In a sea of endless children’s books I’m still always impressed when I find one that is elegant and dare I say beautiful. Lane Smith uses sponge-paint art to make There is a Tribe of Kids pop. The tale follows boy on an epic journey through our natural world. Each setting he encounters whether it be elephants, butterflies or the ocean he learns about different “tribes” but continues searching. I don’t want to spoil the ending but I think you can guess what he finds at the end (hint: see book title). The story is easy to follow and the art captures the beauty of nature in almost magical fashion. All of which is to say none of that matters to BB who just likes the whales.
BB has been talking a lot about what he wants to be when he grows up. The latest is a Knight (not sure how well that pays). In that regard he has been digging Author Lucy George and Artist Ando Twin new series Busy People. Each book focuses on Astronaut, Doctor, Police Officer, Fire Fighter and Teacher. As the title suggest each tale focuses on the daily life and work of the above busy people. The explanations are easy to follow with wide eyed characters. I particlurly like the section at the end of the books that shows associated busy people like the Forensic scientist and Flight controllers. There is also a cool part showing equipment and uniform details that have led to BB declaring each one to be this year’s Halloween costume. Thankfully the book on Astronaut’s features a Robot lest LTD declare the series to young for him.
Both my children ask a lot of questions, which shows they are curious and intelligent, however answering them can be as exhausting as a supreme court nomination hearing. That is why we gravitate towards books with a lot of facts but sometimes those types of books don’t make great bedtime tales. Virginie Morgand’s new book What Do Grown-ups Do All Day? solves a lot of my book requirements. First up the art really pops. The pictures have a retro printed feel and are wicked bright with a sense of fun. The tale is broken up by area like hospital, farm and school to show the different applicable occupations. For some reason, the boys are drawn to the section on action-packed jobs. LTD only focuses on the Secret Agent as he wants to be a spy when he grows up (I assume working a desk job at the CIA since he keeps telling people he is spy and thus blows his own cover). While BB digs the usual suspects of astronaut, firefighter and police officer. The section headings first explain the setting like the airport or university before discussing the jobs inside. For my money the Water Sports Instructor looks like a fun job based on the pictured surf board.
Normally, I would be jealous of Dad authors but since I can’t draw I’ll give it to Brian Lies for his new book, Gator Dad.The tale meets all of my bedtime requirements. Not a ton of text and amazing art. The central theme of the story seeks to debunk the myth of the bumbling useless dad as seen in popular media culture. We follow the titular hero Gator Dad as he sucks the marrow out of a full day with his three kids. The book is filled with splash pages and is spot on with the depictions of activities including grocery shopping and building a fort out of the living room. Unfortunately, the page showing Gator Dad teaching the kids the sounds that their toys should make has resulted in my voice giving out as my non-alligator children request I follow the lessons of the book. Lastly, the book is sweet without being too sugary. A proud dad indeed.
I’m not much of cat person, which is to say I don’t like cats at all. However the lead character in Ruth Chan’s new book, Where’s the Party? is a cat. Not a problem since the cat in question is confined to the pages of the book and not clawing my eyes out. The story focuses on Georgie who instead of lasagna loves to throw parties especially for his friends. The central issue of the tale is that Georgie has thrown a spur of the moment party and everyone is too busy to come. In keeping with Beyond the Car Seat rules I won’t spoil the ending but I think it is safe to say that just as in Field of Dreams, if you build it they will come. The real treat of the books is the layout and singular story focus. Lately, BB has been picking long books at bedtime and I simply cannot handle that. Where’s the Party? is the perfect length.
Like most parenting concepts follow through and consistency are key. These are never more true than when dealing with matters of discipline. The Mommy and I have used 123 Magic in the past but due to factors such as stress, busyness and laziness we have not always held true to the core mission and techniques. LTD is about to turn 7 and is acting like a teenager and BB is now 3 and is deep into his Three-nager phase as well. It was time to return to the manual. The popular 1-2-3 Magic books and accompanying industry are valuable for their simplicity. The real work comes in changing and learning new habits.There are so many many many many books about raising children and heaven help you if you google anything, but you do need a guiding principle to fall back on if you can actually remember to use it. The book deals with start behaior and stop behavior in a clear way as any parent reading will easily recognize the examples. Now in the sixth edition we turned back to it as a reminder that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We were also reminded that following a discipline pattern is hard work that requires constant upkeep. I hope that the second time through will be the charm and I expect the boys to be perfect angels from now on.
Whenever I mention a historical figure or frankly anyone in the news LTD always asks me if they are alive. For a long time I thought it was part of his usual obsession over death, but it turns out he asks because he wants to be able to write them a letter. In that regard, Jules Archer’s new book, The Unpopular Ones: Fifteen American Men and Women Who Stood Up for What They Believed In, feeds his curiosity. The book features well known Americans like Thomas Paine and Woodrow Wilson, but brings to light lesser known subjects like Bethenia Owens and Jonathan Walker. I know what you are thinking, who are those last two? No spoilers. Some of the book is a little above LTD’s pay grade but it does make for interesting conversations. At the core is the concept of standing up for what you believe in. As an added bonus you get to explain to the kids what a “hussy” is during the chapter on Amelia Bloomer.
LTD is almost four years older than BB and so their choice of reading material greatly differs. However, BB will do and wants to do anything that his older brother does. In that regard, I recently hit pay dirt with Mo O’Hara’s series My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish. Most of the books are for those kids reading chapter books but she did something cool and made a version for the preschool set. The books feature Frankie the titular goldfish who suffers from being a zombie but on the up side can hypnotize using his eyes. A little backstory, “Frankie was a completely normal pet goldfish . . . until Tom’s evil-scientist big brother, Mark, tried to murder him with toxic gunge! Luckily Tom and his best friend Pradeep shocked Frankie back to life with a battery, and he’s been their zombie-fishy friend ever since.” BB’s book is called, The Fintastic Fishsitter features little sister Sami watching over Frankie and trying to stop Vampire kitten Fang from eating him. The cool thing is that when BB reads just like his big bro he reaches a pretty high level of excitement. And of course, I know what you’re thinking, yes the down side is that now they both want a pet goldfish.
Just now we told LTD he needed a bath and (un-ironically) he replied, I don’t need a bath, I took when a few weeks ago. In that regard, books that encourage bath time fun are always welcome. Bathtime with Theo and Beau by Jessica Shyba follows the continuing adventures of her two boys (as she calls them). I know what you’re thinking, Theo is the dog. The book is heavy on the photos, but they are so vibrant and crisp they are almost hypnotic. As we use the book to try and get our boys to take a bath there is only one problem. The story immediately makes them want to get our own dog in the tub with them. However, my often said phrase, I got enough problems will attest, that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.
Author Leanne Shirtliffe is an award-winning humor writer but she is also part of a movement to make children’s books more diverse. As part of that mission she created the character of Wilma Lee Wu. The second book to feature the spirited youngster is No More Biege Food. As long time Beyond the Car Seat readers know all too well, BB is what they call a problem eater. So this tale of culinary introductions not only speak about interesting food choices but has the added benefit of introducing diverse characters. Wilma objects to her parents seemingly boring meals and demands more. Her mother, not to give into a tyrant, tells her to cook her own meals. So Wilma interviews her neighbors and discovers all the tasty richest different cultures have to offer. The jury is still out on how much of the tale penetrated into BB’s pallet but I will try anything to get away from 50% mac and cheese and 50$ rice and beans.