We love the Elephant & Piggie characters and are always excited when we open up a shipment to find a new adventure inside. Luckily, author Mo Willems is able to write books about as fast as we can read them!
The latest Elephant & Piggie story follows the lovable pair as they attempt to make a plan to go on a drive. They want to have a super fun adventure, but cautious Gerald wants to plan out each very important step before they head out. Steps like finding a map, buying sunglasses, and eventually realizing neither one of them knows how to drive!
Their plan may go awry, but the process is still incredibly fun!
These books are great for read alouds, because both the audience and the adults can laugh along. The illustrations are bold and simple, yet the facial expressions on both Elephant and Piggie are often giggle-inducing without even reading the text!
I love the Elephant & Piggie series and hope there are many more to come!
Let’s Go for a Drive by Mo Willems; $8.99; Hyperion; Ages 6+
If you can’t tell by the absolutely gorgeous weather we’ve been experiencing, both Spring and Easter are definitely on the way! Here are a few books that center around traditional Easter themes:
Very First Easter by Paul Maier; $7.99; Concordia Publishing; Ages 7+
Focusing on Christ’s death and resurrection, this one is great for explaining the true meaning of Easter to school-age children. Scripture verses are used, which are helpful for memorization and helping children to remember the story throughout the year. The illustrations are beautiful and the content is simple enough for your kids to understand, yet complex enough for them to believe in the tragedy and miracle of Christ’s death and rebirth.
The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith;$20.00; Eerdmans Books for Young Readers; Ages 5+
A very simple telling of the Easter story, through the eyes of a donkey. This would make a lovely selection as a gift book or for a child to treasure in his collection forever! The paintings are gorgeous and the traditional nature of the story is perfect for this time of year.
First Prayers, A Celebration of Faith and Love by Troy Howell; $12.95; Sterling; Ages 4+
Such a lovely book, perfect for an Easter basket! Included are all sorts of traditional prayers and Psalms, intermixed with beautiful poetry. The illustrations are soft and light, perfect for Springtime, and the simple nature of the text is wonderful, even for your little ones.
Amanda has been on maternity leave for awhile, but that doesn’t mean she’s stopped reading! Her favorites, like her reading tastes, span a variety of genres:
Blackout by John Rocco, $16.99; Hyperion Books for Children; ages 3+
The Trouble With Chickens: A J.J. Tully Story; $14.99; HarperCollins, ages 7+
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman; $16.99; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; ages 5+
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen; $19.99; Penguin Group; ages 14+
If you’re looking for the next great family read aloud, this is it! Author Doreen Cronin and illustrator Kevin Cornell have created a laugh-out-loud book, bound to please the entire family.
Retired search-and-rescue dog J.J. Tully is lured into investigating a mysterious disappearance with the promise of a cheeseburger as a reward for finding several missing chickens. As Tully is on the case, the remaining chickens continuously get in his way, causing all sorts of trouble, making for a hilarious read filled with twists and turns. Deadpan humor will have the adults giggling as much as the children!
A great early chapter book for a new reader or a fantastic choice for families to read together.
The Trouble with Chickens: A J.J. Tully Mystery by Doreen Cronin, Balzer & Bray, $14.99, Ages 7 and up
Princess Pigtoria and the Pea, by Pamela Duncan Edwards; illustrated by Henry Cole
The team that brought us Four Fearless Foxes and Fosdyke and Some Smug Slug is back! Princess Pigtoria is very poor, so she proceeds to pursue Prince Proudfoot, who is looking for a perfect princess. Things are complicated by the appearance of Percy-the-Pizza-Pig, who delivers Pigtoria’s pizza. The Princess invites Prince Proudfoot’s staff to join her in polishing off the pizza, “and everyone performed the polka until they were pooped.” You’ll have to peruse the pages personally to find out the rest of the plot, but I guarantee it’ll be peppier than a pitcher of pineapple punch.
Princess Pigtoria and the Pea, by Pamela Duncan Edwards, illustrated by Henry Cole, Orchard Books, $16.99; ages 4-8
Horace and Morris Say Cheese (which makes Dolores sneeze!) by James Howe
Mice Horace, Morris, and Dolores love to eat cheese and live in a world where cheesy foods fill the menus of every local resturant and household pantry. Dolores loved swiss cheese, string cheese, blue cheese, and waterloo too, until one day she awakes to find itchy spots covering her small frame. After a thorough examination by Dr. Ricotta, Dolores is told that she can no longer eat all those yummy cheeses! Whoever heard of a mouse ALLERGIC to cheese?? In this creative story Dolores learns the challenges of establishing new eating habits and the excitement of discovering unknown foods she enjoys! Horace and Morris Say Cheese subtly introduces young readers to creative strategies on how to handle food allergies along with ways to encourage classmates who may be allergic to someone else’s favorite food! Amusing and fun, this new book is great for children ages 3 & up and would make an excellent selection for both teachers and childcare providers interested in encouraging classroom awareness!
Come and check out the store’s “New and Recommended” shelf for more great suggestions!!
Horace and Morris Say Cheese (which makes Dolores sneeze!) by James Howe, $16.99, pub. 2009, ages 4-8
Don’t Lose Your Shoes! by Elizabeth Mills, Ages 2-8
Eric loves his new shoes, but they keep flying off his feet or getting tangled up in the jungle gym. The other animals give Eric a piece of shoe-tying advice on each page, until at the end Eric has finally tied his own shoes. In a comic twist, all of his friends now need their shoes tied! Since Eric now knows how to tie his own shoes, they say in chorus “now you can help all of us!”
Mixing the story along with a practice “shoe” for lacing and tying, Don’t Lose Your Shoes! is a perfect combination for youngsters who want to learn how to tie their own shoes. The laces that accompany the book are half purple and half light blue. The lacing grommets are also color coded. The instructions in the back of the book teach children how to lace and tie their shoes using this color coding as a guide. The instructions are also included piece by piece on each page of the story.
Don’t Lose Your Shoes! by Elizabeth Mills, $8.99, Scholastic Books, 2009
TOOT and OTTO, a ThinkFun Game (ages 4-8)
Comprised of a game tower and 24 “T” and “O” letter tiles, this game from local company ThinkFun combines two fun games in one. In the first game, the players drop the letter tiles into the game tower and see how many times they can find the words “TOOT” or “OTTO”. In the second game, one player tries to spell “TOOT” and the other player tries to spell “OTTO” as they take turns dropping the letters in the game tower. You can spell the words up, down or across. The first player to spell their word is the winner.
ThinkFun is based in Alexandria, VA and is recognized for creating games that both engage and educate young children.
TOOT and OTTO; 2004; ThinkFun, Inc.; ages 4-8
When the Library Lights Went Out, by Megan McDonald and Katherine Tillotson, ages 4-8
This is the story of the antics of the library puppets after the library closes for the day. Rabbit and Lion are on the hunt for their friend Hermit Crab, who’s nowhere to be found. They find a map, and use it to make their way through the library, using their imaginations all the way. They identify a potted plant as a giant beanstalk and a blue area rug as a giant’s bathtubbut are willing to brave these hazards to find their friend. The illustrations are very appealing, as are the characters themselves.
When the Library Lights Go Out, by Megan McDonald & Katherine Tillotson, Aladdin Books, $6.99
Snake and Lizard, by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Gavin Bishop, ages 4-8
This wonderful book is a collection of stories about good friends Snake and Lizard, an unlikely pairing at best! Snake is a quiet, cautious creature who likes his comforts, while Lizard is an adventurous, impetuous beast who thrives on excitement.
As in all good “buddy” books, their differences are the glue of their relationship. Lizard keeps trying to do good things for her friend that end in disaster, e.g., leaving a rattlesnake egg on Snake’s bed, thinking it’s a tasty treat for her friend; or slapping Snake on the back to rid him of a (literal) frog in his throat, thus allowing Snake’s supper to escape. But they always forgive each other in the end, and learn a little something about tolerance in the process.
Gavin Bishop’s illustrations complement the text beautifully. This is a great read-aloud choice for a range of ages and carries a great message about friendship.
Snake and Lizard, by Joy Cowley, Kane/Miller Book Publishers, $14.95