Five Favorite Children’s Books

Hi all– I’ve been tagged to post my 5 Top Children’s Books– by one of my favorite bloggers Marcia Strykowski, author, librarian and blogger who writes about books, travels, authors. Her posts are always interesting!!  Thanks Marcia!!

The Rules are:
1.  Thank whoever’s nominated you and and share their blog link.
2.  Let us know your Top 5 Children’s books!
3.  Nominate 5 people to do the same.
4.  Let your nominee’s know you’ve nominated them.

I’m going with Marcia and picking 5 picture books.  Even though I think I’ve mentioned these before, they are my Top 5:

Noah’s Ark by Peter Spier — The story of Noah told through finely detailed illustration. My favorite frame is Mrs. Noah weeping for joy when the dove returns with the olive twig, marking the end of the flood.  A Caldecott Medal winner, just beautiful.

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Brave Iene by William Steig — When Sophie’s dressmaking mother fall’s ill, Sophie sets off through stormy weather to deliver the gown to the Duchess for her ball.  Charming picture of a young girl’s courage and the sweetest happy ending.

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Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet & Allan Ahlberg — Through a series of “I spy” poems readers cross paths with many fairy tale characters until they all converge on a plum pie picnic!  Adorable lively illustration.

 

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Little Red Riding Hood by Trina Schart Hyman — The classic retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood story paired with the most beautiful detailed illustrations by my favorite illustrator.  Caldecot Medal Honor book.

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Wolf by Becky Bloom — a group of reading barnyard animals inspire a ferocious wolf to change his ways and learn to read– which is not as easy as he thought it would be!  Wonderful salute to reading with the most expressive whimsical illustration.

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My nominees to write their own post on favorite children’s books (if they chose to do so) are:
Antonia at http://zoale.com
Lacey at https://bigandpinkytoes.wordpress.com
Mary at https://heartandsoul974.wordpress.com
Lisa at https://booktime584.wordpress.com/

Please be sure to visit my nominator at  https://marciastrykowski.com

P.S. Illlustation at the top by Francesco Ghersina

Favorite Christmas Books

Hi friends–  When we drag out the Christmas decorations around here, I also climb up onto a chair reach the top bookshelf where we keep a beloved collection of Christmas books.  I pull down all the favorites and plop them on the corner of the coffee table, ready to read with grand-girls when they come in to stay.  It’s one of the best parts of Christmas!  Here are a few of our favorites.

B Is For Bethlehem — by Isabel Wilner, illustrated by Elisa Kleven.  This lively rhythmic telling of the Christmas story uses an ABC format and couldn’t be more beautiful.  The illustrations are a combination of collage and small paint details–exquisite.  And the message is glorious– honoring God and his gift to us at Christmas.

Christmas in Noisy Village — by Astrid Lindgren, illlustrated by Elon Wikland.  A band of village Swedish neighbor children spend their Christmas baking, gathering a tree from the forest, visiting a grandfather and feasting together at a Christmas party.  Couldn’t be more charming.

The Story of the Three Wise Kings — by Tomie DePaola.  Classic DePaola telling of the journey of the three wise men in search of the baby Jesus at the first Christmas.  He uses a slightly more formal take on his signature illustration and there is a interesting preface about the history of the telling the story of the wisemen.  A  wonderful addition to any Christmas book collection.

Santa’s Favorite Story — by Hisako Aoki, illustrated by Ivan Gantschev.  When the forest animals find Santa napping just before Christmas, they worry that Christmas won’t be ready! But Santa assures them that the real Christmas is more about the coming of a babe in a manger.  Lovely water color illustration and gentle text, make this a beautiful telling of Christmas.

Hope your Christmas is full of cozy reading and sweet times with family young and old.  Merry Christmas!

P.S. top illustration thanks to Holly Hobbie.

What I’ve Been Reading

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Hi Reading Friends–  It’s that time of year for our Book Club– We all send in recommendations from the books we’ve read and then weed through the list and narrow down to our next 6 books to read together Jan. to June!  Here’s the 4 books I recommended.  I think you might like them too.

And– what are your book recommendations??  I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading so I can take notes for my next trip to the library!!

When the Vicar in the small town of Chilbury disbands the church choir, after the men have all left with the advent of WWII, the women band together and revive the choir.  Written through the journals, diaries and letters of the various women, from an older nurse to a unscrupulous midwife, a young girl and her vivacious sister.  There is deception, romance, bravery and family ties stretched to the limits.  Sort of of a British Mitford-esque tale of colorful characters.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter is yet another in the current crop of WWII books.  In this story the Jewish Kurc family of Radom, Poland finds themselves scattered during the course of the war– between Paris, ports in Africa, a labor camp in Siberia, the front in Italy, Rio De Janeiro and Warsaw.  The narrative follows their amazing stories of hardship, bravery and near escapes.  At the end of the book, the epilogue explains that the stories told were of an actual family, collected and written by a grand daughter, Addy Kurc.  Heartwarming and incredible.

I love the way Lisa See connects a riveting story with big doses of Chinese culture and custom.  In The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Li-yan lives and works picking tea in a tradition bound village in southern China.  When she has a baby while unmarried, she takes her daughter to an orphanage where the baby is adopted by an American family.  Li-yan goes on the an education and builds a tea empire, always hoping to find the daughter she gave away.  A fascinating look at the prescribed life of a hill country young girl.

In Pachinko, Min Jim Lee weaves the story of a family over several decades, beginning in the early 1900’s when Sunja, a young Korean woman, pregnant and abandoned, marries a virtuous Korean pastor and immigrates with him to Japan.  The story continues with the lives of their children and the persecution of the Korean minority in Japan during WWII and beyond.  A poignant story of a family torn by circumstance, with characters that you really care about.  National Book Award Finalist.

P.S. Thanks for the reading graphic– illustrator Nicole Wong

Halloween Books Kids Love

Hello there– You know Halloween is already on it’s way if you’ve walked through Target lately.  My sis and I were there this week and scooped up a basket full of Halloween goodies to mail off to the grand-kids.

And that made me come home and pull down the little stack of Halloween kids books I keep for reading with kids this time of year.  Here’s some of our favorites:

We discovered this book on the aforementioned Target trip and stood there laughing in the aisle!  A group of goofy chickens are terrified of a number of strange things they see going on– a mouse of enormous size, a pumpkin with flickering eyes…  They work themselves into a state until it’s revealed that it’s just Halloween!

This is the Pumpkin uses rolling rhyme to take you through Halloween day into night with the buoyant Max and his family– from donning his costume, ghastly and green, through parties at school, past glowing pumpkins in the night, clear until he and his sis fall asleep amid their Halloween treats.  Bright happy illustrations make it fun!

Junie B. Jones at her best.  This time in Boo…and I Mean It!  Junie is too frightened to go out trick or treating.  There could be witches or monsters prowling, or pumpkins with sharp teeth!  But in the end with help from her mom, she manages to take it on.  This wacky first grader always makes me laugh out loud!

Our little protagonist in the Frankenstein mask steps up and knocks on the door of a haunted house to trick or treat on Halloween.  The occupants– a spider, some bats, a mummy, an owl… set off a startled chain reaction that a ends surprisingly.  Love the illustrations by the prolific Ted Arnold.

Two favorite Books

Hello Reading Buddies– It’s wonderful to have you– friends who also spend time reading.  Like Sally my reading twin– She called a few weeks ago– said, “I’m in the middle of the best book!”  and I answered, “Me too.”  Turns out it was the same book!  (The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane)  Or Janet who generously drops off books from shelves that she knows I will enjoy as much as she does.  Or my smart friend Jenni, who’s guided and nurtured our lit group for the last 33 years!  And there’s LeAnn who’s gifted me with the most beautiful books…

So in honor of all these ladies and reading all around! — here’s two favorite books, one new and one old that I read years ago…

Favorite book this summer was The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.  When the Vicar in the small village in southern England (Chilbury) disbands the church choir near the beginning of WWII, the ladies in town determine to carry on singing on their own!  This is the wartime setting for a group of ladies you’ll love– the responsible nurse in town who’s just sent her only son off to war, the older daughter of a prominent family intent on wooing a new artist in town, her younger sister who wants to become a well known singer, a Czech refugee separated from her family and an unscrupulous scheming midwife up to no good.  Sort of a British style Mitford story– easy reading and characters you can root for.  I was charmed.

A few years back I crossed paths with Bo Caldwell’s The Distant Land of my Father.  The story begins with Anna, the young daughter of a wealthy expat couple living in Shanghai in their elegant home, cared for by servants.  But as the Japanese invade the city, Anna and her mother flee to live in California.  Her father left behind falls into dire circumstances of WWII and the story is woven between their two accounts– the riveting story of a father and daughter.  Loved this book for the settings, the depth of the characters, the unfolding of the story.  It’s one of my top ten favorite books, so I thought you might like to read it too.

 

P.S.  Painting at the top thanks to Jos Van den Niewenhof

Summer Reading

Hello reading friends– When it’s a hot summer day, I’m really just looking for a glass of cold fizzy water and a good story.  These two books fill the bill– an unbelievable tale of a 100 year old man gone awry and the story of a young girl from a different world rural China.  Here they are:

 

The title of this book, The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared, is an indication of the wacky flavor of this Swedish book.   To avoid his 100th birthday party at the old folks home, Allan Karlsson climbs out his window and seemingly disappears.  In actuality, he steals a suitcase stuffed with money, meets up with some colorful accomplices including at elephant,  and is pursued by bumbling criminals.  Alternating chapters go into Allans long life–as an explosives expert who eventually meets up with the likes of Stalin, Chairman Mao, Harry Truman and Winston Churchill, not to mention his trek across the Himalayas on a camel, his stint in an Iranian prison or his participation in the Manhattan Project!!  The whole book is so far-fetched as to be crazily entertaining.  Jonas Jonasson gives us a rollicking tale of sympathetic characters just right for a read on a hot summer’s day.

 

One of Lisa See’s book, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, is one of her best.  Li-yan grows up in a rural village of Yumman, China, harvesting tea with her family.  The village is ruled by prescribed mores and customs and when unwed Li-tan has a baby, the tradition is for that baby to be killed.  Instead, she takes it away to an orphanage and her daughter Haley is adopted by an American couple and grows up in a happy California home.  Li-yan goes on to an education and a vocation in the tea trade, but always longs for her daughter, while Haley hopes and searches for the mother of her homeland.  Fascinating look at a culture so far removed from our own and the two parallel lives that are connected by birth.

 

P.S. Illustration by Helen Oxenbury–love her children’s books.

 

 

Best Baby Books

Hi all–I know a lot of you like reading with kids.  Me too.  And the last few days I’ve been in reading heaven.  First, reading I Love You Stinkyface! at least 17 times, staying with grand-kids Mae & Eero– and now I’ve moved over to stay with baby Lois and Yum Yum! seems to be the favorite.

So for all you who love kid reading out there, here’s a few favorite early baby books, beloved for the pictures, rhythms and rhyme.

I pretty much adore any book illustrated by Stephen Cartwright.  And this super simple book of farmyard animals making their respective “animal noises” is a perfect early book.

 

Baby Babble by Kate Merritt is just right for babies– bright, simple and absolutely “chew proof.”  It says so on the cover (also is nontoxic & 100% washable!). Love the colorful friendly illustrations–part of a series of 20 similar  baby books made of plastic, not cardboard.

 

Featuring a series of hungry animals and their favorite foods, Yum Yum! by Yusuke Yonezu is a delight.  Each animal has a cut out mouth that “devours” a carrot, banana…  All her books are inventive and sweet.

 

And an old favorite–Brown Bear, Brown Bear (board book version) by Eric Carle, is the perfect chanting rhythm and rhyme book for early listeners.  Bold illustrations and repeated color words are a big plus.

 

P.S. top illustration thanks to biblioteques__UVEG