Author Showcase: Leo Lionni

An Extraordinary Egg is a very cute story about three frogs who find a wonderful egg, thinking it must be a chicken egg they are excited to have a new friend when the chicken hatches, even though it’s really an alligator! Kids love this story because they think these are the silliest frogs ever for not knowing that the chicken isn’t a chicken at all!

Fish Is Fish is a cute book that not only talks about friendship but it also explains the transformation of a tadpole into a frog in an entertaining way . I have used this book in classrooms while doing animal life cycles and kids always love how the fish in the book imagines people as fish with legs! The story of friendship between the little tadpole and minnow can’t be ignored either, it’s a great message about change and the way friendships if true can withstand change.

Frederick is a fable about the importance of imagination. When all the mice are working hard to gather things for winter Fredrick is quietly taking in the sun, and colors they will need to help get them through the dark, cold hungry days ahead. The other mice don’t see why this is so important until everything they have gathered runs out and they need Fredrick and his imagination to help them make it ! Great commentary about art being vital. Your toddler may not pick up on that but you will !

It’s Mine! is one of my favorite books to pull out when I hear those words… which I have recently. The story is about 3 frogs who all live on a small island, and fight all the time. They take turns claiming this or that never sharing with each other. When a flood comes they learn that they need to rely on each other and share in order to survive. After they learn their lesson they see that the island is a happier place to be when all their energy isn’t spent fighting and screaming “It’s mine” to each other.

Little Blue and Little Yellow is a profound book with underlying commentary about race relations while the surface story is about little blobs of color who when squished together turn into one green blob! You’ll be surprised by how easily your preschooler will pick up on the connection between the two. In my PreK class I had more than a few kids make the connection all on their own.

Swimmy is a serious tale about a little fish who tragically looses his family, and is forced to face scary things alone. He soon discovers that if he and other little fish band together they have power against the big bullies in the ocean. Personally I love this author and this book is one of my favorites. Some parents have expressed concern over his family being eaten at the start , so read it for yourself before deciding if it’s right for your child.

The Alphabet Tree is a stunning book. The book is all about letters that come together to make words and then after a caterpillar informs them that they need to say something they join together to make sentences. Up to this point the book is a brilliant teaching tool , but for me the best part is yet to come. When the words get together they decide to say ” Peace on earth goodwill toward all men” and then the caterpillar asks them to jump on his back so he can take the words to the president . Considering it was written in 1968 it’s quite the statement. A fantastic activity to do with your child after reading this would be to ask them what they would write to the president ? For younger children using letters on leaves you could spell out easy 3 letter words like they do early on in the story. All in all a brilliant book.


Book Reviews by Carrie Anne

Books About Friendship

The first relationship in a child’s life is with his parents and nothing will ever replace that. However, as a child grows and develops his own identity, he will build relationships outside of just his mom and dad. These friendships, whether with a favorite stuffy, a pet or a child in his playgroup, will be very important to him at enhancing who he is.

The first Sunday in August (August 2 this year) is National Friendship Day , a day to acknowledge our friends and their importance in our lives. To help celebrate, here are a few books about friendship you can share with your child.


Lost
and Found
written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
published by HarperCollins
boardbook (infants)

A boy discovers a penguin on his front step and assumes he’s lost. The boy takes it upon himself to return the penguin to the South Pole. As the boy and penguin journey together they share stories and learn about each other. It isn’t until the boy returns home, after dropping the penguin at the South Pole, that he realizes the penguin was just lonely and looking for a friend. Wonderful illustrations and text tell a story of finding an unexpected friend.

My Friend Rabbit

written and illustrated by Eric Rohmann
published by Roaring Brook Press
picture book (age 4-8)

awarded 2003 Caldecott Award

Mouse and Rabbit are friends. Rabbit sometimes does things before he thinks, but he means well. When Rabbit mistakenly flies mouse and his airplane into a tree, Rabbit works to get his friend out. Although there are minimal words on the pages, the story is told beautifully through the wonderful wood-cut images. Children will delight in how Rabbit rescues his friend mouse and the expressions of the animals who help.

Dog and Bear. Two Friends. Three Stories

written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
published by Roaring Brook Press
picture book (age 4-8)

awarded Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book

Three charming tales about the adventures of two friends, an energetic and adventurous dachshund dog and a reserved multi-coloured teddy bear. The illustrations are warm and colourful, like the friendship between Dog and Bear. The three stories are simple but ones children can relate to: having a friend help and encourage you when you’re in a jam, balancing your need to spend time with a friend with your friend’s interests, and loving a friend for who they are.

Sam’s Pet
written and illustrated by Charnan Simon
published by Children’s Press
easy reader (age 4-8)

Rosie and her dog Sam have a new pet in the family, Mable the kitten. Mable has her own way of doing things, which doesn’t seem to include anything of Sam’s, like his food or toys or sleeping on his pillow with him. Sam doesn’t think he’ll ever be friends with Mabel. But an encounter with a bully of a dog changes everything. Mabel sticks up for herself and Sam and from then on they are the best of friends. A Rookie Reader level C book, it contains a word list of 54 words for practice.

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Carrie Anne is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, mom of 3 , and blogs at
Another Day , Another Thought…Or Two

Author Showcase : Todd Parr

The I LOVE YOU Book Kids need to know that love is unconditional and this book drives that point home is a simple , bright and funny way. I cried through reading most of it , but my son laughed and loved it. I specifically loved that the author includes that a child is loved even when they are sad, not sleeping and more. The cover of the book has a cut out heart shape and would be a great add on to a shape activity about hearts.

Otto Goes to the Beachby Todd Parr was a steal of a deal at the Goodwill last week! I got a hardcover in perfect condition for 70 cents. My bargin hunting aside, I really enjoy this book as did my son. Otto is a dog who goes to the beach but no one wants to do the same things as he does, even the fish swim the other way! In the end after feeling very sad Otto finds a new friend and all his misery is forgotten. I love Todd Parr books, I love the insanely bright colors, the cute simplistic illustrations and I love the messages they send. This book followed his other books perfectly and provided a great final message about not giving up finding a friend who will like all the same things you do!

Otto Goes to Bed by Todd Parr is a really fun and positive book. Otto is a dog who doesn’t want to go to bed, he wants to play, chase his tail and a bath and brushing teeth don’t help. Instead he figures out that there is something he likes about bedtime, dreaming! I like that this book addresses that going to bed feels like missing out on things for kids, I know I felt like that for years. Instead of blankly saying “Sleeping is great” or “You have to go to bed” this book finds something positive about going to bed . The illustration of Otto as a super hero dog makes my son howl with laughter every time.

The Family Book by Todd Parr is a book that doesn’t give readers a narrow definition of family , it doesn’t say that your family has to look a certain way, or be the same as your neighbors. As a teacher I really appreciated the matter of fact way it embraced diversity. Kids see that families are not all like theirs and it’s important to validate the truth while recognizing that while they may not all look alike, all families are made with love. Great book , cute illustrations and children love it.

The Mommy Book by Todd Parr is a bright, funny and wonderfully random book. I love Todd Parr and his blunt and diverse books. In this one he once again reassures kids that mommies come in all different forms but all mommies want you to be who you are! Your kids will love the simple and vibrant pictures that are Todd Parr’s signature!

Underwear Do’s and Don’ts by Todd Parr makes my son laugh and me hopeful that he will want to wear underwear sometime before 2020. The book is silly and full of absurd but entertaining advice about underwear. My son is particularly fond of the advice about not putting your underwear in the freezer! He laughs like it’s a new joke every time we read it, which is 3-4 times a day.


Go See The Author!


If you are or will be in the Chicago Area August 15th and 16th you can go meet the author Todd Parr at select Nordstrom stores , where he will be reading, signing and introducing the world to his new clothing line Planet Color by Todd Parr above is an example of the illustrations that will be on the clothing. For more info check out the website

Read and Repeat

These books don’t have a common theme other than they are currently the favorites at our house and I can recite each one by heart . One of the things I love the most about my blog are reader suggestions, and participation. I am eager to hear what books are on repeat at your house right now. Leave the title in the comment and maybe we can all find a few new books to read over and over !

“Spike” by Paulette Bogan is a funny story about a dog who is having a mid life crisis. Spike is bored with his life , all he does is regular old dog things and when his owner leaves the gate open he creeps away for some adventure. Spike like most of us who go off on adventures looking for something new finds out that really home is where the heart is and he really does love being a dog. My son loves this book especially the part when Spike tried out being a chicken and breaks all the eggs.

“Corduroy” by Don Freeman is a classic in every way. I have been waiting to introduce it to my son because I knew my heart would be broken if he didn’t like it. It’s one of my very favorites from childhood and the simplicity of the story makes it as relevant in 2009 as it was when it was first published in 1968. I remember being amazed by the thought of a stuffed bear coming to life and exploring a department store at night after it closes. The real message though is captured by the little girl and her statement that she loves him just the way he is even with a missing button, but she is fixing it to make him more comfortable. What a fantastic and vital message for kids! My son loves this book and I won’t pretend that I had dry eyes when I finished reading it to him and he looked at me and asked ” Read this one again?”.


“Cowboy Small”
by Lois Lenski is a cute cowboy book for the younger set. We have the board book edition and it’s been loved for a long time at our house, although since our return from the Calgary Stampede it’s been read constantly. The text is simple, the drawings are charming and the book covers all the basics of what a cowboys does day and night. My son loves that Cowboy small has a guitar, and is pretty fond of the part when he gets bucked off a bronco as well.

“Angela’s Airplane” by Robert Munsch captures children’s fantasies about flying planes and adds in a cautionary tale about what could happen if the fantasy became reality. Angela finds her way onto a plane and starts pushing buttons, before she knows it she is in the air alone. The plane crashes but she is ok, and promises to never fly another plane. Do you think she keeps that promise? My son adores this book and while you may think that the crash would be scary for kids it’s not , the ridiculousness of a 5 year old flying a plane makes the crash equally as fictional though effective in opening a dialogue about touching buttons you shouldn’t!

“Underwear Do’s and Don’ts” by Todd Parr makes my son laugh and me hopeful that he will want to wear underwear sometime before 2020. The book is silly and full of absurd but entertaining advice about underwear. My son is particularly fond of the advice about not putting your underwear in the freezer! He laughs like it’s a new joke every time we read it, which is 3-4 times a day.

Great Books for Big Kids from…

Amy Kraft the brains and brawn behind Media Macaroni a blog full of amazing reviews, info and ideas when it comes to all sorts of media directed at our kids. In my dreams I live in NYC and meet Amy for coffee to chat about kids books, a girl can dream right ? I wasn’t dreaming when she offered to share some of her great chapter book reviews for older kids! Here are just two of the many ( including many picture books) you can find on her blog Media Macaroni.

Imagine if The Most Dangerous Game was a reality TV show watched by an entire nation. Then imagine all of the contestants are children. This is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, author of Gregor the Overlander and The Underland Chronicles. As much as I love those books, Suzanne Collins has outdone herself with this amazing new young adult novel. (Full review)

You may recall that I was one of the lucky few to score an advance reader’s copy of Suzanne Collin’s Catching Fire at Book Expo. I immediately took a picture of it, such was my disbelief at holding a copy.( Full Review)