Alphabet Books II

Alligator Alphabet by Stella Blackstone and Stephanie Bauer. I was so excited to find this book because just this week my son started pointing out lower case letters in text. This book is a beautifully illustrated book with each letter represented on it’s own page. Pretty standard right? Wrong, although the text below the illustration had both upper and lower case letters, the main illustration is only the lower case letter. This is perfect for children like my son who are just starting to learn their lowercase letters.

Dogabet by Dianna Bonder is a fun playful alphabet book, perfect for animal lovers. We love dogs in our house so this was a sure fire hit, but even if you can’t tell a foxhound from a poodle you will like the busy pages and cute alliterative text. Each page is devoted to one letter and a corresponding breed of dog,  our favorites were the Otterhounds with their oboes and the purple Pugs. Also at the back of the book there is a guide to hidden images on each page that all begin with the proper letter, as well as a cat and bone. My son loved this book and playing “detective” with it.

Sleepy ABC by Margaret Wise Brown . I had never read this book before, and although I have a legendary hatred of Runaway Bunny I generally love this author, I can’t get enough of The Big Red Barn right now. I like this book, and the illustrations will zip you back in time for sure.  Unlike many alphabet books it has a great rhythm for reading it all without breaks.  My one complaint is that the child is tucked into bed then a few letters later is out listening to a story from another woman not their mom. I am not sure perhaps those are different children, didn’t bug my son one bit, but left me wondering. Like it’s title suggests it’s a good alphabet book for a bedtime read, it even ends with something I say often ” Go To Sleep!”.

ABeCedarios: Mexican Folk Art ABCs in English and Spanish by Cynthia Weill and K.B.Basseches , wood sculptures by Moises and Armando Jimenez.  This is a simple but amazing book.  The text is simply labels in both English and Spanish for the bright and wonderful photographs of the matching sculptures. I loved that for X the sculpture is of a mythical animal and the book asks the reader to make up a name begining with X, very clever!

firefighters A to Z

Firefighters A to Z by Chris L. Demarest is an alphabet book that teaches about fire safety and the danger firefighters face every time the alarm sounds. My son is fascinated with firefighters right now, he loves to dress up as one at preschool and we often take the long way home to swing past the station and see if the engines are in or not. He loves this book but I don’t think your child needs to have the level of obsession mine does to enjoy it.

eating the alphabet

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert is an alphabet book extraordinaire! Wonderful paintings of fruits and vegetables seem ultra simple and it is but somehow the way the author has pieced this simple book together is brilliant. Maybe it’s that children learn about food at the table multiple times a day and feel proud being able to identify not only some of the letters but some of the pictures too! From a teaching standpoint I love that there are both upper and lower case letters on each page! This book will grow with your child, and beware it will also make you hungry!

abc bunny

The Abc Bunny by Wanda Gag was first published in 1933 and is delicious! Readers follow along with a little bunny all the way from a to z ! The rhyming text is bouncy and my son was fully engaged. I thought the black and white pictures may throw him off but he loved them and didn’t seem to notice that there was no color, they were beautifully done and that was all that mattered. I love the language used like the words dash, gale and jaunty. Good books are good books no matter when they were written, and readers will always love them, I loved this book.

T is for Touchdown: A Football Alphabet by Brad Herzog is a beautiful book that will delight even those of us who are never happy to see football season start. I admit even being an anti fan this book was fun and really full of information that even a football scrooge like myself can appreciate. Also it’s easy to read simply the letters and look at the pictures for little ones and has genuinely interesting blurbs for each page for older children.

human alphabet

The Human Alphabet photographs by John Kane. This book is fascinating. Each page is a a different photograph of dancers making the shape of both the letter and something that starts with the letter. The letter is always obvious ( and in order which helps…) but the picture isn’t and I love that. It forced my son and I to work together to think of words that started with each letter to figure the tricky ones out .

Museum ABC by the Metropolitan Museum Of Art is a book that was first loved at our house because of the “C is for Cat” page , an early interest of my sons. I loved it because for each letter there are 4 usually very cropped pieces of paintings, showing only that part that fits the subject of each letter. In my nerdy love of identifying paintings I play a game with myself trying to figure out which are which as my son is identifying the letter, and finding the subject matter in each. The book is so beautiful, it’s hard to do it justice in a simple review. A wonderful concept and a great intro to art books for even the tiniest patron

Monster Book Round Up


monter manners
Monster Manners
written by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Jared Lee
published by Scholastic

Scholastic Reader (level 3)

Rosie Monster looked like the perfect little monster. Her only problem? She had terrible manners, terrible monster manners. She was too friendly, too polite, too nice. Rosie asked her friend Prunella to teach her how to be a better monster. Prunella shoes Rosie how to make monster faces, how to order in a restaurant, even how to behave when visiting friends, but Rosie’s manners don’t improve. Then something occurs that only Rosie’s not so monster manners can solve and her parents realize they’re lucky to have her, just the way she is. Children will enjoy this mixed-up manners tale and the delightfully rude lessons taught by Prunella. There’s a page of fluency words at the end of the book for young readers. *Reviewed by Carrie Anne

clydemonster
Clyde Monster
written by Robert L. Crowe, illustrated by Kay Chorao
published by Puffin
picture book (age 2-5)
Clyde was young but growing. He loved his mom and dad. When not at home he loved to spend his day in the forest doing summersaults. But when it came time to go to bed Clyde was afraid, afraid of the dark, afraid of people. You see, Clyde is a little monster who is afraid of people hiding in his room, under his bed, behind his chair, waiting to scare him. This is a wonderful tale of childhood fears of the dark. As parents we know that monsters aren’t real, but that doesn’t make our children’s fear of them any easier. Clyde and his family discuss his fears: “Would you ever hide in the dark under a bed or in a closet to scare a human boy or girl?” “Of course not!” exclaimed Clyde. The monster perspective makes this story more approachable to discuss your own child’s night time fears. *Reviewed by Carrie Anne
go away green monster
Go Away, Big Green Monster
written & illustrated by Ed Emberley
published by Little Brown
picture book (age 3-8)
A Caldecott Medal winner
Through the use of die-cut pages, a scary monster is created page by page. But once the monster is complete the reader tells it “You don’t scare me! So go away…” Now each page removes a piece of the scary monster until the end “and don’t come back.” As the child creates and then destroys the monster in the book, page by page, they see that the monster isn’t as scary as they thought. This great interactive approach gives children control of the monster and hopefully helps them to understand and control their own fears. *Reviewed by Carrie Anne

“The Very Worst Monster” by Pat Hutchins will give you and your child a good laugh. Hazel is a horrible monster but all her family is so busy oohing and awing about how horrid her baby brother is no one notices her. This is a cute story about siblings but these siblings are competing to be the very worst monster! My son thought the monster’s antics were hilarious and I thought the sentiment about siblings was sweet. Cute book!

Big Lips
Big Lips and Hairy Arms
written by Jean Jackson, illustrated by Vera Rosenberry
published by DK Publishing
picture book (age 4-8)
Two monster friends, Nelson and Thorndike, are enjoying a cold and windy evening together when they are interrupted by a mysterious phone call: “I have big lips and hairy arms, and I’m only five blocks away!” The two friends try to distract themselves with caterpillar crisps and a game of Pin the Teeth on the dragon, but as the calls continue, with the caller getting closer to the house, they become a little worried. In the end everyone is pleasantly surprised when the mystery caller is revealed. Children will enjoy the suspense and delight when the mystery guest is revealed. be . The colourful illustrations aid in keeping the story from getting to scary. * Reviewed by Carrie Anne

“Twelve Terrible Things” by Marty Kelley is horrifying to me, yet my son loves this book. He must have slipped it in our library bag because I have no recollection of choosing this book, and I didn’t pre read it when we got home. By then it was too late, my son was hooked on the dark humor this book delivers. The book offers up 12 terrible things, like a scary clown, a goldfish on it’s way down the toilet and monsters under the bed . The illustrations are all from the reader’s view point so the scary things are looking right at you! I am easily scared , I can’t watch horror film trailers without getting nightmares. I screamed twice reading this , my son just wanted “more more!” . I really don’t recommend this book for young kids although some older ones who like scary things will love it.“My Monster Mama Loves Me So” by Laura Leuck is more my kind of monster book for kids. Imaginative illustrations by Mark Buehner kept my little man pointing out spiders, bats and owls and he loved counting the extra eyes and arms on the monsters. The story is really sweet too. It’s all the things a mama monster does throughout the day with her little monster. It’s a sweet message about how love can be an action as well as a feeling!

My Friend Monster by Elanor Taylor is a sweet and not at all scary look at a friendship between a little fox and the monster who lives under his bed. The monster was left behind by a previous owner of the house that the little fox moves into. This is a sad monster but with a little time and patience the monster and the little fox make new friends and all is well. The monster even gets his own bed in the little fox’s bedroom so he doesn’t have to live under the bed anymore.
When A Monster is Born
by Sean Taylor is funny, my son didn’t find it as funny as I did but he still laughed and didn’t seem scared any of it. The story is about a monster and all the life changing choices he faces every day like whether to eat a principal or run through a wall of a school. This book feels like a choose your own adventure book, it’s fun , repetitive and silly. There is quite a bit of talk about monsters eating people , though nothing too gory.

Leonardo the Terrible Monster
written & illustrated by Mo Willems
published by Hyperion Books for Children
picture book (age 4-8)
Leonardo is a terrible monster. His attempts to scare people only elicits giggles. Then Leonardo has a idea. He decides he’s going to find the most scardy-cat kid in the whole world and scare the tuna salad out of him. But when he does, he doesn’t feel so great. Now he has a new idea, instead of being a terrible monster he will be a wonderful friend. This is another wonderful tale by Mo Willems. The large book format allows for great use of space around his images and words. Mo Willems has the ability to write wonderful children stories that entertain both children and adults alike. * Review by Carrie Anne


“Go To Bed Monster” by Natasha Wing is a book anyone who’s ever struggled with bedtime will instantly relate to. The little girl in the book Lucy isn’t sleepy so she draws a monster but soon his refusal to go to bed even after she is sleepy backfires. I like this book, and despite his refusal to believe the monster was a monster not a dinosaur my son really likes this book and it got read 5 times today!

Holiday Gift Showcase

Picture Books
I started my Holiday Gift Showcase with gifts inspired by children’s books so I think it’s fitting that I would wrap it up with a list of wonderful books that would make great last minute gifts.

” The Very Grouchy Ladybug” by Eric Carle is more than a cute book about a crabby bug. The Lady bug is looking for a fight and each hour she finds a bigger and bigger animal to fight with until she is unintentionally slapped by a big whale’s tail! I loved using this book to teach telling time, as there is a picture of an analog clock on each page. I would use a play clock and as I read each page ask one child to come and set our classroom clock. Also don’t be put off by the fact that the lady bug tries to pick fights, no animal takes her up on her offer and you can spin that into a great lesson about not giving into people who are trying to pick fights.

Sink or Swim “ by Valerie Coulman is my new favorite book, it’s about a cow who is determined to learn how to swim. He seeks out advice, gets all the equipment and never gives up! The story is a wonderful lesson about tenacity in the face of adversity . The cow just keeps trying!


” Alphabet Under Construction”
by Denise Fleming is a wonderful example of what an alphabet book should be. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers learning their first letters, the text is short , the letters are front and center and the illustrations are fun and interesting. My son loves this book, I grabbed it at the library after remembering how much my Pre K class loved it too! Many alphabet books are too long to read entirety at circle time or in one shot with a toddler but this my 19 month old will sit through Z every time!

” Dig Dig Digging” by Margaret Mayo was an instant favorite as soon as my son opened it last night. I bought it without pre reading it at all , hoping that just the fact there was a digger on the front my son would love it. The book is so much better than I expected. It goes through all different types of vehicles, not just diggers and the text uses a repetitive format that kids love. The best part is the opening line of each page where is says what each vehicle is good at. ” Diggers are good at dig dig digging!” ” Tractors are good at pull pull pulling!” are just two of the many. I love this because it had my son trying to say it and by the 3rd reading he was saying it along with me. Great book for toddlers and preschoolers!





” I Love You, Stinky Face” by Lisa McCourt reminds me of “The Runaway Bunny” but less saccharine and creepy. Sorry if I have just called your favorite book creepy but I’ve never been a fan of “The Runaway Bunny”. Back to this book and why I like it, I love that the little boy in the book keeps trying to find ways to make him unlovable and the mom keeps finding ways to love unconditionally. There is a deeper meaning here and moms will see past the fun illustrations to the real heart of this book, which is no matter what we love our children. When I found this in a thrift store and read it quickly, I couldn’t look at my son in his stroller throwing puffs on the floor without tearing up!

Freckleface Strawberry” by Julianne Moore is one of the few celebrity books you will see me giving a good review, I really like this book. It doesn’t talk down to kids, and the humor is funny for parents and kids alike. I like that her freckles do not go away as she got older too, instead she learns to accept and love them.

“The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch is one of my very favorite books. Some parents have shared their dislike of Elizabeth’s outburst at the end calling Ronald a bum but I think not only is it justified, he treated her horribly, but people say things when they are angry and you can easily use it to teach your child about anger. I think it’s a wonderful story about a princess taking things into her own hands and saving herself and the prince! My kind of fairytale.

” 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.


” How to Make an Apple Pie and see the world”
by Marjorie Priceman cost be a total of 15 cents! It is worth so much more than that. This book is a gem! Perfect for older preschoolers who are getting a sense of the world beyond their own home and city, this book takes you on a ride around the world! You follow the little girl to Italy, France , Sri Lanka, England, Jamaica and back to Vermont! This wonderful book takes such a simple idea of searching for ingredients and blows it into a wonderful global adventure!

” Truck Driver Tom “ by Monica Wellington is one of my son’s picks. The story is simple, Tom and his puppy drive produce from the farm to the market and see the country side and much more along the way. The best part of this book are the fun bright and detailed illustrations, there is a wide variety of trucks, cars , emergency and construction vehicles! Also it’s a great lesson about how our food gets from the farm to us

Book Showcase

Board Books
No craft or song will ever surpass the importance of reading to our kids, a house can never have too many books so here are a few more for you to consider!

” How Big Is A Pig” by Claire Beaton has fast become a favorite in our house around bedtime. I love the felt illustrations, the detail amazes me and helps distract me from noticing that I have read it 20 times in as many minutes. The story itself is great too, it focuses on opposites in the farm yard with a zippy rhyming text.


” Moo , Baa , La La La ! “
by Sandra Boynton is brilliant and cheeky little book for your toddler to love. Young children will jump at the chance to correct the silly story that has pigs saying “La La La” instead of oink!




“The Little Fire Engine” by Lois Lenski is a simple little book about a fire engine that goes to put out fire. Nothing special right? Wrong! My son can spot this book from 3 shelves over at our library and in the past 6 months we have signed it out 4 times! The bright retro illustrations and simple text is perfect for your fire fighters in training!

“Brown Bear Brown Bear” by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle is a classic, it is genius in it’s simplicity. So often we think things have to have fancy bells and whistles to keep toddlers and preschoolers interested and this book proves us wrong yet again. I haven’t met a child who hasn’t responded well to this book about colors and animals!


Chica Chica ABC” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is a fantastic board book and a shorter version of the ever popular “Chica Chica Boom Boom”. My son loves this book and it’s the perfect amount of text for a toddler. The illustrations by Lois Ehlert are so bright and bold that even a very young baby will respond to it. A must have for all home libraries!


” Good Night Gorilla”
by Peggy Rathmann is a silly story about a zookeeper and his charges that follow him home to bed. Luckily his wife is on her toes and gets those silly animals back to the zoo ! I love to use this book as a bedtime story.

“One Duck Stuck” by Phyllis Root looks like an everyday book , but inside you will find a brilliantly repetitive storyline, that promotes teamwork, and mathematical skills! My students a few years ago were nuts about this book and yours will be too!

Reading In A Winter Wonderland

The children’s librarian at my local library shared a tip with me yesterday, if you are getting sick of holiday crowds stop by the library, it gets very quiet as everywhere else gets insane. Here are a few winter books I found at the library yesterday.
“The Lonesome Polar Bear” by Jane Cabrera is a cute little book about a little polar who’s only friends are a snow cloud and snow animals that keep melting away. The book has a cute message about not giving up hope and to keep trying to make friends , a lesson that is worth wile for everyone. The illustrations are very cute and my son loved it!


“It’s Snowing!” by Olivier Dunrea is a beautiful book , that I read twice in a row because I just loved the magical flow of it and the stunning art work. My son was not too interested which doesn’t surprise me , the story is slow and I should have introduced it at bedtime for someone as young as he is. It is definitely worth a look and I am looking forward to reading this again when my son can sit a little longer and is interested in something other than bulldozers and dump trucks.

“Stella : Queen Of The Snow” by Marie-Louise Gay is my kind of book. If I were to quote all my favorite bits of this book I would write out most of it. I just love the writing, it’s simple but doesn’t talk down to the reader. The characters are sweet but not saccharine and I love how inquisitive Sam is . Stella is a know it all but not bratty about it at all! Sam has never seen snow before and Stella tells him all about it as they explore the first snow fall of the year.