Here’s a link to my store where you can purchase any of the fine tales you are so desperate to read! http://astore.amazon.com/skewamp-20
11. Our family takes a cross-country road trip every summer. I love to pick up a story relevant to our destination. This year we traveled all the way to Maine; which is where I discovered this gem of a story. I fell in love with it the moment I saw the vibrant illustrations. The Little Fisherman, a story written by Margaret Wise Brown, and illustrated by Dahlov Ipcar; is a ridiculously simple story that is more complex than it seems. At the most basic level this is a fish story teaching children opposites. There is a big fisherman and he does most things big, and a little fisherman who does most things small. What could be a mundane repetition turns into a wonderful celebration of the diverse as each fisherman does what he does best, and it benefits everyone involved. While the Brown playfully explores rhythm and opposition through contrasts of big and small, everything in the book seems to reinforce this contrast. The illustrator emphasized this feeling through her use of complementary colors. The blue of the water contrasting strongly with the oranges and yellows of the boats and fisherman’s attire. She uses simple lines to echo the stories simplicity as well. Brown employs language every bit as colorful as Dahlov’s images. One of my favorite passages says, “thousands of little tiny, silvery, shiny, wet and dripping, flipping flapping fish.” Afton literally laughed out loud after hearing that, and who could blame her? It is so fun that I can almost hear the fish sliding over each other in the nets. It is a beautiful book, cover to cover and one that I hope my children will treasure forever.
10. THUMP, THUMP, Rat-a-tat-tat. Written by Gene Baer has been one of my favorite books for years and years. It reminds me a little of the piece Bolero, by the composer Maurice Ravel. It was a piece I grew up listening to, and loved because you could feel the growing excitement as the army drew nearer. In the same way there is an immense amount of tension in the pages of Baer’s work. The font starts small, encouraging quietness in the reader, appropriately, because the band is still so far away. As the font grows, the tension increases, the volume rises. The tempo remains constant. Illustrations, provided by Louis Elhert, another of my favorites; help move the story along without stealing the show. The vibrant color creates an added dimension of excitement as the readers anxiously await the arrival of the marching band. At the height of the story the audience bursts with excitement The band is here, and they are triumphant, they are proud. Then the band slowly moves along, leaving the crowd wanting for more. It is a wonderful book, full of cyclical energy and excitement. My kids have always loved it, and I hope that your’s will as well.
9. This is one of my favorite ghost stories! The Boy and the Ghost is an unassuming classic. Written by Robert D. San Souci, it is a story that you might hear around the campfire on a cool fall night. I think one of the things I like most about this story it the main character Thomas. He is young and gutsy. He embarks upon a journey to the city to earn a fortune to free his family from poverty. On his way he discovers the fast track to riches if he has the bravery to earn it. I have a soft spot for american folk tales, and this is a folk story at it’s very best. Illustrations, by Brian Pinkney are subtle in color, yet there is a vibrance of movement there. The ghosts body almost seems to tremble with pent up energy, so ready it seems to jump from the page. The faces are familiar. Thomas seems is the boy next door, and the poor man is retired police man Jones. I don’t know if I would love this story quite as much as I do if it were not for the wonderful imagery that comes with it. Reading this book makes me think of gooey s’mores, campfires, and red and gold leaves in the fall.; scarecrows and American heroes like Johnny Appleseed, and Paul Bunyan. With a promise that when you are good, courageous, and true; that good things are possible.
If you like this story, you might also love this other Classic by San Souci
8. Where the Wild Things Are, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. is a fantastic story, especially for this time of year when things begin to get a little spooky. A tale of naughtiness I think. I am sure that most of you have already read this one, it is a fantastic read, and therefore very popular. However if you have not I highly recommend it. Max, mischievous little boy, is a wild and crazy creature. Banished to his room, upon throwing an awful tantrum, Max then goes on a huge voyage across seas, and time. To arrive on an island filled with beings just as rude and rebellious as he is. He therefore declares himself king over them all. I will leave you there, just in case this is a new read. To let you find how it ends. Enjoy this one again, and again.
7. Crictor is another great story for you and the kids! This was actually one of my favorite stories growing up. As a girl who adored snakes, mostly because all other girls became such sissies at the mere sight of most reptiles, Madam Bodot was my hero! This is a really unexpected story. I love the mode of storytelling employed by Tomi Ungerer, that constantly keeps the reader on their toes, tails. . . no I am sure it is toes. Without divulging the plot I will let you know that you can expect whimsy, some feel good sap, and even a bit of danger. That is all I am saying about that though. The illustrations are simply pen with watercolor. I remember every page even now, and can feel myself gravitating towards similar styles of art for my own stories. I am more than a little biased on this one, but it is just so charming.
6. The book Animalia, by Graeme Base is just phenomenal. I remember reading this book for the first time several years ago, before I had children even. I read it as a teenager, when I worked at a child care, and it floored me. It is first and foremost an alphabet book. Graeme Base demonstrates the most interesting use of complex vocabulary imaginable. If some children’s literature falls under the mother goose umbrella of simplicity. This story might be more aptly grouped with Dickens, or at the very least the dictionary. I love this story because it challenges the vocabulary, and really broadens horizons. If that were all it would be a wonderful book, but it is not. This book is also a visual feast, with layer upon layer of images that start with the letter of that page. There is also a “Wheres Waldo-esque” hide and seek game going on in each page as well. This book is captivating, challenging, and beautiful, so make sure to read it with your little ones.
5. Little Black Crow, written and illustrated by Chris Rashka is a stunning story about a boy and a little crow. It is a refreshing nod to childhood curiosity. Every parent is familiar with the innocent and intuitive questions of a child. The little boy in this story is no different. He is a boy who wonders about the habits, family, and feelings of the little crow. The rhyme and meter are simple. Chris Rashka’s watercolors are exquisite. Like a daydream, the speculations drift from one idea to the next. The pigment in the story also drifts from muted in the beginning to vibrant. Your children are going to love this book, mine did!
4. Mr. and Mrs. Pigs Evening Out, by Mary Rayner asks readers the question, “What if the wolf is already in? Mr. and Mrs. Pig are taking a much deserved night out. Mrs. pig has called the babysitting agency. They have sent their most voracious nanny, however there is just something off about her. If not a prequel to the traditional, Three Little Pigs, then certainly a cousin to the classic. I can’t place what it is that is off about the nanny, but you might be able to figure it out . . . when you read it with the family.
3. Joha Makes a Wish written by Eric A. Kimmel, and Illustrated by Omar Rayyan. This an adaptation of an old Arabic tale. Eric Kimmel’s retelling is so vivid it makes it impossible for the reader to not be drawn into the wonder of the Middle East. His narrative style is simple and welcoming. Joha is a simple man who wants a better life. He realizes his greatest desires when he discovers a magic stick that has power to grant his wishes. In this story he learns something about fortune as his wishes go a little awry. The imagery beautifully guides the reader through a magical journey. If you haven’t read this yet, check it out IMMEDIATELY! Your kids will love it!
2. Another favorite is Pierre’s Dream, which we bought at the library cast off sale a few years ago. Written by Jennifer Armstrong, and illustrated by Susan Gaber. I love to read this with my best cheesy French accent, which I will admit is “tres horrible”. However cheesy accent or not this is definitely a tale worth reading. Pierre a lazy, bum of a man is unwittingly drawn into adventure while dreaming. He finds himself in the midst of a traveling circus. Lions, trapeze artists, ring masters, elephants, and even a bearded lady. All are participants in his wonderful illusion. Beautiful artwork and clever story combine to make this a classic. In the end we are left wondering if Pierre is really as deplorable as the townsfolk of Apt believe he is. I will let you decide. My girls love this and ask for it time and again. Not a bad find for a library discard.
1. One of my favorite stories, by one of my favorite children’s authors is, What Do You Do With a Kangaroo, by Mercer Mayer. A colorful story about a girl who battles with animals of every shape and size who just won’t take a hint. Classic illustrations take this story from clever to hilarious. With all of the conventional kid friendly animals, and a few not so conventional ones, this is a hugely unique story. This is a book you will enjoy reading to your kids. So go forth, read, and enjoy!