These books have all stood the test of time for Curious G. They have become perennial favorites within the past few years. She has asked me to read all of them over and over to her, many times, in one sitting. The age range for these books, in my opinion, range from newborn to 6. Some of the books teach important life lessons, some are just for fun and interactive; while a couple of them are perfect for bedtime reading. So scroll down for my reviews, and then click on the links to purchase or head over to your local library to borrow!
1. Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty
Andrea Beaty and David Roberts have collectively penned and illustrated all-time favorites including Iggy Peck Architect and Rosie Revere Engineer. We appreciate Roberts’ eye for style via his illustrations, and Madame Chapeau will truly capture your heart if you are a fashion lover! Beatty and Roberts stay true to form and feature characters who are creative, quirky and prolific in their craft; in this case creating fabulous head wear! The super chic yet lonely milliner, Madame Chapeau, sets out to dine at the snootiest restaurant in town to celebrate her birthday alone. Yet, on the way, she makes a special new friend, and encounters a lovely bunch of friendly townspeople.
2. The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
Let me preface this review by saying, “I LOVE THIS BOOK”. It inspires young minds to dream big, explore the world, and to help others. A tiny but resourceful snail with the desire to see the world beyond his “provincial” black rock hitches a ride on a whale’s tail and has an excursion that makes most travel bucket lists look like small beans. When his dear friend, the whale, becomes beached on the shore the crafty snail alerts a classroom full of civic minded young students who alert the local fire station. Together, the students, firemen, and local villagers safely return the whale to the water, and the whale and the snail make their journey back to the black rock. When they return to the black rock they share their tale with the other snails and inspire them to see the world beyond the black rock as well.
Would you like to learn to speak Bug? After reading this book a few times to your kids, you will be fluent! Two damselflies stumble upon a mystery sprout and, with the help from some friends, figure out “Du Iz Tak?”, meaning “What is that?”. The rest of the dialogue, which continues as the bugs build a fort, shoo away a giant spider, and figure out the identity of the sprout; is all in their local tongue. Not only will you and your kids discover your knacks for reading context clues, but you will also realize that you might want to learn a new (human) language. The story is peppered with little slices of life from the cycle of life in nature; and an adorable little caterpillar, who bids us adieu in the beginning of the book, emerges as a dancing butterfly towards the end.
4. Not Quite Narwhaal by Jesse Sima
When I visited Curious G’s classroom on her birthday last year to share birthday treats and celebrate with her classmates, she requested me to read Not Quite Narwhal to her class. After receiving it as a gift, she instantly fell in love with the adventurous character who goes on a poignant quest to find himself. Since then we often read it before bedtime, and G also likes to sit on her mini armchair to “read” it to herself. A little unicorn, named Kelp, grows up among narwhals under the ocean were he was born. One day Kelp is swept ashore by a strong current, where he discovers that he is actually a unicorn. At first, he is torn between returning to the ocean to live with the narwhals or staying with the unicorns. Eventually he comes to the realization that he can live in harmony among the narwhals in the ocean and with the unicorns on land, and a wonderful narwhal-unicorn beach party breaks out with rainbows, snow cones and roasted marshmallows over a bonfire.
5. Harold’s Hungry Eyes by Kevin Waldron
Harold is an adorable Boston Terrier (possible mixed with French Terrier) who goes on a quest to retrieve his favorite chair that his humans have discarded into a dumpster that sits outside their apartment window. He treks through the city trying to track down the dump truck that has carted off his chair. Once he loses sight of the dump truck, his insatiable appetite for food takes over, and everywhere he looks he sees something delicious. A clock becomes a pie. A school bus becomes a block of cheese. When he finally finds his way home, he is greeted by a scrumptious sight in the space where his old favorite chair used to sit; a new sofa that resembles a croissant. This book is so cute, and is always amusing to read. It helps that I used to have a precious little Boston Terrier named Leroy. I also relate to Harold’s love for grub. However, Curious G really appreciates the clever illustrations and often repeats little sound bytes from this book, so it’s very likely that your kids will love it too!
6. Elmer and Rose by David McKee
Elmer and Rose is another book that became a classic from the moment that I read to Curious G when she was a little infant. The colorful pages are very beguiling and the simple story is fun to follow along with. With the help of Elmer and his cousin Wilbur, Rose, who is a pink elephant, traipses through the jungle in search of her herd. Along the way, they pass a vivid cast of jungle floral and fauna, which Curious G always loves to point out, count, and describe. In the end, Rose finds her herd and the three little elephants all briefly ruminate on the diversity of all of the different elephant herds. It's a cute book that can spring into a conversation about celebrating diversity.
7. Crash, Splash, or Moo by Bob Shea
This interactive book plays out like a fun game show that incites fun and excitement as your kids guess the outcomes of five cute little stunts performed by a daredevil clam and a simple cow. Curious G loved this book so much that she asked to bring it to almost every play date for months after we read it for the first time. The illustrations are bold and silly and you, as the reader, can have fun playing the part of Mr. McMonkey, the entertaining game show host. See the video and review we created for Mommy Poppins here.
8. Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
This simple yet beautiful book describes more than a dozen shades of green in the most dynamic way. As you turn each page, a new shade appears via an object of that shade, and sneak peeks of the next page appear through little peek-a-boo windows. I bought Green after a librarian read it during story time, and the kids in the audience were all enthralled. Curious G was about 1.5 years old when I purchased it and she loved “reading” it to herself on her little green camouflage armchair (admittedly, I am a big fan of the color green). She still reads it and requests that I read it to her regularly. I find this book to be sentimental and a gentle reminder to stop and find joy in the little details; in all the nuances and shades of colors in the world around us.
9. The Man Made of Stars by Matt Clark
File this book under “ verklempt”. This is a “you are very special and can make a difference in the world with the light within; just open up your heart to others” kind of book. And we love it. A bright little boy sets out to find the man made of stars, after his grandmother tells him about the man's work and the path that he takes every day. In his quest to find the man made of stars he discovers his own star and the impact that it has on the people around him. The story unfolds in an abstract (for young kids) sequence but the idea is not lost on young minds. After reading this book, Curious G also enjoys pointing out lights in the sky in real life, which can range from airplanes to street lamps, and telling me that she sees the man made of stars.
10. Sleep Like a Tiger by Andrea Logue
Sleep Like a Tiger became an instant classic from the first time that I read it to baby Curious G. It’s a peaceful and relaxing book; one that induces both warm fuzzy feelings and a few yawns along the way. The main character, a crown and blue pajama clad little girl, declares, “I’m not tired.” Her parents tell her that she doesn’t have to go to sleep but she has to get ready bed. From there she gets cozy in her crisp sheets and ask her parents about a variety of animals, and whether or not they have to go to sleep. As her parents describe the soothing sleeping habits of each animal, the little girl envisions herself as these sleepy creatures and eventually dozes off.
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