The best books for beginning readers must be short with large text and simple sentence structure. A good pre reader book must also contain words that are easy to decode and, most importantly, keep kids wanting more! This is why we totally love Fox the TigerRead More
Looking for an amazing picture book to read in anticipation of a big birthday? We’ve got just the book for you!
Birthdays. Oh, the joy they bring for children! And, let's be honest, adults too! I hate being the center of attention, but I absolutely, wholeheartedly, love celebrating my birthday. I love the hope each new year inspires, I love wondering what I’ll achieve in the next 365 days, and I love, more than anything, making a birthday wish. Even better than my own birthday? Celebrating my boys’ birthdays. And guess what? We have one in our house this very week! And so it seemed like the perfect time to share this fun and fabulous new picture book, Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish, by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Tom Licthenheld.
In Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish, we learn that there are ten, most definitely ten, “very specific, tried and true, and absolutely essential Rules For The Making of a Birthday Wish.” The most important? It must be your birthday, or close to it, obviously. Once rule number one is established, readers are escorted by a bunch of cheerful animals on a romp through the rules, ending with the last and most special one: a reminder that the word “wish” ends in “shhhhh” — so keep that wish quiet and dream about it coming true. So adorable!
This irresistible picture book radiates fun. It brings birthdays and wish making to new heights, making both seem even more special, more exciting, and more impactful to the birthday boy or girl. Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish reminds us of the joy deeply rooted in a day dedicated just for us, as well as the hope and magic inherent in thinking of, and then making, a wish. Whether big or little, a “now” wish or a “future” wish, there is nothing better than knowing that wish is all yours, and only yours, to dream into fruition. This book is SO much fun, especially when you share it with your kids in the week leading up to their birthday! Pickle was grinning and giggling the whole way through, and he can’t stop thinking about that special wish he gets to make this week. One thing is for sure - Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish has become a new birthday week tradition in our house!
Want the book? Get it here! Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish, by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are completely our own.
Does your family have any special traditions incorporating books? Let us know on our Facebook page!
If you liked this post, make sure to check these out too! Favorite Picture Books of 2018, Favorite Picture Books of 2017, Favorite Books to Spark your Child’s Imagination.
Do you love kids books that make you laugh out loud?! So do we… and we have got the best picture book to start off your year!
How many of you totally giggle when your kids innocently mess up words and phrases? Did you know that our blog name came from my older son who insisted the phrase at the end of stories was “happily ever elephants” and not “happily ever after?” My little one thinks we do our grocery shopping at “Pluglix” rather than “Publix.” For a good six months, Pickle insisted that it wasn’t “Mickey” but “Bickey,” and it took at least a year for Bo to understand that “Miguana” is actually “Moana.” These twists of tongue make me laugh continuously, and perhaps thats why I fell in love with Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise. David Ezra Stein is back and better than ever!!
Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise is the sequel to the Caldecott Honor Book Interrupting Chicken. In this new story, everyone’s favorite little red chicken and her papa are doing homework together. The little chicken is home from school and can’t wait to share the important lesson she learned that day with her dad: every great story contains an elephant of surprise! Or is it, as papa explains, an “element” of surprise? The little red chicken insists she is right, and so Papa sets out to convince her otherwise. After all, there are definitely no elephants in Rapunzel and the Ugly Duckling. Or are there?
David Ezra Stein is wickedly funny and a creative genius. The “story within a story” concept never gets old with us, especially when the stories featured within the main plot are classic tales my kids readily recall and understand. The manner in which Stein distinguishes the classic stories from the scenes at home (pale colors for the books the pair are reading together, versus bright and warm scenes of Papa and the little red chicken sitting at home) makes it easy for young readers to follow along and understand what is happening. The dialogue is snappy and fun, the suspense builds with each page turn, and humor abounds on every page - your little ones will shriek with glee, and I have no doubt that you will too. Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise is a joy - and dare I say, the story lover and writer in me may like it even better than the first. TWO TRUNKS UP for this gem!
Did you know that Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise made our list of Favorite Picture Books for 2018? We think you will love that post, so make sure to check it out here! And if you adore kids books that will make you and your little ones laugh out loud, we have a whole section of our blog dedicated to helping you embrace your sillies, so make sure to check out our picks here!
Want the book? Get it here! Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise, by David Ezra Stein. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
Thanks to Creepy Carrots, I will never look at carrots in the same way again. Seriously. Never ever again. If your little one is not afraid of some dark humor or the slightly "scary" story, you've got to check out this fabulously quirky book, written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown.
In Creepy Carrots, Jasper Rabbit's greed becomes his undoing. Jasper loves carrots, especially the ones that grow in Crackenhopper field. Jasper grabs carrots from the field constantly and can never seem to get enough of them-- until the carrots start following him - or are they? Is Jasper's imagination playing tricks on him, or are the carrots truly creepy-- and out for revenge?
Creepy Carrots has got to be one of the most unique picture books in the world of children's literature. The color palette is dark and gloomy, perfectly setting the scene for a "scary" story. The gray and black scenes make the orange creepy carrots pop, and the illustrations provide a pretty terrific segue for discussing with little ones how art-- especially the selection and utilization of color -- can be used to evoke and convey different emotional experiences. I love how this story explores a child's well founded fears in such an original way. It gives the child's worries significant weight and attention, but then it puts such an unexpected twist on them that the reader is able to laugh about the story in the end, and, simultaneously, relive himself of some of his own anxiety. It helps kids look at situations from alternative perspectives, enabling them to understand that every so often, our fears may arise from some of our own behaviors- behaviors we may just have the power to change. Such a fun and unique read for your home collection! And for even more fun, make sure you get the sequel, Creepy Pair of Underwear. Mark my words — your kids will be obsessed!
I kind of hate Halloween. Every year as my friends eagerly plan their kids’ costumes – and sometimes, even their own – I groan inwardly and secretly count the days until November 1st. Maybe my parents scarred me for life when they dressed me, at three, in a yellow pillow case, slapped a pink bow on my head, and called me Ms. Pac-Man (35 years later, my mom insists on defending this costume).
Or maybe it’s the simple fact that Halloween in Miami, when temperatures are near ninety and the humidity is thick enough to wear its own witch’s hat, is anything but fun when dragging two sweaty little boys by the hands for blocks and blocks and blocks.
It inevitably goes something like this…
Part one: Halloween Ecstasy! My boys toddle from house to house with their friends and cousins, ring doorbells, shout with glee when they get a pack of “NNMs” and try to stealthily eat all of their candy as they traipse down one walkway and up the next. But then we come to…
Part two: Damage Control — that moment when the curtain falls on Halloween and the chocolate smeared all over their faces turns muddy as crocodile tears fall from their no longer sparkling eyes. The kids dash back down a walkway, their capes, glasses and other essential costume parts catapulted in a million different directions, screaming their heads off because the last house gave them – gasp! – an organic pack of raisins and a container of Oral-B dental floss. And when they finally calm down, one has to pee and the other wants water, and I’m calculating the time it will take to finish the street, get back in the car, drive home, and get them bathed. Then, of course, we come to…
Part three: Bedtime. And, you guessed it. The joke is most definitely on me.
Though I pride myself on creativity, my boys’ Halloween costumes have been sorely unoriginal. I’m hardly a Pinterest perfect “Spooktacular Snack” maker, and I’m definitely not one who decorates the outside of my house with a scary landscape sure to make the neighborhood kids scream. I do carve a mean pumpkin, though. And when my kids are excited because their friends are excited and they want nothing more than to get into the Halloween spirit, there is one thing I do enjoy– and I enjoy it tremendously.
What’s that, you ask?
I break out all of our spooky-but-definitely-not-scary books, where monsters and witches and ghosts creep across the pages and make my kids squeal with their deliciously monstrous fun. Though these books contain characters we usually think are “scary,” each story will surprise your family with valuable lessons about creativity, friendship, and empathy. These messages are valuable all year round, not just during Halloween season! Without further ado, here are our favorite books about monsters, witches, ghost, and other ghouls. Enjoy!
Monster Trouble!, by Lane Fredrickson and illustrated by Michael Robertson: Poor Winifred Schnitzel can’t seem to get rid of the neighborhood monsters that creep into her room at night and desperately try to scare her silly. Can she make them go away with a kiss?
How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green: What happens when you come face to face with a scary ghost? Make sure to grab this book if you want to have the essential tips handy, because some ghosts may simply need a friend. If you are sweet and warm and kind, I suggest you be on the lookout because a ghost may find you soon!
Crankenstein, by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Dan Santat: Even the sweetest kids become Crankensteins, from dusk till dawn, in rain, in heat and – most certainly – when standing in long, long lines. Beware the cantankerous Crankenstein!
Vampirina Ballerina, by Anne Marie Pace and LeUyen Pham: A young ballerina struggles to fit in when she can only take dance class at night and fights urges to take nibbles out of her fellow dancers. Will the delicate vampire become the prima ballerina she desires?
Creepy Carrots!, by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown:Jasper rabbit loves carrots, especially the ones that grow in Crackenhopper field. He can never get enough of them, but will his greed become his undoing as the carrots begin to haunt him? Make sure to also check out the second tale about Jasper, one of our new family favorites— Creepy Pair of Underwear!
How to Scare a Ghost, by Jean Reagan and illustrated by Lee Wildish: This Halloween, you are guaranteed to be the one doing the scaring, not those daunting ghosts! Read this book for the ultimate list of tips to frighten your ghouls— and then have some fun with them too.
Quit Calling Me a Monster!, by Jory John and illustrated by Bob Shea:Even monsters try to buck stereotypes. Poor Floyd Peterson wants nothing more than to tell his readers that not all monsters are bad, even though they have fangs and crazy hair and clompy feet. Didn’t you know that monsters have feelings too? Won’t you just give him a chance?
Leo: A Ghost Story, by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Christian Robinson:A little ghost’s attempts to welcome the new family in his home are sorely misunderstood. Leo gathers he is unwanted and decides to leave. He meets a new pal on his journey, and using his wits, Leo teaches others that he is more friend than foe.
I Need My Monster, by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam:When Gabe, the monster that lives under Ethan’s bed, goes on a fishing trip and won’t be back for a week, Ethan knows he’s got no chance of falling asleep without Gabe’s familiar breathing in his room. Ethan takes it upon himself to interview creatures that might hide under his bed temporarily, but will they be scary enough to do the j
Bone Soup, by Cambria Evans: Finnigan the skeleton is known for being greedy and having an insatiable appetite. When he arrives in a town replete with witches and ghouls, not a creature in site will share their food with him. How will he entice them to give him some grub? Stir up a magical bone soup, of course.
Bonaparte Falls Apart, by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Will Terry: Oh, sweet Bonaparte! The skeleton’s bones seems to fall apart more than they stick together, making it awfully hard for him to get a hold of himself and make new friends. Luckily, with the help of pals Franky Stein and Mummicula, Bonaparte finds a way to keep himself in one piece.
Boo Who?, by Ben Clanton: It’s hard being the new kid in town, especially when that new kid is a ghost who has trouble playing games with the other neighborhood creatures. But even the ghost on the block can find a way to play, and he just might find that his greatest deficits are also his biggest strengths.
The Monsters’ Monster, by Patrick McDonnell: What do you do when your mean, mean monster always seems to remember his manners? Take him up on his offer to share a warm jelly doughnut!
My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.), by Peter Brown: Bobby has the worst teacher in the world, and she is, most definitely, a monster. But when he runs into Ms. Kirby at the park and a fierce wind blows away her hat, a turn of events helps Bobby realize that Ms. Kirby may have more bark than bite.
Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler: A generous witch makes room for helpful animals on her broom until the broom is so heavy, it breaks. When a dragon comes for the witch, all the little animals join together to scare the dragon away.
She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein, by Lynn Fulton: This is a fascinating picture book biography about the woman who created Frankenstein, a monstrous figment of her imagination that has lived on for more than 200 years.
The above links to Amazon are affiliate links. HEE received some, but not all of these books from the publishers. However, all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
It takes a lot for a book to make me laugh out loud. A LOT. And when I find one that does, I want to read it over and over and over again. This is how I feel about the hilarious Snail and Worm: Three Stories About Two Friends and the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor winning Snail and Worm Again by Tina Kugler, a duo of picture books fabulous for emerging readers that we just can’t get enough of in our house right now.
In Snail and Worm, and the follow up Snail and Worm Again, the titular characters are best friends— best friends who engage in some rather silly antics. From playing tag with rocks and sticks to climbing up flowers to looking for lost pets, both kids and adults will giggle all the way through these engaging and oh-so-humorous books.
I swear, I love love love when illustrations elevate story to a whole new level. And that’s exactly what happens in the Snail and Worm books. Though some of the humor may have to be explained to really young children, kids will no doubt erupt in giggles when they realize how ironic or just plain goofy the images are when read in combination with the text. Be forewarned that the illustrations, due to their sophisticated humor, won't really help kids decode the text. Nonetheless, the chapters are short, only about 40 or 50 words each, and the dialogue is simple, making these stories perfect for emerging readers and those who want to take their first stab at “chapter” books. And laughs, I promise, are in store. Not just for your kids, but for you too. Fun, clever, and an absolute must for anyone wanting engaging books for beginning readers.
Want the books? Get them here! Snail and Worm: Three Stories About Two Friends and Snail and Worm Again: Three Stories About Two Friends, by Tina Kugler. *These are affiliate links. HEE received review copies of these books from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
How many of you have kids who so desperately want to help you out with something ... but instead of helping, they end up creating total chaos instead? And then you don't know whether to laugh or cry -- laugh because the mess they've caused is just so awful that laughing is the only way to keep you from yanking every last strand of your hair out, or cry because it really is THAT AWFUL and you want someone else to fix it so you can simply slink to the ground in defeat? Sound familiar? If so, then Edie is Ever so Helpful, the latest by Sophy Henn, author-illustrator extraordinaire, is a must for your collections.
In Edie is Ever so Helpful, sweet Edie is helpful to everyone around her. In fact, helping is one of the things she is just the best at! Edie is all about using her voice, helping in the kitchen, making sure all the kids are having fun on the playground, and gathering everything her Daddy needs at the grocery store. Every once in a while, though, she may need a bit of a reminder that sometimes, she doesn't need to be quite so good at helping others.
If you want a book that is as charming as it is, well, helpful (no pun intended), Edie is an absolute must. Sometimes the manner in which our kids and students want to assist us simply isn't helpful at all, but it is so challenging to explain this to a little one. Edie is Ever so Helpful is the perfect book to have on hand when you need to gently tell your kids that their way of helping may not be exactly what you need at the moment, but they are no less loved and appreciated for their attempts. When you pair this message with Henn's whimsical art that allows kids to recognize through illustration how Edie's actions may be anything but helpful, you've got an instant winner. Two trunks up!
Want the book? Get it here! Edie is Ever So Helpful, by Sophy Henn. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced review copy of this book, but all opinions contained herein are expressly our own.
Are your kids getting you down because no matter how hard you try, you just CAN'T GET THEM OUT OF YOUR BED?? Well, then, you must check out The Big Bed, a hilarious new book by Bunmi Laditan (yes, Laditan of Honest Toddler fame!), for some great belly laughs with your little ones.
This month over @kidlitpicks, we're sharing the best books about art. Now, I know I may be interpreting "art" a bit differently than the rest of my pals, but the first time I read The Big Bed, I laughed so hard and thought to myself, wow - this child's argument is truly a form of art. Why? It's simple: her powers of persuasion are bar none. Learning how to compose a persuasive argument is undoubtedly "art," and Laditan's book, illustrated by Tom Knight, is a brilliant mentor text to help children learn about this type of critical thinking.
In The Big Bed, a young girl has no interest in sleeping in her own bed in her own room (*ahem* nope, can't relate to that one at all!) So what does she do? She comes up with a winning argument and the perfect solution to her own problem: she gifts her dad a camping cot and attempts to convince him why he should no longer be sleeping in his own big bed where he belongs. From the girl's well thought out arguments to her validation of her father's feelings, The Big Bed will have you laughing from start to finish. Will she prevail? You've got to get it to find out!
I mean, how many of us exhausted parents are trying to get our kids out of our beds and into their own? The Big Bed offers a hilarious twist on this all-too-common nighttime scenario, and the manner in which this creative kid argues the reasons why her father should sleep on a cot rather than in his own bed are downright ingenious. If you are teaching persuasive writing in your classrooms, your students (no matter their ages) will laugh out loud at the child's inventive - not to mention rock solid - arguments. While they are laughing, though, they will also learn a thing or two about persuasive writing, including how every winning argument must be supported by valid evidence. Such a treat!
Want the book? Get it here! The Big Bed, by Bunmi Laditan. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced copy of this book, but all opinions contained herein are expressly our own.
I mean, if you want to get your kids or students cracking up, run, don't walk to the nearest book store and get Best Frints in the Whole Universe, by Antoinette Portis, now. I'm not sure what my kids like more-- the fact that the book is hilarious, or the fact that I have yet to read it with a straight face. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it- this book is all around fun. But don't be fooled- it has a great impact on learning too!
Best Frints in the Whole Universe is about two residents of the planet Boborp who have been best buds- or "Frints" - since they were just little blobbies. But when Omek decides to take Yelfred's spaceship out for a spin-- without asking-- their "frintship" hits a universe-sized snag. Will they eventually make up and get past it? Or are they destined to be "alienated" from each other forever?
Oh my goodness. This book and its retro-colored, wacky and zany illustrations will have you in stitches-- though be forewarned the characters do get into some sticky fights and games, so it may not be ideal for all kids (remember, you know your little ones best!). All the fun notwithstanding, Best Frints in the Whole Universe also does wonders to help your kids understand how to decode unfamiliar words by studying the pictures and by using context clues. It's a great book for language development and a fabulously fun (and funny!) book on friendship. A big, big winner in our home!
Want the book? Get it here! Best Frints in the Whole Universe, by Antoinette Portis. *This is an affiliate link.
Everyone's favorite pesky chicken and aggravated alligator are back! If your kids roared with laughter over Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to be in This Book), then I have absolutely no doubt they will adore the sequel, Snappsy the Alligator and his Best Friend Forever! (Probably), by Julie Falatko and illustrated by Tim Miller, even more. In this sequel, Snappsy is grumpier than ever and the chicken is as bothersome as ever. The result? Your kids will be in stitches. I promise.
In Snappsy the Alligator and his Best Friend Forever! (Probably), a pesky chicken is determined to convince Snappsy that the two animals are - you guessed it - best friends forever. The chicken, who we come to learn is named Bert, has a slight tendency to exaggerate -- both about Snappsy's stellar achievements and the status of the animals' relationship. When Bert decides its high time to plan for their Best Friends Sleepover, it takes some pretty heavy convincing to get Snappsy to cooperate. Why? Snappsy, of course, much prefers quiet evenings by himself. But once he finally gets Bert to leave him alone, Snappsy decides that maybe, just maybe, his solitude isn't so much fun after all.
Talk about determination! I love that pesky Bert. I love his wild imagination, his devotion to Snappsy, and how he recognizes that Snappsy needs a friend before Snappsy even realizes it himself. But most of all, I love Bert's staunch commitment to his goal. He will befriend that cantankerous alligator! Both Snappsy books, with their vibrant cartoon art and word bubbles, make for rollicking read alouds. Whether it's one adult reading, or two kids acting out these hilarious and expressive characters, Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever! (Probably) is sure to be as big a hit as the first book, if not even bigger. One thing is for sure -- while Snappsy and Bert may struggle to find their rhythm, Falatko and Miller have their dynamic down pat. What a duo this team is! We can't wait to see what they have in store for us next. Two trunks up!
Want the book? Get it here! Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever! (Probably), by Julie Falatko. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced review copy of this book, however all opinions contained herein are expressly our own.
All of us in education know that a big part of the first several weeks of school involves establishing classroom rules and expectations for the year. So let's be honest here: This is hardly the most enjoyable topic for adults to address, and it is certainly a snoozer for kids and students. But it's not just important -- it's a must -- so why not kick this discussion off with an adorable book? Enter If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Dont!, by Elise Parsley.
Magnolia is back, starring in her third book! In If You Ever Want to Bring A Circus to the Library, Don't!, Magnolia advises her librarian that she will definitely abide by appropriate library behavior while there on a visit. But then Magnolia begins tight-rope walking, twirling and engaging in other circus antics around the library, and though she elicits great cheers from the other library patrons, the librarian is totally dismayed. When Magnolia's grand finale cannon-ball across the stacks is a total disaster, she discovers that the only other way to win back her fans is-- you guessed it -- by reading a magical book.
Whether you want to talk about expectations for the classroom, for the library, or even your own home, If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don't! is a fantastic book to get that conversation started with your young children. It's a light, fun read, one that will undoubtedly make your kids laugh while simultaneously reinforcing some important rules. There's nothing kids love more than recognizing they know something valuable that a character in a story is totally missing-- and nothing gives them a greater sense of joy than yelling to characters in a book when they are doing something wrong!
Want the book? Get it here! If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don't!, by Elise Parsley. *This is an affiliate link.
You guys. Life on Mars, by Jon Agee. This book kills me, every single time. I don't know what it is that makes me love it so much, but it's just ridiculously fun. And funny. And Pickle thinks it's hilarious that he "gets" the joke while the astronaut protagonist totally does not. His giggles and comments never fail to make me laugh, and there is just something so cool about watching him make connections in his little head and then attempt to put them to words...
In Life on Mars, a young astronaut travels by rocket ship -- with a box of chocolate cupcakes in tow -- to discover whether life exists on the red planet. He lands and wanders around, disappointed that he finds nothing there. Until... alas! He finds a single flower! The boy packs it up and returns to his rocket, believing this was the only living thing on the planet. But only as he cracks open that box of cupcakes on his way home does he discover what the reader was in on the whole time... maybe there really was a Martian!
For those of you that have been following me for a while, you know my favorite kinds of picture books are the ones where the text and the illustrations tell different stories-- and sometimes totally contradict each other. There is something so wondrous about watching kids read and interpret these books, and when they truly understand the interplay between the two different narratives, it's like witnessing a little piece of magic. If you like Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (see our review HERE!) and How to be a Hero (see our review HERE!,) this is a must for your collection. There is no debating that Life on Mars has become one of those books that I will forever remember with a laugh... and maybe some cupcakes too. And for the record, be sure to check out some of John's other books too-- we love It's Only Stanley and Lion Lessons!
Want the book? Get it here! Life on Mars, by Jon Agee. *This is an affiliate link.
We've all been there. We have all struggled with a whiny, grumpy kid who has plans derailed by some unforeseeable event, only to result in a horribly mopey child who can't seem to find his way out of the doldrums. Pete's a Pizza, by William Steig, handles this situation in such a hilarious way, it is the perfect book to read when your little one has a case of the blues. I mean, there is so much to love about this goofy story, starting right with the title itself!
In Pete's A Pizza, Petey gets quite upset when a rain shower prevents him from going to play ball with his friends. He can't shake his funk, until his brilliant dad decides it's time to turn him into-- wait for it -- a pizza! Petey's parents instantly turn their child's frown around with their goofy antics, and wouldn't you know it, at the end of the story the sun comes out and Petey runs outside to play.
Pete's a Pizza scores every time. It's a classic for a reason. Your kids will giggle every time Petey's parents knead and stretch the "dough," cover it in oil and sauce, and complete the pie with cheese and toppings. My boys love acting this one out- making me be the pizza- but they also love when it's their turn to get stretched and kneaded and covered in fake cheese. Guaranteed to make your little ones laugh, we can't recommend this gem highly enough. Considering the fact that I could eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner if that was socially acceptable, I'm surprised we didn't get our hands on this book until recently!! Two trunks up (smothered with extra sauce and pepperoni, please!)
Want the book? Get it here! Pete's a Pizza, by William Steig. *This is an affiliate link.
Beware the spicy salsa! We are quickly approaching the release date of Dragons Love Tacos 2, the Sequel, and what better way to celebrate the upcoming pub date than with a review of the original taco-loving crew? Here's the lowdown: if you love tacos-- or dragons-- but especially if you love both, this book is a must.
In Dragons Love Tacos, written by Adam Rubin with fab illustrations by Daniel Salmieri, we learn right off the bat that if you want to befriend a dragon, a taco will be the key to his heart. But-- as much as dragons love tacos, they hate spicy salsa even more. So what happens when one seemingly unsuspecting child decides to invite a bunch of dragons over for a taco party? He tops them off with what he thinks is mild salsa... but it actually contains spicy jalapeño peppers. Beware, fire breathing dragons. Holy smokes!
If you haven't yet read this book to your little ones and love to watch your kids explode into fits of uncontrollable laughter, you've got to get this book and read it before bed... or better yet, over a Taco Tuesday dinner. It's a zany read, a wild romp, and an irresistible story that needs no further explanation or review. It's just. that. fun. And stay tuned-- Dragons Love Tacos 2, the Sequel will be served up with a side of tacos THIS TUESDAY, May 2. I'm sure it will not come as a surprise when I tell you that you will love it JUST AS MUCH as the first one!!
* As a #PRHPartner, HEE received a copy of the book in exchange for our honest review.
Some books capture you with their illustration, some with their beautiful prose, and still others captivate you with strong, sure voices. I love books that suck you in with that strong voice, especially when that voice is filled with cheeky humor and subtle irreverence. Dragon was Terrible, written by the great Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli, is one such book. I mean, how could you possibly go wrong with that dynamic duo?!?
In Dragon Was Terrible, a kingdom is getting pretty tired of one terrible dragon's naughty antics- he scribbles in books and burps in church and even toilet papers the castle. So the king and knights and others in the kingdom attempt to tame the dragon in a variety of ways -- but of course, they all fail. What happens when a young lad starts spinning a tale that just so happens to catch the dragon's attention?
This book makes Pickle laugh. And when I say laugh. I mean he thinks it's the funniest thing ever, and every time we crack it open he gets so excited and an impish little grin creeps up on his face. And every time I crack it open, I get excited too- because as you know, there is nothing I love more than a great book which imparts to readers that storytelling is oh-so-powerful and can cause great changes in the worlds of many-- even dragons. Dragon Was Terrible is a perfect story to engage reluctant readers who will find humor in the dragon's naughty antics but will also be wowed by the ability of story to tame the beast. Two trunks up, without a doubt!
Want the book? Get it here! Dragon was Terrible, by Kelly DiPucchio. *This is an affiliate link. I received a review copy of this book from the publisher but all opinions contained herein are expressly my own.
Oh how we adore Florence Parry Heide! In case you've forgotten, Princess Hyacinth, the Girl Who Floated, is one of our absolute favorite books (review HERE!). We read it at home a lot, and it's on constant circulation in my school library. Princess Hyacinth is such a fun, clever take on a princess story, and it never fails to elicit laughter and wonder from Pickle, Bo and my students. And now, with How to Be a Hero, Heide has done it again.
In How to be a Hero, Gideon is on a mission: he wants nothing more than to be a hero. A hero, of course, is someone he believes ends up on the front page of the newspaper. So he thinks for a while and determines that in order to achieve his goal, the most important things he can do are to keep his eyes open and be in the right place at the right time. When a trip to the grocery finds Gideon to be the store's 10,000th customer, he thinks he has done it. He is given an award and ends up in the newspaper!! But if the reader follows Gideon's advice and keeps his eyes open, he may find a very different hero within the story.
How to Be a Hero is one of my very favorite types of picture books: it is one of those treasures where the narrative and the visual stories impart something quite different but are each equally important. They don't necessarily contradict each other, but the illustrations add subtext to the narrative and significantly enhance the story by creating two story lines that weave seamlessly together as one-- and totally up the humor factor. If you loved Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (review HERE!), you will love this one too. And if you want to try something fun with your kids the first time you get this book, first read the words alone and cover up the pictures, then try to "read" the illustrations on their own. Only after you have read it this way should you then read both pieces together. Your kids will be in awe of how the story changes! A must purchase for your home or school collection.
Want the book? Get it here! How to be a Hero, by Florence Parry Heide. *This is an affiliate link.
I credit Greg Pizzoli's delightful book, The Watermelon Seed, for teaching my children to love this juicy summer fruit. And for causing them to erupt into the most delightful giggle fits ever. Its silly, it's fun, and it's one of my all time favorite readalouds. It was also one of the very first books I chose to read aloud to my students when I started my new job. Simply put- this Geisel award winning story is fabulous.
In The Watermelon Seed, a baby crocodile tells it how it is- he LOVES watermelon! He could eat it for every meal - lunch, dinner, and dessert - and even for all of his snacks. It's so good, he can't get enough of it. Until..... until he swallows a seed. And then he fears he will begin to grow watermelon vines in his tummy and vows never to eat watermelon again. Will he or won't he? And what will happen to that pesky seed in his stomach?
This book. We love it so much and it's Bo's new favorite- he drags it around the house and says "chomp chomp chomp" and will climb into my lap and sit there until we read it together. The bright, pink and green illustrations are eye catching, the language is simple and the story is playful- giving weight to childhood fears but then exaggerating them until even kids can find the humor in their anxieties. Most importantly- the pacing is sheer perfection, making The Watermelon Seed one of Happily Ever Elephants' very favorite books to read aloud to young toddlers. It just can't be beat, and it never fails to immediately win over and captivate its audience. Two enthusiastic trunks up (covered in watermelon juice, of course!)
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Want the book? Get it here! The Watermelon Seed, by Greg Pizzoli. *This is an affiliate link.
The worst thing in the world is when you eagerly anticipate the last book in a series, you finally get it after waiting for what seems like eons, and, after flipping through its pages with excitement, the book lets you down. It's such a buzz kill. So you can imagine why I opened the first pages of Jon Klassen's We Found A Hat with a little bit of trepidation. It's hard to follow up two outstanding books with a third and final one. But Klassen didn't just deliver, he nailed it. And the third installment of the "hat" series may just be my favorite of them all.
We Found a Hat tells the story of two turtles who find a lone hat in the desert. They both know the hat would look great on each of them, but they decide to leave the hat where it is rather than risk the injustice of one taking the hat and leaving the other without it. But what happens when one of the turtles decides that taking the hat for himself is just a little too tempting?
We Found A Hat differs from its predecessors in one major way- no one, in this story, steals a hat. Instead, the two turtles find a way to make peace with the fact that there is one hat, yet two of them. I love the way Klassen captures the longing that children often feel when they want a coveted object so badly but know it is not right for them to take it. It is such a common experience, and many children simply can't reign in their desire to take the item for themselves. Not here, though. The bonds of friendship are strong in this book, strong enough to keep the turtles on the same team. Even through minimal words and spare yet beautifully complex illustrations (the eyes! the eyes!), this unwavering friendship comes through in full force. We love it -- two mighty trunks up!
Want the book? Get it here! WE FOUND A HAT, by Jon Klassen. *This is an affiliate link.
I love this book. Every time I read it, I truly want to give this zany character a big, big hug. Hello, My Name is Octicorn, by Kevin Diller and Justin Lowe, makes us squeal with laughter, makes us think, and gives us so much to discuss. My new mantra with Pickle is "kind hearts, kind words, kind hands," and we are able to talk about the importance of this saying in detail whenever we read this sweet story.
Octicorn is the child of- you guessed it- a unicorn and an octopus. And as you also probably guessed, this sweet guy has a hard time fitting in, as he is not quite sure whether he belongs on land or in sea. Though Octi is lonely and a bit self-depricating, he does take comfort in his positive attributes that would make him one heck of a wonderful friend. And as he shares some of his rather unique but awesome traits with the reader, you can't help but see yourself in Octi's quirks and longing for connection.
Octicorn's earnestness -- together with his willingness to lay it all on the line to show potential new friends that despite his perceived differences, he is truly just like everyone else -- gets me every time. I love the way Hello, My Name is Octicorn enables Pickle to discuss the significance of kind hearts and kind words and how it is so important to treat everyone with respect no matter how different someone may seem from him. It also gives us fodder to discuss what it means to be unique, and how we all have qualities and characteristics different from our friends and classmates. These unique attributes, rather than something to shy away from, are ones to celebrate. Every relationship can provide an eye opening learning experience- or, as I tell Pickle, something really awesome that you may not have known about before. I still can't quite put my finger on why this book resonates with me so much, but it does, and I love it so! And I'm not the only one -- Amazon editors ranked this a top twenty pick of 2016 for 3-5 year olds. Enjoy!
Want the book? Get it here! Hello, My Name is Octicorn, by Kevin Diller and Justin Lowe. *This is an affiliate link.
It's such a common childhood theme: wanting what someone else has. And let's be honest- I'm sure all of you parents out there can relate, too. I know I certainly can. Because who doesn't see someone else's object of affection-- be it a shiny new toy, a pair of shoes to make you run faster and jump higher, or (gasp) even a perfect friend -- and want it for themselves? Oh, Ooko! We love you for this reason- for gently but oh so humorously exploring this theme.
In Esme Shapiro's Ooko, the titular character has everything he could want-- except, perhaps, a friend. When he sees the foxes in town playing with their two legged friends, affectionately known as the Debbies, Ooko wants a Debbie too! But when he finally does find a Debbie all of his own, this exciting new friendship may be a bit different than he had anticipated.
My parents used to always tell me that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, and the beautifully illustrated Ooko tackles this subject with such longing and humor, making it a fitting example of that notion. Sometimes the things we think we want are quite different than the things we actually need, and it takes trying-- even when the trying takes on some not so kosher endeavors -- before we learn something may not be the right fit. Because let's face it- Debbies rock-- but what's even better than a Debbie is rocking out with a friend who lets you be totally and completely yourself... No ifs, ands or itchy sweaters about it. A must read!!
Want the book? Get it here! Ooko, by Esme Shapiro. *This is an affiliate link.