Max and Zoe at the Library by Shelley Sateren is the perfect book right now for LTD. Why, you ask? Because it teaches an important lesson about taking care of things. The plot revolves around Max’s seemingly inability to not destroy library books. However, his pal Zoe helps him out and he learns the importance of taking care of things especially when they do not belong to him. As per Beyond the Car Seat policy I will not give away the ending, but do know this, Max figures out a cool way for others to learn the lesson he learned all too well regarding taking care of library books.
All of this is well and good but my real reason for bring up Max and Zoe at the Library is that Max has been dog earring the pages in the borrowed books. This has allowed me to say the best line from the movie Finding Forrester to The Mommy many many times:
“Oh, Ch**st, you’ve dog-eared one of them. Show a little respect for the author, huh?”
For LTD Halloween has had a serious self life. Months after all hallows eve, the little guy still thinks certain things are spooky and talks of being a black cat the next time. So it should come as no surprise that he gravitates towards supernatural themed entertainment. 2008’s musical tome, Boogie Knights by Lisa Wheeler with illustrations by Mark Siegel is the perfect blend of sweet and spooky. The story centers around the upcoming Madcap Monster Ball and those creatures in the castle who will be attending. The titular Boogie Knights remain asleep during the early festivities but nobody, not even a noble knight, is strong enough to sleep through this party. The knights sport clever names like Sir Prize and Sir Cumference, a little inside joke to give the reading parent a little chuckle. As usual I don’t want to give away the ending but I will mention that there is a conga line involved.
Sadly, I wished LTD didn’t bring his Kryptonite with him when I gave him Downtown Bookwork’s 2011 hardback My First Superman Book. While the book is board style it features a number of pull tabs that the little guy went all Lex Luthor on. The reason I picked up the book in the first place is that it sports the late 70’s Superman and you can’t go wrong with that classic look. David Katz’s simple story tells of the Man of Steel’s powers and adventures in simple sentences (and yes that includes It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman). Besides the pull tabs the book has more touch and feel sections including his silky red cape and sparkly Fortress of Solitude. And let’s not forget the soft fur of Krypto the superpet. One of the books line is Superman has superpowers. He is very strong. Well, LTD did not need superpowers and he isn’t all that strong, but he did manage to destroy the two sections of the book that had pull tabs. Why do I keep dwelling on the destruction you ask? Because the ripped them both off in the car on the way home from the bookstore.
There comes a time every so often when LTD’s behavior patterns work out for the best. In this instance his forcing me to read a book over and over again is something I don’t mind. Pirate Pete’s Talk Like a Pirate is such a book. I truly laugh each time I read it, which is usually ten seconds after I finish it thanks to the little guy saying, ‘again.’ Amazingly, a brother and sister team, Kim and Doug Kennedy created this cool book which stars their character Pirate Pete star of two other stories. The tale follows Pirate Pete’s quest to fill his ship with a new crew in order to set sail for adventure. Pete heads to Rascal Island to get pirate candidates, but he has very specific demands on any new recruit. In addition to knowing the ins and outs of sailing and plundering they must also talk like a pirate. It is a deal breaker. I know what you’re thinking, what’s so hard about that and I’m sure Pete will be flexible during the hiring process. Well, you would be wrong, matey.
The narrative follows a simple pattern. A candidate steps forward and after doing well on their particular pirate task is about to be offered a cool pirate job, but they fail to speak correctly and find themselves walking the plank. Ye gots to be stubborn and mighty cranky,
Ye gots to be dirty and awfully stanky! Ye gots to load a cannon and know how to fire it, But most of all, ye gots to talk like a pirate!
Here is a typical exchange. Pete: And judgin’ by the gold and rubies yer flauntin’, I reckon ye’ve done some plunderin’ in yer day. Rascal: That is correct. I’ve misappropriated a number of fine jewels without permission.
These guys just don’t talk like pirates and so they fail the job interview and find themselves swimming for home. LTD digs this book and I have a blast reading it over and over again. I have my own Pirate Pete voice that only hurts my throat after the third reading. My conclusion is that this one beats the pokey little puppy any day.
Now that everyone in this house has been sick off and on for the last few months I think it make sense to present Fran Manushkin’s Katie Woo Has the Flu, the only book in the Katie Woo series that deals exclusively with being sick. Now as long time Beyond the Car Seat readers know I hate ruining the ending or putting any spoilers in my reviews, but I’m not telling any tales out of school by revealing that which the books title already does. Katie Woo isn’t just sick with any old cold, she has the Flu and this nasty bug comes complete with all the symptoms including a fever dream where Katie thinks she is a Polar Bear. The story deals with her missing school and her friends, but things work out in the end and again it isn’t spoiling things to mention that she does not end up in the Intensive Care Unit. Katie Woo Has the Flu also has a few items at the end that are a little above LTD’s pay grade right now like a glossary and a recipe for bugs on a log. As winter progresses let’s hope that Katie Woo is the only one who gets sick since everyone in this house got a flu shot.
The days of Where’s Waldo are over. Sarah L. Schuette’s Animal Fun, which if part of the Spot-It Challenge series of books takes the Where’s Waldo and gives it a hip edge. The book features a two-page spread of cool toys and background with instructions to find three items. For instance on the green forest theme pages the reader is asked to find a snowman, a starfish, and an apple. The collages use toy animals, plush, and dinosaurs to fill the scenes. Now that LTD spends a fair amount of time looking at books, Animal Fun holds his attention without having to know the story. The spread have themes including the black and white area with soccer balls, cows and Dalmatians, while the water pages feature whales, ships and dolphins. So the real question is, how hard is it to find the hidden items? To be truthful I was able to complete the three item checklist in no time flat, but then again I’m wicked smart, the toddler set needs a little more time and lot more hand holding to locate the polar bear and police car.
Free-lance photographer and university professor David FitzSimmons has created a pretty cool picture book called Curious Critters (don’t worry I know that curiosity killed the cat, but not cat is featured here so we’re safe). The pictures are of amazing animals including the red flat bark beetle, spiny softshell turtle, and a spotted salamander filmed against a simple white backdrop. These bad boys really pop. My favorite pic is the Virginia Opossum who sports an expression somewhere between, sure go ahead and take my pic I’m beautiful and I’m really scared right now and you probable should not have put me on a white backdrop if you get my drift. The text is clever, poetic and educational. The only danger with the book is when the little guy makes me look at the same animals over and over again. His repetition is cool with the exception of the bat picture, which creeps me out. The end of the book is a little advanced for LTD, but features a glossary, animal history and life size silhouette map. My only suggestion is to make sure the book steers clear of crayons as the large amount of white space makes a tempting target for scribbling.
Now that LTD has stopped senselessly ripping pages out of books (mostly stopped) we have once again introduced non-board books into the mix. That has freed us up for more complex and longer stories. However, when he is relaxing by himself big pictures are still the order of the day. Alyse Sweeney’s A Cheeky Chiller: A Zoo Animal Mystery fits the bill nicely. The titular mystery revolves around guessing the identity of the featured animal. The clues are written on one page with a close up photo on the other, for instance. “I have a big toe on each foot. Do you? My long toes help me hold on to branches when I climb.” So now you know the animal isn’t an elephant, but I won’t let you make a monkey out of me by spoiling the surprise ending. The book has a simple layout and an uncluttered look with nice clear pictures. The book also sports some more advanced items like a glossary that LTD is not ready for yet, but will come in handy in a few years. Perhaps the best feature of this mystery is that for once the butler didn’t do it.
I think an argument could be made that Sandra Boynton is close approaching Dr. Seuss status in terms of being a staple in the childhood of most American children. And it is no secret that she doesn’t need anyone to ‘discover’ her or sing her praises. However, her new book series starring Pookie the little pig, as The Mommy says, seems to be written as if she was using LTD as the model. So far, Boynton has put out four Little Pookie titles, and while the little guy enjoys them all our favorite is Happy Birthday, Little Pookie.
Of course the story begins early in the am as Pookie wakes up his parents to inform them it is indeed his birthday and then the bargaining begins about what good things will happen if he goes back to bed. Needless to say he goes back to bed, but only briefly. The Mommy and I enjoy the reading LTD the book even if we always hit a road block half way through. Little Pookie’s dad makes him a special animal shaped pancake for his birthday breakfast. Even though the pancake is clearly in the shape of a pig and more specifically, Pookie, LTD always calls it a cow pancake. We have given up trying to win this battle and since he always cracks up when looking at the pancake it is probably best to let sleeping pigs lie.