Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas 2010: Ember's Book Picks

The Knuffle Bunny series by Mo Willems
The series follows a little girl named Trixie and her beloved Knuffle bunny. They are so good. The series begins with pint sized Trixie in A Cautionary Tale which tells of a trip to the laundromat with her dad that goes bad for somebunny. Next in Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity, Trixie takes her best friend in for show-and-tell to discover a classmate has the same bunny! Rounding out the series is Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion, that sees Trixie and her bunny go overseas with a slight detour for a long eared traveller. All three picture books feature black and white photography layered with Willems' colourful illustrations. This lends itself to Ember's age group while the strong, hilarious tales are good for grade school level readers.

Duck! Rabbit!
Can you go wrong with Amy Krouse Rosenthal? Honestly, I want her brain. In this bright picture book, she couples with Tom Lichtenheld to debate whether the nondescript illustration is indeed a duck or a rabbit. I love bringing the two "off screen" debaters to life with radically different voices which always seems to make Ember smile.

The Scaredy Squirrel Series by Melanie Watt
Canadian author Melanie Watt has created a hilarious series centred around Scaredy Squirrel who, get this, is afraid of pretty much everything. Since the first book in which Scaredy Squirrel conquered his fear of leaving his nut tree, he has had made a friend, gone to the beach, and overcome other fears. The humour is still very much over Ember's head and often wanders off during storytime though we always finish reading because we enjoy them so much.

Oliver Jeffers
British author Oliver Jeffers is brilliant. Basically, I adore all his work so he makes Ember's reading list as opposed to just suggesting one book. When I was pregnant, I learned of The Incredible Book-eating Boy which I promptly took out of the library and read to Ember in utero. (Yeah, we read to my belly. I was determined to have a reader, but that's another story.) Since then, we have gone through the Jeffers library and own many of his books. The illustrations are beautiful and the writing clever. For younger kids, I like the Boy and Penguin series which now includes four titles: How to Catch a Star, Lost and Found, Way Back Home and Up and Down. For those a little bit older, I'm sure The Incredible Book-eating Boy and The Great Paper Caper would be a hit.

Sandra Boynton
Definitely known for her board books, Boynton is an author is very popular in the toddler set. I'm sure every child has their own favourite and Ember's is hands down Fifteen Animals. A story about 14 animals named Bob and one turtle with a very different name always holds Ember's interest. A great thing about this book and all of Boynton's for that matter, is how easy it is to re-purpose the book. When Ember is keen to turn the pages quickly, we do colours instead or we count, or we name the animals and their sounds. The simple illustrations and bright colours make this really easy and engaging. Other favourites include: Moo Baa La La La and Blue Hat, Green Hat.

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann
This Caldecott Honour award winning picture book is one Ember will unwrap this year. It's all about Mouse and his best friend Rabbit and the trouble they encounter when Rabbit gets Mouse's airplane stuck in a tree. The method Rabbit employs to reclaim the plane is hilarious and where the story really takes off. (No pun intended). Rohmann relies solely on illustrations at this point which allows the story to become as wild as your child's imagination. Of course, Ember is too young to write her own tale but she loves the way Andrew and I tell it and points at the brilliant illustrations. Mouse is loyal and not at judgmental of his best friend Rabbit despite his questionable choices at times because Rabbit always means well. It really is a lovely book.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
At the risk of being painfully obvious, I'm including this. To date, it could be Ember's all time favourite book so I would be remiss if I didn't throw it in. She always smiles when I'm reading it. It's the only book that she never walks away from. It's the only book where she waits for me to turn the pages - she doesn't want to skip ahead. And, I apparently read it the exact same way every time because she mimics my actions when reading it - gesticulates and shakes her head. To be clear, we read it at least once a day and we've been reading it since she was three months old. Already, it's been decided that Ember's second birthday party will be the theme of the Very Hungry Caterpillar. It's a pretty big deal in this house.

Happy reading! What are the favourite books and authors in your home? I'd love to hear your recommendations!


  1. Lots of our favs in there too! Our most fav is Oliver Jeffers for sure! Check out Julia Donaldson's books when Ember is a few months older. (Room on a Broom is our fav). A great read for moms and dads too!

  2. We know the Gruffalo series but I will check out that title since I'm not familiar with it. Thanks very much, Kristin!