Friday, August 26, 2011

Author Alert: Taro Gomi

Most people know about Taro Gomi, the famous and prolific Japanese children's book author.  Before I had children, I only knew one book: Everyone Poops.  Now I'm addicted and so is my daughter.

Everyone Poops has certainly been helpful as we begin to introduce potty training topics into our lives, but it is also a great source of laughter and embarrassment to our older nieces and nephews.  It was a hand-me-down book, and my husband loves to go to the bookshelf and bring it out in order to make the kids in our lives laugh.  It is very straightforward though, and I actually don't find it distasteful at all.

But all things Poop aside, Taro Gomi's other books are wonderful.  They range from very simple, like Spring is Here to a bit more complex like I Lost My Dad.

In Spring is Here, we follow a small calf through one whole season, with beautiful illustrations at each change in the season.  It is succinct in words, but clever, and has just enough emotion to be interesting.  We read it at bedtime, because it has a poetic quality that we both find relaxing.

I Lost My Dad is more of a cautionary tale for early elementary aged children.  Keep your hands on your parents, or you might have more of an adventure than you expect.  It's ending is a bit flat, but the clever flaps and adventure of the rest make it a worthwhile read.

By far my favorite Taro Gomi book is My Friends.  A small girl takes us through each of her friends and how they have contributed to her life.  It is sweet and touching, but also makes connections for how the things around us inform our lives and our personalities.  It's simple enough in language for toddlers and it comes in a board book version, but complex enough to be a sweet gift for a young elementary child in your life.

Author Alerts.

I have always been loyal to authors.  If I like a book, I will often read as many other books by that author as I can lay my hands on!  The same has been true of  how I choose books for my daughter.  Occasionally, instead of reviewing a book, I will review an author instead, giving you several books that we have enjoyed.  If you are an avid library-goer, then this can be a helpful way to find some sure-bets in the massive stacks.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Llama Llama by Anna Dewdney

First, a lament about the closing of Borders.  While it has never been my favorite bookstore (Hi over there Barnes & Noble), I hate to see bookstores of any kind closing.  Even if it means a discount at the store closing sale.

But I dragged myself and my daughter into our local Borders today to see if I could find some of our library favorites.  I was looking specifically for any of the Llama Llama books.  We have read two of them over and over again, Llama Llama Mad at Mama and Llama Llama Misses Mama.  Both have a great build-up, an enthusiastic crescendo, and then a sweet and practical relaxing phase.  My daughter recognizes them, asks for them, and has a very emotional response to the storyline. 

For more information about the Llama Llama series and about Anna Dewdney, visit:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Jeremy Draws A Monster, Peter McCarty

I don't believe in just buying books, I am an avid library-goer.  Today's find at the library was this book, Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty.

My daughter has several toy monsters, but has not yet developed any fear around the idea of monsters, so I was delighted to find a book where the monster was not scary.  The illustrations are wonderful.  The monster looks to be drawn in pen, which adds greatly to the idea that this little boy is drawing it himself.  It is fun to read, not too wordy, and quite funny.  The library volunteer was even chucking to herself while listening to me read this story!

This is a fun choice for older toddlers that can handle paper books without tearing them.  Even early school-aged children that are interested in art would enjoy this book and find it funny. 

Amazon link:

The beginning: a gift and a curse.

Before the reviews start, perhaps you would like to know when and how I started reading to my child.  When is too young?  What do young babies do with books?  How do you decide what to buy?

First, I was enormously fortunate to receive several large boxes of baby books from a friend.  I didn't ask, she just brought them over.  I had registered for a ton of books, but only received a dozen or so, but with this bequest, I was suddenly in need of a bookshelf for the baby.   I really thought that the bookshelf would go unnoticed for a year or so, and unread for even longer.  I was so wrong.

But my curse in the early days was solitude.  I didn't have family in the area, my friends are workaholics, and my husband was working and in school full-time.  I had read over and over again in my "preparing for baby" books how important it was to talk to your baby, but I found it so hard to do!  I couldn't just tell her about how I was doing the dishes or what color beige the sofa was, it felt forced and boring.  Instead, I would read to her.  And then talk to her about what we read.   It really helped and she learned quickly to enjoy books, enjoy reading with me, and we forged a culture of books in our home.

I am starting this blog when she is 15 months old, young enough that I still remember the early days and old enough that I can see how her preferences are developing. I'll try to use easy to search tags, so you can search things quickly when looking for suggestions.  Or hopefully you'll check in often to discuss books, authors, illustrators, and your own tips, suggestions, or questions for us.

And like many parents, I have really enjoyed reading favorites from my own childhood to my child.  I hope readers will feel comfortable commenting on books, even if you are reading for yourself and not for a child.  But also, I know parents are not the only ones that support reading in children, so think of this blog as inclusive to aunts and uncles, cousins, friends-of-the-family, and others that want to get involved in supporting the reading habits of the children in their lives.  Bravo to you all!


I have no plans to convince anyone of the power of reading to your child.  I am not trying to help parents make super-kids or super-babies.  I just love to read and so does my baby.  Here are some books that we love.  Please leave comments, suggestions, and tell us what you love, what you think about the books we review, and what will help you be a more effective reader.