April 29, 2013 in Book Reviews
I’m a “fun” mom, which means I dream up super fun/educational things for my kids to do and then torture them until they participate. Sometimes they come around to way of thinking and have a blast in spite of their initial bad attitudes, and sometimes, well let’s just say we don’t talk about those times very much.
Right now we are in the middle of one of my great ideas, and I have Cathy C. Hall to thank for it. It was on her blog that I was first introduced to Children’s Book Week , an annual celebration of children’s literature and its youngest readers. While Children’s Book Week has been around since 1919, for the last 6 years they’ve added a twist: it’s the only national book awards program where the winners are voted on by children. That’s right: KIDS pick the winners.
When I heard about this, only one thought flitted across my mind: we are so doing this!
Thanks to the “Hold” system at my local library, we began with the 1st category: Book of the Year K-2nd Grade. Every night, I read one or two of the five selections at bedtime. The nominees are:
Nighttime Ninja, by Barbara DaCosta, illustrated by Ed Young
I am surprised this is nominated in the “Book of the Year” category and not the “Illustrator of the Year” category. Ed Young is a stunning artist, and his illustrations in this book are of the same caliber. It’s the very definition of a picture book, where the imaginative cut paper, textured cloth, and colored pencil scenes create an entire world where words are hardly necessary.
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean
Pete the Cat is all the rage right now. He’s a cool cat, along the lines of Danny Zuko in Grease, because he sings too. Simple, catchy songs that, if you make up a tune to sing them too, you and your kids will be singing it for the next two days. In this adventure, Pete the Cat loses his buttons while learning simple subtraction, and he finds a button that he will be able to carry with him wherever he goes.
I’ll Save You Bobo! By Eileen Rosenthal, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
A companion to I Must Have Bobo!, this charming story stars Willy, an imaginative little boy who takes his stuffed monkey Bobo with him as he writes his own book. Willy draws and plots his story, placing Bobo in scary situations so that Willy can save him. Except he has a hard time working because his cat, Earl, can’t seem to leave him alone. The illustrations are priceless, and watching the inner workings of an imaginative child is a pure delight.
This is my middle son’s vote (age 10), and it’s no surprise. He’s my imaginative child, the one that has placed his action figures into all sorts of precarious situations since the day he was born. I bet some of the stories Willy came up with work their way into my own son’s scenarios.
The Duckling Gets A Cookie!? by Mo Willems
Who doesn’t love Mo Willems? The latest adventure for the pigeon is absolutely precious. An adorable duckling gets a cookie, and naturally, the pigeon rants and raves about the unfairness of it all. It’s a hilarious read for adults, because it’s all arguments we’ve heard before from our own kids. Somewhere along the way, the pigeon realizes that the reason he may not be getting what he asks for is because of the way he has been asking. It’s a nice discovery of the kindness of manners. And don’t worry: the pigeon eventually gets a cookie of his own from an unexpected source.
My oldest son chose this one (age almost 13) and I suspect it’s because since he’s nearly an adult, he saw the humor. Either that or he really likes cookies.
Big Mean Mike, by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Scott Magoon
The main character, Mike, is a big, tough, mean dog, with a hot rod car, a spiky dog collar, and an imposing presence that everyone in the neighborhood respects, and it’s just how Mike likes it…until he meets the cutest, fuzziest bunnies you’ve ever seen. Watching big, tough Mike transform into a softie around these bunnies…oh my gosh. I was a mess by the end of this book. I wanted to cry, I wanted to say “aahhhhh”, and I wanted to read it again about 50 more times. It was like a children’s book version of any adult movie with a crotchety male character who is miraculously softened by the charming baby/toddler/child/teenager. Apparently, I’m a sucker for that plot-line.
My vote, hands down, is Big Mean Mike, although The Duckling Gets A Cookie!? is pretty darn cute. My youngest one (age 7) gave this one his vote too. He enjoyed trying to pick out the toughest dog of all at the Monster Truck Show.
Stay tuned for our next category: Illustrator of the Year!
Your kids can play along too, and vote here before May 13, 2013.