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Our favorite reads right now

Our son continues to have a voracious appetite for reading, or at least being read to, so I thought I’d post a quick review of some of my favorite books that we’ve picked up lately.

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type

by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

The story

Farmer Brown’s cows get their hoofs on an old typewriter and start pounding away. Then, they start leaving Farmer Brown notes. They want electric blankets. He refuses, so the cows go on strike. Then, the hens ask for electric blankets, too. Farmer Brown again refuses and the hens go on strike, too. Finally, both sides reach a compromise: The cows will give Farmer Brown the typewriter if the hens and cows get electric blankets. He gives the animals their blankets, but the ducks decide to take the typewriter for themselves. “Click, clack, quack.”

My thoughts

I love this book. The premise is inventive and the illustrations are vivid and endearing. It’s no wonder that this is a Caldecott Honor book. My son loves to chime in with “Click, clack, moo” at the appropriate parts, too (and sometimes elsewhere as well). I think the lessons here about the tactics of negotiation and civil disobedience are good ones, too, although I suppose there are some who might object to that. I’d consider this a must-have for any child’s library.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!

by Mo Willems

The story

A pigeon finds a hot dog, but just as he’s about to eat it, a little duckling stops him. The duckling claims he’s never had a hot dog before and has all sorts of questions for the pigeon: What does it taste like? Does it taste like chicken? The pigeon gets increasingly frustrated with the duckling’s questions and finally gives in and shares the hot dog with the duckling.

My thoughts

Another book I adore. The writing is simple, but the story is hilarious. The illustrations are also very simple, as in something I might even be able to draw. But I love how the drawings convey the pigeon’s feelings by the positioning of his wings, the tilt of his head or the inclusion of a half-closed eyelid. The pigeon’s growing frustration is what really adds to the comedic value of this book. The pictures truly tell the story. And I think the general message of this book (to share) is a good one, too. The one downside I see to this book is that it sort of glorifies hot dogs, which aren’t exactly the healthiest food. Even so, I’d consider this another must-have.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Llama Llama Red Pajama

By Anna Dewdney

The story

Baby Llama’s all tucked in for bed when he realizes he wants a drink. He calls for his mama, who says she’ll be up soon. While she’s busy in the kitchen washing dishes and talking on the phone, Baby Llama starts to worry more and more that his mama isn’t coming. Finally, he screams out in panic and his mama drops everything she’s doing and rushes up to his bedroom, where she tells him she’s “always near, / even if she’s / not right here.”

My thoughts

The staccato rhymes of this story make it fun to read aloud. The illustrations are bold and cute. I love that Baby Llama’s toy llama mimics his expressions, too. I think it’s funny, though, that a book published in 2005 has a mama talking on a corded phone. Really? Does anyone still have corded phones in their home? I can also certainly identify with the frazzled mama in this story, trying to get things done around the house but still tending to her child.

I think there are some problems with the messages in this book, though: The mama waits until her baby screams before going up to him. If my son calls for me at night, I do go in to check on him and see what he wants, and we haven’t had any difficulties since reading this book, but I could see the potential in this book for setting up some bad habits like screaming at night just to get Mom or Dad to come into the bedroom. Also, I could see how sensitive children could be upset just at seeing the Baby Llama’s frightened expressions. Again, we haven’t had any problem in that regard, but I could see this book being upsetting for some kids or creating undesirable behaviors.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Too Much Noise

by Ann McGovern and Simms Taback

The story

Peter lives in an old house with a creaky bed and squeaky floor. Combined with the sound of leaves falling on the roof and a whistling tea kettle, it’s just too much for him. So he asks the wise man in the village what he should do about his “noisy” house. The wise man advises him to get a cow. Peter doesn’t understand why he should get a cow, but he follows the wise man’s advice. When the cow doesn’t help, Peter returns to the wise man. This time, he’s told to get a donkey. They go back and forth until Peter ends up with a cow, donkey, sheep, hen, cat and dog in his house. Fed up, he returns to the wise man and complains. Finally, the wise man tells him to get rid of all the animals. Once he does, Peter is happy with the quiet noises of the creaky bed, squeaky floor, falling leaves and whistling tea kettle.

My thoughts

The wording in this story is very repetitive, which makes it fun for youngsters. My son also enjoys saying the animal sounds. And I think the overall message of being happy with what you have is a good one. This book is also a good way to introduce the concept of loud and soft sounds to children.

The only major drawback I see in this story is that it treats animals as disposable objects. I wonder what Peter does when he gets rid of all those animals? Is he just dropping them off down the road somewhere? Taking them to the local animal shelter? To a farm perhaps?

I’m also not crazy about the illustrations. I prefer something a little more vibrant.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

What are your favorite kids’ books right now?

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One Response to Our favorite reads right now

  1. Great list! We love Llama Llama, too! I’ll have to check out your others!

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