Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Four Books For the Fourth!

O, say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave,
o're the land of the free 
and the home of the brave...

The Star Spangled Banner by Peter Spier. Due to careful research, Spier's artwork depicts "the dawn's early light" and "the rocket's red glare" with remarkable authenticity and detail in this celebratory book. Among the highlights: a brief history of the anthem, a reproduction of Francis Scott Key's original manuscript, music for guitar and piano chords and many photographs.

The Story of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by Patricia A. Pingry, illustrated by Nancy Munger. This is the story of how Frances Scott Key observed the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814 and was so moved by the sight of the flag still flying at dawn that he wrote the poem that became our national anthem. Included in this little book is the first verse of "The Star-Spangled Banner" along with the admonition to stand up, remove our hats, and place our hands over our hearts when this song is played.  My 2 and 1/2 year old grandson is obsessed with this book!

F is for Flag by Wendy Cheyette Lewison, illustrated by Barbara Duke. Flag Day was June 14, but with so many American flags proudly displayed, every day seems like Flag Day! Perfect for reading together with a young child, F Is for Flag shows in simple terms how one flag can mean many things: a symbol of unity, a sign of welcome, and a reminder that-in good times and in bad-everyone in our country is part of one great big family.

The 4th of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh, illustrated by Marie Nonnast.  The story opens on a stormy afternoon on July 4, 1776. Candles were lighted early in the State House in Philadelphia as the vote was taken on the Declaration of Independence. We go back, briefly, to see the need for the Declaration, and to see it written. Then there is the stirring moment when messengers leave with the first hastily printed copies of the Declaration in their saddlebags. We follow them through the country to see and hear the effect on the news on a farmer, on George Washington's soldiers, and on a congregation in church, as the minister says for the first time "God bless the United States of America". The narrative is told simply enough to bring it close to children who may be hearing it for the first time.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Father-Son, Daddy-Daughter Literary Match-ups...

Books teach us a lot about Father/Son and Daddy/Daughter relationships.  Here's a look at some of my favorites...

Picture Book:
Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino. All week long, a boy and his father look forward to their Friday ritual - breakfast together at their favorite diner. The leisurely walk through the neighborhood is just as good as the pancakes at the end.

Chapter Book:
Little Britches, Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody.  My favorite chapter book Father/Son relationship. The main theme of the book is the deep love and trust between a father and son, with some humor, lots of hard work, school mischief, a tornado, horses, cowboys, and roundups thrown in. Boys, especially, will love this book. (Go here for my full review.)

Picture Book: It's a tie between two picture books about Dads who would do just about anything to get something their daughters really want...
Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me by Eric Carle.  Monica's father finds a way to get her the moon.  Great book (written by Carle for his own daughter) - with a little science lesson thrown in!

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems.  In spite of Trixie's babbling, her Daddy doesn't give up and finally discovers where she left her precious bunny.  He becomes her hero.

Chapter Book:
Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Pa loved all his daughters, but had a special with Laura, his little "Half Pint".  Maybe because they both had brown eyes?

Picture Book Winner:
The picture book father I want to highlight today isn't even human!

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle.  A daddy seahorse swims around with his egg babies in his pouch belly, waiting for them to hatch and meeting lots of other caring fathers along the way.

Chapter Book Winner:
My favorite chapter book father will always be linked to Gregory Peck, who brought him to life for us all in the film...
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  Widowed father, Atticus Finch is a very exceptional Dad and humble example to his children Scout and Gem.



  • Picture books honoring Military Fathers - here.
  • "A Father Who Loved Trains" - here.
  • Board Books - "Hugs for Dad" - here.
  • For Dads (and Grandpas) who love Baseball - here.
  • Favorite Literary Fathers - here.

Monday, June 8, 2015

One Special Day for Big Brothers, Prince George Included!

Since my grandson just gained a new little baby brother, I was so excited when my daughter showed me a book written about sibling boys!  It's One Special Day, by Lola M. Schaefer, illustrated by Jessica Meserve (published in 2012, best for ages 2-5).

I absolutely love this endearing book! Because it's told from the perspective of a boy, it's perfect for boys who have just experienced the birth of a new sibling and are making that important transition into big-brotherhood.

It's a story about Spencer... 

One Special Day really captures the essence of what most boys are.  Spencer's actions are all compared to different animals - and as you read aloud this story with your boy (or girl), he (she) will love to "fill in the blank"...

Yes, Spencer was loud, strong, fast, funny, messy, and wild...

Until one special day, when suddenly all Spencer's energy is intensely concentrated into gentleness (at least for a few minutes) as he holds the new baby (who also happens to be a boy).

...Spencer was a brother!

We've taken tons of photos of my grandson with his new brother, and the pictures look just like the illustration in the book, which captures the look of love and protection Spencer, as a new big brother, suddenly feels for his little new-born sibling.

I also couldn't help but think of some photos of another (more famous - and royal) sibling couple that just hit the press - how cute is Prince George (those blue knee socks!!!!) with his baby sister Princess Charlotte???


Back to One Special Day -- Make sure you don't miss the front and end inside cover pages, which show a bit more of the story...

At the front of the book you see Spencer by himself in all kinds of typical boy poses (climbing, doing handstands, jumping, etc.)  And on the back end pages he's doing more fun things -- only now he is joined by his little brother, who is no longer an infant, but a little boy himself!

I recently posted about the book Bringing Home the New Baby, which my grandson also loved.  We wanted to buy him a little "Baby Brother Dolly", like the doll the little girl in the book has, so he could feed and change his doll while his Mommy fed and changed his baby brother.  Books about boys and new babies may be hard to come by - but try finding a boy gender baby doll! There were mostly girl dollies in frills and pink, but we finally found one that simply looked like a newborn baby, with a neutral colored sleeper on.

Another - really funny - "new sibling" book (for kids a little bit older) is Julius, The Baby of The World, by Kevin Henkes.  It's told from the perspective of a very precocious little girl mouse named "Lilly", who reluctantly gets a new brother - "Julius".  Hilarious help for sibling rivalry. (4-8 year olds)

Do you have any favorite books that deal with new siblings/sibling rivalry?  I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, June 5, 2015

My Annual Happy Birthday Post for Richard Scarry (But who's counting?)

I've posted Birthday Blogs to honor Richard Scarry (June 5, 1919 - April 30, 1994) several times, but I've got to do it again because really - who's counting??

Find a vintage copy here, on Etsy!

Scarry once said, “I’m not interested in creating a book that is read once and then placed on the shelf and forgotten. I am very happy when people write that they have worn out my books, or that they are held together by Scotch tape. I consider that the ultimate compliment.”

Well, hats off to you, Mr. Scarry, because that is definitely the case around my house.  (You can read about my taped-up childhood copy of Scarry's Busy, Busy, World here.)  

Lately my two-and-a-half year old grandson can't get enough of Scarry's Best Counting Book Ever.   We've lost count of how many times we've read it!!!

My grandson actually dialogs with the story's main character, "Willy Bunny", who - at the suggestion of Father Bunny - walks through the book counting everything that comes across his path.

As a child, what I remember loving most about Richard Scarry's books was all the detail and things going on with all those animals characters!

These days, I read it to my grandson before his nap, and sometimes he wakes up asking for it again! It's really gotten him into counting all his favorite things - planes, buses, ships, bunnies, mice...

When we're done reading, we close the book and say "good-by" to everything on the back cover: Willy Bunny and the mice in the plane, the owl and little bugs in the tree, and the other animals marching along with Willy (my grandson is actually watching me type this right now, looking at this photo, and asking, "Willy Bunny, what're you doing??"  and "That Willy, Grandma.  Willy Bunny." It just melts my heart.  Thanks, Richard Scarry. sniff.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Supertruck to the Rescue!!!!!!

Among my grandson's favorite things right now is a set of matchbox cars and trucks that belonged to my own sons when they were his age.

Ironically, my daughter found the matchbox cars the same week she checked out a new library book that has become another of my grandson's current favorites: Supertruck, by Stephen Savage...

The city is full of brave trucks who help put out fires and fix power lines.

But the garbage truck?  He just collects the trash (and bears an uncanny resemblance to "Clark Kent" - must be the glasses).

When the city is hit by a terrible blizzard, only one superhero can save the day..."Supertruck", who emerges from his secret garage transformed!

Author/illustrator Stephen Savage's simple and colorful style is so much fun!  We love his illustrations for Margaret Wise Brown's The Father's Are Coming Home (which, by the way, is perfect for Father's Day, coming up at the end of this month.)

A few mornings ago, I had to laugh as my two-and-a-half-year-old grandson greeted me with,
 "Hey Grandma - look at my Bucket Truck!"  

Not quite sure what a "bucket truck" was, I looked questioningly at my daughter, and she pointed to the new library book.  Right there in the story was a bucket truck - green like my grandson's - one of the characters in the book!

Lately Supertruck's friend, Bucket Truck, has been accompanying my grandson everywhere: while eating, doing crafts, building "power lines" with his blocks, riding in the car... everywhere!

Great rescue, Supertruck!  Your story is keeping my grandson's imagination alive and his little hands busy!  (Hmm, I guess I'll have to edit my previous post about "Planes, Trains, and Things that Roar" to include "Trucks", too!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Czech? Check!

Following my previous post about Czech composer Antonin Dvorak's poignant musical composition, "Goin' Home", I think I'll continue on with my admiration for Czech artists by sharing a fun children's book by a talented author/illustrator from Prague! 

The book is The Mouse Who Ate the Moon, by Petr Horacek.
When my daughter brought this charming book home from the library for her son, she astutely observed, "The story and illustrations are like Eric-Carle-meets-Krtek".  

Not surprisingly, the author/illustrator Petr Horacek relates (here) that growing up in the Czech Republic, he loved the cartoon character Krtek ("Little Mole"), created by Zdenek Miler.  
Our family knows about Krtek because my oldest son David studied film in Prague, where the Little Mole has been a beloved character since the mid-1950's.  (Sadly Zdenek Miler, Krtek's creator, died while our son was there in 2011. We're so happy David brought home a little stuffed Krtek and a couple of cute Krtek books, which my grandson loves.)

Back to Petr Horacek: he also said in an interview that Eric Carle is a favorite illustrator of his [source].  The drawings and storyline in Horacek's The Mouse Who Ate the Moon do remind me a lot of Eric Carle's Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me.
Eric Carle's Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me.
I love the bright and colorful Eric-Carle-style images that Horacek painted for his Mouse book, which also involves two other very Krtek-like characters: a mole, and a rabbit...
One evening, a mouse, peering out of her hole, looks at the moon and wishes she could have a piece for her very own.
The next morning, when she sees something she has never seen before - a yellow banana - she thinks a piece of the moon has fallen from the sky and that her wish has come true!
Before she knows it, she's eaten half of it and is regretful, thinking the moon won't be round anymore.
His friends, Rabbit and Mole assure the Mouse, "Nobody can eat the moon,"  and they take her to the top of a hill and show her -- "slowly, something shiny appeared behind the trees."
It was, of course, the moon. Relieved, they go and sit under the stars and eat the other half of Little Mouse's "moon", while the real moon lights up the sky behind them.

This sweet story is a great way to introduce the concept of moon phases to young children.  Great for ages 2-5.

Go here to see other picture books by Petr Horacek. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Blog-iversary Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to all my winners...
The first 12 people who left comments are going to receive some special tea and a Cavallini and Co. "Tea for Two" notecard. Caitlin, Mary, Taylor, Hannah, "Unknown", Joshua, Danzel, Michele, Michelle M., and Christina - please email me your addresses!  (You can contact me at wendyb[spam]1963@sbclgobal.net with your information.)

The five winners of my Five Year Blog-iversary Giveaway, as chosen by list randomizer, are as follows:
Gift #1, necklace:  Christina

Gift #2, bookplates:  Aelwyn

Gift #3, rubber stamps: Poetryinleaves

Gift #4, memo notepads:  Dalia Fam

Gift #5, book:  Joan

Again, contact me at wendyb[spam]1963@sbcglobal.net with your mailing addresses, so I can get your gifts to you as soon as possible.  Congratulations and thank you for reading!