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.
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.