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???

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