Mustache Fever–in Picture Books

November 22, 2014

mustacheMustache fever!  There seems to be an epidemic, in fashion, costumes–and yes, picture books!  With lots of family gatherings coming up, catch the mustache fever.  Here are a few books for little ones to get you all in the mood.  And don’t forget your fake mustaches to add to your reading pleasure. (You can even get baby pacifiers with mustaches.  Too cute!)

Mustache-BabyMustache Baby by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Joy Ang

What is this?  Baby Billy is born with a mustache?  His parents are OK with it–after all, Billy comes in handy  at playtime as a terrific mustachioed cop or cowboy.  But they do begin to get nervous when the mustache ends curl up suspiciously like a villain’s mustache.  Could it be influencing him to be a bad-guy?  It certainly looks that way as he becomes bad, very bad.  He even becomes a “cereal criminal” and a “cat burglar.”  Luckily, his parents are able to reassure him that everyone has a “bad mustache day,” and he becomes a good little guy again.  He even makes friends with  his new neighbor, a little bearded guy!  The pictures are really fun, too, and help play on the puns.  This book is great as a readaloud, too.


Mr.-NashMr. Nash and His Mustache by Jamie Uyeshiro

Mr.Nash has lost his mustache, and the reader gets to journey with him as he searches for it so he can do the important things in his life.  Along the way, he keep thinking he’s found it–but it turns out to be. . .perhaps a squirrel’s tail, or a ninja’s nun-chucks.  Luckily, Mr. Nash also meets friends on his journey who teach him the importance of believing in yourself.  A fun and sweet book, with a message about having confidence in yourself.


MustacheMustache!  by Mac Barnett illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Meet King Duncan. . .handsomely dashing, but a terrible king.  He spends so much time admiring his handsome face, that he does no governing of his people, who need him. The country is falling apart but King Duncan just responds by posting more and more banners that show off his beauty.  When the people rebel, they do so creatively, by painting mustaches on all the likenesses of the king.  The king banishes them to prison, which he is forced to build, repaving roads, fixing towers–you guessed it, dealing with his crumbling kingdom. Readers will appreciate the humor and resolution of this silly but engaging story.


Mo's-mustacheMo’s Mustache by Ben Clanton

A book suitable for the littlest ones, yet enjoyed by the adults who read to them.  Mo the monster becomes a trend-setter when he dons a mustache and all the other monsters add mustaches as well.  While he is glad they appreciate his sense of style, he prefers being unique.  Hysterical pictures as the monsters all try out different styles in imitation of Mo–and then create their own for a very special fashion show!  Lots of fun for everyone.  And we even learn a new way to use mustaches:  the title page states that the artwork in this book was “rendered in watercolor and ink using a mustache as a brush.”



New Interactive Books for Young Readers

November 15, 2014

It’s a great time to cuddle up with a book and a young friend and take advantage of  the special coziness of entering a book world.  Outside, it may be cold (and in Portland, raining).  But you can chase the blues away with books that encourage interaction and fun.

Book-with-NoThe Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

Best place to start:  B.J. Novak’s new hit.  Kids LOVE this book.  If you don’t believe us, check out the Youtube of the author reading to a group of 5-year-olds (posted on the book’s Amazon page).  Their laughter is contagious! It really is a book without pictures, but the words on the page make it fun and silly.  Everything written on the page has to be said aloud by the reader.  The kids I’ve shared the book with think they are playing a great trick on the reader, and they are in on the joke.  When we sent a copy to our dear nieces Hazel and Charlotte, we received a call when they received it and they were still in  hysterics. (And yes, it is  B.J. Novak from The Office fame has branched out to children’s books.)


Mix-it-upMix it Up! by Herve Tullet

In this follow-up to Press Here, Herve Tullet invites readers to, well, Mix it up–colorwise, that is.  Each page has simple instructions to make colors appear or vanish, splatter, mix. . .all at the command of the reader.  Besides being imaginative, it also instructive in what happens if. . .you combine colors, for example, or take colors away.  Made me want to break out the finger paints!


Messed-upA Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell

Poor little Louie!  He’s trying to tell a story.  Like many of us, he finds it’s really hard to tell our story perfectly.  But why tell it, he argues, if it isn’t just exactly right?  The water color pastels, along with pen and ink are an important part of the story, which frankly, keeps getting messed up.  The book is flat-out funny; fingerprints and scribbles magically appear as Louie addresses the reader.   The dialogue bubbles are great!  Do we ever get to hear Louie’s story?  No spoilers!  You’ll have to read it yourself and engage in the messy project.

Still craving more interactive books?  Check out our Book Flight:  Get Lost on a Book

Have a Party With Your Bear Day is November 16th!

November 8, 2014

Vivi-bearThere’s something about bears, those cuddly wise friends that often have a special place in our childhoods.  In our family, Jacob has always been particularly close to Beary-Bear, a big white stuffed sleepytime bear.  So in Portland, we have two knit Beary-Bear cousins who live with us in between twin visits, one green (for Molly)  and one white (for Jacob).  Sometimes, they come out to play with our neighborhood friends, like Vivi and Paddington and one of our favorite pastimes is a tea-party.

So on “Have a Party With Your Bear Day” this year, we are recommending you celebrate with a tea party!  We’ve chosen a few books to help you enjoy a tea party with your favorite bear.

WinnieWinne the Pooh (Original Edition) by A. A. Milne (Author), Ernest H. Shepard (Illustrator)

We recommend this edition: Pooh Library original 4-volume set, but the single volume of the original Winnie the Pooh also is a great starting point, and makes a wonderful gift. There is simply no comparison between the original characters and the more recent Disney version. Children still love gloomy Eeyore, excitable Piglet, and of course, the adventures that Christopher Robin and Pooh share.


TeddyThe Legend of the Teddy Bear by Frank Murphy, illustrated by Gisjbert van Frankenhuyzen

While lots of people know that the “original” Teddy Bear was named after President Theodore Roosevelt, the legendary story about Teddy Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot a bear that gave birth to a century of stuffed bear friends has been neglected and forgotten.  This is the perfect book to explain how the teddy bear got his name.  Its fascinating history as well as a charming and well-written text details the the story of the cartoon depiction that made Roosevelt’s unwillingness to shoot a cornered bear into a toy store phenomenon.  The illustrations hit just the right tone, too.  A great book for the whole family to enjoy!


Tea-Party-RulesTea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by K. G. Campbell

This is the perfect book for Have a Party With Your Bear Day!  A little cub wanders off from his mother’s sleeping side at the smell of cookies.  He follows his nose and finds a little girl’s tea party, the table set, and in one of the chair’s her stuffed bear.  The Cub decides to take this stuffed bear’s place at the table.  Sounds promising for Cub, but unfortunately, the little girl finds her new companion “too grubby” for a tea party.  Turns out there are lots of rules for tea parties that just don’t work for Cub:  “Tea Party Rule: you must be neat”; “Tea Party Rule:  You must eat daintily.”  Luckily for all, the little girl does change the rules.  The illustrations are lots of fun, and part of the charm of the story.


Tea-Party-TodayTea Party Today:  Poems to Sip and Savor by Eileen Spinelli, Illustrated by Karen Dugan

It’s never too early to introduce little ones to poetry, and this collection is perfect to add to the pleasure of your tea party.  Short lines with lots of repetition help children appreciate the fun of rhythms and lilting phrases–and early readers can read the poems by themselves. Spinelli’s  fine writing is a treat; she evokes wonderful memories of tea parties in a variety of settings.  Another treat:  Teatime Tips at the bottom of the pages.  The illustrations are as inviting as the poems and memories.  Enjoy!



November 1, 2014

~posted by Ruth

NateI have a special fondness for the series Nate the Great.  My own Nate the Great was born the same year as Marjorie Weinman Sharmat created the original character:  1977.  Though we called him Nathan (and now Uncle Nathan aka Uncle Hub),  the connection was strong.  Even as a little boy, Nathan was like our hero Nate with his ironic wit, clever detective skills, and yes, love of pancakes.

So it was with great pleasure I noted the publication this year  of the latest in Sharmat’s long-running series for beginning readers:  Nate the Great Where Are You? and decided to check it out after all these years.  And the good news is, it is as wonderful as ever!  Nate, of course, still relies on his canine sidekick Sludge, and the familiar characters are in on their latest case, which ends up multiplying into several mysteries, all needing Nate’s immediate attention. Rosamond is as odd as ever, Annie is still obsessing over her dog Fang (whose toothpaste is missing), and Claude’s request adds to the tangled case.

If you are new to this series, check out the original Nate the Great and share this and the many other Nate the Great adventures with the young readers in your life.

Scotland and England: National Tell a Story Day is October 27th

October 26, 2014

SelkieScots and Brits celebrate National Story Telling Day on October 27th.  Why not join in the fun?  Of course, we here in the United States have a day devoted to the wonders and power of telling stories, but that’s way off in April, on the 27th, too as it happens.  Since the two holidays are exactly 6 months apart, we’ve decided to honor both and delight in this celebration twice a year instead of once only.

Invite this tradition into your home as well.  Fall is the perfect time for spooky stories, and you can set the mood  by turning down the lights and holding flashlights under your chin.  What stories to tell?  There are plenty of mysterious and eerie fairy tales and myths and legends from the British Isles.

FinnYou might want to check out Scotland’s Storytelling Center.  We especially love the resources on Scotland’s Stories where you can find stories of the selkies, the Wee Bannock, and of course, Finn MacCool.

If you prefer your story telling to be a traditional readaloud, you might try out these Scottish stories in picture book form.  This is just a start.  Enjoy!

Seal-childrenThe Seal Children by Jackie Morris

Welsh artist and writer Jackie Morris is the perfect author to bring this legend to life in the pages of a picture book.  The selkie myth of a half-human/half seal race who interact on occasion with humans is one of hope and love, separation and loss.  Beautifully told in words and pictures, we see the Welsh village and sea through the eyes of the seal children Ffion and Morlo.  You’ll want to delve into Morris’ other tales once you’ve read this one!


DragonThe Dragon Stoorworm by Theresa Breslin

Scottish writer Theresa Breslin weaves a brilliant and (I’m told) authentic tale about the “very first, very worst Dragon that ever lived.”  He was so enormous, he was almost as big as all of Scotland!  Who will save the Princess Gemdelovely frombeing eaten?  Only the bravest will attempt it; none who face him have ever returned.  But the Princess, together with Gentle Assipattle, can free all of Scotland.   The illustrations are simply magical, and the story told with wit and grace.  Brand new!  Don’t miss it!

Celebrating Board Games and Family Fun

October 18, 2014

Board-GamesThe Book of Classic Board Games

by Klutz Press

What are the classic board games you remember from your childhood?  For me, it’s go, checkers,  and backgammon.  Imagine a spiral bound transportable heavy duty book that opens to create the boards you need, paired with easy-to-follow rules and directions for play.  Even the game pieces and dice are included, so you’re good to go.  Besides being re-introduced to family favorites, I’ll bet you’ll also find some new games to try out.  There are 15 games in all.  Great if you love games–and perfect if you have a family board games night!

October is National Pizza Month!

October 13, 2014

PizzaWhenever we make bets or throw out challenges to Jacob, we are pretty confident of the prize he’ll choose:  PIZZA!  We owed him several pizza nights last summer, which led to us finding some great pizza spots here in Portland.  In honor of Jacob, we’ll be celebrating Pizza month this year throughout the month of October.

SecretSecret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin

“Ah, pizza… So beautiful, you could hang it on the wall of a museum. So convenient you could eat it in the bathtub.” Nobody loves Pizza like Raccoon (except maybe Jacob!).  But not so easy for a forlorn Raccoon to get his paws on, especially from his nemesis The Pizza Man, who chases him off  from the Pizza Parlor with a broom.   But Raccoon is a clever one, and devises a heist in order to throw a secret pizza party. He succeeds in capturing the pizza, but what fun is it to eat alone?  Luckily he finds people (wearing zany masks) to share in his party.  Another whacky picture book from the author of Dragon Loves Tacos.


PizzaPizza at Sally’s  by Monica Wellington

A terrific book to tie into the local farming movement.  Sally grows her own tomatoes, buys locally made cheese, and makes her pizza from scratch.  Not just politically correct, though–kids love this brightly illustrated, easy-reader format book.  Sally herself is  cheerful and friendly, and the pizza process is delightfully explained.  You’ll be ready for a big slice when you finsih reading this with your kids!


Red-HenThe Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philomen Sturgess, illustrated by Amy Walrod

What happens when the Little Red Hen decided not to bake bread, but a pizza instead?  That’s the premise of this retelling of the Chicken Licken tale.  Like the original Little Red Hen, her friends are no help to her, always giving her the expected reply: “Not I,” said the duck donning her swim cap and tube. “Not I,” said the dog wearing a box of dog biscuits and a party hat. “Not I,” said the hep blue cat playing the saxophone. If you think the original moral is important to the story, you’ll be a bit disappointed.  Personally, I appreciate the fact that Little Red decides to share with her friends anyway and guilt-trips them into helping her clean up.  The illustrations are hilarious and appealing to kids and adults alike.


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