Top Children's Books
Top Three Fun Kid’s Books
In my humble opinion, kid’s books should be fun to read out loud. After all, if you picked up the book to read to your two year-old, the two of you should be laughing together as you read it! After a hard day slogging away at the office, I want to be rewarded if I take the time to find my kid something fun to read with them. So here are my votes for three kid’s books that are hot sellers right now because they are just so darn much fun to read!
Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton
This is just someone who knows how to write some serious silly. The book is filled with her famously funny animals and you can’t help but giggle if you sit down with your kid to read this one.
In the end it doesn’t even really matter what age your kids are, we can all get on board this kind of silliness and sometimes the whole family can get into the fun. Your kids are going to jump in tell you just what pigs really say. What! It isn’t LA LA LA???
Go ahead. Get the book and just laugh.
Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
You know, Seuss just had the knack of saying the most simple things in the most delightful manner. This one tells the tale of a pajama clad hero and the kinds of things we can all expect out of life. But it is said with such enthusiasm and love that you will want to read it with your kids again and again.
You can’t go wrong with any Dr. Seuss book and this one was just recently re-released. It is fun to enjoy it all over again.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This is a classic kid’s tale that has been rereleased as a tiny four by five inch that is just perfect for wee hands. The counting tale of the caterpillar that ate his way through the week will have your kids chortling with glee and learning to count and tell you the days of the week.
The book has been delighting parents and teachers alike for a very long time. If you have little ones that haven’t yet started school they will be delighted by this classic tale of the caterpillar that ate one apple on Monday and two pears on Tuesday…
So it seems that the classics are still the ones that continue to make us laugh and keep us happy. All of these books are reprints that have come out again and again for a very simple reason. We always find that in the end these are the books that kids love. Your kids will laugh with them just as much as you did.
Three Winners for 2011
This year has seen many wonderful new children’s books emerge, but there are always a handful of them that do seem to stand out on almost every reviewers list this year. Here are a few that I found particularly delightful.
Stephen Savage does a wonderful job with a fairly familiar concept in “Where’s Walrus?” as the reader follows the zookeeper through pages filled with bricklayers and mannequins in storefront windows or by groups of dancing cabaret girls. Everywhere, there is somewhere, a marvelous walrus for the kids, and the zookeeper to find.
In a story of a different nature, John Rocco tells the tale of a summertime electricity failure in one little kid’s city life. The book, “Blackout” is a sweet tale of how this simple incident opens up the child to a world of strange beauty and awe. It is a place where people all around him eat in an elegant candlelit setup. And without their electronic gadgets to occupy their attention, he rediscovers the wonderful pleasure of simple conversations and the easy enjoyment of just being in each other’s company.
For older kids, Brian Sleznick has a new book out that looks to be every bit as magical as last year’s hit “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” that the recent film “Hugo” is based on. The new book is called “Wonderstruck” and again has a story of loss and redemption. The story centers on the lives of two children, one a runaway in the era of the silent films who is enraptured by movies and the second a boy in the 1970s who life is filled with grief and whose dreams are filled with wolves. They share destinies and connections in ways that again bring a reader into their lives with great emotion.
So here we have three very different books for kids of different ages and temperaments, all of them standouts that are bound to please. But then, if there was ever a time when books for youth were going strong, this is that time. You can put romance novels on those little screens, but illustrated children’s books need room to breathe and live.
A Cat Brings Us All a Laugh
How can anyone talk about a hub on children’s books without bringing up that great master of them all, Dr. Seuss! He brought several generations of children the ability to laugh at themselves and to love to read just so you could say all those funny words.
Of course, to me the most famous of them all is the weird and wacky Cat in the Hat. As kids we loved the idea of a stranger coming in and being as much into trouble as we all wanted to be. He charmed our misbehaving little hearts and made us all the more happy because he so didn’t care about the consequences. So hats off! Hats off to Dr. Suess and his wonderful friend – The Cat in the Hat!
Where The Wild Things Are
No hub about children's books would be complete without mentioning Where The Wild Things Are by by Maurice Sendak. As you know, a movie has been made about the book. At first glance it looks like something kids will really love. However I just watched a fascinating "behind the scenes" look at the making of the movie and I can honestly tell you that this movie will also be cherished by adults.
Spike Jonze is the director and as one of the people associated with the movie said "Spike attracts people who are like him. I knew a lot of people like that in the sixties; a bit wild and a bit quirky. But true artists. That's what Spike is."
With actors like Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hare and Forrest Whitaker providing the voices for the characters it's obvious that this is a special film. These actors didn't wear the big furry suits however they acted their parts as if they did. If a scene required a character to run while speaking the actors actually ran while saying their lines.
This movie wasn't made like most animated films where you have actors sitting inside a closed recording booth wearing headsets and speaking into a microphone. Instead, the actors were on the scene (in this case, in the woods) where many scenes took place.
What I found especially fascinating about the filming of the movie was that Spike Jonze did most of his work barefoot or wearing socks. Likewise, I saw a scene between James Gandolfini and Catherine O'Hare where James was lying on a sofa and Catherine was a few feet away performing a housekeeping task. Interestingly enough, James had his pants rolled up and was barefoot, as was Catherine. It made me think that Spike is a laid back type of director whose personality serves to put others on the set at ease.
Also, the actors, while on the set, wore colored headbands that had wires coming out of the top. Each headband (which actually looked like colored tape) had the initials of the character being portrayed written on it. Not sure what that was about - if you know, leave a comment.
All in all, I was left with this statement made by one of the producers:
"What is it that's so fascinating about people running around in furry suits? Well, it's more than that. It's the outstanding cinematography, the quirky script and the fantastic acting."
What's Your Favorite Children's Book?
Which of the following is your favorite children's book?See results without voting
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
The boy in the striped pyjamas is the fourth novel by Irish author John Boyne and his first for children. The book is a touching story about an unusual friendship between 2 boys in horrific circumstances. The book is also a reminder of man’s inhuman capabilities!
The protagonist of the story is a 9 year old boy, Bruno who lives in Berlin during the World War II. He shares a 5-storey house with his parents and his 12 year old sister, Gretel as well as numerous servants. His father is always in a fancy uniform and at the beginning of the book; he has had a very important visitor called the Fury. Consequently, Bruno’s father gets a new uniform and they have to move to a new place.
Bruno is unhappy about the move as he has to leave his school, friends, house, his grandparents and the city of Berlin with all its joyous crowds. The new house is much smaller and full of soldiers with nobody for little Bruno to play with. Soon, he notices a town of people dressed in striped pyjamas from his bedroom window. On enquiring his father tells him that they are not real people!
Out of boredom and curiosity, one day Bruno begins to follow the wire fence separating that town from his bedroom and spotting a dot in some distance, gets closer. Only the dot is another boy and happy to finally find a prospective friend, Bruno introduces himself. The Jewish boy is named Shmuel and they meet every day at the spot to talk. Finally, for several reasons, Bruno climbs under the fence so he could explore Shmuels world.
Though initially it looks like Boyne is rather clumsy with trying to write from a child’s point of view, the storyline soon effortlessly transports you into Bruno’s worldview. The story telling is elegant and emotional with an ending quite cleverly gross in a fairy tale style!
Bruno and Shmuel’s friendship is delivered with quite a neat awareness of the illogicality between a child’s naïve egocentric ways, his loyalty to his family and his ignorance to any forms of discrimination. The subtitle of the book is “A Fable” and quite so in a similar manner like all fables do, a child is used to uncover the truths of an adult world.
With its captivating narrative style of a 9 year old and the emotions it evokes for a child growing up in that war torn world, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is sure to become another children’s book that adults enjoy too!
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book is an amazing tale about the terrors and triumphs of growing up. The book is at once mysterious and revealing, predictable and completely lunatic! It has become a modern classic for children with all the mystery, wisdom, excitement and dark adventures in a single chapter, putting even a potter fan to shame!
The book in its own way pays homage to Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli stories, though lightly, with a similar delight in storytelling. While Kipling’s Mowgli grew up with animals; Gaiman’s Bod grows up with ghosts, witches and the dead in the graveyard.
A family is viciously murdered and the only survivor, a small child is left in the graveyard. He is then raised by a dead witch, a vampire and the ghosts of the dead. No doubt Neil Gaiman thinks his books for adults are not half as scary as the ones he writes for children! Bod gets the freedom of the entire graveyard and his friends include a poet, Nehemiah Trot and the witch, Liza Hempstock. Nobody Owens or Bod for short is the protégé of Silas who is a rather solitary nocturnal creature with supernatural mental and physical strengths.
Soon, growing up in the graveyard Bod has learnt to fade so he can be invisible in plain view. He has also learnt to call for help in French, night-gaunt and Morse code. But will these accomplishments in the graveyard help him with his life outside? Jack, the killer with a knife who massacred Bod’s family and the mystifying convocation are still hunting for him, can he use what he learned here to his advantage with his human peers?
When asked whether he wrote this book for children, Gaiman says that it is not a children’s book but children are sure to enjoy it. The book is about making a family and life and death, so it is bound to be well received by adults as well. The book begins with an 18 month old Bod, who is 4 years old by the second chapter and by chapter 8; he is all of 16 years! With a lot of scary stuff in the book throughout, it is equally entertaining for adults.
This witty and magical book and all the terrifying adventures Bod had are sure to leave your young ones thrilled. The dangers and excitement in the life of a small boy raised by the dead is sure to captivate many young imaginations!
Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten
By Antoinette van Heugten
Reviewed by Lisa
May I just say how much I love this book, “Saving Max”? This is, without a doubt, one of the best books I’ve read in years! It grips you from Page 1 and doesn’t let go until the last chilling paragraph. It’s a mystery, a romance, a story of struggle, of unconditional love, and one of faith in oneself that there is nothing that cannot be done for your child.
In “Saving Max”, Ms. Heugten introduces us to Danielle and the plight of the single working professional mother. Added to that plight is the pressure of Danielle’s profession; she’s an attorney who’s at the top of the list for making partner at her firm. Well, there’s more to worry about. While some women might consider this the pinnacle of their career, Danielle’s real career is at home with her 17-year-old son, Max. A single mother with a high-power career and a teenager on the brink of adulthood….and Max is a highly functioning autistic child. Danielle has her hands full as Max begins to act out violently – again. She is left with one course of action, to hospitalize him in the infamous Maitland Psychiatric Facility for a short stay, but things don’t turn out that way for Danielle and Max.
Ms. van Heugten handles the topics of single parenting and autism with great respect and diplomacy. She takes her characters and puts them in completely implausible situations, yet it’s barely noticeable due to her beautiful prose and the flow of her style of writing. This book & the way that its written makes me wish every book was written with such elegance. The author has very obviously done her research as well as any Behavioral Health employee will be able to attest. Her descriptions of the disorders and psychotropic medications described in the book are accurate as stated in DSM-IV as well as the Physicians’ Desk Reference. She also manages to fit a romance in for Danielle that’s very subtle, but leaves the reader hoping for some happiness for her.
“Saving Max” is an excellent read - for every mother, every single mother, and every mother who has a child with special needs or anyone that enjoys a great mystery. It’s a beautifully written mystery along with a story of unconditional love of a mother for her son. Plan to not put it down once you start!
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