This is a very random group of picture books this week. Nevertheless, these are our favorites to snuggle up under a blanket with on these frightfully gloomy days. They each cheer us up in their own way.
Julia’s House for Lost Creatures is the perfect combination of cute and wild and classic and zany. I don’t usually use the word “cute” because, well, it gets on my nerves, but I have to use it for Julia. She’s adorable. The rest of the book is an imaginative conglomeration of magical creatures and a house on the back of a giant turtle. Sometimes I am in the middle of reading this book to my kids and I get lost in the drawings. “Read, Mommy, read!” brings me back into my living room, but I would really like to just stare at the pictures for a while. Julia is by Ben Hatke, whose blog is a pretty fun glimpse into the life of someone who lives and breathes drawing and writing while working from home with three young daughters. The only drawback to this book in my opinion is the mermaid in it whose attire is….questionable. But otherwise, I love this book.
Another fun book in our library basket this week is My Special One and Only, which sounds like it is something about “Love you to the moon and back” or one of those touch-feely books, but is really very comic and off the wall. It’s about Bridget Fidget and Captain Cat. and their adventure in Dinglebang’s Universe of Toys. The illustrations and the words together are quirky and amusing, and because I’m the type who laughs out loud at stuff the kids in Daddy Day Care and Junie B. Jones, this book had me guffawing a few times. We were delighted to discover that there are many other books by Joe Berger featuring the character Bridget Fidget, and plan to pick a few more on our next library trip.
Lentil by Robert McCloskey is our more classic favorite of the week. It features a boy in small-town Ohio, who is completely unable to pucker his lips and, therefore, cannot whistle. He is devastated by his inability to make music, until he gets a harmonica. Lentil’s town is sponsored almost solely by one rich man, Colonel Carter. When the town grump, Old Sneep, tries to ruin a reception for Colonel Carter’s homecoming, Lentil saves the day with his harmonica. Besides being a wonderfully illustrated book with a rolicking, this book can spark some pretty interesting conversations. I was surprised at how much my young children picked up on the themes of jealousy and spite in this book. There’s not much back story to why Sneep dislikes Colonel Carter, but we had a good conversation about how feeling like you’re not as good as someone else can lead to all kinds of problems. The book subtly contrasts Lentil with Sneep. Lentil can’t be like the other kids and whistle, but he can still do something great. He takes action, while Sneep just sits on a park bench and wallows in self pity, clearly jealous that Colonel Carter has made a name for himself. I’m sure my five-year-old and three-year-old won’t remember a thing from the conversation we had about comparisons, but I got a lot of good reminders out of it.
Our read aloud chapter book for the month has been Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Isaac (3) didn’t really get into it, but Ella was pretty amused. Any thoughts on if the movie is a good companion to the book? We’re now in the midst of The Adventures of George Washington. Isaac thinks this one is pretty cool because it’s all about wars and horses, and the chapters are only four or five pages, with several pictures. I very nearly cracked up when Isaac picked up a dollar bill a few days ago and said, “Hey! This looks just like George Washington!” Sometimes I forget how perceptive and smart he is behind his all-action, all the time personality.
So those are some of the books that are keeping us from going absolutely insane in the brain this winter. We’ve also done a bunch of stuff on our Happier in Winter list this past week. What books have you been enjoying with (or without) your children this winter?