The Bookshelf–Books for Babies by Baby Brynn

Another short list of a few of my favorite books!

   I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt and Cyd Moore:  The classic question: “Mama, what if I were a super smelly skunk and I smelled so bad that my name was Stinky Face.  Would you still love me then?”  Answer?  Resounding yes!  Reminiscent of Margaret Wise Brown’s The Runaway Bunny, this book is written and illustrated with a modern reader in mind.  Green aliens from Mars, giant scary apes, slimy swamp monsters, all there to test a mother’s love.  I love this book in part because Mama makes up all kinds of goofy sound effects for each creature–her alien voice and smelly skunk “pee-u!” are my favorites!

   From Head to Toe Board Book by Eric Carle:  A book about body parts and how they move, all mimicking different animals.  I’m not quite old enough to do the actions in this book (kick my legs like a donkey, shrug my shoulders like a buffalo), but I love watching Mama do them!  She’s crazy.  She helps me do some of the actions, and I love it!  Great fun!

   Doggies (Boynton on Board) by Sandra Boynton:  Woof!  Yap yap!  Ar-roof!  Counting, dogs, and barking.  What could be better?  I love this book because of all of the great sound effects.  Watch out for that cat at the end though–he’s feisty!

  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Chicka Chicka Book, A) by John Archambault and Bill Martin, Jr. and Lois Ehlert: “Chicka chicka boom boom!  Will there be enough room?”  Without a doubt, the best alphabet book on the planet!  Rhyme and rhythm meet the alphabet in a coconut tree.  My favorite part is when all of the letters fall out of the tree and end up in a big jumbled pile.  I like trying to find the “b” for my name!  Mama likes to trace the letters as she reads and she loves bouncing me on her legs to the rhythm.  No other alphabet book even comes close!

  Where’s Peter? (Peter Rabbit) by Beatrix Potter: Yes, it’s a touchy-feely book, and yes, it has flaps to lift, but this book also has the golden trifecta: rhythm, rhyme, and repetition.  This book is my favorite of my touch and feel books because the pieces to touch are so big.  It’s hard for my tiny, uncoordinated hands to touch small pieces of textured fabrics, and it’s even harder to touch textures that are set into the page like velvet, so this book is a huge hit with me.  Best page?  Squirrel Nutkin–his bushy tail is huge!

Hope you found something new to read with your little one!

Happy reading!

–Brynn (blog co-author, age 9 months)

Clicking on the book will take you to, and if you decide to buy the book, a portion of your purchase comes back to me.  I, in turn, will use the profits to purchase books for our local library or for a children’s literacy project.


The Bookshelf: A Wordless Wonder, A Leaping Peep, A Stuck Duck, and A Silly Songster

Hi!  It’s Luke (age three and a half).

Every once in awhile, Mama and I do very well at the library. We come home with several books that I end up really enjoying. Three weeks ago was one of those trips, and here are four books that I have been requesting over and over again since then.  Enjoy!

   The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee: If you haven’t read any books by Marla Frazee yet, then let this one be your first and you will be hooked.  It’s a wordless picture book about a little clown boy who falls from his clown train car and ends up staying with a sour, lonely farmer.  The farmer wants to make the sad, lost little clown happy, so he does all kinds of things for the boy that seem quite out of character.  By the end of the book when the clown is reunited with his funny family, both the farmer and the boy are happy.  Not only is the message a good one, but the illustrations are beautiful.  If you like this book (Frazee’s most recent), try Boot and Shoe next–it’s one of my all-time favorite books!

   Peep!: A Little Book About Taking a Leap by Maria van Lieshout:  Recently, I’ve had to take some huge leaps out of my comfort zone, and this book helped me feel a lot better about them.  It’s about a little chick who has to screw up his courage to take a huge leap off of a curb in order to follow his mother and sisters.  Despite a few (very accurate and humorous) attempts at avoidance and with some encouragement from his mama and siblings, he finally takes the leap.  “I DID IT!” he shouts.  Since reading this book, “I DID IT!” has become my mantra.  Very simple text and spare illustrations make this book easy to read and digest.

   One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root and Jane Chapman:  A counting book with jaunty rhythm, rhyme, and repetition that keep me engaged and tapping along with the beat!  A poor duck gets stuck in the muck, down by the deep green marsh, and he pleads for help from his fellow marsh dwellers who cheerfully answer the call.  Skunks, fish, moose, dragonflies–all work together to push an unlikely stick closer and closer to the stuck duck’s free foot.  I LOVE this book!  If you are looking for a 1-10 counting book, check out this one!

   The Baby Beebee Bird by Diane Redfield Massie and Steven Kellogg:  Bee bee bobbi bobbi!  Bee bee bobbi bobbi!  The call of the baby bee bee bird will be lodged in your head for days after reading this book.  A new arrival at the zoo, the baby beebee bird, keeps the other residents up all night long with his singing.  As day breaks and the bird decides to finally take a nap, the other animals plot their revenge.  They gang up on the baby and chorus their own “bee bee bobbis!” all day long.  The baby bee bee bird can’t sleep, of course, so when night falls, everyone finally gets some rest. Not only is this book funny for kids because we love books with animal sounds and other strange sounds in them, but adults will also enjoy the parallels with their own comical efforts to wrestle babies (and toddlers and preschoolers) into a normal sleep schedule.  A great book!

Hope you enjoy these books!  I certainly did!

Happy reading!

–Luke (blog co-author, age 3.5)

Clicking on the book will take you to, and if you decide to buy the book, a portion of your purchase comes back to me.  I, in turn, will use the profits to purchase books for our local library or for a children’s literacy project.

The Bookshelf: Brynn’s Debut Post

Hello, blog world!  I’m Brynn, I’m eight months old, and this is my first book blog.  Woo!

In the past few weeks, I’ve really begun to understand why books are better read than chewed.  I’ll actually read several books in a row now, and I definitely have favorites.  You know, the ones that I nearly fall off of Mama’s lap lunging for?  The ones that I refuse to release after reading?  The ones that I know lines from already and look intently at the person reciting them?  These are my current favorites:

  Barnyard Dance! (Boynton on Board) by Sandra Boynton: “Stomp your feet!  Clap your hands! Everybody ready for a barnyard dance!”  I LOVE this here book!  Mama gets her legs movin’ up and down, her feet swingin’ in circles, and her mouth makin’ the funniest darn animal noises, all while I’m balanced precariously on her lap.  It’s just a tad bit alarmin’, but I’ve learned to enjoy it.  A lot.  Catchy rhyme and rhythm are the best things about this book.

  Peekaboo Dress Up (Touch-And-Feel Action Flap Book):  Mama is usually not a huge fan of gimmicky books, but I certainly am.  This books has things to touch, too, but my favorite part of the book is the peekaboo flaps.  Mama reads, “Where has the baby gone?  Is she behind the jungle cushion?” and then she sloooooowly lifts the flap, building anticipation to a fever pitch as I lean forward…and forward…and forward until she grabs me to keep me from toppling over.  Every page is like that.  And the babies in their costumes are SO cute!  Well, maybe not quite as cute as me…

   My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss: Mama thinks that this book is really well done, but I think this book is just plain fun!  It’s all about moods and colors and how everyone has good and bad days.  The art is both beautiful and beautifully wedded to the text.  My favorite color is yellow: “Then comes a yellow day and weeeeeeeeee I’m a busy, buzzy bee!”  I also have a lot of fun wacking the page when it says, “Then comes a mixed up day and WHAM! I don’t know who or what I am!”  It’s great!

   Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean:  This book is probably too old for me, but I don’t care.  I love that CAT!  He’s blue, for goodness sake!  That’s crazy!  I especially love trying to pet his curly tail and trying to grab the yellow bird that appears on most pages.  For a book about colors, it’s pretty fantastic.  Plus, it has a nice life lesson at the end: “No matter what you step in, keep walking along and singing your song…because it’s all good!”

   Pajama Time! (Boynton on Board) by Sandra Boynton:  “Pajammy to the left.  Pajammy to the right.  Jamma jamma jamma jamma P! J!”  The alpha and omega of this post: the forever amazing Sandra Boynton.  There are some colors and qualities (fuzzy vs. not) thrown into this book to lend it some substance, but really, it’s mostly about the rhyme and rhythm.  Catchy, catchy!  Mama and I dance our way through this book every other night.  Definitely makes going to sleep a lot of fun!

Writing this post was pretty cool!  I hope you enjoyed reading my debut, and I can’t wait to get going on the next one!

Happy Reading!

–Brynn (blog co-author, age 8 months)

Clicking on the book will take you to, and if you decide to buy the book, a portion of your purchase comes back to me.  I, in turn, will use the profits to purchase books for our local library or for a children’s literacy project.



The Joy of Jumping on the Bandwagon: The Book with No Pictures

Hi there!

My name is Luke, I am three years old, and I am a bookaholic.

This past Christmas, Mama gave me B.J. Novak’s The Book with No Pictures.  She also gave it to three other friends of mine.  Clearly, she loves the book and put her money where her mouth is.

Sometimes Mama’s taste in books does not coincide with mine (see A Sick Day for Amos Magee), but in this case, we are in complete agreement.  The Book with No Pictures is AWESOME!  So, there are literally zero pictures in the book (unless you count the penguin symbol for Penguin Books, in which case there are exactly THREE pictures on or in the book–trust me, I counted them).  But there are crazy words that the person reading the book HAS TO SAY.  And the “person reading the book” is usually an adult, so listening to an adult make weird noises and say weird things is really quite entertaining.  Try it!  And to make that adult read the book over and over again is the ultimate power trip.  Think about it: the adult thinks that she is doing something educational for you, something “beneficial for your development,” but in reality, the adult is making a complete fool of herself and making you laugh and laugh at her as she stumbles through words like “ma-grumph-a-doo” and sings nonsense songs about her face being a bug.

Silly parent.  The joke’s on you!

I’m just sitting here enjoying the show, enjoying the book, enjoying the words, en…joy…ing…read…ing…awww, man!  I’ve been had!

   The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak


Clicking on the book will take you to, and if you decide to buy the book, a portion of your purchase comes back to me.  I, in turn, will use the profits to purchase books for our local library or for a children’s literacy project.

A Bookish Christmas Story

Once upon a time, my family used to travel up to Mt. Prospect, IL on Christmas Day to celebrate the holiday with my Great Aunt Rosie, Great Uncle Bob, and their daughters, Carmen and Kathy.  As we feasted on a Honeybaked ham, scalloped potatoes, Aunt Rosie’s famous layered Jello dessert, and her VERY merry spiked punch, she charmed everyone around her with her glorious smile, sparkling blue eyes, accepting attitude, and gift for making you feel important as she listened carefully and thoughtfully to everything you said.

Both Uncle Bob and Aunt Rosie loved books.  Uncle Bob was an English teacher and Aunt Rosie was an elementary school teacher, so they both understood the value of books.  For Christmas, Aunt Rosie always gave me a book.  But not just any book.  A children’s picture book.  I don’t know how she knew, even way back when I was in high school, that one day children’s books would be so important to me, but I’ve learned that you can’t question the wisdom of a perceptive soul.  For years, I kept those books with their personal Christmas inscriptions on my bookshelves amongst the Faulkner novels, Rand tombs, and Dickens masterpieces…until Luke was born.  Then I went back to them with a more discerning eye for quality, and I found them to be amazing. The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery by Graeme Base, The Three Questions [Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy] by Jon Muth, and Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy (Nature) by Carl Sams and Jean Stoick are just a few of the books she gave me.

Uncle Bob passed away a few years ago, and Aunt Rosie is now in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.  When I saw her last Christmas, she recognized us, but she couldn’t remember our names.  She’s in an assisted living home in Arizona, and I don’t know if I will ever see her again.  But I can’t forget the books and the kindness that she showered on my family and me.  So this year, I sent her books.  Children’s picture books.

The first is called Grandpa Green by Lane Smith.  A gorgeously and cleverly illustrated Caldecott Honor Book, it’s told by an old man’s great grandson, and the reader follows the boy through an elaborately shaped topiary garden where Grandpa Green has carved each bush to represent an episode from his life.  Throughout the book, the little boy collects random things that his grandpa has forgotten: glasses, a hat, gloves, a trowel.  At the end, the boy recognizes that even though Grandpa Green is old and sometimes forgets things, the garden will always remember the important things for him.  The metaphor is just too strong to ignore.  I am the garden for Aunt Rosie.  We all are–her daughters, my family, her many friends.  Even though she can no longer remember us, we are a repository for all of the wonderful parts of her that she shared with us through the years.  She shaped us, and what’s more, her influence is now going beyond just one generation, for I am reading the books she gave me with my own children.

The second book that I sent to Aunt Rosie is one that I mentioned in my last post: Journey by Aaron Becker.  It’s the exact type of book that Aunt Rosie would have given to me–beautifully illustrated with a timeless storyline that a reader will never tire of revisiting again and again.  In it, a young girl is bored and no one in her family has time to play with her.  She discovers a piece of red chalk in her room, though, and draws a door on her wall.  She steps through the door and into a magical land where she goes on a grand adventure of imagination.  It’s a wonderful book.  I hope Aunt Rosie loves it as much as Luke and I do.

So, even though Alzheimer’s has stolen away Aunt Rosie’s memory, it does not mean that nothing of her remains.  Her appreciation and instinct for great children’s picture books will live on through me and my children.

Love you, Aunt Rosie!

–Erin, Christmas 2014


‘Tis the Season to Be Giving…Beautiful Wordless Picture Books

My mama has an obsession with beautifully illustrated wordless (or almost) picture books.  Maybe it’s because she couldn’t draw a straight line to save her life.  Who knows.  But because she feeds them to me, I’ve learned to love them, too.  These kinds of books are often paradoxical: no words seems to imply easy to digest for little ones, but in actuality, the plot lines and illustrations can be extremely intricate and definitely need an adult’s help to interpret.  So, wordless picture books make great gifts for kids of all ages.  And they’re works of art, too, which helps me learn to appreciate beautiful things.

Here’s a short list of my favorites from the past three years:

  Chalk by Bill Thomson: On a rainy day, three friends are out walking when they discover a bag hanging from a playground dinosaur’s mouth.  They look in the bag.  Chalk!  They begin to draw.  And magically, what they draw comes to life!  Everything is going well…until the mischievous boy decides to draw a dinosaur.  The solution to their predicament is both ingenious and simple.  Illustrations are to die for.  Beautifully done.  I LOVED this book when I was two.

  Flotsam by David Wiesner: A boy discovers a camera on the beach and develops the pictures.  What those pictures have to show is both clever and amazing.  Gorgeously illustrated.  My mama has checked out a number of Wiesner’s books, but this one and the next one have been my favorites.

  Mr. Wuffles! (Caldecott Medal – Honors Winning Title(s)) by David Wiesner:  Mr. Wuffles is a cat who doesn’t like playing with anything…except tiny spaceships with visiting aliens inside.  While trying to fix their broken ship and outsmart the wily Mr. Wuffles, the aliens meet some unlikely friends (ants and a ladybug).  When I was two and a half to when I was three, I really really liked this book.  Mama made up an alien and an ant language, and we had lots of fun making upset cat meow sounds.  Clever storyline and beautiful illustrations.  The best of the best.

Yellow Umbrella (New York Times Best Illustrated Books (Awards)) by Dong Il Sheen and Jae-Soo Liu:  In this book, all the reader ever sees is the tops of umbrellas on their way someplace.  The umbrellas travel through a variety of scenes, all viewed from above (a novel difference in perspective).  Soft watercolors help create a rainy day atmosphere.  There is also a CD included with the book that readers can play while “reading” (no words in this book), and there is a song with a score and lyrics printed on the last page.  I really liked this book for three reasons: 1) I “worked on” colors 2) I “worked on” counting (the umbrellas are added one by one) and 3) Mama sang the song (badly) at the end and followed the music notes for me.  I also enjoyed listening to the CD.

  Journey by Aaron Becker:  Woo!  If you have a slightly older child or a younger child who is fairly patient or a budding artist in the family, this book is a treasure.  A young girl is bored.  On a whim, she picks up a piece of red chalk and draws a door on her bedroom wall.  She steps through it to enter a magical place where her chalk helps her to escape from a number of scrapes.  In the end, she finds a friend who is just like her.

My dada gave this book to Mama for Christmas last year (to read with me, of course), but I wasn’t quite ready for it until I was almost three years old.  But since then, it’s been a favorite that I return to every few weeks.  Talk about creative!  And talk about wonderful illustrations!  The rich details will keep you opening it again and again, finding something new every time.  Fantastic.

  Red Car, Red Bus by Susan Steggall: Not a traditionally illustrated book.  Instead of hand-drawn illustrations, the author uses torn paper to create richly detailed scenes.  There are a few simple words that accompany the scenes: red car.  red bus.  yellow car.  yellow van.  As the traffic line lengthens, the reader begins to notice a simple pattern developing.  I was obsessed with this book when I was first learning to read because I could follow the pictures and read the words.  Before long, I had the pattern memorized.  I also loved discovering the little “mini-stories” within the larger story.  A great book for learning to attend to details, learning colors, and learning patterns.  It’s also about vehicles, for the vehicular obsessed child ;-)

Happy reading and happy gifting!

–Written by Luke (age 3) and Mama (age ?)

Clicking on the books will take you to, and if you decide to buy the book, a portion of your purchase comes back to me.  I, in turn, will use the profits to purchase books for our local library or for a children’s literacy project.

Hitting the Jackpot: Random Library Picks That Luke Loves

Some library trips we come home with twenty books and none of them are any good.  Other trips, like this last one, we come home with ten books, and they all rock.  Luke is now three years old, but even if your child is a little older or younger, check them out!  As with all children’s books, different books appeal to different kids for different reasons.

  Batty by Sarah Dyer: Batty isn’t the most popular animal at the zoo, so he decides to try being more like the other animals.  Super cute book about being yourself.  Luke loves this book because some of the pictures are from Batty’s perspective…upside down, that is.  He loves turning the book over to view the illustrations right side up.  Very well done.

  Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard: One morning Bird wakes up in a foul mood.  He doesn’t want to eat, play, or even fly.  So he starts walking.  Along the way he meets a host of animals, each of which eventually joins him on his walk.  Soon, the walk turns into a game, and Bird’s bad mood is gone.  Illustrations are bold and simple.  Text is spare and repetitive (perfect for toddlers/preschoolers).  A super cute story.

  Froodle by Antoinette Portis: Four birds sing the same song day in and day out…until one day when the little brown bird decides to try something different.  Something silly.  Something like, “Froodle!” A really cute, well-done book about how much fun it can be to break from the usual every once in awhile.  Illustrations are great.  Text is simple enough for early readers.  Luke says that he likes the words “blurv” and “inkpadink” the best.

  Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein: Little chicken LOVES her bedtime stories.  She loves them so much that she can’t help but interrupt her father’s reading every time.  Papa starts stories only to have little chicken leap into the story (literally–she is actually drawn into the storybook pages) and save the characters from disaster.  This is a Caldecott honor book, so the illustrations are fun, and the text is simple enough for preschoolers.  Luke thinks little chicken is pretty funny.

  Cheese Belongs to You!: by Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz: This is Rat Law: cheese belongs to you…unless a big rat wants it…unless a bigger rat wants it…unless a faster rat wants it…unless… and on and on.  Luke gets a huge kick out of the dirty rat (we do lots of nose holding and ewww-ing) and the hairy rat (gross), and he enjoys watching the story build.  What’s funny is that the ending is all about how nice it is to share, but Luke usually walks away for the last two pages.  Maybe that’s why he doesn’t know how to share very well?

  Come Back, Ben by John Hassett and Ann Hassett: Luke can read this book independently.  Simple, repetitive text is great for the newest readers.  And for such an early reader book, it’s actually really cute.  Ben goes up and up holding onto his balloon, and everything he passes says, “Come back, Ben!” including the window, a tree, some bees, a big hill, etc.  He finally reaches the moon, where he fills his pockets with moon rocks and floats gently back home.  Luke really enjoys reading this book, in part because it’s easy enough for him to read by himself,  and in part because we’ve started doing baby signs with Brynn (3 months old) and we can sign almost the entire book.  Fun!


Clicking on the books will take you to, and if you decide to buy the book, a portion of your purchase comes back to me.  I, in turn, will use the profits to purchase books for our local library or for a children’s literacy project.