My daughter and I have hit the jackpot for great reads during our recent library visits. I had a difficult time deciding which to post first and in the end settled on these three for this week, with a special post for the remaining books next week.
Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. (Published by Greenwillow Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers in March 2004.)
This charcoal and cream colored illustrated story is aimed at toddler to preschool aged children. It is the story of a kitten who mistakes a full moon for a big bowl of milk. When she opens her mouth to lick the treat she catches a fire fly on her tongue. When she reaches out with her paw to catch a hold of the bowl she ends up tumbling down the stairs. Again and again she tries to quench her thirst with this giant bowl of milk only to be thwarted in her efforts again and again. Finally, giving up, the kitten returns home thoroughly exhausted and discouraged and very thirsty. Much to her surprise she finds her persistence has paid off as there is a big bowl of milk awaiting on the front porch.
I was intrigued with the fact that Henkes found his inspiration for Kitten's First Full Moon from a line in one of his earlier books: "The cat thought the moon was a bowl of milk." Apparently he took that line and expanded it until it became it's own story.
My daughter since she was a year old has expressed a love for animals, especially dogs and cats. She loved this story of the "poor kitten who thought the moon was milk." She also loves looking at the moon and stories about the moon, so this story really was the best of both worlds.
Kitten's First Full Moon won the 2005 Caldecott Medal for Henkes' illustrations and I can see why. I loved the simplicity and sweetness of the charcoal and cream colored pictures. I confess, a good percentage of the time when I am picking books to read to my daughter I am drawn by the illustrations before the title or story plot grab me. Henkes' illustrations are soft and muted and fit well with this sweet little story.
Please Say Please! Penguin's Guide to Manners by Margery Cuyler. (Published by Scholastic Press in April 2004.) This is another older book, but it is a good one for toddler to preschool aged children. If you're looking for a fun way to introduce manners to your child -- or as in my case remind your child of their importance in a practical way, Please Say Please! is a fun story to read aloud.
In Please Say Please! Penguin has his friends over for dinner. On each page one of the animals commits some etiquette faux pas, which provides the reader with a statement such as, "When hippo sits down for dinner, she should put her napkin on her head." Turn the page and the reader discovers, "No! That's wrong." and then learns the correct action that should be taken (i.e. "When hippo sits down for dinner, she should lay her napkin in her lap. That's better.")
This format gives plenty of laughs for the child as well as the opportunity to interact, it doesn't take long before they figure out what's wrong and what's right. Before my daughter learned to speak we were teaching her sign language for "please" and "thank you" and once she was able to get up from the table on her own we began with "May I please be excused". Most of the time she's good about remembering these phrases, but from time to time we need to remind her to chew with her mouth closed. Don't talk with your mouth full. Ask to be excused from the table, etc. This book made for some entertaining reminders and a unique way to introduce some new manners.
If I Were a Jungle Animal by Amanda Ellery. (Published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing in May 2009). This story is intended for young readers ages 4-8, but makes for an entertaining read aloud to preschoolers.
As the story opens we find a young boy named Morton playing baseball. Morton is bored. He thinks baseball is boring, at least when you're the outfielder and the ball never comes your way. Morton starts to imagine what could be more exciting than baseball... Maybe being a wild animal in the jungle, like a lion.... or a monkey... or a hippopotamus!
If I Were A Jungle Animal is an action packed story funny story. My daughter loved the hilarious illustrations (Morton as a lion wearing his baseball cap, Morton swinging from trees and getting tangled in the vines, etc.) And she laughed out loud at the moments when Morton realized maybe being a specific animal wasn't such a great idea: like when the cheetah is chasing him or the crocodiles are nipping on his hippopotamus toes, "Yikes!"
All in all this is a great read for children who love stories about jungle animals or just love to laugh at funny stories.