10 October 2008

In which I suddenly become a book reviewer...

I had dinner with one of my best friends yesterday (thanks, Marilyn!). She had just come back from visiting with her grandson and we were catching up. Bryce is the same age as our last three grands, turning one last April. We like to share our stories of the cute things the grands say or do and marvel that we, who first met each other and became fast friends when our own children were in elementary school, have navigated the teen years with our children and they (the children) have grown into adulthood and for some of them, parenthood as well. And to say it's surreal is an understatement. One day you're on the phone complaining because said children didn't clean their room, talked back, blah, blah, blah and the next, you're lamenting the fact that you don't get to see your children in their homes nearly as much as you'd like.

In an eye-blink.

So there we were, in the "new and improved" Ruby Tuesdays (yes, it is new - and I'm relieved to find substantially improved as well...but when you were on the bottom the only way was up...but I return to my point) sipping our signature drinks of Diet Coke with lime wedges (can't say we don't live dangerously here in the southern Bible belt!), relaxing after a delicious meal, catching up like we hadn't seen each other in weeks (which was true - between my travel back and forth to our place in Keller and her work schedule, getting face time together is hard). And discussion always comes back to the grands.

She was asking about which books and things our grands enjoyed. Of course, when someone asks you something point blank, the typical brain has a "fight or flight" response and usually mine takes the "flight" route. I was completely blank other than the Kipper series by Mick Inkpen. I told her I'd look at my gift histories for Kennedy and Ben on amazon.com and email it to her.

I finally remembered my promise about 10pm last night (yes, I repeatedly repeat myself...) and went to look it up. I was stunned at how many books and DVDs I'd purchased over the past four years. And quite pleased as well with the selections truth be told. So in the interests of promoting grandmotherly reading encouragement, I'm going to share a good portion of that list with you. And if you are a mother, you might find this of interest as well.

First let me say that my love of books for the early-or-non-reader age group is typically dictated by GREAT art - whether it's quirky, classic, old-fashioned, contemporary - if the pictures in a children's book don't "grab me" right off, it usually doesn't get further attention and is returned to the shelf. Now, I don't want to come across as one who only looks at pictures and doesn't read but let's face it, good art is what keeps non-readers attention! Without great pictures to go with a (hopefully) great story, attention is initially going to be short. And there are two main objectives to reading to children in my opinion:

1) Spending time, one-on-one, cuddling with your lovely child/grandchild for an extended time

2) Instilling a love of reading, curiosity and imagination in your child/grandchild that will extend into adulthood, opening new worlds to them in a secure and loving environment

So I'm big on books. Really big on books. Mike and I both are and always have been. We could be in desperate financial straights but always find a way to get books (which I might add was a bit hard to do sometimes when we lived in foreign countries that did not have English as the first language in the pre-amazon.com days when we had to actually, GASP!, go into a bookstore!). And when I found out Megan and Jennifer were both pregnant, we naturally found ourselves often at the booksellers in the UK where we were living. Initially I was looking for copies of the same books we'd bought our children when we lived in the UK back in the early 80's when the "Spot the Dog" books were first published there. As we looked for classic editions of A.A. Milne's "Pooh" as well as Eric Hill's "Spot" books, I came across and promptly fell in love with Mick Inkpen and his Kipper series as well as his other series. They are a bit difficult to find stateside but amazon.com does carry quite a few of them. And the "proof is in the pudding" as they say - the grands LOVED them! In fact, watching the DVDs (which are voiced by British actors), Ben now calls the back and front yards "the garden" and pronounces Kipper's friend, a black schnauzer named Tiger, "Tye-gah". It is too cute!

I find I look for specific authors: Mick Inkpen, Bill Peet, Sandra Boynton, Eric Carle, anything illustrated by Garth Williams. And who doesn't remember the "Little House" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder?? I was going to name my 2nd daughter, who never materialized, Laura Elizabeth because of those books...we tease Tim that we almost named him Laura Elizabeth since the sonogram tech assured us he was a girl. :)

So without further ado, (and you know how much I like "ado"), I present my 'official' list of preferred toddler and preschool reading, in no particular order.

Lullabyhullaballoo! (Paperback)
by Mick Inkpen (Author) THIS ONE IS A REAL FAVORITE!!

Wiggle (Bccb Blue Ribbon Picture Book Awards (Awards)) (Hardcover)
by Doreen Cronin (Author), Scott Menchin (Illustrator)

Bounce (Hardcover)
by Doreen Cronin (Author), Scott Menchin (Illustrator)

Bear (Book & CD) [AUDIOBOOK] (Paperback)
by Mick Inkpen (Author), Martin Clunes (Narrator)

Giggle, Giggle, Quack (Hardcover)
by Doreen Cronin (Author) (Author), Betsy Lewin (Illustrator)

Kipper - Pools, Parks & Picnics
Series: Kipper Rating: Format: DVD

Kipper's Book of Colors (Kipper) (Board book)
by Mick Inkpen (Author)

Kipper - Let it Snow
Series: Kipper Rating: Format: DVD

Kipper - Imagine That
Series: Kipper Rating: Format: DVD

Kipper's A to Z: An Alphabet Adventure (Hardcover)
by Mick Inkpen (Author)

All About John Deere For Kids DVD 1 (2004)
Starring: All About John Deere for Kids Director: Tom McComas and Joe Stachler Rating: Format: DVD

Real Wheels - Truck Adventures (There Goes a Truck/Fire Truck/Garbage Truck)
Starring: Real Wheels Rating: Format: DVD

This Is My Hair (Hardcover)
by Todd Parr (Author)

Going Places (Board book)
by Todd Parr (Author)

Benny's Had Enough! (Hardcover)
by Barbro Lindgren (Author), Olof Landstrom (Illustrator), Elisabeth Kallick Dyssegaard (Translator)

Kipper's Treehouse (Lift-the-flap) (Kipper) (Pop-Up)
by Mick Inkpen (Author)

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go (Giant Little Golden Book) (Hardcover)
by Richard Scarry (Author)

Duck for President (New York Times Best Illustrated Books (Awards)) (Hardcover)
by Doreen Cronin (Author), Betsy Lewin (Illustrator)

Click, Clack, Splish, Splash: A Counting Adventure (Hardcover)
by Doreen Cronin (Author), Betsy Lewin (Illustrator)

Thomas the Tank Engine Story Collection (The Railway Series) (Hardcover)
by W. Rev Awdry (Author)

Kipper's A to Z: An Alphabet Adventure (Kipper) (Paperback)
by Mick Inkpen (Author)

Kipper - Cuddly Critters
Series: Kipper Rating: Format: DVD

Kipper: Puppy Love
Series: Kipper Rating: Format: DVD

Kipper: Amazing Discoveries!
Series: Kipper Rating: Format: DVD

Kipper - Playtime
Series: Kipper Rating: Format: DVD

A Fish Out of Water (Paperback)
by Helen Palmer (Author), P. D. Eastman (Author)

C is for Construction: Big Trucks and Diggers from A to Z (Caterpillar) (Hardcover)
by Caterpillar (Author)

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Paperback)
by Bill Martin Jr. (Author), John Archambault (Author), Lois Ehlert (Illustrator)

Benny and the Binky (Hardcover)
by Barbro Lindgren (Author), Olof Landstrom (Illustrator), Elisabeth Kallick Dyssegaard (Translator)

If you can find used copies of Barbro Lingren's "Wild Baby Ben" books, they are worth it! Initially bought for Christopher when he was little, we would read "Wild Baby Chris" to him much to his delight. I had to get them for Benjamin when he was born of course and they remain firm favorites of his.

Waiting for Wings (Hardcover)
by Lois Ehlert (Author)

Planting a Rainbow (Paperback)
by Lois Ehlert (Author)

Bear Snores On (Hardcover)
by Karma Wilson (Author), Jane Chapman (Illustrator)

Bear Wants More (Hardcover)
by Karma Wilson (Author), Jane Chapman (Illustrator)

The Mick Inkpen Treasury (Paperback)
by Mick Inkpen (Author)

Where, Oh Where, Is Kipper's Bear?: A Pop-Up Book with Light! (Hardcover)
by Mick Inkpen (Author)

Kipper's Treehouse (Lift-the-flap) (Kipper) (Pop-Up)
by Mick Inkpen (Author)

Toot & Puddle (Toot and Puddle) (Hardcover)
by Holly Hobbie (Author)

In Wibbly's Garden (Wibbily Pig) (Hardcover)
by Mick Inkpen (Author)

Belly Button Book (Boynton on Board) (Board book)
by Sandra Boynton (Author)

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z (Harcourt Brace Big Book) (Paperback)
by Lois Ehlert (Author)

Hop! Plop! (Hardcover)
by Corey Rosen Schwartz (Author), Tali Klein (Author), Cory Klein (Author), Tali Rosen (Author), Olivier Dunrea (Illustrator), Oliver Dunrea (Illustrator)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar: board book & CD (Board book)
by Eric Carle (Illustrator)


Emily said...

After reading your first couple of sentences about you and Marilyn, I had a little tear in my eye.

Cason digs the Biscuit the Dog books. Oh, and, I've been meaning to tell you this: The Baby Einstein Baby Mozart you gifted us when Cason was born is still by far his favorite. Even though we have like 20 of them, that's the one he wants to watch. We actually just got done watching it about 30 minutes ago. Kendall, on the other hand, couldn't be less interested in anything Baby Einstein.

Do you think his real last name is Inkpen?

Cheri (aka "The Mom Lady") said...

I do believe he really is named Mick Inkpen! How ironic is that?

I feel honored to have been the intro to Baby Einstein. It is interesting that firstborns seem to LOVE Baby Einstein but 2nd children aren't as enamored - I think it has to do with the firstborn sibling being the live entertainment. Luke has finally decided he likes some of them so they have one show for Ben and then one show for Luke. It's the same with Kennedy and Lleyton.

May you, too, have long, close relationships with the mothers of your children's friends! It's an indescribably blessing! Your mom is one of those as well.