Friday, December 28, 2007

Pumpkinpie's Picks

I haven't shared our reading list for a while now, so what better way to celebrate the sharing and the warmth of the season than by inviting you to join us in our Story Chair? Here are some of the top picks from our December storytimes.

We have been, for one thing, really into the Christmas books, which are found on this list. But we have also been reading some standards, some old favourites of mine, and a few newer hits.

Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!, by Mo Willems
Along with his earlier two pigeon books (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!), Mo Wilems has the market cornered on silly and interactive, in the vein of my old favourite The Monster at the End of This Book. Which is fitting, since he was a sesame Street animator before becoming the darling of the kidslit world a few years back. These are, taken all together, a little formulaic, but kids love them. Pumpkinpie is no exception. (We are also loving his "Elephant & Piggie" books - beginning readers, including Today I Will Fly! I bought her a couple of these for Christmas and they were immediate favourites.)

Officer Buckle and Gloria, by Peggy Rathmann
Officer Buckle loved safety tips. He was always thinking up new ones and each year, would share them with the students of Napville School. No one ever really payed attention... until Gloria came along. The new police dog has a remarkable talent for making safety speeches interesting, but officer Buckle isn't aware of the source of his newfound popularity - until he watches himself on the news one night. In the end, though, he realizes that they make a good team. Rathmann is a genius for the unsaid detail, making this book work right up to about grade 3, but the visual jokes make it accessible for younger kids. A real treasure, this is a longtime favourite of mine.

Grover and the Everything In The Whole Wide World Museum (Sesame Street)
This is one I remember from my own childhood, and it still cracks me up because, well, Grover is fun-nee. Blundering through rooms like "The Things You See On The wall Room" and the collection of "All The Vegetables in the Whole Wide World Besides Carrots," he also manages to return a few things to their proper places, check out the Small Hall and the Tall Hall, and even star in the "Things That Are Cute and Furry" collection. In the end, a big door out leads to "everything Else." Cute, fun, and lots of grouping to talk about.

Danny and the Dinosaur, by Syd Hoff
This is an old standby in the way of beginning readers, an area we have been moving into more and more on our way to chapters. In it, Danny meets a dinosaur in the museum, and the dinosaur takes the day off to have adventures and play with Danny and his friends. At the end of the day, though, he has to go back to the museum. It's a simple, but enjoyable story for the little ones, with illustrations to match.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Joffe Numeroff, ill. Felicia Bond
This, and its companions (If You Give a Pig a Pancake and If You Give a Moose a Muffin), are fairly formulaic, but follow a circuitous route back to the start that kids seem to really enjoy. They are fairly predictable, which makes them nice for talking through and letting the child guess what might come next, yet have enough quirky details to make the first ten reading or so fun. (After that, well parents, all I can say is: repetition is good for them and their preliteracy skills.)

The Subway Mouse, by Barbara Reid
This is a newer favourite of mine, from Canadian kidslit star Barbara Reid. In this tale, a mouse who hates the drudgery and noise of subway station life decides to strike out in search of the mythical Tunnel's End. Along the way, he meets a mouse who joins his quest, faces bullies, and becomes tired and hungry. Still, they press on until they find a new life in the roofless world outside the subway system. This has all the qualities of a fairy tale or quest story, yet is told simply enough to appeal to younger children, too. Reid's true genius, though, lies in her stunningly detailed plastiscene illustrations. This gorgeous book is no exception, and the fact that her storytelling skills are starting to match her artistic skills is no small feat, indeed.

Find these and other storytime favourites at your local library!

Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.

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