I am a self-proclaimed book fiend. Children's literature holds a special place in my heart - I think it is because my mother is an avid book lover herself and taught me from very early on to love classic, well-written children's literature.
Beautiful, enriching illustrations are just a part of the draw of a wonderful children's story, and so most of the books we review here will have gorgeous drawings.
You will not find any lackluster books on this blog. No vulgar Dora, Spongebob or Disney.
We believe in books that beautify the experience of growing up and learning.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aytesworth

The Gingerbread Man illustrated by Barbara McClintock is so well told and illustrated. You should have seen the grins on the piggies' faces as I told them the story for the first time. They adored it.

This is the classic story/rhyme that has been told for generations put together with beautiful drawings. I'm a Barbara McClintock lover (she illustrated another of our favorite books) and this book does not disappoint.

I can tell this will be one the kids ask for again and again.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett

The Night Before Christmas is the entire poem by Clement Moore - such a Christmas classic! - illustrated by the flawless Jan Brett.

Wondering: does it get any better than this?

It feels so good to read a story (poem) to the kids in it's unaltered state. So many of the classics are watered down so little kids "get it" but I think they "get" the originals just as well. The coupling of the full poem and these gorgeous illustrations makes for a wonderful reading experience.

Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate

Who is Coming to Our House? is a  simple, sweet Christmas tale that is focused on the birth of Christ.
At a time when so many books are centered around Santa Clause or Christmas trees or gift-giving, this sweet story tells of the animals in the stable where Jesus was born. Their anticipation of the event. The most important visitor. The Child.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hurry! Hurry! Have You Heard? by Laura Krauss Melmed

This sweet, poetic book is new to us this year. But I knew it would be a goodie just for the illustrations. Jane Dyer is one of my favorite illustrators. 

Hurry! Hurry! Have You Heard? May not be the most theologically sound Christmas book, but it's nothing that will harm the piglet's view of Christmas. And, unlike many other cute Christmas books, it centers around the birth of Christ and that makes it worth the read to me.

Animals throughout the forest are beckoned, by a little birdie, to the birthplace of Jesus on the night he is born. They go to bring Him gifts and rejoice in His birth.

It's not necessarily the actual Christmas story but it ties in the birth of Jesus with some animal fantasy. Some may put this book aside because it isn't true to the biblical account. I don't see any harm in adding a bit of whimsy to our beloved story.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Classic of all classic Christmas books.
The Christmas book.

The illustrations in this book are breathtaking. Realistic and whimsical at the same time.
I remember being completely captivated by this one as a little girl.
This is a book that needs to be on the shelves of every little reader.

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman

This book is total and utter adorableness.

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World has so many virtues. A sweet story, comic relief, the opportunity to teach little ones about geography and culture.
Just an all-around gratifying little read. I love it as much as the kids love it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Circle of Seasons by Gerda Muller

I love love love this book. A new favorite.
And, judging by the price on Amazon, so do a lot of other people. Yikes.
I was going to get this one for the piglets for Christmas (we have a library copy at our house right now) but I'm not sure I can dole out $25 for a used copy - a new copy is $330!

What a gorgeous way to teach your children about the seasons of the year. The illustrations are to-die-for. Colorful and engaging and just the right amount of old-fashioned charm. This one takes a close second to Tasha Tudor books for me.

Now...how to (legally) get my hands on my own copy...

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Each Peach Pear Plum...just the title makes me happy. This whimsical little book incorporates many well-known fairy tales in its quick-reading pages.

The playful seek-and-find illustrations are a fun challenge for little ones. It's not going to teach a valuable life-lesson or add enormous amounts of knowledge...but it's just so darn fun (and cute) that its pretty irresistible.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Dog Who Belonged to No One by Amy Hest

The classic story of a sad, perfect stray puppy looking for a home.
The difference about The Dog Who Belonged to No One is the time period - Victorian. Indulging in these illustrations is just about as good as it can get on a dreary Fall day. (On any day, really, this book is not necessarily a Fall book. It just feels that way.)

Lia is a girl whose parents are bakers on the edge of town. The dog with crooked ears finds her and the rest is history.

Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor

Pumpkin Moonshine
One of my absolute favorites. (The piglets too, I promise.) :)
If its Tasha Tudor, you can be pretty positive that I'm going to love it. She's the cream of the crop.

 This is the story of a runaway pumpkin and the trouble it brings to one little girl. But, as with most of my favorite picks, the illustrations are really where its at. They invoke feelings of crisp Autumn days past, full of warm pie and steamy cider.

Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington

Pumpkin Pumpkin is the perfect Autumn read for little ones.
Simple words follow the story of how a pumpkin seed is planted, germinates and grows into a massive pumpkin for little boy, Jamie, to enjoy in the Fall.

This one is good for a little science lesson teaching how things grow. It also has gorgeous, muted illustrations.

Duck Tents by Lynne Berry

I've found a new series to add to our favorites.
I have reviewed Duck Skates here.
Duck Tents is the second I've read of the Duck series by Lynne Berry.

This book features the same adorable illustrations by Hiroe Nakata and the playful rhyming words. Almost like lyrics to a song.

Five mischievous ducks embark on a camping adventure; a perfect story to be read in the Fall months. 

Can I make a confession? My favorite thing about this book has to be the cozy, plaid shirts the ducks are wearing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy White Carlstrom

"Jesse Bear, what will you wear? What will you wear in the morning?"

This book is a favorite in our house. I've been checking it out from the library since Beck was 2 1/2...maybe I should just buy it?
The depiction of sweet Jesse Bear and his ordinary day has a soothing effect on whoever is snuggled up to listen to the story. Maybe its because of the soft rhyming cadence or maybe the homey, cozy illustrations.

One of my absolute favorite toddler/preschooler picks.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pumpkin People by Sandra & Ron Lightburn

I'm not the biggest fan of Halloween and the creepy, ugly things that go with it. I enjoy the candy (of course I do!) and gorgeous children in funny costumes...but halloween decor and scary books about ghosts and goblins are not for me; or the piglets.

But this book is a worthy harvest-time read.

Complete with a little bit of spook - pumpkin people creeping from the corn fields in the dark - and some Fall fun - they gather at a huge bonfire to dance and party - it has just about all you need to get into the spirit of Autumn.

It even gives step-by-step instructions for how to build your own pumpkin people at the end.
Way too much fun.

Duck Skates by Lynne Berry

 Duck Skates is a fun, light-hearted story about five duck friends finding time to frolic in the snow.

Sweet, lyrical rhymes make up the text - which kind of makes it fun for even me to read!

The piglets adore counting the ducks and hats and skates and boots on each page.
My favorite part is the warm fuzzies I get seeing ducks lined in a row by a crackling fire...
Perfect to usher in the winter months ahead.

Treasure Hunt by Allan Ahlberg

Look at this adorable book. This is one you can judge from its cover.

This story follows Tilly, a curious toddler who loves to play seek and find throughout the day. Her breakfast, her stuffed bunny, her pet kitty - all hidden objects to find in the intricate drawings of this book. Gillian Tyler may just be one of my new favorite illustrators.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I Went Walking by Sue Williams/Julie Vivas

My Aunt is a preschool teacher so I knew that, when she presented Britt with this book, it would be a good one.

I Went Walking is a simple board book with vibrant illustrations of a child and the animals met along his/her path. The writing is lyrical and plain, "I went walking. What did you see? I saw a red cow looking at me."
This is a good book for a baby to learn animals and a toddler to learn colors. Preschoolers even find it interesting to guess where the animal is hiding in the pictures.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Werner

I remember reading this one when I was a little one. I wasn't as young as the piglets, because I remember reading it to myself. But it really is a good one for read aloud.

There aren't many pictures. And what pictures there are are just black silhouette sketches. But I tend to think that's good for children. Preschool is probably the earliest that the magic of their imaginations is enough to get them through a chapter book like this one.

But we're loving going along with the four orphaned siblings on their adventures as they try to navigate life without their parents (a sad thought, but one that's not approached much in the book - the adventures are the real subject here).
The Boxcar Children is a classic, and for good reason.

Captain Small Pig by Martin Waddell and Susan Varley

Funny little story about an adventurous pig on a boating trip with two of his buddies, Turkey and Old Goat. The personalities of the animals is so strong in the dialogue of this book. It lends itself quite well to "doing voices" which lends itself quite well to children's giggles. :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

The Story of Ferdinand is set in Spain. An international tale: the first clue that it will be worth a read...or 25 in our case.

Ferdinand is a bull. Not just any old bull, a bull that loves the finer things in life. His favorite pasttime? Smelling the roses...really.
While his buddies butt heads and snort and pant in the fields - showing their bull-ness - Ferdinand is content to lounge under a tree and relax.

He is taken to Madrid to be in a bull fight...the last thing a peace-lover like Ferdinand should be doing. How does he get in this situation? By a strange twist of fate. Read it to your little ones to find out.

Creepy Castle by John S. Goodall

You know what I like about books that have no words? The illustrations have to be good to carry the story. Creepy Castle by John Goodall delivers on the gorgeous illustrations. They're colorful and detailed.
Two mice - a princess and her knight, perhaps? (That's the other thing about narration-less books, you kind of make up your own story.) - go exploring in a creepy, abandoned castle. They are followed by a malicious rat and the adventures keep coming page after caption-less page.

This one is a current favorite of the two Bigs. I may have to return the library's copy and go on a hunt for our own.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Blueberries for Sal by Roberts McClosky

Blueberries for Sal is a perfect Summer read for the little ones.

Sal and her mother visit the nearby blueberry patch that just happens to be the favorite haunt of a local bear cub and his mommy. A few silly cases of mistaken identity and surprises for Sal and her mother (plus, blueberries!) make for a classic story that conjures Summer.Not to mention, the simple black and white illustrations are fantastic. (Of course.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Alfie Books by Shirley Hughes

Some of my and the Big Kids' (which is what I will be referring to Beck and Evie as since The Little One has arrived) books are by Shirley Hughes. She writes and illustrates this adorable seires of picture story books about Alfie and his little sister Annie Rose.

The books deal with every day occurances that resonate with little ones because of the reality of the circumstances.

Alfie locks his mom and sister out of the house after a grocery shopping trip and can't reach the lock to let them back in!

Alfie gets new rain boots and can't quite figure out how to tell the left boot from the right boot.

The stories are sweet and simple and the illustrations (my favorite part, of course!) are artistic and colorful.

A great series for preschoolers.

A New Reader

Sweet baby Britt Jackson has joined the reading club.
Membership: March 13, 2010 - present.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Little Critter Books by Mercer Mayer

I don't know how many Little Critter books there are - but there are plenty. I always seem to find one I've never seen when I visit the children's section in the book store. It's a good thing because my kids adore Little Critter...so do I.

These stories just center around a little...well...critter and his family. He's always getting into some sort of unintended (or intended) mischief and learning new lessons by the minute.

I really like the in tact family that the stories portray. Mom, Dad, Little Critter and his little sister and little brother. These are sweet, innocent, and usually funny stories that Evie and Beck really seem to identify with.

I remember these being my little brother's favorite books when he was a little guy too...how can that have been over 18 years ago?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mama's Milk by Michael Elsohn Ross/Illustrated by Ashley Wolff

With the birth of baby #3 on the horizon, I've been looking for books to prepare the kids for the arrival of their new sibling. I found Mama's Milk at the library and figured it was a good contender to teach them a little about breastfeeding. I want to come across as many questions and feelings as I can before baby gets here to minimize the shock.

This book features tasteful but educational illustrations of human mothers nursing their children along with many animal depictions of nursing. It shows breastfeeding as natural and normal. I think it is making them comfortable with the idea of mommy and baby being so close and connected in this way.

This is one I surely recommend for toddlers and older kids trying to begin the adjustment to a new baby in the house.

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

Llama, Llama Red Pajama is a perfect book for the 3, 4 and 5 year old set. So adorable. So funny.
Baby Llama is sweet but he's also very impatient. Sounds like a couple of little someones I know...
Mama Llama puts baby Llama to bed, goes downstairs to finish her dishes and Baby Llama throws a major fit to get Mama back in his bedroom.
He gets scolded for his "llama drama," kissed and then tucked in.
It teaches a little lesson about patience in an entertaining, fun way.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Goonight Goodnight Sleepyhead by Ruth Krauss/Illustrated by Jane Dyer

Goodnight Goodnight Sleepyhead is another baby night-time book and it's illustrated by Jane Dyer (the illustrator of our favorite, Time for Bed).

This book takes you through baby's room; we tuck in the stuffed animals, say "goodnight" to the elements in baby's bedroom and say goodnight to baby's head, fingers, toes, ears and nose. It has a soothing rhyming cadence and ends up teaching baby the parts of his body.

By the time I'm finished reading this one I'm ready for bed. Although...at this point I'm always ready for bed.
Though I see this as more of a baby/toddler book, my kids still pull it out for me to read from time to time.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Babies by Gyo Fujikawa

At our house, we love Babies. Babies we know, babies we don't know; babies big, babies little; babies quiet, babies crying...all kinds of babies.

What I love most about this book is the illustrations. They're vintage (this book was one of my mom's favorites when she was a little one) and too sweet. The kids had fun checking out what all the babies on every page were up to. Some being naughty, some eating, some sleeping, some playing with their toes.

This one comes in board book form, so it's great for babies and toddlers.