A Child’s World in Books

This is a blog where I talk about children’s books that I love.

Little Bear April 29, 2009

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This is one of my all-time favorite books. “Little Bear” is the first in a series of five books by Else Holmelund Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

Little Bear has all kinds of fun adventures with his friends Duck, Cat, Goose, Owl, and Emily. Maurice Sendak’s illustrations are whimsical and beautiful, and bring the characters vividly to life.

The story lines in these classic books are sweet, simple and easy for beginning readers to follow. The stories entertain, while gently teaching about family, friendship, responsibility, consequences, and most of all, love.

These books have also been made into cartoons that are lively, sweet and entertaining.

Copyright 1957 Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak
Harper & Row

 

Arthur’s Christmas Cookies April 28, 2009

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This charming book is part of Lillian Hoban’s “Arthur” series. Hoban also wrote the much-loved “Frances” series. The illustrations, also by Hoban, are very cute and capture the characters’ emotions well.

“Arthur’s Christmas Cookies” is a fun little story that any kid would love. It shows how even when you try your best, things can go wrong. But with a little ingenuity, you can turn the lemons life gives you into lemonade!

Arthur is a little monkey. Christmas is approaching, and his all of his attempts to make gifts for his family have ended in disaster. So he decides he’ll make homemade cookies as presents instead.

He is very excited to bake the Christmas cookies in his little sister’s EZ-bake oven. Only problem is, he accidentally uses salt instead of sugar. When he and his friends bite into them, the cookies are so hard that his friend’s loose tooth falls out!

Arthur is distraught. But after thinking for a while, he has a bright idea. Why not paint the salt cookies, and make them into Christmas ornaments? So that’s what they do. And have a lot of fun, too! Even though there are no cookies to eat, Arthur whips up a batch of delicious hot cocoa with marshmallows.

Arthur’s project hasn’t turned out quite as he planned, but ends up maybe being better. He’s got great gifts to give that will last a lifetime. And he learns that thinking outside the box can make success out of a perceived failure. A great lesson for kids!

This book is also a just fun story of Christmas, family and good friends. It brings back memories for me of making cookies with my brother and sister in our kitchen. And also of those coveted EZ-bake ovens we had as kids!

“Arthur’s Christmas Cookies”, and the rest of this series, is in print and available widely. I highly recommend it!

Buy Arthur’s Christmas Cookies (I Can Read Book 2) at Amazon today!

Copyright 1972 by Lillian Hoban

Harper & Row Publishers

 

The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes April 27, 2009

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This book always amused me, and the plot line is really one of a kind. I also love Barbara Cooney’s illustrations. They are very retro cool, done all in black, cream and puce.

This story is about an average, middle-aged man who lives alone in a small town. Every night he comes home from work, and cooks and eats dinner. Then he cleans the dishes and puts them away.

But one day he’s so tired that he leaves the dishes for tomorrow. Unfortunately tomorrow, he’s also too tired to wash up. Same with the next day, and the next. Pretty soon the entire house is covered in dirty dishes. When he runs out of clean dishes, he eats out of soap dishes and flowerpots.

Finally, there’s nothing left to cook or eat on. Every surface in his house is covered with dirty dishes! He can barely even get in the front door.

Then lo and behold, it starts to rain. This gives him a fabulous idea. He backs his pickup truck up to the house and loads everything onto the flat bed. Soon the rain has washed all the dishes! Hooray! Now the man is happy and his house is clean again. From now on he will always wash his dishes as soon as he’s done eating.

Clearly the message here is, don’t put things off or let your messes get out of control. Otherwise you could end up like this poor man!

The man has learned an important lesson (even though he got lucky and found an easy way out): Don’t procrastinate! Be responsible! Do your small jobs before they become big jobs! It will make life easier for you!

A great message for kids to learn. And for lots of adults, too! (Myself included.)

I’ve had a much-read paperback copy of this book since I was a child. Unfortunately, “The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes” is out of print. But you can buy it secondhand through online book sellers:

The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes

Happy reading!

Copyright 1950 by Phyllis Krasilovsky. Published by Scholastic Book Services, a division of Scholastic Magazines, Inc., by arrangement with Doubleday and Company, Inc.

 

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes April 26, 2009

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Cover of The Country Bunny book

This is one of my favorite children’s books. I’ve read it hundreds of times since I was little, and I’m now reading it to my own small children. They love it, too!

“The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes” is about a courageous little brown rabbit who overcomes countless obstacles to achieve her dream. It’s a sweet story with gorgeous illustrations. And it conveys positive, empowering messages that will inspire even very young readers.

So, the plot: Mother Cottontail lives a simple life in the country with her 21 (!!) bunny children. Her lifelong dream is to be an Easter bunny (there are five in this story).

Easter bunnies “must be the five kindest, and swiftest, and wisest bunnies in the whole world”. And Cottontail is more than qualified. She is kind, swift, wise and clever, not to mention determined. She’s raised 21 kids to be self-sufficient and productive members of a close, loving family. They can easily take care of the home while she delivers Easter eggs for a night!

But everyone (the rich white bunnies, and the big male jackrabbits) have always scoffed at Cottontail’s dream. After all, she’s female (Easter bunnies are always male), brown, countrified, and a stay-at-home mother. They laugh and dismiss her out of hand.

But Cottontail isn’t discouraged. She gets a lucky break when one of the current Easter bunnies retires. She auditions for the job. In a thrilling display, she proves herself worthy. At last Grandfather Bunny names her one of his five Easter bunnies!

Cottontail delivers Easter eggs all night, all over the world. As morning nears, Grandfather Bunny gives Cottontail another wonderful but difficult task. She must deliver a very special Easter egg to an ill child who lives at the top of a faraway icy mountain peak. She is very tired, but tries bravely to reach his house. Alas, she slips and falls at the crucial moment. She tumbles all the way back down the mountain.

Cottontail struggles to get up, but has badly injured her leg in the fall. Suddenly, Grandfather Bunny appears. He says she has proven herself not only wise, kind and swift, but also the bravest of his Easter bunnies. He gives her the highest honor, making her his “Gold Shoe Easter Bunny”. He puts a tiny pair of magical gold shoes on her feet.

Cottontail stands up. The pain in her leg is miraculously gone. In two swift bounds, she reaches the boy’s house. Just as dawn breaks, she slips the beautiful Easter egg into the open hand of the sleeping child. Cottontail’s bravery, determination, kindness and compassion will make a suffering child extremely happy.

I like this book for its wonderful story and beautiful, evocative illustrations, but also for its positive messages. It’s an inspiring tale of feminism. It shows that a woman can be a great mother and also great at her job. It’s about triumph over adversity; about overcoming social, racial and gender discrimination.

Best of all, it teaches children that they can challenge biases and boundaries. That resourcefulness and bravery will get them far in life. That kindness and consideration are valuable personal attributes. But most of all, to believe in yourself, never give up, and always follow your dream.

Luckily, this wonderful book is still in print. You can get it through this and other sellers: http://www.amazon.com/Country-Bunny-Little-Gold-Shoes/dp/0395159903

Copyright 1939, by Du Bose Heyward and Marjorie Flack Larsson

Published by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston and New York (Sandpiper Houghton Mifflin Books)

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes (Sandpiper Books)

 

 
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