Monday, June 2, 2008

Pumpkinpie's Picks

You know how it's recommended that you read to your child at least 20 minutes a day, or four stories? I bet you all do that already - if not, you really should get going. Not just because I tell you it's good for your child, but also because it makes for a wonderful, cuddly, close moment to share good stories and laugh together and bond for a bit at the close of the day. It's my favourite time with Pumpkinpie, although I have to allow for the very slim possibility that the tucking-in cuddles might edge it out. At any rate, it's a perfect way to erase the crummier aspects of a bad day, to reconnect after a busy day, or to cement the perfect ending to a great day.

And lately? These are some of Pumpkinpie's favourite choices for our shared reading time.

Seven Silly Eaters, by Mary Ann Hoberman, ill. Marla Frazee

This author-illustrator pairing is genius, and the result is hilarious. In it, Mrs. Peters' seven children each have one and only one thing that they will eat, and she is running herself ragged trying to keep up until something happens - by pure happenstance - that makes everyone happy, most of all the newly unencumbered Mrs. Peters. I am thinking I have to get this book for my friend, whose babe is showing early signs of fussy eating, but even Pumpkinpie, who will try anything, finds it rollicking good fun.

Lily's Big Day, by Kevin Henkes

I was, I must admit, pretty excited when a new Lily book came out, and a bit dismayed that Pumpkinpie was too small yet. But now? She's into it. And this is pure, classic Lily, certain she will be the centre of everything at her teacher's upcoming wedding, pretty cranky when it seems like she won't be, and then wildly jubilant when she saves the day and ends up right. Aspiring divas and flower girls, take note that preparation is everything, and sheer chutzpah will take care of the rest.

Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, ill. Jane Dyer

Life lessons? Sounds... ugh, right? Not so. Not so at all. Instead of some preachy, inspirational, or sappy tome, this book uses the theme of cookies to teach kids about those intangible words that we use so often. Respect. Patience. Proud. Greedy. Trustworthy. And lots more. In each case, the words is illustrated with an example tied to cookies, and the accompanying painting shows it in action. EXAMPLE. It's actually quite the lovely little treasure, made even more so by Dyer's stunning watercolours, and Pumpkinpie has been enjoying getting a better handle on some of these slightly more grown-up concepts.

Russell the Sheep, by Rob Scotton

Okay, I'll admit up front, I am automatically biased about books with sheep. I think sheep are inherently funny, so mostly, you don't even have to work too hard to win me over. But when the sheep also carry a whiff of Nick Park's claymation (think Wallace and Grommit)? And have long, wiggly sleeping caps? And at one point remove their fur? Okay, that is some funny shit right there. Pumpkinpie agrees, and the two of us crack up like idiots together every time we follow Russell through his varied attempts to get to sleep. Bet you'll love it, too.

Boots and the Glass Mountain, by Claire Martin, ill. Gennady Spirin

This is one of those lesser-known but classic European fairy tales, but one that I thought even my scare-able Pumpkinpie could enjoy. Boots is the youngest and least-appreciated of three brothers whose mother has now died, and is left with the dirtiest jobs, raggediest clothes, and so on. It is Boots, however, who figures out how to defeat the trolls who eat all the grain every Midsummer's Night and, unbeknownst to his brothers, earns himself three magnificent stallions and sets of armour. Which come in very handy when the king offers his daughter's hand in marriage to anyone who can ride his horse up the glass mountain that he was given by the Troll King. Predictably, no one else is succeeding, until unknown knights appear three days running and then are discovered all to be Boots, who wins the princess (also saving her from the Troll King). For a kid who is into fairy tales, this is a nice one, without gore or horrible creatures per se, and not too girly, either. In fact, I wouldn't hesitate to share it with a boy, too, who might appreciate it for different aspects.

Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.

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