Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Transition: Board Books to Picture Books

The transition from board books to hardcover and paperback can be tricky for little ones.  There will torn pages and yes the corners of the book will be torn and tattered.  One of my pet peeves is when the books are put away with the pages all open and shoved with other books in between.  Like I said, transitioning can be tricky!  At our house we transitioned first to Easy Reader sized paperbacks and Little Golden Books.  While these books were convenient and cheaply replaced, the real treasure is getting to enjoy large picture books with pages full of huge illustrations and lovely stories that you can really sink your teeth into while reading.  Of course, these books might be parent held with parents turning pages at first.  You might even want to start by sharing these books while your little one is otherwise occupied in a high chair or holding a drink.   Now, my own Lil Guy has gotten to the point where he can independently enjoy paperback and hardback books.  We still have some torn pages and our bookshelves sometimes have smashed and mashed books, but picture books are so worth it.  

Duck at the Door               

While I love picture books, the cost of stocking your child’s library with hardback books is prohibitive.  They make good gifts and are perfect gets from the library for children of all ages.  Sometimes you can even find hardback books as special promotions at department stores during holidays.  That’s how the Duck at the Door came to our house.  Paying five dollars for a book like this is such a treat.  I hadn’t read any of the Duck books by Jackie Urbanovic, but I was pleasantly surprised by a cute story.  The book itself is big and sturdy with bright colorful hand drawn illustrations and text in bold fonts.  Put that together with a funny story and this book is a winner.

Duck at the Door is full of furred and feathered domesticated friends along with a compassionate owner who loves all creatures.  Owner Irene already has multiple dogs, cats, and birds that enjoy all the comforts of home.  The animals cook in the kitchen, have bubble baths in the bathtub, and even vie for control over the TV remote.  The harmony of home is put to the test however when a duck named Max comes to the door.  Of course, Irene invites Max into the family home with open arms.

We like this short book because it offers such a cute glimpse at animal friendship.  The animal characters while maintaining animal-like appearances, display human-like personalities.  Plus the story itself of an animal loving owner who takes in stray pets rings so true to life.  Max the duck, Irene the owner, and all of the other animal friends are charming for sure.  They just make you smile!  Perfect for read-alouds, or read again and again and again, this book is sweet and shares a story about compassion and love and what it means to be a family.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Character Spotlight: Bear

Lil Guy loves predictable book with rhyme and rhythm.  When we get to the end of a page he likes being able to answer with a phrase or response.  One of our favorite book series like this is about the lovable bear originally introduced in Bear Snores On.  The series is written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman.  It is tailored towards toddlers and perfect for read alouds.  The series is available in both hardcover and boardbook.  Our Lil Guy loves the old bear and his friends, hare, mouse, mole, badger, wren, raven, and owl.  In fact, he seeks out these books both at the library and at book stores, and there are many, many to choose from.

My favorite of the books is the original, Bear Snores On.  I love the idea of a lovable old bear just snoring while his friends have a good time.  Plus, in this book we are unsure if the little critters are friends or foes of the bear.  The illustrations are spot on as well, not too babyish with soft woodland colors, and lots of details.  My husband, co-reader of bedtime tales, likes the Christmas themed book: Bear Stays Up which is a reversal of the first book in which all of Bear’s friends fall asleep while he struggles to stay awake waiting for Christmas to finally come.  Probably the most interesting part of this book is the appearance of Santa, but no mention in the story itself.  As for Lil Guy, he rather likes Bear’s New Friend which introduces us to a new friend in the forest and has plenty of repetition of the phrase, Who? Who? Who?

For families who love sharing books together, these books are a great choice.  They offer sweet stories and cute characters, plus a few surprises.  At least in our house, the books don’t bore parents but offer a chance to engage children in a patterned response to the story.  Perfect for toddlers, preschool read alouds, maybe even older children.  The series is a hit in our family at bedtime, car time, library time and all the times in between.