps and snacks, in Mr. Putter and Tabby Write the Book. Truly, nothing happens but it’s such a nice change from all these stories out there where there’s much too much that does happen.

I think I’m becoming a fuddy duddy, but I do love Mr. Putter and Tabby. Luckily, there are many books in the series so I won’t be stuck without a good Mr. Putter and Tabby to curl up with.

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Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers

Board books are not my favorite kind of book. They either seem to be too much text and content squished into small, relatively sturdy, pages; or they bore me from the first pages. At best, they are funny and the words make your baby laugh. But often you wonder — would my baby notice the difference if I was reading The Wall Street Journal, pointing to the pictures and making animal noises?

Everywhere Babies

Everywhere Babies

But then you have perfectly wonderful board books like Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, illustrated by the fantastic Marla Frazee. it’s a delight to read and it has beautiful illustrations of babies of all shapes, sizes and colors scattered throughout. It actually reflects diversity without beating you over the head with it.

I read it to my babies, to my toddlers and now to my older kids (note: all the same kids — I only have 2). I could read it again and again and not grow bored. It’s sentimental without being saccharine which is almost unheard of in baby books. And best of all, if you look carefully, there are same sex parents all over the place in this book. Yay Marla Frazee for your illustrations! 

This is a wonderful gift for new parents and new babies and pregnant women, though it will probably make them cry. 

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Big Momma Makes the World by Phyllis Root

I am a terrible blogger — I have not posted regularly in weeks. In my defense, I had all those Jewish holidays. But let me say, it’s won’t happen again (until next year that is).

In the meantime, I get a lot of requests for books on creation that don’t make you feel like you are lying to your child. In my mind, there is one fantastic book that I think is an excellent introduction to creation for most any child. Most importantly, it is a great book even for (and some might say especially for) those who don’t believe in the Biblical creation story.

Big Momma Makes the World

Big Momma Makes the World

Big Momma Makes the World by Phyllis Root is funny and gorgeous and irreverent and fabulous. It’s a fantastic book to read aloud (I often read it to grown-ups, not just kids) because the words are just so right. And even though traditionally, we don’t think of God as being a large-ish woman with a baby on her hip (especially Jews don’t — God with a baby gets a little scary), it’s probably the most memorable and amusing take on the creation story that you will find. And then after you have your kids laughing, you can move on to the more serious books. But at the end of the day, this is just the best one out there. I love Big Momma (potentially more than the Lord I’m afraid to admit).

And for those committed to the Big Bang, wait until you see how it comes in… Wow.

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