Children's Books, Friday Favorites - Children's Books

Fairy Fiction: Friday Favorites, Ed. 11

Time for another Friday Favorites post! The blog features our favorite children’s books of the week on Fridays. See past Friday Favorites here.
book fairy
Illustration by Chicche di Emy

In the past year there has been a gradual shift in our house from princess craze to fairy fascination. I’ve noticed the same trend in other girls my oldest daughter’s age, and now I’m wondering if maybe it’s all a Disney marketing ploy…but it’s definitely real life in my world. Ella (age 6) is crazy about fairies right now. (Confession: I have no problem feeding the fairy fun around here. I may be a grown, semi-intelligent woman, but I think fairies are delightful). As a book loving mom, I usually try to tie together her current interests with books we find at the library. During Fairy Tale Frenzy, it was pretty easy to find princess related books. I was a little less certain that fairy books would be so numerous. But I shouldn’t have worried! There is a wealth of Fairy Fiction out there. Here’s the best and worst of fairy books we’ve found in Fairy Fiction so far this summer.

The Worst

Pia the Penguin Fairy (Rainbow Magic: Ocean Fairies, #3)Let’s start with the worst. Daisy Meadows has written about 4,391 formulaic books about Rainbow fairies, pet fairies, jewel fairies, and on and on. When first introduced to them, I thought, “Oh, cute, some fairy books to get Ella interested in listening to chapter books.” The perks of these books is that there are illustrations on every page so children just getting into chapter books have something to look at, and the books are not too long to read in one 30-minute sitting. But now that we have been through The Rainbow Fairies and the Jewel Fairies and The Weather Fairies (I kid you not), the cons outweigh the perks. I am pretty much searching for any way to avoid reading another one of these books because they are all the same. The characters are never developed, the setting barely changes, and the outcome is as predictable as the sky is blue. They’ve served their purpose and I’m grateful, but I’m ready to move on.

The Very Fairy PrincessAnother fairy book we actually like but would put it as one of the worst in the fairy category is The Very Fairy Princess. Lovely book, but has absolutely nothing to do with fairies. Definitely read it and the others in the series if you have a girl who likes Fancy Nancy books, but your serious fairy lover will find it lacking.

And then there’s Alice The Fairy by David Shannon. Cute book in itself, if you like illustrations of children who look like Darla in Finding Nemo, but to put this in the Fairy Book Category it’s an affront to fairies everywhere. (Okay, okay, it’s not that bad. Maybe I’m discovering an unhealthy reverence for fairies here…)

Some Runners Up

There are some beautiful fairy picture books out there, as you can imagine.  Lavender’s Lavender's Midsummer Mix-UpMidsummer Mix-Up is a short chapter book perfect for 1st-3rd grade girls whose mothers are fond of Kate Greenaway (ahem…me).  The story line is light and quick, so it feels more like a long-ish picture book instead of a chapter book. The author, Cicely Mary Barker, lived from 1895-1973 and created a whole illustrated world called Faeryopolis. Her website is jam packed so be sure to check that out on some rainy day.

A few we are searching for next time we go to the library are:

Lily and The Fairy House – I think I’ll be drinking in the illustrations of this one.

The Teeny Ween Walking Stick – It has a boy for a main character, so maybe Isaac will get some relief from all the girlish books. He doesn’t seem to mind, and we pick out plenty of boyish books for him, too, but since Ella isn’t an independent reader yet, he hears a lot of fairy chapter books. He’s a trooper, though! (i.e. he likes them and he is not ashamed to admit it!).

The Tangle Fairy – We are always looking for lighthearted ways to deal with tangly hair, and books are no exception . It is an emotional mother-daughter problem at our house and probably will be until Ella can brush her own hair. (You can recommend awesome homemade de-tanglers to me all day, but it’s not the actual hair that’s the problem. It’s practically smooth as silk. It’s just one of those epic battles right now…)

And now…

The Best

Shockingly enough, the best fairy fiction we’ve found this summer has been the Tales of Pixie Hollow series.  Yes, this is about the Disney Fairies. But hear me out! We discovered The Trouble The Trouble With Tink (Tales of Pixie Hollow, #1)With Tink by Kiki Thorpe on CD at the library as we were frantically searching the shelves for books to take on a 4-hour car ride. I thought, “well, we’ll try it since I’ll be able to listen along and make sure it’s appropriate.” I now have to admit: I really love these books. The audiobooks are especially good. The characters are more detailed and fully developed than in the movies and there is so much more background information about fairies and their land. Of course the plot is still very fanciful, we’re talking about fairies here, but the adventures are less “We have to save the whole world!!!” and more about each character’s personal failing and how they learn to overcome it. All kinds of great discussion can come out of it. I highly recommend them for 1st-4th grade and beyond! The audiobooks have been lifesavers during 100+ degree days this summer.

Kiki Thorpe has also written a series we’re just starting called The Never Girls. It’s also pretty good, though I don’t like these as much as The Tales of Pixie Hollow so far. We’re only getting started with them, though.

So, may this post arm you with many fairy books to keep your fairy lovers happy this summer! Or maybe it whet your appetite to try fairy fiction out for yourself? Let me know what you find!

Children's Books, Friday Favorites - Children's Books

Jam and Bread and Peanut Butter: Friday Favorites, Ed. 11

Welcome to Friday Favorites! Each week (when I have the mental capacity and a free minute!) the blog features what my children have been enjoying most in the realm of children’s books. Some are old, some are new, all are worth a read!

We are in a lunchtime rut of grand canyon proportions. My kids always ask for a Bread and Jam for Francespeanut butter and jelly sandwich and I pretty much always give it to them. It’s easy, it’s on hand, it’s not completely terrible for them, and my oldest can make it herself.  This situation has only deepened with every reading of one of our favorite books, Bread and Jam for FrancesMan, we love this book.  Frances is a picky eater extraordinaire to start out the book. She sings delightful songs about jam: “Jam on biscuit, jam on toast, jam is the the thing that I like most!” But by the end she says, “Aren’t you worried that maybe I will get sick and all my teeth will fall out from eating so much bread and jam?” Sadly, Ella has quoted this almost verbatim in the past few weeks to me. Despite our love of Bread and Jam for Frances, our bread and jam habit needs to end. So what do you eat for lunch? Gives us some ideas! Or else all our teeth might fall out.

Other books we’re loving this week:

Bink and Gollie books, by Kate Dicamillo and Alison McGhee – We aren’t obsessed with these books. We’re almost obsessed. We only just discovered them a few weeks ago on our beach vacation and already I quote them more than Disney movies (which is a lot).  My favorite is Bink and Gollie but the kids like Bink and Gollie: Best Friends Forever best. They’re just fun stories about two quirky girls who live in some alternative universe where they live in tree houses and cook for themselves at age 9-ish. I don’t have a problem with unrealistic stories when to comes to kids books, but some reviewers on Goodreads.com don’t like these books because they’re too “unbelievable.” To which I say, “you have my pity.”

The Elves and The Shoemaker by Jim LaMarche is a beautifully illustrated retelling of the class fairy tale. It’s also not too wordy or creepy for little ones. This book is going on my Gorgeous Picture Books pinterest board.

That’s all for this week! Check out all the Friday Favorites archives here.

Children's Books, Friday Favorites - Children's Books, Parenting

The Girl Who Would Not Brush Her Hair: Friday Favorites, Ed. 10

Oh, I’ve been looking for this book for a long time. Since the beginning of time, or at least the beginning of hair brushes, mother’s have fought the battle of hair brushing with their small daughters. I sympathize with both parties. It’s amazing how one run through with a brush can get rid of one tangle and create ten more. But it’s also amazing how sensitive a little kid’s head can be. Sometimes I have flashbacks of the tough mother love described in Snow Flower and The Secret Fan when I’m telling Ella she needs toughen up about the whole hair brushing thing.  I salute mothers who cut their daughters’ hair short. Regrettably, something indefinable holds me back from giving my five-year-old’s long, honey-colored locks the chop, but it probably goes back to how Disney princesses have ruined my generation’s beliefs about beauty. But that’s not what this post is about! It’s about the book I’ve finally found to end all our hair brushing woes!

The Girl Who Wouldn't Brush Her HairThe Girl Who Wouldn’t Brush Her Hair by Kate Bernheimer is an imaginative account of what would really happen to a little girl who decided to not brush hair. It involves a horde of mice taking up residence on top of her head. If you’re thinking “Great, that’s not realistic enough to be useful in my battle for hair brushing,” you’re probably right…but the pictures are the convincing part of the book! The girl is happy and bright at the beginning of the book, but as her hair gets messier and so does she, she looks tireder and sadder. At the end of the book, (picture book spoiler alert!), when the girl decides to evict the mice and brush her hair after a nice, hot bath, she looks refreshed and pleased with life. Her braided pony tails become the envy of her disheveled classmates, and the mice probably went off to live in the room of The Girl Who Would Not Clean Off Her Bed. That girl was my sister twenty years ago, and I distinctly remember my mom telling her a mouse could be living at the end of her bed and she would never know it.  Oh, I can see a whole series coming out of this. The Boy Who Would Not Wash His Face, The Girl Who Would Not Change Her Dress…endless possibilities.

But the proof is in the pudding. The day after reading this book, my daughter asked for braided pigtails. Success! Mothers of daughters, dash out and get a copy of this book right now.

More of our favorite children’s books of the week can be found here. Happy Friday!

Children's Books, Friday Favorites - Children's Books

Vintage Finds: Friday Favorites, Ed. 10

Last week’s “No Week” when I decided we were going to slow down and say “no” to extra activities turned out to be a big joke on me. In the seven days immediately following my post on being intentional about staying home, each member of our family went down with a 12-hour stomach bug. Yes, even the eight-month-old. We were homebound beyond what I had even planned for a stay-at-home week. And I thought I was so clever.

A library trip right before the sabotage of our week saved us from utter desolation. We made the trek to the big library downtown and found some gems. My personal favorites are the vintage ones this time.

The Milly-Molly-Mandy StorybookWe are all tickled with The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley. It was published in 1938, so there are some times I have to explain phrases or why a six-year-old can go on errands, but otherwise it is a perfect read-aloud for my kids. Each chapter is a self-contained story that only takes about ten minutes to read. The themes are lighthearted and quaint, but relevant at the same time. The feel of the book is very similar to Betsy-Tacy by Maud Love Hart. It would be a great book to read before the Betsy-Tacy books for children in kindergarten. And I am totally in love with the illustrations! I want to hang them on the walls of the kids’ rooms. If you struggle to find chapter books for preschoolers or kindergartners, this one is perfect with it’s short chapters and age-appropriate themes.

Friendly TalesMy other favorite of the week is Friendly Tales, a collection of stories by Margaret Wise Brown that does not include Goodnight Moon, thank the Lord! I can only read that one so many times…though I cannot deny the words and images have become kind of comforting and nostalgic, even while they make no sense. But in Friendly Tales, you get to read The Color Kittens, The Sailor Dog, and The Burglar in the Dark. My three-year-old son especially enjoys this book. He loves the stories that feature “The Fat Little Police Man,” and I agree they are fun, but I have a feeling we’re going to have to be careful about  terminology for describing people in the future.

Meet Molly: An American Girl (American Girls: Molly, #1)In non-vintage news, I’ve successfully turned my five-year-old daughter into a fan of Molly in The American Girl Series. I have been patting myself on the back for this accomplishment all week. Like I’m the one who wrote such great books…thanks, Valerie Tripp! We read the first two in the series, and are eager to get to Molly’s Surprise. I love how these books make history more relative for children because they get to know a character who actually lives the history. I’m not sure if we’ll branch out to the other characters yet because the themes can get pretty intense. Maybe we’ll do Samantha next, though.

So that’s what I’ve been reading with my children this week. As always, I’d love to hear what you’re reading, too!

Children's Books, Friday Favorites - Children's Books

Quirky Reptile Books: Friday Favorites, Ed. 9

My kids love quirky books. And it appears what they love most is quirky books about reptiles. If you read this post, you know about the “dragon” books my son loves. We’ve added two more to our list this week.

The Mysterious Tadpole: 25th Anniversary EditionThe Mysterious Tadpole

Last week’s library trip was extra special because Daddy got to go with us. He stumbled upon a book he loved from his childhood, The Mysterious Tadpole, and we have read it daily since then. Steve Kellogg is just so fun. His characters’ expressions and development is amazingly thorough in just a short book. I also appreciate the details in his drawings that seem to be especially for adults to pick up on (like the furniture store sign that says, “Park here! (Please) (Please) (Please ),” or the “Huff and Puff Construction Company”). The Mysterious Tadpole is a zany story about Louis’s birthday present, the tadpole. The tadpole turns into a rather peculiar kind of frog, and quite an adventure comes with it. We also love Kellogg’s books about Jimmy’s Boa; The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate The Wash is our favorite. (I’m telling you, we read way to many reptile books).

The Kindhearted Crocodile

The Kindhearted CrocodileThe sweet crocodile in this book only wants to be loved, so he goes above and beyond his calling as a picture book illustration to squeeze his way into the hearts of the family who owns his book. Who is picking up the toys? The dishes should be dirty! I might be okay with almost any kind of pet who does my dishes while I sleep. I love that the real kicker is when he brings the parents a really great cup of coffee. “Okay, you can stay!” Coffee is like a love language to some people.

So that’s the fun stuff we’ve been reading lately. I’m making a list of some educational books to balance out all the whimsy for our next library trip. I’m thinking a detective-themed book would be fun, too. Any suggestions? Your input is always welcome!

Happy Reading!

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