As long time readers know well, I am a big fan of books with simple straightforward narratives that work well at bedtime. The new book by Richard Fairgra, Tara Black and Terry Jones is one such book. That’s Not the Monster We Ordered tells the tale of a family getting a monster just like their neighbors but things don’t go quite so smoothly. Keen observers will note that one could substitute the word puppies for monsters and the tale would work seamlessly (which is a big part of the fun). I know what you are thinking and no the monsters in the book are not scary in fact they are more in the vein of Sesame Street characters. However, the central family’s monster does cause a bit of trouble but it is not in the horror style and leans towards Curious George. I won’t spoil the end but I believe you can guess what happens even though the monster is not the one they ordered.
Richard Bryne’s new book has a silliness that speaks directly to BB and his developing sense of humor. Ben visits his friend Bella to show her his new remote control fire truck. However, the remote seems to have strange powers on her dog instead. Wacky adventures aside the tale encourages reader participation which BB is really big into as of late. In fact, it is up to the reader to ensure the story has a positive outcome. The art is big and bright which I have been noticing is more and more important when reading in bed with low light levels to facilitate sleep. The tale is a sequel of sorts to Mr. Bryne’s previous books on malfunctioning equipment. And since the main character and I share a name, BB now knows how to spell my name correctly.
LTD has long been into star voyagers and the study of planets and in that regard has influenced BB and on occasion they will don their astronaut suits and using a large box or the couch as a launch vehicle will head for the far reaches of the galaxy (or really the moon which always seems to be there destination. Speaking of destination Physics professor Dr. Christoph Englert has written a cool new book with the fore alluded to title of Destination: Space. The book with fun illustrations by Tom Clohosy Cole both guys are from the UK which is why I suspect the book has a cool British Invasion vibe. We have a ton of books about space but Englert’s book is perfect for both boys. LTD digs the non-dumbed down writing with sections like, “How do we know a black hole is there if we can’t see it?” and “The Sun is heated by nuclear fusion. Inside its core, hydrogen is continuously melted together to form helium.” The book does a great job of covering a lot of material without feeling like a text book. However, on the section on Sputnik and space travel I have to once again explain what happened to Laika the first dog in space (hint: it isn’t good). Destination: Space ends with the subject on life on other planets which makes for pretty good post reading entertainment as a mini discussion group forms between the two boys. They were not happy when I proposed that it is possible that The Mommy is an alien (She also was not happy),
As long time Beyond the Car Seat readers know well, BB is a lot more hands on then LTD was when he was three and half. That is why the series of books/activity kits featuring Rescue Vehicles, Construction Vehicles and Monster Trucks is totally in BB’s wheel house. The box comes with a set to build, poster, stickers, model and of course fact book. The kits are a little above BB’s pay grade but LTD is happy to help him set things up since he thinks they belong to him and not BB. However, the card stock set pieces also need The Mommy’s help for assembly as I don’t do well with delicate work. The fact book features more mature information that I like instead of a simple child-like explanation of sirens, hoses and bucket lifts. Of course no book will probably ever be able to get BB to say excavator instead of X-Vader, but I will always hold out hope.
LTD gravitated towards less obvious interests when in preschool, but BB has no problem joining the things that move crew. Trains, race cars, buses and construction equipment delight him to no end. In that regard, Stephen Savage’s new book, The Mixed-Up Truck sits in the sweet spot between a story you can read at bedtime and a four discussion beginning with the question what is inside a car? The tale follows a cement mixer on his first day on the job. However, things don’t go quite as planned as he mixes up the cement with flour and then sugar. I won’t spoil the ending as usual, but while the title suggests a mix up, things work out in the end. The story is simple and short and therefore perfect for multiple readings at bedtime. The art is crisp and fun, but I dig that the story doesn’t have the usual bad guy just a few simple mistakes that get corrected, lesson implied.
BB has been getting into animals lately in fact he informed me just this morning that he wanted to “live on a farm.” Author Jane Yolen and Illustrator Bob Marstall have hit upon just the right balance of simple ready for bedtime story telling with amazing huge splash page art. BB is really digging the story of a bird laying an egg, watching it hatch and exploring the new world together. The rhymes work well to share the story for BB at his current age. Jane Yolen created the book (the first of a series) especially for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the leading authority on birds. PS: Ithaca is gorges. The splash pages really pop especially during the egg hatching segment but BB keeps making me show him the page where the newborn bird stretches its legs for the first time as it is “silly.”
Whenever I see parents and they look relaxed like they have just enjoyed an evening out. I think, they have family nearby that took care of their kids for FREE. Donnie Cranfill’s new book, Camp Nana Papa with illustrations by Jeffrey Ebbeler celebrates the special bond between grandparents and grandkids. All that is great but my boys gravitated to the activities pages in the back of the book. The story centers around Nick and Sarah spending time with their Nana and Papa doing cool outdoor things like fishing and going to the zoo. My boys took time away from the actual story to interrupt with tales of things they have done with their grandparents so in a way the book serves more as a introduction to book club style conversations and tangents. Perhaps this summer we will be able to write our own chapter at Camp Daddy takes a nap while other people watch his kids.
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.