Book Review: Books for Children
20 Minutes a Day
We've all seen the ads on tv. "Read to your child for twenty minutes a day." It sounds wonderful, but seriously, how many sane parents do you know that could stand 1/3 of an hour of some of the mindless drivle publishers sometimes put out? Yup, I get it, the donkey wants a carrot. Does he have to want it on every single page? My child, is a child, not an idiot. I don't like when adults in the same room as me talk down to my sons... Why should I accept it when some suit in a publishing company in a land far, far away does so?
Below are some ideas for book purchases for kids that are fun for children and the adults who will read them. Give your precious time with your child more meaning and quality by doing something you can both truly enjoy together. The books below will stimulate their imagination and yours, and help you to make special memories that will last for years to come.
Olivia by Ian Falconer (ages 3-7)
This book is about a pig. A pig, named Olivia. But, Olivia is not just any pig... she's a little girl with a little "bother" named Ian, a mom, a dad, a dog, and a cat named Edwin. She loves the color red and she has to try on EVERY outfit in her closet before leaving the house. Her magnificient sense of style is outpaced only by her fantastic imagination. Olivia, and her book of the same name, is full of attitude. We see Olivia go through her daily routine (including brushing her ears, which my 5yr old son finds hysterical) and bargaining for as many stories as possible at bedtime. In her precocious nature, she comments on Degas and Pollock during a trip to the art museum and lets us know that she is SO full of energy that she even "wears herself out."
Falconer is not only a talented author, but a very talented artist as well (his work has been seen on the cover of the New Yorker and he has designed sets and costumes for several prestigious ballets and opera houses). His charcoal drawings with accents of Olivia's favorite red tell the story even more than the words. A trait which allows your child to "read" this book all on his own when you are not available.
[Note: Olivia can now also be seen in her very on show on Nick Jr. In this author's opinion, it is one of the very few pre-school to early elementary shows out there that don't make her want to bang her head against a wall and beg for mercy.]
How I Became a Pirate (ages 4-8)
"He's a digger alright. And a good one to boot!" These are the words uttered by the rotund and somewhat rosy Captain Braid Beard as he whisks young Jeremy Jacob from the beach where he was making a sand castle on an otherwise normal family day out. (His mom is too busy "slathering" suncsreen on the baby to notice, while his dad is occupied setting up the beach umbrella. Besides, Jeremy doesn't think his parents would mind him having a little adventure, so long as he is sure to be home for soccer practice.)
The pirates need a "digger" because they must bury their newly acquired treasure, and they believe Jeremy Jacob to be just the boy to do it. Jeremy is introduced to a fun and exciting world aboard the pirate ship where each order the captain barks is echoed back with enthusiasm by the other pirates. He's intrigued and ecstatic when he learns that pirates don't brush their teeth ("that's probably why their green") or eat vegetables, or wear pajamas! But, young Jeremy soon finds out all the other things that pirates don't do (like read bedtime stories) and begins to miss the comforts of home.
Thanks to a thunderstorm, a treasure in danger, and a suprising plan by Jeremy Jacob, both Jeremy and the pirates get exactly what they need... and get back to shore safely and in time for Jeremy's soccer game.
The whimsical illustrations in this book will have your youngster rapt with attention. The call and response nature of the captain and his crew make it so much fun to read ("Do the voices Mommy!!!") And, young Jeremy's sweetness and sense of adventure will have you both wanting to read it again and again.
Snowmen at Night (ages 4-8; Board Book available for younger children)
Did you even wonder why your snowman looks somewhat droopy and disheveled in the days after you build him? Well one young man does, and this tale is his reverie. Rather than blaming the warming rays of the sun, he imagins a world where the snowmen creep off of their front yards at night to enjoy a snowy party in the park complete with "ice cold cocoa" made by "snowman mothers."
The book is a rollicking and wonderful adventure with amazing oil and acrylic images by author Caralyn Buehner's husband Mark.
My 5 year old son loves the idea of the snowmen having secret adventures. The rhythmic text and gorgeous illustrations keep both he, and his little brother (1 1/2) mesmerized, and even I find myself laughing at the general joy and silliness of the story. (Including my very favorite snowman who has a pickle for a nose.) And, should you ever get tired of reading the story (although I doubt you will) illustrator mark Buehner has had some fun hiding pictures within his pictures which you and your child can try to spot together.