Just because it’s been awhile since I’ve done a Library Corner post doesn’t mean the library shelf at my house hasn’t been brimming with great books I’d love to tell you about. I’m constantly amazed by how there can be so many fantastic new books with fresh ideas and creative illustrations. The only way to tackle the growing stack of books I think your geeklet might love is to throw a handful of them at you and let you decide which ones you’d like to check out.
I really have to start with a book that is filled with amazing watercolor paintings. Everything but the Horse, a book by Holly Hobbie (yes, the Holly Hobbie who writes the Toot and Puddle books, and blessed my childhood with adorable drawings of little girls), is a precious story about a girl who longs to own a horse. Her family moves to the country and not only do they now have a barn, perfect for housing a horse, they have neighbors who often ride their majestic show horses ‘right past our house like their own Saturday parade.’
This story is a mini memoir of the author’s childhood and a sweet story about how sometimes dreams don’t always come true, sometimes they just get modified. I devoured every amazing illustration and would put any of them in a frame to hang on the wall. The talent of a gifted illustrator continues to bless the world of children’s books.
Next let’s move on to a classic story, re-told with a twist. Chicken Big, by Keith Graves, is one of those books that’s fun to read aloud. The nontraditional lay out of its pages make it almost read more like a comic book, which is definitely appropriate, since there are plenty of laughs to be found here. When a very small hen lays a very large egg, and something hatches out that is much larger than the current residents of the hen house, the speculating begins.
The smallest chicken in the group guesses that it’s an elephant (with the author noting ‘she was not the sharpest beak in the flock’). Many more theories are suggested, then almost scientifically rejected, when the group uses deductive reasoning to figure out reasons why the guess cannot be true. Staying true to the original Chicken Little story, there are scenes of panic, when the flock begins to believe the sky is falling, but the enormity of the newest hen house addition always saves the day.
With clever pictures and hilarious (sometimes sarcastic) dialogue, this is a fun book to share with geek kids of many ages.
The next book on my list is one I picked up for my youngest son, Sam. Being the fourth child, living in a house with only enough (tiny) bedrooms for three children, Sam’s been bounced around for five years. His favorite part of our move out to Colorado in a few months is the fact that he finally, finally gets his own room. So I Wanna New Room, by Karen Kaufman Orloff, was just the book he needed right now.
It doesn’t hurt that it’s somewhat of a sequel to I Wanna Iguana, which we also loved. The illustrations in both books are colorful and filled with funny details. They’re fun to read, since the story is told by a series of letters that the main character writes back and forth to his parents. In the end, Alex finds a solution to his frustrations of having to suddenly share a room with his little brother, and gets a resolution he can live with. For any child who is begging for a pet, check out I Wanna Iguana, and for that poor kid, like my Sam, who is dreaming of his own space, I Wanna New Room is a great read.
I really should have recommended this next book about eight weeks ago, when everyone in the country was snowed in. It’s title is simple – No, by Claudia Rueda. It’s a great bedtime story, with soft, soothing illustrations and simple text. The story line revolves around mother bear trying to convince her little bear that it’s time to ‘sleep’, which generically alludes to hibernating. With each page, the snow falls a bit thicker and little bear comes up with many reasons why he is not ready to sleep yet, to counter his mother’s gentle prompts. When she tells him the snow will be deep, he responds with “I love the snow.”
In the end he realizes that staying ‘awake’ by himself is not nearly as fun as snuggling into a peaceful sleep, tucked in next to his warm mama. This is a sweet, simple book, that would make a great addition to any little geeklet’s bedside table library.
And the last book on my list today is from a series that I’m enjoying more, as each new book is introduced. Mo Willems, the master behind the Pigeon driving the bus books, and the creator of the Knufflebunny series, has struck gold with his new project. The Elephant and Piggie series is a great line of beginner reader books that I sincerely wish had been around when my kids were beginner readers. With each book Willems tells another witty story about the adventures of these two friends, using only a handful of simple words.
These books don’t feel like the standard easy readers, that tended to feel dry and pedantic. These are stories about two friendly animals who are figuring out life together. The reason I’m recommending this specific one, called We Are In a Book!, is because it reminds me of one of my all time favorite books, The Monster at the End of this Book, staring Grover from Sesame Street fame.
Early on in the story Elephant and Piggie realize they are being ‘read’ and anything they ‘say’ shows up as a word bubble that the reader has to say. They play with that theme for a bit then realize that at some point their book will end. Elephant panics and screams “When will the book end!?”. Turn the page and you’ll find Elephant looking at the page number in the bottom left corner, and answering his own question. “Page 57! It is page 46 now! This book is going too fast!”
To calm his upset friend, Piggie comes up with the perfect, brilliant solution. I highly and enthusiastically recommend this book, and this series, to any family who has a beginner reader and wants them to fall in love with the joy of wonderful stories.
Spring is here! But in your haste to run outside and explore all the new birds and butterflies, don’t forget to also spend some time curled up with your favorite geek kid, and enjoy a great picture book! There are so many great ones to choose from.