Tag Archives: friendship

Mr. President Goes to School

Written by Rick Walton. Illustrated by Brad Sneed. Peachtree, 2010.

“Mr. President,” said Madam Secretary. “…It’s the Sticks and Stones issue again, sir. What should we do?”

Well, apparently the answer is don a disguise, get the heck out of the White House and hide out in elementary school, where even the nastiest problems can be solved with a snack and the hokey pokey. My kids cracked up at the stern-faced leaders of Bulrovia and Snortburg sitting criss-cross applesauce in the Oval Office. I loved the subtle reminder that grownups are at their best when we act like kids.

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Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival

By Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery; Illustrated by Jean Cassels

Walker & Company, 2008

The city of New Orleans, on the mighty Mississippi, is a place many people and pets call home. Jamming with jazz and dressing up fancy for Mardi Gras, it  bustled with life day and night. But on April 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina bore down on the city and everyone who lived there, including a wisp of a cat and one puppy.

Much to the concern of my children, I’m a total sucker for (read: I cry a lot while reading) books about dogs and cats in peril. Two Bobbies fits the bill. Continue reading

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Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated

By Florence Parry Heide, Illustrated by Lane Smith

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2009

Princess Hyacinth had a problem. Well, you’re saying, everyone has a problem. But this was an unusual problem. Oh, she didn’t look unusual, that wasn’t it. She had two eyes, with a nose between them and a mouth under that — you know, the usual things in the usual arrangement…So what was the problem?

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That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown

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Written by Cressida Cowell, Illustrated by Neal Layton

Hyperion Books for Children, 2006

Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Emily Brown and an old gray rabbit called Stanley. One day, Emily Brown and Stanley were launching themselves into outer space to look for alien life-forms when there was a rat-a-tat-tat! at the kitchen door. It was the Chief Footman to the Queen. He said, “The Queen has very kindly noticed your rabbit. She would like to have that Bunnywunny.”

Smart girl that Emily Brown is, she says no thank you. (And pointedly reminds the imposing Footman that her rabbit’s name is Stanley, not “Bunnywunny.”) Continue reading

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Arthur and Guen

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By Jon Koons, Illustrated by Igor Oleynikov

Dutton Children’s Books, 2008

In the days of old, long, long ago, there were kings and knights and castles. There were princesses and dragons. There was heraldry and magic. And there was a boy named Arthur…

Here’s proof (yet again) that you can so judge a book by its cover. The phrase, “An original tale of Young Camelot,” just seals the deal for me. Continue reading

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The Paperboy

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Story and paintings by Dav Pilkey

Scholastic, 1996

The mornings of the paperboy are still dark and they are always cold even in the summer. And on these cold mornings the paperboy’s bed is still warm and it is always hard to get out — even for his dog…but they do.

Continue reading

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Boo and Baa Get Wet

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By Olof and Lena Landstrom, Translated by Joan Sandin

R&S Books, 2000

Boo and Baa left the croquet set outside. “We have to go out and get it,” says Baa. “Do we have to?” says Boo. “We’ll have the flashlight with us,” says Baa. Boo still thinks it’s very dark outside. And the croquet set has so many pieces!

The excerpt above doesn’t do Boo and Baa justice, and neither does a synopsis: In the middle of a thunderstorm, two little sheep run outside in the dark to rescue their croquet set. They scare themselves silly, have a good laugh about it, the lights come on… and then they go to sleep. You really need to see the accompanying pictures to fully appreciate the Landstroms’ offbeat humor and the vigorous cuteness of Boo and Baa. My daughter sleeps with this copy in her crib — at least until it’s due back at the library.

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We Eat Dinner in the Bathtub

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By Angela Shelf Medearis, Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers

Scholastic, 1996

“Do you want to eat dinner at my house, Josh?” “Okay, Harris.” “We eat dinner in the bathtub.” “THE BATHTUB?” “Yes.” “Why do you do that? You should eat dinner in the dining room.” “We sleep in the dining room.”

I don’t know what I love most about this slight little book, which is perfect for beginning readers. The hilarious premise?  (Harris’s kooky family uses every room in their house for purposes other than what they were intended for.) The wonderful illustrations? (Which beautifully underscore the idea that it’s not only okay but more fun to be different.) Or, quite possibly, it’s the fact that throughout this book, Josh and Harris are carrying on a conversation while having a totally free-range adventure: reading comics in a treehouse, climbing down a steep cliff face, biking down a curvy, narrow mountain road… Ah for the good old days.

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Ella Takes the Cake

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By Carmela and Steven D’Amico

Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005

It was already summer vacation and the bakery was busier than ever. Ella tried her best to help. But sometimes, she didn’t feel very helpful. She’d already swept the floor three times. There wasn’t a crumb on it. When the oven timer went off — DING! — Ella thought she’d help by taking out the macaroons. “No, no, no,” her mother sang. “You might burn yourself.”

Maybe it’s because I read this to my daughter while my son was attending his first day of nature camp and I was fraught with anxiety, but I found this book to be…a nail-biter. Little Ella, who surely owes a huge debt to Babar, insists on delivering an enormous three-tiered birthday cake. She is, of course, on her bike, while Danger Cake is pulled behind her in a clunky wooden wagon. Ella is blissfully unphased by the obstacles she encounters — including her belligerent “friend,” Belinda and an alarmingly steep hill.  I’m sure I read this story faster, louder, and with more urgency than my daughter would have liked. But I breathed a sigh of relief when Belinda delivered the cake to the Captain intact (and my son had a blast.)

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Not Norman: A Goldfish Story

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By Kelly Bennett, Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Candlewick Press, 2005

When I got Norman, I didn’t want to keep him. I wanted a different kind of pet. Not Norman. I wanted a pet who could run and catch. Or one who could climb trees and chase strings. A soft, furry pet to sleep on my bed at night. Not  Norman. All Norman does is swim around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around…

Here’s the perfect book to read your kids when they’re asking for a Dalmation or pony and you’re thinking more along the lines of… koi. The young narrator of the story think he’s been gypped out of a “good” pet. After all, Norman can’t do anything. Or can he? The more time and attention Norman spends on his little googly-eyed fish (albeit under the guise of bringing him back to the pet store), the more he begins to appreciate his new finned friend. The cheerful digital drawings keep up, er, swimmingly, with Bennett’s gentle narrative.

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