"Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book." - Stéphane Mallarmé
I set the goal this year to review one book each week to support fellow KidLit writers. I am one week ahead with 18 posted on Amazon. I have not, however, been as productive with sharing those reviews here. In fact, I have not been particularly productive with my writing this month.
What have I been doing?
Falling in love with my new baby!
Love Is (2017) by Diane Adams, art by Claire Keane
This book is about the love that grows as a girl learns to care for a duckling. With text like “holding something fragile” and “noisy midnight feedings,” it was easy to draw a connection to my new little guy. I fell in love with the poetic text and tender illustrations. It is also a great book to teach my daughter about caring for and loving her baby brother!
Raising an imaginative preschooler!
I Have a Balloon (2017) by Ariel Bernstein, art by Scott Magoon
My 3-year old’s favorite game is called “What do you like to do?” in which toys ask one another this very question to kick off some imaginative play. My daughter always selects a few toys and asks which I would like to be. Just like the characters in Bernstein's clever, debut book, my daughter always wants whichever toy I choose. After hearing my selection, she says, “that’s my favorite” and gives me a different toy! We also relate to the book’s disclaimer that it is not about sharing as my daughter reclaims all her old baby toys brought out for the new little one. In addition to being relatable on multiple levels, I love the strong character voices that are developed through dialogue only and the illustrations that are perfect for this humorous book.
Troubleshooting bedtime drama!
Go Sleep in Your Own Bed! (2017)
by Candace Fleming, art by Lori Nichols
If only our bedtime woes were as easily solved as those in Fleming’s book! I love the illustrations (those end pages!), onomatopoeia, repetition, energy, and read-aloudability of this guessing game book.
Things To Do (2017) by Elaine Magliaro, art by Catia Chien
Beautiful, concrete imagery explores unique perspectives of various objects a girl encounters throughout her day. This wonderful collection of poetry begs readers to personify everyday objects and consider what things they might do, which is a great activity to spark any writer’s imagination! With very little time to get BIC (butt in chair) these days, I’m grasping on to any form of “writing” I can – including collecting ideas from everyday experiences and studying the craft by reading as many picture books as I can with my little ones.
We’ve discovered the “Terrible Twos” in my household. I recently read a list of picture books for Little Kids with Big Emotions. Some of the books were a little too abstract for my 2-year old so I’ve created my own list with a focus on the grumps to help us deal with the roller coaster of tears we’re experiencing.
Grumpy Pants (2016) by Claire Messer
Wash the attitude away with simple text and illustrations that pack a punch!
Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus (2016) by Edward Hemingway
I love this fresh approach to big emotion and the way the illustrations reveal the cat’s parallel story so a child can see consequences for his/her actions. It should be sold with a dinosaur costume!
Maya Was Grumpy (2013) by Courtney Pippin-Mathur
Absolutely love how Maya’s hair shows an escalation of her mood, while grandma’s imaginative redirection leads to a clever culmination!
BE QUIET! (2017) by Ryan T. Higgins
While this book does have a grumpy character, it actually makes the list for another reason…the onomatopoeia line that brings my daughter to hysterics no matter her mood!
Augustus and His Smile (2006) by Catherine Rayner
Beautiful illustrations reveal a sad tiger’s journey to reclaim his smile, which could lead to a fun scavenger hunt to banish the toddler blues!
A couple other books that my daughter enjoys and are particularly fitting with her stage of development include:
Jabari Jumps (2017) by Gaia Cornwell
A great book about overcoming fear and a repeated read-aloud requested by my daughter!
Music Class Today! (2015) by David Weinstone, art by Vin Vogel
Rhyming text and song guide a child through the uncertainty of new experiences, resulting in trying new things.
I read this great parenting post on avoiding the Terrible Twos label and using the term “Boundary Stage” instead because, “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” (Peggy O’Mara) I’ve seen this with my daughter as she reflects my words back to me daily. I try to label her emotions and identify her frustrations, no matter how trivial they seem to me. This sets the foundation for how she will handle frustration in the future, just as picture books do! As a writer, I’m looking at this developmental stage for inspiration – a new picture book idea has sprouted already! For anyone in the trenches with me, here’s another parenting post on this period of self-discovery…for both toddler and parent.
Last week my daughter was walking the Fern Canyon Trail at the San Diego Zoo. It is a less wandered trail almost hidden amongst the shady green. The neighboring Siamang provide a lively soundtrack as well. Halfway up the canyon path, my daughter stopped, looked around, and said, "We're in the wild!" This unprompted declaration is the result of reading and was inspired by the picture book Finding Wild. I am constantly amazed by how and what my daughter learns each and every day. She even corrected my grammar during a made-up song when I tried to force a rhyme! Inspired by her "wild" comment (and not because she drives me wild), I've compiled a short list of WILD titled books that also inspire me! Please note, the selection below is not meant to be a comprehensive and simply reflects recently read titles in our home library.
Finding Wild (2016) by Megan Wagner Lloyd and illustrated by Abigail Halpin explores, "What is wild? And where can you find it?" It encourages observation and an appreciation for nature through lyrical language, personification of wild as the main character, and beautiful illustrations. My favorite page is “Wild sings” when my daughter likes to howl along!
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild (2013) by Peter Brown
I love the irony of the animals participating in a disciplined society at odds with the idea of acting like wild animals, which is considered unorthodox! The use of color builds as Mr. Tiger explores his wild side. Repetition in the illustrations draws parallels between polite society and unchartered wild, leading the reader to recognize the value of self-discipline, while also staying true to yourself.
Explorers of the Wild (2016) by Cale Atkinson
In additional to the beautiful illustrations, I love that the text could be spoken by either character because of the illustrated parallels in their adventures! The interplay between art and text enhance this story about an unlikely friendship! And make sure you peek beneath the dust jacket...
Where the Wild Things Are (1963) by Maurice Sendak
My family revisited this one recently and my daughter was able to enjoy it much more at 2.5 years old. She pointed out details I never took the time to notice, like the different types of feet on the Wild Things. I enjoyed revisiting the beautiful language and poetic structure of the text.
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