Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Board Books

My number one question at a baby shower is: "Do you have a bookcase in the baby's room yet?" An emphatic, "yes" is heartening. Alas, more often, I get a puzzeled look as they try to figure out if this is a trick question. Personally, I cannot imagine a child's room without a bookcase. It can be something very simple, a shelf or a cubby but there has to be something and it has to be a part of a child's life from the very start

Board books, with their strengthened bindings and tear resistant pages are usually well sized for small hands. Board books should be on every young child's bookcase. I am old enough to remember cloth books for babies. Their sizing infused, starched pages, though impervious to tearing were utter failures as a substitute for traditional books. They flopped, they folded and rolled and were usually found waded or rolled up in the bottom of the toy box/basket.

Goodnight MoonI dislike some translations of classic children's books to the board book format. Goodnight Moon was shortened to fit the story to the smaller board book page count. Pages from the original are dropped which ruins the book for me and denies the glorious, quiet pacing of Margaret Wise Brown's masterpiece.

When a book is designed as a board book from the beginning though, the design and the format can work together nicely.

These are some titles that publishers have shared with me.

Have You Ever Tickled a Tiger? by Betsy Snyder, Random House, 2009
This descendant of Pat the Bunny invites little finger to touch a penguins's spft tummy, fluff the feathers on an ostrich and wiggle the whiskers on a walrus. Visually, Snyder's collages of smling animals with tactile surfaces are full of brilliant color on very easy to turn pages.

Betsy Snyder's website

Mommy Calls Me Monkeypants by J. D. Lester, illustrations by Hiroe Nakata, Random House, 2009

Lester celebrates the nicknames that mothers use for their children in traditional rhyming stanzas . Ladybug mothers, mama horses even rhino mommies use endearments like Polka Dot, Giddyup, and Funny Face for their babies. Hiroe Nakata paints reassuring smiles on the mothers' and babies' faces.

How do Lions Say I Love You? by Diane Muldrow, illustrated by David Walker, Golden Books, 2009

Another book to reassure the little tykes that they are loved. Birds, lions, bears and elephants are some of the softly drawn creatures that are depicted affectionately playing and singing and nuzzling. Nice rhyming text and colorful illustrations succeed as a book for little ones.

ABC U Later
by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim, Random House, 2009
1 2 3 4 U by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim, Random House, 2009

I have not experienced the Uglydolls toy franchise personally so I am unable to testify to the extent of its popularity.

These two Uglydoll board books require a higher level of language development than is usually found in the target audience for board books. Still if the little guys are already inculcated into the Uglydoll universe they might have an appreciation for familiar characters. I can imagine an older brother or sister sharing this book with the younger sibling and enjoying the the homonyms and humor. The counting book is the most accessible for the very young. Very countable characters and items on each two page spread reflect the featured number.

Duck & Goose Board books by Tad Hills, Schwartz & Wade, 2008-

Duck & Goose and board books are a perfect match. These two friends have an endearing, childlike outlook as they count, look for a pumpkin, and learn about life. Their expressive and winsome faces draw the reader in and Tad Hills has a humorous touch whicch is perfect for youngsters and the adults who will enjoy reading these books to them.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Babymouse 2009 Holiday Video!

So much FUN!

Read a book, read a book, read a book!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fat Cat

Fat Cat by Robin Brande, Listening Library, 2009 // Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2009

Dear Fat Cat,
You are a delight from page one to the last punctuation mark on the last page!
There is so much to love in your story.

While listening to Kirsten Potter narrate your audiobook version, I had to curb the impulse to snap "Look, I can't talk right now," when I answered the phone.

I had to restrain myself from holding up my hand with an exasperated, "SHUSH!" when people spoke to me.

I was so enthralled in your storytelling that I practically lived with my earphones until the end.

I have now finished it.


Thank you so much.


Cat is an extremely bright, focused, hard working and academically gifted high schooler. She is also is overweight and candy bar dependent. She wants to win the science fair with every fiber of her being, in large part, so she can beat Matt McKinney, the guy that broke her heart in junior high school.

Her project, to live, as much as possible, like a hominid woman means Cat is walking everywhere instead of riding in a car. It means no computers, no telephone, and eating an approximation of a hominid diet. Before too much time passes, Cat is noting weight loss and improved fitness in her science journal. Her slim and toned figure begins to attract the kind attention from guys that she has never experienced before.

Author, Robin Brande does not stumble nor hit one false note in this story. I loved Cat's family who embraces her project. She has the kind of best friend that everyone yearns for and the project brings her closer to her younger brother. Brande does not quantify the amount of weight that Cat is losing. The focus is on the achievment NOT a specific number of pounds.

I was very intrigued and inspired by the vegetarian blueprint that is offered. Cat begins her new lifestyle under the supervision of a dietitian. She loves to cook and the healthy food she prepares is mouth-watering and savory and delicious. I could almost taste it. I did laugh as her supportive family gives a thumbs down to the tofu turkey at Thanksgiving.

Fat Cat is funny, honest and a sweet romance. This book celebrates families, healthy eating, exercise, friendship, hard work, home cooking, demanding teachers, teenage hormones and first love.

I am telling librarians, friends, relatives who are emailing me for suggestions for gift ideas, even strangers in doctor's waiting rooms about this book and I have it poised for homecoming college kids.

It is simply grand.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sherman Alexie on Colbert

I have so many books to talk about but as I craft my thoughts I will digress with this excellence.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sherman Alexie
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating