10. My Little Sister Ate One Hare - Bill Grossman; illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. Have you ever read this book? If not, here is a sample: "My little sister ate 3 ants, she even ate their underpants. She ate 2 snakes. She ate 1 hare. We thought she'd throw up then and there. But she didn't." Hilarious. Gross. It's a counting book with a touch of sibling pride - the unseen sibling cannot believe all the things the sister digests...and then what she doesn't. While the clever rhymes and gross eating are terrific (I can recite parts from memory!), Hawkes' illustrations are brilliant too. Set as a stage show, the sister sits above the stage lights. Children gape at her from the audience - amazed, horrified, transfixed - much as we might think of watching the tattooed woman in a sideshow. Rich vivid colors add to the overall craziness. I used to love to read this one at storytime, and listeners loved it too.
9. The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred - Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Rafael Lopez. My original review is here. I have blogged about this book before, so you can go there and read my gushing about it. Last week I presented at the Montana State Reading Conference and this was one of the books that I brought with me to share. It just reminded me how much I love this one. I love the story, created around "The House that Jack Built" but with rice pudding. I love the sun-drenched colors and the creative combination of the nursery rhyme with Hispanic culture. Samantha Vamos, do you have anything new coming out soon that I can gush about?
8. I Stink! - Kate & Jim McMullan. This is very definitely a Frances and Gloria favorite. I've always liked it fine, but trucks aren't my favorite thing. Then the girls checked this out of the library (along with the stellar Weston Woods/Scholastic video) and away we went. They love the trashy alphabet (including dirty diapers, puppy poo and ugly underpants). Gloria likes to watch our garbage truck, which comes to our complex around the time we leave on Wednesday mornings, and recite parts of the book. We bought a board book copy for a young friend this summer, and it is definitely too long to read to a one year old. But the garbage truck's brash personality and matter of fact work habits have become endearing to me.
7. Press Here! - Herve Tullet. This is a book I blogged about last winter, and we have looked at it again many times since then. It truly is a magic book - the way Tullet gets engagement from the listeners is genius. I can't believe how quickly Frances and Gloria will leap to do what the text instructs them. The bright, primary colors set against the white page are striking, too. It combines for an impactful book. But it's fun, too. We love this one!
6. The Gentleman Bug - Julian Hector. Another book that I need my own copy of (along with Cazuela). I talked about this book at my presentation last week and I hope people continue to love this one. The Gentleman Bug is perfectly fine with who he is until a new Lady Bug comes in to his garden, making him believe he needs to become someone else to impress her. There are several things that resonate with me about this story. I love the message that the Gentleman Bug is loved most when he is himself, not trying to be someone else. I love the connection to reading and literacy. And I love the intriguing world of bugs Hector has created.
5. Good Night, Gorilla - Peggy Rathmann. I can't believe I've never written about this book before as it is one of my very favorites. I have loved this sweet bedtime story about a zoo for a long time. Then I saw the Weston Woods/Scholastic video and saw some details I had been missing in the story. I couldn't believe a movie had added to my understanding of this story. First of all, I love reading this story aloud. It's a perfect example of how to read a wordless book aloud. I love when the zookeeper's wife sleepily says good night, expecting one good night, and ends up with her eyes popping open in surprise at all the animals in her house. I love all the small details in this book - the colored keys that match the locks on the cages, the Babar and Ernie dolls, that mischievous gorilla. This is one of those perfect books, and multiple readings don't make the jokes any less effective.
4. Pete's a Pizza - William Steig. This is one of Gloria's favorite books. I love the ingenuity of the fun game the family plays. If you don't know this one, it is a stormy day and Pete had plans to go to play outside with his friends. In an effort to cheer him up, his parents start to make him into a pizza. They roll him around on the table, "stretching him this way and that". They cover him with pretend cheese, tomatoes and pepperoni. His parents try to cook him, and when they are ready to eat... the whole book is funny and comforting at the same time. Both of my girls think this book is hilarious, and I love how free the parents feel to play with their son. I like the simplicity of the story and how Pete's mood changes long before the weather outside.
3. Dinosaur's Binkit - Sandra Boynton. I first met this book when I babysat for a family on Nantucket with a toddler son. He loved this book, and soon so did I. It isn't uproarious, totally silly humor, like many of Boynton's books. The rhyming text is soothing and sing-song..."Dinosaur, O Dinosaur, you fuss and fret and yawn. It's time to brush your dino teeth and put your p.j.'s on." But the dinosaur who is being soothed to sleep will have none of it: "I NEED MY BINKIT." He is insistent, the motherly voice persistent. Then the binkit is found, in time for the dinosaur to curl up and go to sleep. This story has flaps, textures and things to touch, which adds to the youngest reader's enjoyment. I continue to give this book as a baby present. Our copies (and yes, we have multiple copies) are tattered, but we still read them (and I can recite this from memory at the drop of a hat).
2. The Frances books - Russell Hoban, illustrated by Garth Williams, Lillian Hoban. I am probably cheating by including all of these picture books here, but I can't help it. As you know, these books are near and dear to my heart. After all, I even nicknamed my girls after those stories. And I can't even say I have one particular favorite. I love Bedtime for Frances with the father threatening Frances to get her to go to bed, clearly at the end of his rope. I love A Bargain for Frances, with that coveted blue china tea set. I love Best Friends for Frances, with the amazing picnic their mother packs for Frances and Gloria. These books with their gentle lessons never go out of style. In fact, they are necessary reading at our house again right now for some reminders of how to behave. Another set of books I talked about last week in my presentation.
This is another book I am surprised I have never mentioned on my blog before. I have a deep, abiding love for Margaret Wise Brown. I love her books and Goodnight Moon is my favorite of all. At my last children's library, I read this at the end of every pajama storytime, with my voice getting softer with every page. I read this to Frances every night while I was pregnant with Gloria, and Gloria still can be soothed by this book at four years old. It is a magical, cozy tale, with the perspective getting more and more focused as the objects become more and more abstract. This is the perfect good night book, and my perfect number one. Goodnight noises everywhere.