A Fish Out Of Water

003744One of my sweetest childhood memories is of my mother reading A Fish Out Of Water to me. I don’t know why I remember that so clearly, aside from the fact that there’s no counting how many times she read it to me. I can remember sitting there with her, giggling wildly at the absurdity of the story. Who ever heard of a tiny goldfish growing big enough to fill a swimming pool? My sister still has the copy of the book we enjoyed as children; it lost its front and back covers many years ago and the yellowed pages are just barely stitched together.

Like me, my little ones love this fun book! They have a very definite appreciation for the absurd, and this story certainly satisfies that! The responsible mother in me also sees the value in noticing the relationship between actions and consequences presented within the story, but I don’t ever make that a big lecture. It’s obvious enough without mom pounding it into their little heads.

The illustrations are classic P.D. Eastman, with few colors, few objects on the average page, and all of them highlighting the ridiculous moments. I’ve no doubt your children will appreciate the humor in this book just as much as my own have. Enjoy!

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Caps For Sale

61YmUX-JGlL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I truly hope that this next book is not new to any of you, only because that would mean you and your children haven’t been enjoying it as long as you could have. Esphyr Slobodkina’s Caps For Sale has been a favorite of mine since childhood. I can hear my mother’s voice reading it to me. It’s also been a big hit with my daughters since before they were two years old, and it’s a favorite of my son’s now too.

A cap peddler begins his day the same way he always does, little knowing that in the hours to come he’ll have to deal with the theft of all his inventory and the problem of getting it back from monkeys, of all things!

The very first time I read this charming book to my daughters I made up motions and goofy voices to go with every part. They collapsed into giggles that night and we’ve used those motions and silly voices every time we’ve read this book since. Now their little brother joins in on balancing his stack of caps oh so carefully on his head, peering around the tree to find the missing ones, and shaking his tiny fists angrily at the monkeys who’ve turned into thieves.

If this book isn’t already on your shelf, please go get it now! It’s a fun, silly book that may very well become a family tradition for you as it is now for us. Enjoy!

So Many Cats!

9780833544964_xlgI stumbled across this fun book a few years ago when I was browsing the clearance section of a local bookstore. It was on sale for less than two dollars, and as I glanced through it I decided it was certainly worth at least that much. So I brought it home and read it to the girls, who quickly fell in love with the delightful rhythm and the bright illustrations. Since that day, I have read So Many Cats! too many times to count, and we’ve added another admirer to our family of readers. Now my son sits with my daughters and giggles at the pictures and counts the cats on every page.

This fun story explains how a certain family ended up the owners of a dozen cats. True cat lovers, somehow cats seem drawn to the family members, following them home, scratching at their door, peeking in their window. Even after declaring they are done taking in cats, they discover that they may have room for just one more…

The most appealing aspect of this book is Beatrice Schenk de Regniers’ endearing verse. It’s a very fun book to read aloud, and it’s a very pleasant story to listen to. Ms. de Regniers wrote many books in verse, and clearly knew how to do so very well. It’s simple without being trite, somehow still interesting after being read dozens of times.

So-Many-Cats-Collage

The illustrations by Ellen Weiss are almost child-like in their use of imagination, with cats getting into all sorts of mischief throughout the book. My children stop me on every page to point out especially amusing kitties.

I’m so glad I picked up this book on a whim those years ago. It’s been a very fun addition to our children’s bookshelves and caused us to look up more of Ms. de Regniers’ delightful books. I hope you’ll check it out for your own family!

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A Porcupine Named Fluffy

PorcupineNamesFluffyWe like long-lasting, classic books in our house. Stories with value that make them stand the test of time. Books that touch our hearts in such a deep way that we can’t imagine not having them on our shelves for our children (and someday, grandchildren) to read with us. But we also love little stories that are just plain fun. Stories that touch our funny bone, the ones that make us giggle out loud. I love to hear my children inform me delightedly of something that we just read together, not even concerned with the fact that I heard it the same time they did. They’re just that eager to share the silliness. A Porcupine Named Fluffy is one of those silly books that make my daughters laugh out loud every time we read it. Now that they can read it themselves, I’ll find them giggling over it and can’t help smiling to myself as I walk by.

The absurdity of being named Fluffy occurs to this young porcupine over the course of a few unfortunate events, and he begins to question what might be wrong with him to cause him to be so misnamed. Hilarity ensues as he tries time and time again to become truly fluffy. Finally he meets a new friend with an equally ridiculous name, and after a good laugh, decides that being named Fluffy isn’t so bad after all.

I’m sure you could try to find some kind of moral lesson within the pages to support teaching your children to be themselves, etc., but sometimes the best way to respond to books like these is simply to enjoy them. And I can assure you that my family enjoys this little story thoroughly. Even my son, far too young to understand why it’s funny, laughs and giggles because he sees his sisters doing so. It’s an oft-read family favorite, and I’m grateful for the chance to read it and enjoy something silly with my children. Look it up if you want a guaranteed laugh with the little kids in your life!

The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook

5152UH1CRcLI’m discovering that if I look hard enough, I’m able to find dozens of wonderful children’s books that have been around for decades but I somehow missed when I was a child. The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by the imaginative Joyce Lankester Brisley is one of those gems. My husband’s parents gave this book to one of our daughters for Christmas last year, and the girls and I have enjoyed it tremendously.

Millicent Margaret Amanda, dubbed Milly-Molly-Mandy for short, is a little girl who lives in a pretty little thatched-roof cottage in a village of long-ago England. Her parents, grandparents, and aunt and uncle all live in the same house, along with a charming little dog. Milly-Molly-Mandy is a cheerful, dutiful little girl who wears pink and white striped dresses and delights in the adventures of everyday life. Errands to the local shops, visits to the creek to fish, and secrets and surprises among a family who truly love one another are all opportunities for Milly-Molly-Mandy and her young friends to have fun together.

I think of this as a sunny book. There are no major troubles, no issues the family can’t solve together, no fights among dear friends. It’s a very pleasant read, enjoyable for its homespun simplicity and gentle humor. My daughters and I laughed out loud during various chapters, and every day they were eager to hear another tale about the little girl with the big name.

The illustrations, also drawn by the author, are a perfect companion to the text, showcasing simple lines and pleasant scenes. Despite the lack of color, my daughters have loved every drawing, carefully examining each one to firmly imprint it in their minds.

Boys and girls will both enjoy this collection of stories about Milly-Molly-Mandy, and my own family has placed the additional tales about this little girl on our list of books to watch for! They’re a favorite in our home and will be read again and again!

The Happy Man and His Dump Truck

51VpDAO9e2L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_My son is only two years old, but already he takes great delight in curling up on my lap with a stack of good books. He’s got several favorites among the many we’ve read together, some of which I’ve already included on this little blog. But there’s another I couldn’t possibly skip over, one I’ve read time and time again: The Happy Man and His Dump Truck.

The story line of this little book by Miryam is very simple and undoubtedly well-known to most of you, but in our house it is no less loved for its simplicity. There’s a very happy man who drives a dump truck, and whenever he sees a friend he offers a friendly wave and tips his dumper high. Over the course of the book, the happy man gives a ride to a number of different farm animals, all of which have a lovely time sliding down whenever he sees a friend.

My little man loves to listen to this story several times in a row, then run grab his own toy dump truck and miniature farm animals to act out the story on his own. He pores over the colorful pictures, making the noises for each animal he sees.

Tibor Gergely’s illustrations are especially fun for a little guy who loves action. Nearly every page shows something in motion, and the happy dump truck driver looks like a friend you’d love to meet.

This book is a favorite at my house, and I’m sure the little ones in your life would enjoy it too!

We Help Mommy

bobby-and-martha2There is no question that I love finding new books for my kids and me to enjoy for the first time together. However, as fun as that is, it can’t compare to watching them fall in love with a book I also loved as a child. And in the case of the Little Golden Books, We Help Mommy ranks as one of  my top five favorites. Fortunately, my sweet son and daughters love it too!

Written by Jean Cushman and illustrated by the great Eloise Wilkin, this precious story follows young Bobby and Martha through a day at home with Mommy, showing how they help her with shopping, housework, and cleaning from the time they wake up until it’s time to go to bed at night. The brother and sister sweetly set the table, put away cookies, dust the furniture, watch the clothes swirl around in the washing machine, pick up their toys, and more. It’s a normal day for these two young ones at home, lacking any unusual happenings, and yet there’s something so very special about their love and care toward Mommy and Daddy and each other that the missing excitement isn’t even noticed. The story itself is simple and sweet, but the artwork is breathtaking and truly makes the book worthwhile.

Times may have changed somewhat since this classic book was originally published, but Ms. Wilkin’s illustrations of fresh-faced children are as lovely today as they were fifty years ago. Her pictures of the everyday doings of a family at home are cozy and warm, drawing readers in to the peaceful scenes. I honestly can’t think of another children’s illustrator whose work I like more.

If your kids are anything like mine, they are eager to be a help to you all day every day. I’m quite sure they too will enjoy this book (also available in this collection of stories illustrated by Eloise Wilkin).

Did You Carry the Flag Today, Charley?

512zx4ec4l-_sy291_bo1204203200_ql40_Did You Carry The Flag Today, Charley? is another Rebecca Caudill favorite in our home. It’s another story about a poor family living in the Appalachian Mountains. Five-year-old Charley is unendingly curious and in constant motion, traits that combine to make him a bit different than the other students at Little School. It’s Charley’s first time to go to school, and every day he discovers something new that amazes his eager mind. Unfortunately, his discoveries don’t exactly help him to be a calm, quiet pupil. Instead, Charley is outside when he’s supposed to be inside, washing his hands when he’s supposed to remain dry, wiggly and distracting when he’s supposed to be still and unobtrusive. In a word, Charley is charming. He’s a little guy out in the world for the first time, and his excitement over everything he sees is contagious. How my girls giggled as we read about all of silly Charley’s antics!

Every day, the most helpful student is honored by being the one to carry the flag as he leads the other students out to the bus. Every day, Charley’s family ask if he was the one who carried the flag. And poor Charley replies in the negative day after day. Finally, though, on a truly extraordinary day, Charley’s answer is decidedly different!

The illustrations accompanying the story are skillful pencil drawings made by Nancy Grossman. They offer a lovely visual for little ones, and beautifully communicate Charley’s nonstop energy and excitement. They really do complement the story in a wonderful way.

Boys and girls alike will enjoy this tale tremendously. I look forward to reading it again to my own children before too long!

Happy Little Family

51qrvxloirl-_ac_ul320_sr208320_I love finding books for my kids that model a kind, loving family life for them. So many children’s books seem to rely on the stereotype of ridiculous parents, fighting siblings, and an “it’s all about me” kind of attitude. When I do find a nicely written story about a family who loves each other and takes care of one another, in spite of their faults, I am eager to share it with my children in the hopes of encouraging right attitudes and expectations for our own little family.

Happy Little Family by Rebecca Caudill is such a book. Here we first meet the Fairchild family, consisting of hard-working, loving Father and Mother and five children: Althy, Chris, Emmy, Debby, and Bonnie. The main character is little Bonnie, just four years old and so hopeful of being included in all that her big brother and sisters do as they enjoy everyday life on their farm in the hills of Kentucky.  Together the family experiences the joys and struggles of hill country life, from finding arrowheads in the dirt to searching the woods for lost Bonnie. My daughters were only four years old when I first read this book aloud them, but even at such a young age they were very excited each day to find out what was going to happen next to the little family. I will warn you that the chapters are a bit long for such small listeners, so you might consider reading just half a chapter at each sitting in order to keep little ears more attentive.

Another wonderful aspect of this book is the wealth of eye-catching illustrations frequently found between its pages. Decie Merwin’s simple black and white drawings bring alive the settings and experiences of days gone by.

If you’re ever looking for a good book that focuses on the activities of a sweet, loving family, be sure to check out Happy Little Family! I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

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Dance at Grandpa’s

1309727-_uy200_One of my all-time favorite series of books is the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Because of those remarkable stories of American pioneer life, I grew up longing for nothing less than a little house on a happy farm filled with people I love. And I always held a great desire to someday churn my own butter! I’ve been waiting for my girls to be old enough to enjoy those dear books as well, but before they were I stumbled across this beautiful set of stories that are perfectly adapted from the classic novels for a younger audience. They’re called My First Little House Books, and the stories are just the right length and level of difficulty for young pre-readers to enjoy hearing aloud, or for young readers to enjoy reading all by themselves. The wonderful sweetness of the original tales comes through in this adaptation beautifully, and my daughters have thoroughly enjoyed every one we’ve been able to locate thus far.

Dance at Grandpa’s was the first of the books that I purchased, and it tells the story of a winter time party held at Grandpa and Grandma’s house in the Big Woods. Neighbors gather for a delicious meal, music, and dancing, and the little Ingalls girls enjoy playing with other children who they don’t get to see very often. The book is simple, sweet, and a delight to read.

Illustrator Renee Graef provided lovely, full-color artwork for the books that imitates the well-known style of Garth Williams in a charming way, providing even more connection between the original novels and these delightful picture books. I’m so thrilled to be able to share with my children such wonderful stories from my own childhood in a way they can fully appreciate while not quite ready for the full chapter books. I’m sure your family will enjoy them too!