August 2009

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me

Fans of Eric Carle will not be disappointed with this beautiful, expansive book. Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, dedicated to Carle’s own daughter who asked the very same question as a child, tells the story of a little girl, Monica, who wishes to play with the moon. Try as she might, however, she just can’t reach it.

So her loving father gets the largest ladder he can find and climbs atop the tallest mountain and asks the moon permission for his daughter to play with it. The moon is happy about the idea but says he’s simply too big. However, he will get smaller, and when he is small enough, Monica can play with him.

Ella Enchanted is an Enchanting Read

It’s no wonder Gail Carson Levine’s charming adaptation of Cinderella won the Newberry Award. Ella Enchanted is a truly enchanting read for both children as well as any lover of fairy tales, magic and fantasy.

As a child, I always wondered why Cinderella didn’t just leave her wicked stepmother and stepsisters; after all, she had free will, and she was resourceful enough to make it on her own. That must have been what Levine was thinking as she penned this amazing novel.

Ella in this version is strong-willed, but cursed to follow the orders that anyone gives her through the “gift” of a well-meaning but ditzy fairy. Because of this “gift” of obedience, Ella must do as she is told by everyone. She is protected by her loving mother until she is fifteen, when her mother dies.

Wild Animal Baby

Wild Animal Baby is a combination Highlights and Ranger Rick for babies and toddlers. Instead of a glossy, easy-to-tear magazine format, it’s in a thin board book-type format with durable pages that can withstand light chew and wear. (If you don’t catch your baby gnawing on it within seconds, though, you can lose a page corner; trust me.)

Published by the National Wildlife Federation, Animal Baby is filled with stories about—you guessed it—animals. The cover of each issue is a cartoon image of the featured animal inside—a giraffe, for example, or a sea otter—and is always a baby version of the creature.

Bagthorpe Unlimited

Bagthorpes Unlimited, like its predecessors, marked a turning point in the lives of the craziest family in U.K. The first book was about Jack and his feelings of insecurity while the second one revolved around the acceptance of Zero into the family. This one covers a topic that we have all been wondering about – family unity.

The overall plot of the novel focuses on and is continuously influenced by two major events – a burglary and a world record. The said robbery takes place at the beginning. It is a hilarious event in itself, where an enterprising robber breaks into the house and finds a handy list detailing precious items. The list was Grandma's brilliant idea and when this comes to light, everyone is far from happy with her. Fortunately for the Bagthorpes, the police are able to find their stolen goodies, albeit dumped in a field with a dismissive note.

A Million Visions of Peace

Like any intangible concept, peace can be a difficult lesson to teach to children. We can start with basic lessons—be nice to your friends, don’t hit your sister, don’t throw the cat—but even teaching what peace is can seem a bit tough to do. It’s very easy to complicate—even a simple explanation, like “Peace means not hurting each other,” can get mixed up with questions like, “But what about when we argue/ Jennifer takes my toys/ I get a time-out?” on the table.

Even if your child is likely to come up with his own eloquent and beautiful idea of what peace is—and he probably will—it may not encompass all of the ideas that you wish to share with your own values. Does peace include the environment? A universal brotherhood among all countries? Being a good neighbor? Is it simply the absence of violence, or also the continual goodwill and helping of people by all of humankind?

Baby Bat’s Lullaby

Do you ever do summer reading programs with your children through the local library? We do every summer, and our preschooler loves it. There are usually awesome games, treats, hands-on activities and of course, plenty of books to go with each theme. Then there are the prizes.

Our daughter always gets the weekly prize; we have read every day since she was in the womb and it’s easy for her to get the required number of minutes per day (this summer it was fifteen). However, this year she won a drawing for the first time, and was given a copy of Baby Bat’s Lullaby as her prize.

A Splendid Friend, Indeed

The first time my daughter and I read A Splendid Friend, Indeed, it was on If you are familiar with the site, you know that it was an incredibly fun place to actually “turn” the pages of books and try them out before you buy them. Unfortunately, LookyBook is no longer a functioning site, though there are other sites where you can check out children’s books online in similar ways.

While we were at the library over the weekend my daughter pointed it out and said, “Look! The duck and bear book!” Smiling, I instantly remembered the sweet little book and checked it out for her.

Higher! Higher!

With very few words, Leslie Patricelli has been able to capture the absolute glee found in the abandon of childhood swinging. A little girl clad in a pink striped dress, matching shoes and pigtails never loses her smile as her father pushes her as the title says—Higher! Higher!

The book begins before it begins—on the dedication page, we can see the young girl running towards the swing, already smiling with joy as her father follows behind. On the title page, Dad starts pushing the girl and her incredible journey begins.