Saturday, March 26, 2011

Three children's books

Book #1: Dream Big, Little Pig! by Kristi Yamaguchi.
"Poppy was a pig. A pot-bellied, waddling, toddling pig. She was a pig with dreams." Thus begins this cute story from Olympic-figure-skater-turned-children's-author, Kristi Yamaguchi. I knew when I saw the cover that there would have to be some hilarity to a story about a pig, of all animals, who dreams of becoming a figure skater (after dreaming and failing to become a ballerina and a singing star and a runway model). The "reach for your dreams!" anthem isn't too overdone, and it is infused with some reality---Poppy can't carry a tune, so she's wisely advised that "Singing is just not for you" by the music judges, and when the figure-skating dream takes hold of her, she has to work long and hard to achieve it. I also appreciated the follow-up dream of becoming a pilot, just to add a little touch of something-other-than-the-performing-arts to the storyline. Sweet book, especially for a little someone who might be feeling down about not being good at something. Poppy hits her bumps in the road, but she keeps a cheery optimism that'll make readers smile. Cute!

Book #2: My Name Is Not Alexander by Jennifer Fosberry
"My name is not Alexander!" said the little boy.... "I am Theodore! The greatest, grandest president who ever was!"
Following the dream-big theme of Book #1, Alexander is a little boy with an active imagination and an extensive knowledge of U.S. history. :) He dreams of being Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Chief Joseph, Fred Astaire, Jackie Robinson, and, of course, his daddy, "the greatest, coolest father that ever was!" I love that this book, like its predecessor My Name Is Not Isabella, serves as a great inspiration not only for kids to dream a little but also for them to learn about the past. My son (who is only 3) didn't really "get" it at first read, not having any idea who the people are that Alexander's pretending to be, but it inspired me to explain these historical figures to him. For that, the book also has little bios at the end to help parents teach kids a little more, which is great. Sweet book, especially for older-ish kids (not preschoolers, in other words). :)

And Book #3: Let's Count Goats! by Mem Fox
Can YOU count goats??
So this book is completely different from Books 1 and 2. I just read it for the first time tonight, and I knew I had to blog about it. It's a counting book, but definitely the funniest counting book I've ever seen. My three-year-old was cracking up. I don't know that I've really heard him laugh so hard. Ever. (Though to be fair, it was way past his bedtime, so he was a little loopy ...) Still, the illustrations in this book: hysterical. The goat that's climbed out of the cockpit of his plane to eat the tail fin? The faces of the "rowdy goats careering round in cars"? And the one that had my son really in stitches, the goat trying to play a trumpet backwards? Wow. Seriously hilarious. Most counting books are the same. A picture of six bananas with the corresponding number printed numerically and spelled-out in the top corner. A picture of seven toy cars with the corresponding number printed numerically and spelled-out in the top corner. A picture of eight balls ... you get the picture. Spencer is bored with those. But this got him fired up for counting again. The text dares the reader to count, and the happy, hungry, gagging, shouting, terrified, oblivious, noisy, mischievous goats make it so, so fun. Thumbs up.

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