OFFBEAT CLASSICS

This week we reviewed five books from my own childhood–several of which which were written FAR before that. These are books that tend to fly below the radar but are just as amazing, and maybe better, than their more popular counterparts. Sharing books that I enjoyed as a kid with my own little guy was a really special experience so this is a review close to my heart.

These books were our own, previously purchased copies:

  • May I Bring A Friend by Beatrice Schenk de Regainers, Illustrated by Beni Montresor
  • Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak

These books were borrowed from the library:

  • Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester, Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
  • If The Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most
  • The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, Art by Michael Martchenko

TOP 5 FAVORITE SNOW BOOKS

We just had our first snowfall of the season, and this got us thinking about some of our favorite books about snow! Lee and I video reviewed five books… four newish snow books and one recent classic. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy!

Books mentioned were all library loans.

1. The Thing About Yetis – Vin Vogel
2. Once Upon A Northern Night – Jean E. Pendziwol and Isabelle Arsenault
3. The Tea Party In The Woods – Akiko Miyakoshi
4. Toys Meet Snow – Emily Jenkins and Paul Zelinsky
5. The Gruffalo’s Child – Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

REVIEW OF RACE CAR COUNT

We Read:
Race Car Count 
Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Illustrated by Michael Slack
Published by Henry Holt and Company

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What Parents Will Love About Race Car Count:
Concept books are great, educationally speaking. Exposing our kids to letters, numbers, shapes, colors, etc. wohoo! But they often be slow moving for the grown-ups because, I mean, we know these things already! Which is why it’s nice that Race Car Count, by virtue of its subject matter, has some momentum behind its story. These ten, personality-filled, cars whip around the racetrack, counting up to who will cross the finish line first!

What Kids Will Love About Race Car Count:
Lee loved the cars best, and I don’t just mean because they were cars. The illustrations render these vehicles with quirks like sly grins, angry eyes, and gloating expressions, and he thought it was hilarious. Also, there’s an activity kit for download that comes with an easy race car counting board game! So easy to that Lee has beaten me every time we’ve played it… not that I’m a sore loser 😉 Link to the kit can be found here.

Where We Acquired Race Car Count:
Our copy was sent by the illustrator, Michael Slack, for review. We also received a copy of his cute alien book Wazdot?

And a video!

REVIEW OF MANGO, ABUELA, AND ME

We Read
Mango, Abuela, and Me
By Meg Medina, Illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Published by Candlewick

Mango, Abuela, and Me is the sweet story of a family overcoming barriers of distance, language, and generations to connect with one another.

What Parents Will Love About Mango, Abuela, and Me:
So many families are separated when they long to be close. This book tells the very relatable story of Mia and her Abuela who begin sharing a room after Abuela comes from her country to live with Mia’s family. While they’re not physically so far apart anymore, the language barrier between them keeps them strangers, until they’re able to find a way to talk to each other. Our family mirrors Mia’s in many ways, and it’s wonderful to read a book which gives us such a realistic and hopeful portrayal of family life.

What Kids Will Love About Mango, Abuela, and Me:
Lee, of course, loved the parrot. Mia helps teach her Abuela English using labeling cards and a bird named Mango who learns to speak English right alongside Abuela. Mia, importantly, also learns to speak Spanish, which is her grandmother’s native language.

Where We Acquired Mango, Abuela, and Me:
The Library

Retail Price for Mango, Abuela, and Me:
$15.99 usd on the Candlewick website

REVIEW OF LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST

We Read:
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast 
by Josh Funk, illustrated by Brendan Kearney
published by Sterling Children’s Books

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This is a gem of a children’s book, and I was fortunate enough to get a signed copy for Lee at the book’s release back in September!

What Parents Will Love About Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast:
Sharing: the great enemy lesson thwarting parents everywhere. Whether your lovely son or daughter has siblings or not, goes to school or not, they won’t share. They just won’t. So stop trying… OR read them this book about a pancake and slice of french toast racing through the fridge for the very last drop of syrup! Oh, it won’t teach them to share, because c’mon that’s crazy! But the story is fun and entertaining enough to give you a small respite from the constant whining.

What Kids Will Love About Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast:
This silly-ness factor is high in this book. These two breakfast treats are all over the place, from spilling the beans to sailing on soup, getting mucky in the chili and jumping in jam. Not to mention that the rhymes are very well done, and the illustration is too adorable. Laughs are basically guaranteed!

Where We Acquired Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast: 
Porter Square Books

Retail Price For Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast:
$14.95 usd for the hardcover at Porter Square Books

We also attempted to video review this book for the blog, with our never-before-used Babybookish YouTube account…. and this is what happened:

Moving With Books

We may have wandering hearts, as evidenced by our four moves in four years, but wherever we go our many, MANY books come along to make the trek with us.

Five Suggestions for Moving With Books

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1. The problem isn’t too many books, it’s too few boxes
The item(s) I spend the most time packing and unpacking are, unfailingly, the books. There are lots of them, and only one of each of us, but would we really have it any other way?

2. That said, use moving as an opportunity to weed the collection
While I stand by my assertion that there’s no such thing as too many books, most people are hanging on to tiles they don’t like, or will never read. Instead of tossing them consider donating to a library, or selling them to a used bookstore for cash/store credit.

3. LABEL your boxes with marker
Be specific. When there are two dozen boxes to go through “Fiction” is fine, but “Urban Fantasy ARCs with Female Main Characters” works even better.

4. Give Old/Rare books some TLC
Keep old and rare books separate from the rest of the boxed collection. Be kind to them, think plastic book jackets and bubble wrap.

5. Have a plan upon arrival
Avoid keeping books in boxes too long by prioritizing shelving, and making a space for them in the new place. Because technically books are non-essential (though this is debatable) it’s easy to overlook them and allow them to wallow in cardboard cages far too long.

So, there you are. Happy moving, and happy reading!

Review of Monster Needs Your Vote

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We Read
MONSTER NEEDS YOUR VOTE
Story by Paul Czajak, Illustrations by Wendy Grieb
Published by Mighty Media Kids, an imprint of Mighty Media Press, a division of Mighty Media

Here in the states, candidates for the 2016 presidential election have already begun trying to win our votes–and Monster from Monster Needs Your Vote is hoping to do the same! Monster Needs Your Vote will be released September 4th, 2015 and available at Barnes & Noble nationwide.

What Parents Will Love About Monster Needs Your Vote
For parents trying to raise politically conscious kiddos, this is a timely must-read! Explaining politics and government is complicated, so complicated that many adults are baffled by it. Monster breaks it down by issues, asking kids: What is important to you? How do you get people to care, too? What can you do to help? This makes abstract concepts like democracy and campaigning more concrete and actionable. Plus, there’s a downloadable Campaign Kit, a fantastic tie-in that includes fact-sheets for older kids, and a color page and crossword for the littles. (See Lee’s work below!) Lee even dictated a letter for me to write to our CT senators! However since he’s advocating for drivers licenses for children, I think I might accidentally forget to stamp this one before mailing it…

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What Kids Will Love About Monster Needs Your Vote
Monster never gets discouraged! When he finds out he’s too young to vote, instead of being bummed he decides to run for president. When no one is interested in his platform issues of extending summer or promoting dessert, he focuses on reopening the library. And even when he’s bumped from the race after garnering a following (in the US thirty-five is the minimum age to become president, and unfortunately Monster is not) he doesn’t let that stop him from continuing to fight the good fight. Monster is a role model, proving that you don’t need to be grown-up or have any special qualifications to make a difference. Passion and persistence, Monster shows us, can take us far!

Where We Acquired Monster Needs Your Vote
ARC contributed by Mighty Media Kids

Retail Price for Monster Needs Your Vote
$16.95 usd, but PRE-ORDER now from B&N and save 25%