Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More from Mo...

Ahh, nothing like a great villian.  A villian who is a know-it-all, annoying, needs-to-be-right kid.  A villian with a FANTASTIC NAME.

Reginald von Hoobie Doobie

That's right, Reginald von Hoobie Doobie.

Go ahead, try saying it.  Reginald von Hoobie Doobie.

Maybe try a funny accent.  Try saying it like it's the punchline of a joke.  Say it as fast as you can.  It's a truly brilliant name.  And one that had my daughter rolling with laughter all afternoon.  While eating pasta in her highchair, hours after we read the book, she was saying "Hoobie-Doobie" to herself and chuckling.

Warning:  This book may make you crave chocolate-chip cookies.  In fact, maybe make sure you have some in the house before making your way to the library or bookstore for this book.  But then enjoy!  Enjoy the story, enjoy the villian, and enjoy the cookies!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First Books: what to expect when you are expecting.

If our daughter had to rate the things in her life that she has always loved, I would guess the list would look something like this:

#1 - Daddy
#2 - Mommy
#3- Books

I inherited a ton of board books from a friend while I was still pregnant.  It was probably the single most influential gift I received. But I know not everyone is so lucky.  And in some places they don't even consider buying books for a newborn to be an important thing.

In an effort to create a new generation of bibliophiles, here is my list of the top five books that I would buy for a new mom.  These are intended for new babies.  I will do some additional lists to address later issues like bedtime routine and language development, but these are a good start.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: Eric Carle will loom large on this list.  His illustrations are like baby magnets.  This was the first book my daughter ever really latched onto - at two months old.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear? by Eric Carle:  This book has great repetition, which babies love.  It also has several pages that are primarily black and white, so infants can really see and enjoy them.  It's companion book: Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? is also wonderful.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown:  This book was first published in the 1940s.  There is a reason that multiple generations of parents have embraced this book, the cadence of this book is soothing.  The ritualistic nature of saying goodnight to things is comforting.  In the beginning, when a parent is soothing and comforting 24 hours a day, but feeling neither soothed nor comforted, this book really helps everyone to relax.  We still recite this book every night.  Every single night.

Bright Baby: Animals:  I am not a fan of books without a story.  I am not a fan of flashcards.  BUT, there are exceptions and Bright Baby books are one of them.  They have bright  photographs with simple fonts.  My daughter really preferred photographs to illustrations for many, many months.  These books also have a lot of great contrast, so they are great for infants.

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman:  I know this book is intended for toddlers.  And I don't know why my daughter loved it so much, maybe because you can read it with a good dose of drama or maybe because the idea of the mother looms large in their little lives, but she loved it.  And she continues to love it.

Other books that are not essential, but that we enjoyed greatly in those first months were:
On the Night You Were Born
Magritte's Imagination
Perfect Pets
Peekaboo Baby
The Very Lazy Lion
But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton (actually anything by Sandra Boynton is great)
Any of the "Baby Faces" books - we own several by several publishers.  She loved all of them.

Oh and I cannot forget the wonderful Squishy Press Books ( - which use paper and ink that are safe for babies - should they end up in their mouths.  I was a dictator about books being NOT FOR CHEWING, but these books were what I would give her in those few stolen, unsupervised moments.   I didn't panic if they ended up in her mouth.

For the record, I read all our books to her from the very beginning.  There were some she would not sit through - some of them she still will not sit through, but I sometimes needed a break from the same five books.

Author Alert: Mo Williems

Mo Williems is a rockstar.  He has won awards.  He has written for Sesame Street.  What else do you need for your children's book resume?

My daughter's endorsement, of course.

She loves the Knuffle Bunny series.  In each book, a young girl named Trixie loses her beloved lovey.  They have drama and intrigue.  They have happy endings.  They are perfect.  My daughter now wanders about the house asking "Where is Knuffle Bunny?"

We also love the Pigeon series.  You might wonder why someone might let a Pigeon ride a bus, but after you read the book and experience the persuasive powers of this underestimated guy.  I think I might enjoy them a bit more than she does, but perhaps that's because they are so fun to read aloud.

Our favorite Mo Williems book so far though is.......  Leonardo the Terrible Monster.

It's cute.  It's fun to read.  It taught my toddler words like "research" and "candidate" - and for me it's never too early to learn to love research.  She reenacts the main action, she pretends to try to scare people, she asks to read it by name.  It's awesome.

We recently returned it to the library and after several days of her asking for it, we returned to see if we could check it out again.  It was gone.  We were crushed.

Looks like we need to go ahead and add it to our personal home library.