Arthur's top toy pics

Arthur's faves at 17 months old
Fisher Price Classic Musical Teaching Clock
This a new version of a vintage toy...the kind of thing A's Mom and Dad go bananas over...and Arthur loves turning the knob, making the clock go.  This is a repro of the original clock produced in 1968 up until 1983, and we dig watching Arthur play with the kinds of simple toys that thrilled the heck out of us until we got cracked out on Atari in the mid-80s. It's sturdy, a plus, although to be fair, Abot isn't very hard on his toys.  And although the vast majority of Arthur's faves are "unplugged," so to speak, I can't underestimate the beauty of a toy that doesn't require batteries, its benefit to the environment, our bank account, our sanity.  The number one coolest thing about this toy is that the tune, some delicate, cute little lullaby we don't recognize, is not only not annoying, but is soothing at naptime.  Although we've only had it for a week or so, Arthur loves it to pieces and it's a pretty good chill out toy if he's too wound up and needs a little refreshing.  The little hands on the clock move to teach a child to tell time, and images of a little girl on the side show twelve, three, six and nine 'o clock positions using her arms.
Fisher Price Little People
Arthur is CRAZY about Little People!  And like Chloe Bedoe's mom and dad did, we are obsessed with buying them.  We stand by our "second hand is best" mantra, so we have inherited plenty of Chloe B's Littles (thank you Chloe B!), but Arthur is so batty over them we have built an entire bizarre Little People village, which takes up approximately 1/6th of the open space in our Sears kit home living room floor, and we keep adding to the community (what can I say, they are friendly in Arthur Town?!).  For their 50th anniversary, FP produced several sets of old school Little People.  Maybe it's the whole reliving our own childhood thing, but we can't help ourselves.  He has the classic schoolhouse and farm and will hopefully have the firehouse and family house to go with.  But citizens of A-Town don't discriminate; they play together, classic and new alike.  In fact, they even invited some other toys to play.  
It was all well and good until the dinosaurs and the horses had a bit of a skirmish.  
But the purple alien in the treehouse helped Strawberry Shortcake's little friend bring peace to the village over tea and cake, and later they all got together to make a stop-motion animation with Arthur's dad, which with any luck we will be posting in the near future.  Little People are awesome for many reasons.  They encourage imaginative play, and it is adorable to watch a 1.5-year-old talk to his toys.  They are portable, which means they can travel to a friend's house when we come to visit.
Chinese toy drum
This thing has been a favorite for a long time, and we are happy to see its staying power.  Arthur loves percussion, and we are convinced that percussion instruments are well-suited for introduction to infants and toddlers.  They naturally love to bang on things!  It took Arthur until recently to get good at using this little thing, but it didn't matter.  The satisfaction he gets from hitting it right has always been exciting.  I don't recommend this for all babies and toddlers (many will put the little balls in their mouth and it could be a choking hazard), but Arthur always uses it while attended by an adult, and responds pretty well to the "not for your mouth" rules...except when it comes to dog food, which is why the dog now takes his meals outside.  Back to the drum...we took it with us to Bonnaroo along with several other small instruments to entertain him through the shows...worked like a charm.


Arthur's Book Reviews, Summer 2009 edition

With Us, on the Earth and Sea by Eric Carle  This book is from the collection All Around Us.   Arthur loves its vivid illustrations and it keeps his attention well with images of words he is learning like "cars" and "trees."  

As a mom, I find the simple text of Eric Carle books make it easy to discuss what's going on in the page and ask questions without Arthur hitting his toddler ADD limit.  Also, this is one of those books suited for bedtime, ending with "People Sleep," a nice transition into Arthur's lights-out routine.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle It's no wonder that Arthur's cousin Noah simply flips over an Eric Carle book.  Like Wtth Us, the illlustrations here are captivating.  The text is a little more suited to older children, but Arthur still really enjoys it, and the text can always be "truncated" by the parent reading it.

One of the things Arthur really likes about this book is the whimsical juxtaposition of real animal colors with silly ones.  Among the yellow duck, white dog and green frog is a purple cat and blue horse (some of Arthur's favorite animals...he enjoys adding a little "Mew Mew" to the story when he sees the cat, a "meep meep" for the red bird and a rich, throaty "Woo Woo" for the dog).

The other thing Arthur likes is the rhyming.  He giggles at the repetition of sounds.  As a parent, I appreciate this book help with his color learning.  I prefer the more succinct stories that end with some kind of sleep reference for bedtime, so I find this one's good for times when Arthur's more mentally active earlier in the day and we can discuss the pictures.

My Animals/Mis Animales, My Garden/Mi Jardin, and My Food/Mi Comida by Rebecca Emberley 

I first found this (treasure!) collection of books on the shelf on one of my dirty little secret excursions to Pottery Barn Kids.  We live just over a mile from Tulsa's charming outdoor little semi-upscale shopping mall Utica Square, and sometimes I can't help myself; for all my talk of and commitment to simple living and avoiding the demon corporations and the materialistic trappings of many suburban moms' dreams, I am, after all, human, and I love stuff. Cool stuff.  Stuff from Pier One and Crabtree & Evelyn and Pottery Barn Kids.    

Our commitment to expose Arthur to multiple languages and prepare him for immersion school has been a challenge, so I was very excited to see these books, which are perfectly appropriate for his age.  Each book focuses on one theme and the pages are simple, each with a bright image and the corresponding word in Spanish.  Arthur loves the pictures and giggles at the sound of the Spanish words, which he is starting to recognize as having a distinctly different sound at this stage in his language acquisition.

With Mis Animales, we make the appropriate animal sounds or motions (wiggly nose for el conejo, for example).  This book is lots of fun and easy to read.

My Garden/Mi Jardin is a book we enjoy reading before outdoor play.  It's fun to say "los parajos" as we watch the birds cross the sky, and gets a big smile from Little.

Arthur's top pick is My Food/Mi Comida.  Much of the food is produce, and so many of the words and images are familiar to him.  His favorite, of course, is his favorite snack, las bananas.

ABC's by Charley Harper

Arthur loves this book, Mom and Dad love this book.  Charley Harper is rad.  We love modernism and the illustrations in this book are beautiful!  Each page is divided geometrically into neat squares of color and image, and would be lovely just hanging on a child's wall (a child whose room wasn't already a Peter Max shrine, that is!).  Most letters correspond with an insect or animal, and as I mentioned before, the animals are always great fun for Arthur.  This is another simple text, easy read book perfect for learning time and Moms and Dads who want their children to be enveloped in art and sound and beauty.  The inside cover is a print I am in love with and even Arthur gets stuck pointing at all the little animals and saying " (gasp) MOM!" (his way of saying "Look!  Check it out Mom!"

HERE is a bit of the inside cover:

And a page from the book:

And that brings me to 123's by Charley Harper.  

I love these books so much, the unnecessarty apostrophes don't even make me cringe.  Much.

Each page in this book has a number and a description of the image to follow, beginning with the alliterative "1 Ladybug Lounging" (Arthur loves alliteration and it is an excellent poetic/linguistic device for a 17-month old to be exploring) followed by the image seen on the cover.  With "3 Chimpanzees Playing" we get an adorable image of a parent ape and his/her two babies, so we get a whole discussion out of that page, as with many of the pages in this book.  This is another good one for learning time.

The image of the water striders is my favorite.  Arthur likes them all.

Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

Spike Lee, amazing producer, writer, director, actor...um, children's book writer?

I love Spike and the illustration on the cover charmed the heck out of me AND Arthur.  He cracked up over just about every page.  This isn't a super educational book, but it's adorable, and Arthur and I could both relate to the toddler-adult communication gap all too well!  This book was cute for Abot and he loved it, but one thing that makes it fun to read is the built-in parent comedy for moms and dads.  The book follows a little curly-headed angel through her day, beginning with "Go back to bed, baby, please, baby, please," our little darling bouncing on her near-passed-out mommy's tummy full of life and energy, mommy sprawled across the floor, a book on her knee, a toy ring on her toe, baby chaos all around.  

Underwear Do's and Dont's by Todd Parr

Arthur isn't really into undies yet, but he knows what they are, he thinks they are pretty cool, and also we call his diapers "undies."  This book is very silly, and Arthur being the kind of child prone to wearing undies and bras on his head whilst doing laundry particularly enjoys the discussion of wearing underwear on one's head.  Bright colors, silly illustrations, zebras in striped undies, what more can we say???