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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Charming Children's Books... Part 1

An all time favorite children's book...
The illustrations alone are
I love children's books...  Which is a good thing considering how long I've been reading them!  Even now after years of reading the same stories over and over, I am delighted to return to some of our family favorites when bedtime rolls around.

Many books are timeless - Dr. Seuss, the Frances Books by the Hobans come to mind - but there are also wonderful new stories to be discovered all the time.  A few minutes spent among the picture books at your local library will open you up to a world of literature to share with the children in your life.

Here are a few favorites that you might want to be on the lookout for...

The Arthur Books

There are few series that keep my kids as interested as the books in Marc Brown's Arthur series.  Arthur hasn't aged a bit in the more than 30 years that he's been delighting kids, but his problems stay current and amusing.  This aardvark and his multi-species sidekicks have changed in appearance over the years, but the stories are consistently entertaining.  Surprisingly, the Arthur the television show is just as good and I sometimes find myself watching it after the kids have long since left the room!

The Frances Books

Russell and Lillian Hoban's books about the fuzzy Frances and her problems are perennial favorites.  Favorites in my family are Bread and Jam for Frances, A Bargain for Frances and A Birthday for Frances.  In Bread and Jam, you will find Frances' description of lunch so enjoyable that you will immediately change your view of this sometimes dull repast...  Lobster salad sandwiches?  Black olives?  A tiny vase of violets?  No child ever ate so well at noon!

The Corgiville Fair

Let's all just agree that Tasha Tudor's illustrations are heavenly.  They are charming, delightful, nostalgic but never cutesy or cloying.  Her love of nature and understanding of the "old days" make her pictures particularly personal and warm.  And then there's her storytelling ability!  Both of the Corgiville books are wonderful, but to see the corgis and goats mix it up at the fair, and with fireworks to boot, is priceless.

The Little Brute Family

Russell and Lillian Hoban books are always fun.  Especially in their tiniest versions.  But, the lovable Little Brutes are the cutest of all.  If this book doesn't make you want to be a brute, nothing will!


We read this book at least once every couple of weeks.  The great underwear fair gives the animals of the savannah a wonderful chance to strut their sartorial splendor, at least in terms of their brightly patterned underthings, in the wide open.  No need to ask if they wear boxers or briefs, these guys wear them all!  (Note:  If you google this, make sure to use the phrase "children's book" after the title!)

A Porcupine Named Fluffy

This little porcupine has his problems.  Chief among them is his desire to be more like his name, Fluffy, would suggest.  Whipped cream, feathers and long soaks don't do the trick, but meeting an even more oddly named wildlife friend makes him feel a lot better!  My kids love this book.

Jeb Scarecrow

Jeb Scarecrow wants to make sure that he has the best, most secure pumpkin patch possible, and this means facing a cackle of crows determined to have their annual party in HIS patch!  Using a creative mind to find a way to beat these spiteful blackbirds, Jeb outsmarts them and makes a few bucks on the side!  The story here is great, but the illustrations are fabulous.  Deeply hued and beautifully rendered, the Jeb Scarecrow story will become an annual autumn favorite.

Anything by Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes is a master at writing and illustrating books that will charm kids and parents alike.  His premises are so funny and his language is witty enough for the most sophisticated tots, let along the adults reading the stories aloud.  The illustrations in Henkes' books are wonderful.  His animal protagonists are just human enough to be relatable, but cute enough to charm.

Next post?  MORE children's books!

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