Kristen, Mother of Matthew, Age 4
We are on a Cynthia Rylant kick. Our days are filled with Mr. Putter and Tabby, with Henry and Mudge and also The Great Gracie Chase. In Mr. Putter and Tabby pick the pears, Mr. Putter is feeling too old to climb the ladder and pick pears for pear jelly. Instead, Mr. Putter puts a slingshot to good use with some surprising results. In Henry and Mudge and the Best Day of All, Henry celebrates his birthday. There are games, prizes, a piñata and of course, presents for Henry's dog Mudge too. Henry and Mudge are a duo never to be separated, even when Henry's uncle builds him a tree house (Henry and Mudge and the Tall Tree house). In The Great Gracie Chase, Gracie is the most obedient dog who loves her quiet house until the day the painters come.
Matthew is also enjoying books by Rosemary Wells. Since he started preschool (he now has a best friend and his world is transformed), we have been reading Timothy's tales from Hilltop School. The classroom adventures of Yoko, Nora, Timothy and Fritz are very easy for Matthew to relate to. He planned part of his birthday party (the need for party poppers) based on the picture of the characters at Yoko's birthday. "No birthday talk," says Mrs. Jenkins, but oh it is hard as each one shares what they are bringing to Yoko's party (as Nora panics that her present is not wonderful enough). Their world mirrors his new life and he finds great amusement and comfort in that.
Pizza Kittens by Charlotte Voake is also a current favorite. After feeding their three kittens a lovely dinner at the table, the kittens leave the table a mess having eaten almost none of it. Pizza is their favorite and why would they want peas? The family melts down at dinnertime. Mom tries to please, "fishsticks are your favorite," she says. "Not my favorite" says one of the kittens. A snapshot of life in, dare I say it, our household also, some days!
Molly, mother of Liam age 2
Carry Me Tractors, Diggers, Trucks, & Emergency (set of four) Published by Make Believe Ideas
Liam's grandparents recently sent him a set of four books: Carry-Me Tractors, Diggers, Trucks & Emergency. Each book has a handle and bright, textured pictures of all the vehicles. Liam and the books are inseparable. Each page introduces a different vehicle and has each part labels. Which is very helpful to me, since I was calling all construction trucks "diggers!" Now we can use the correct names, like "excavator." These books can grow with Liam too. There's a scavenger hunt throughout the book for hidden tools. He's just starting to try and find them. I think I will be finding these books scattered throughout the house for many months to come.
Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman
Liam asks for this book by either saying, "Mommy!" or "Digger!" As we read the story of the newly hatched baby bird on his journey to find his mother, Liam likes to answer the questions in the book and guess what will happen next. "Then he came to a dog. 'Are you my mother?' he said to the dog." Liam says, "no!" and shakes his head. When we get to the part where the digger returns the baby bird to his nest, Liam is all smiles.
Caps for Sale: a tale of a peddler, some monkeys, and their monkey business by Esphyr Slobodkina
Reading this book is like an aerobic workout. We have to act out each part of the story. The story begins with a peddler who "was not like an ordinary peddler, carrying his wares on his back. He carried them on top of his head." After taking a rest under a tree, the peddler finds that all his caps are missing. The story that follows is a hilarious account of the peddler trying to get his caps back from a tree full of monkeys. Liam loves every minute of this book. He waves his hands when the peddler does, stomps his feet when the peddler stomps, and jumps up and down when the peddler does. It's a fabulous book that leaves Liam giggling and jumping as the peddler yells at the monkeys. "You monkeys, you! You must give me back my caps!"