I have a problem. I buy books. A lot of them. Reading on an iPad has definitely curbed my habit of buying physical books by the stack. But having a toddler who loves books as much as I do has stoked my shopping habits, to the point that Evan regularly asks me on the way home each day if I have any “presents” for him. True story: I often do. When the latest batch arrived, we sat on the couch together and read them one after the other, at his request. I don’t know what I did to get so lucky.
Evan’s collection of books is growing as quickly as he is, so I thought I’d take some time each month to share some of our favorite additions to his library, in case other parents out there are looking for quality books to entertain and challenge their young readers (or readers-to-be). Here are this month’s additions:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Camping Primer, by Jennifer Adams
We’re big fans of all the BabyLit books, so as soon as new ones are published I make sure they join our collection (The Wizard of Oz and Frankenstein have been preordered for an early summer delivery). Each of the books condenses the original story to fit into a much more loose structure based around a topic like colors or numbers (at this point, they really have no story, just concepts). Huckleberry Finn tackles common objects found on a camping trip. The illustrations look a bit like simple block prints crossed with Charley Harper, which definitely appeals to my design sensibilities. And these books get grabbed at bedtime when Mom and Dad want to cut to the chase and entertain the kiddo without spending 30 minutes making it through a longer story.
Maple, by Lori Nichols
Two parents plant a sapling just before the birth of their first child. When that baby arrives and is placed under the spindly branches of the fledgling tree, the two parents decide that just as a maple was the perfect tree to plant, Maple will be the perfect name for their daughter. And thus begins this charming book, as well as what will surely be a lifelong friendship. The two Maples grow together, and Maple the girl has a companion for her play. The tree is never bothered when Maple is too loud, or too messy, but Maple is bothered enough by the cold of winter to offer her favorite tree her coat. The pair grows through the seasons together, until one spring a new tree arrives, heralding the arrival of Maple’s little sister Willow. A great book about trees, about siblings, about love, and about growing up.
Duck & Goose Go to the Beach, by Tad Hills
This book has quickly become one of Evan’s favorites; several times since its arrival he has talked about “Duck goes to beach.” The book tells the story of friends Duck and Goose (part of a series of books by Hills) and their day trip away from their quiet meadow to a beach filled with new experiences and interesting characters. At the start of their journey Duck is full of excitement and Goose full of trepidation. But when the pair finally arrive at the beach, their roles reverse and Goose explores the beach with wonder while Duck longs to get back home to their serene meadow. Exploration can be fun, but so can being together with a friend in the place you call “home.”
City Cat, by Kate Banks and Lauren Castillo
I’m a sucker for any book featuring a cat; it’s one of the many quirks my mother passed on to me. And speaking of animals traveling – this city cat does a lot of it. Without a care, City Cat travels from city to city and country to country, exploring all manner of transportation and architecture while trailing behind a young family making a journey of their own from their home in Rome to several large European cities. Woven into the story of City Cat’s travels are interesting cat facts that relate to each stop on her journey, and even a bit of a language lesson, presenting the word “Cat” in the native language of each country (six countries in all). Banks’ prose doesn’t spell out for readers what city or country City Cat happens to be in on each page; you’re left to read the clue and enjoy the illustrations to find your place. This book may still be a little advanced for Evan, but I certainly enjoyed reading it.
Ribbit!, by Rodrigo Folgueria and Poly Bernatene
A pig with a bit of an existential crisis is at the center of this cute story about friendship. When a community of frogs find a pig perched on a rock in their pond, trying to communicate with them via their native “ribbit!,” they’re confounded and believe they’re being mocked. The frogs seek out the help of a wise beetle, only to return to their pond and find the pig in a tree, happily chirping with the birds nested around him. Maybe the pig just wanted to make some new friends? Evan’s favorite part of this book was making all the animal sounds along with the characters. Probably not a good bedtime story, since little kids might get too worked up, but a great any-other-time read. And the illustrations have the beautiful qualities of watercolor on thick, nubby paper.
ABC versus 123, by Mike Boldt
Evan’s interest in letters and numbers has been growing daily, so we’ve been looking for ways to start reinforcing the shapes and symbols he’s beginning to recognize. This charming book is framed as an argument between letters and numbers over who is the real star of the book. For each vote in one side’s favor, the other is provided a quick rebuttal. Eventually the adversaries realize they both belong in the book… just in time for a stray smear of color to make a cameo appearance and wonder where his book is hiding.