We are in Portland for a wedding, my son and his girlfriend of several years. It’s a happy event, they are both so worthy of each other. We have time on our hands, and not wanting to drown in the events around a wedding, have had time to just hang out. Yesterday we were in a coffee shop with book shelves, and so reviewed books for the grandchildren. Thus do I present my first annual review of that genre. These are the best we found in the age 1-2 category.
Boo! has a surprise ending, and I will not spoil it for the reader. Children love to be frightened, safely. They need to know it is all pretend, but that still OK to be scared. Author Jonathon Litton knows the mind of a child well, and so as we pass from one suspect to another to learn who it was not, we finally learn in the end who it is. Imagine squeals of delight as the child finds out that facing one’s fears need not be a frightening experience!
DaDa, purportedly by Jimmy Fallon, but most likely ghost written, has publicity agency written all over it. The book has been heavily promoted in the Tonight Show, and Fallon tells us that he came up with the concept. More likely he was approached by an ambitious publisher to promote a project, and seeing image enhancement potential, jumped on board. As a dad, I know that even as moms do most of the heavy lifting, a child’s first words are usually “dada,” as the d-sound is easier to make than the m-sound. It’s part of the injustice visited on moms by life. Fallon, a new dad, will soon enough see his nannied child go through the same ritual. In the meantime, avoid this book. It is highly stylized but devoid of real meaning or purpose.
Chug Chug Tractor claims to be the best tractor book ever. Indeed it might be. Author Dawn Sirett delights the reader with both visual and auditory stimulation. Open the book, flip open a cover on the first page, and a tractor starts up! We hear the engine. On other pages we hear a horse winnie, a teddy bear honk a horn to scare rabbits, and a duck quack. A word of warning: The last page, a hooting owl indicating that it is night time now and time for bed, does not work! The child, stimulated by this fascinating read, does not want bed. More likely you will hear “Let’s read it again!” Also, the batteries tend to wear out right away and are not easy to replace. Still, this book is a top shelf purchase for any parent or grandparent wanting to spend some qt with a youngster. It does grab them.
Killing Lincoln – this latest book in the new series by children’s author Bill O’Reilly does not disappoint. Bill and “co” author Martin Degard know the mind of a child as well as Sirett or any other in the genre, and so delight us with fanciful tales. Follow them in this episode as they solve a murder that has perplexed serious researchers for over a century. Read aloud to a child, this book has the cadence of a children’s mystery. Bill and company take us to burned out barns, old buildings full of carefully preserved documents. From there they spin a mighty tale of intrigue designed for the American child. Unlike Chug Chug Tractor, the book is indeed an effective sedative, and children are fast asleep within minutes. Few will ever finish this wonderful work of childhood fantasy fiction, but a movie will soon follow.
Ladybug Girl Says Good Night, by Jackie Davis is highly attuned to the fantasies of a young girl. She’s wearing a fly away costume as she prepares for bed, and so has to take a bubble bath, brush her teeth, but then when those rituals are performed, she re-enters her real life. Back in her Lady Bug clothing, she lays down with all her other animal friends, hoping that as she sleeps she will really, really fly. The book is a delight, guaranteed slumber fare for a young child, making her want to sleep to be able to travel in her dreams.
Most children’s book are written to delight, intrigue, and capture the imagination of youth. This one has but one purpose, to help a child drift into slumber.