Family Fridays – If Everybody Did

Book: If Everybody Did (1960) by Jo Ann Stover

Category/Age: Picture Book (Older)

Blurb:

The hilarious and terrible consequences of everyone doing his own thing are portrayed by author/artist Jo Ann Stover in If Everybody Did. Children and adults alike will enjoy this precautionary tale with its concise rhyming text, and amusing illustrations.

Review:

This book resonated very strongly with me when I read it as a child. The basic message is that if everybody acted selfishly, the world would not be a very nice place. Even today, when I see adults exhibiting discourteous behaviour, this book pops into my head and I want to smack them upside the head with it, then force them to read it cover to cover.

<Side note: this was especially true when I was taking public transit every day to work. I wanted to write a special version just for adults on the light rail: “What if everybody put their bags on seats when the train was full? What if everybody screamed profanities into their cellphones? What if everybody put their feet on the seat so no one else could sit down there? What if everybody told long explicit stories about their latest medical issues?” >

Written in 1960, it is more timely than ever, especially for a generation that is being told they are special snowflakes and the only thing that matters is their own happiness. This book shows the consequences of everybody making small choices that negatively impact others, and then what would happen if everybody made choices that positively impacted the world, and how it would be a much nicer place for everyone.

It manages to do all of this while being fun and not preachy, no mean feat. I was shocked to discover that I didn’t have it, and it is on my list to buy the next time I snag a Barnes and Noble coupon.

Get it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Family Fridays – Pre-Christmas One

Welcome to Christmas Season! No, don’t run away – at least let me explain. While I try very hard to stifle the Christmas spirit until it’s legally allowed (post-Thanksgiving meal in our house), one thing that I am allowed to discuss during the year is Christmas presents. I hate waiting until the last minute, and the sooner I have my presents picked out the happier I am. Therefore, I’m going to use the Family Fridays in November to talk about some great Christmas books and movies, in case you want to give any as presents, or if you want to have them on hand for when you are ready to start celebrating.

I love the idea of giving Christmas-themed books or movies as presents, but if they don’t get opened until December 25, you have an extremely small window to enjoy them. I’ve decided to start a tradition of giving a little something on December 6, Saint Nicolas’ Day (and Christmas pajamas, for the same reason), for us to enjoy throughout the month (I’ve been debating back and forth on whether my husband’s pajamas from St. Nick will be something he would like, such as basic plaid, or something truly epic, like penguins wearing Santa hats while sledding down a pine tree covered hill). As a side note, we also observe (in a small way) Epiphany, or King’s Day (the traditional twelve days of Christmas is essentially Christmas Day to Epiphany), which is January 6, so that is literally a month of Christmas. I couldn’t be happier about it.

Anyways, back to the main point. If you want to try some of these things out before springing them on your family (or if you want to get started earlier!) you can find many of these things at a library, and the movies can be rented online, or through a service like RedBox. Amazon Prime Instant Video and Netflix also have a selection of Christmas movies.

To kick things off, I present:

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (1972): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

This is a wonderful, wonderful book and one of my absolute favorite Christmas books. A hilarious tale of what happens when six of the worst kids you’ll ever meet take over the local church’s Christmas Pageant. I cannot recommend this highly enough. The chapters are the perfect length for reading out loud together in the evenings. Even if you’re an adult with no kids, this is worth a read and sure to bring at least a smile or two.

The Snowman (1982 – movie version): Amazon

Though originally a book first published in 1978 by Raymond Briggs, it is as a movie that I know and love this story. The book is completely without words, as is the movie, apart from a few introductory lines. I’m finding it difficult to put into words why I love this movie so much – it’s some combination of the music and the visuals and having watched it nearly every year for a couple of decades now. It’s a charming tale, though with a bittersweet ending, about a young boy and (obviously) the snowman he builds in his yard. Cuddle up with some hot chocolate and some loved ones and start a new family tradition.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Family Fridays – Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd

Book: Goodnight iPad (2011)

Genre: Babies & Toddlers, Children’s General, and Parenting.

Ages: Babies & Toddlers up through parents and grandparents

Blurb:

In a bright buzzing room, in the glow of the moon-and iPhones and Androids and Blackberries too-it is time to say goodnight…

Modern life is abuzz. There are huge LCD WiFi HD TVs and Facebook requests and thumbs tapping texts and new viral clips of cats doing flips. Wouldn’t it be nice to say goodnight to all that? Like the rest of us who cannot resist just a few more scrolls and clicks, you may find yourself ready for bed while still clinging to your electronics long after dark. This book, which is made of paper, is a reminder for the child in all of us to power down at the end of the day. This hilarious parody not only pokes loving fun at the bygone quiet of the original classic, but also at our modern plugged-in lives. It will make you laugh, and it will also help you put yourself and your machines to sleep. Don’t worry, though. Your gadgets will be waiting for you, fully charged, in the morning.

Review:

Last Christmas when I was four days away from giving birth, my younger brother gave me Darth Vader and Son, and my older brother gave me Goodnight iPad. It was a truly awesome Christmas. This book is absolutely hilarious. I wouldn’t say it’s a mockery of the original, Goodnight Moon, I’d say it’s more a mockery of modern life and a tribute to Goodnight Moon. This is a perfect gift for plugged in parents, or parents with plugged in children who are fed up with all the craziness that is our world. How strange to think that my son was born into a world of cellphones, touch screens, and internet capable everythings.

Anyways, this book is great. It keeps the cadence of the original while thoroughly skewering all the signs of our times. Ironically, it’s available in e-reader form as well. Consider it highly recommended – but please, buy the paperback edition. Consider it your first step towards a less electronic life. 🙂

Get it! Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

Side Note: This parody is gentle in tone – it is NOT like the Go the **** to Sleep book that was trendy a year or so back.

Have you read the book? How many electronic, internet capable devices are in YOUR bedroom when you’re trying to sleep? (We generally only have two – my husband’s iPhone and my Kindle.)

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Family Fridays – Bread and Jam for Frances (Frances Series) by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban

Book: Bread and Jam for Frances (1964)

Series: Frances the Badger

Genre: Children’s general / early readers

Ages: 4-8 years old (younger is fine)

Blurb:

Frances is a fussy eater. In fact, the only thing she likes is bread and jam. She won’t touch her squishy soft-boiled egg. She trades away her chicken-salad sandwich at lunch. She turns up her nose at boring veal cutlets. Unless Mother can come up with a plan, Frances just might go on eating bread and jam forever!

Review:

I don’t remember reading any of the Frances books as a child, but when I got two recommendations for this book in a week, I decided to pick it up at the library. It seemed vaguely familiar to me, so I probably did read it eons ago. The story and illustrations are delightfully simple and fun, and I loved all the little songs Frances makes up. It tells a cautionary tale for picky eaters and what can happen when you get what you think you want. It made me laugh because I go on food kicks where I only want to eat one thing, so I’ll eat it for weeks on end, then I can’t bear to look at it anymore for another several months, when it comes back into rotation. My current obsession is cinnamon toast. It’s toast with butter and cinnamon and sugar and you can pretend it’s a real meal with a cup of tea. LOVE IT.

Anyways, I highly recommend this book for early readers or younger. One of my favorite things about it was when Frances unpacks her lunchbox and she’s got a little doily and vase of flowers in addition to her food, I thought that was just a sweet little touch. It was a charming book and I’m looking forward to exploring more of the Frances series. One warning I have is that based on the reviews, this book is slightly abridged from the original version. I don’t know about that, but I enjoyed it as is. If you had the original memorized, you might want to do some research before buying.

Have you read any of the Frances series? Are you or are your kids picky eaters?

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Family Fridays – Winter is Coming

The only thing that I have in common with or even remotely enjoyed about the Game of Thrones (review here) is the whole “Winter is Coming” thing. I absolutely love winter. I wait for it all year. Mid summer I remind my husband that it’s not too early to start planning for Christmas. I love the cold weather, the snow, Christmas, boots, snuggly coats, dairy free hot chocolate (I have an allergy – it’s a curse), dairy free molasses cookies, Christmas, my birthday, the smell of wood smoke in the air, and, most importantly, Christmas.

I won’t say too much about Christmas now (November is fair game though – you have been warned!) but, I do think it’s important to acknowledge the changing of the seasons, especially with children. I missed the first day of fall (Sept. 22 this year), but when I got back to Colorado there was a definite bite in the air and summer is definitely over (finally! It’s been a rough summer for Colorado between forest fires and flooding).

Here are three wonderful books celebrating this time of year:

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead (auth) and Erin Stead (illus) Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Full review here. This sweet, sweet story is one of my absolute favorite children’s books.

The Bear’s Winter House by John Yeoman (auth) and Quentin Blake (illus)  Amazon, Barnes and Noble

You may feel like Bear in this story if you’re hosting family or friends for Christmas!

Frederick by Leo Lionni Amazon, Barnes and Noble

I think this might be the first Leo Lionni book I’ve recomended, which is a shame. Lionni was incredibly talented and created several really wonderful children’s books.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Family Fridays: I Lost My Kisses by Trudie Trewin

Guest blogger Stori shares one of her favorite children’s books!

Book: I Lost My Kisses

Genre: Children’s general

Ages: 2 to 8

Blurb:

Matilda Rose loves to kiss. But one day, something goes terribly, horribly wrong. She loses her kisses, just before her daddy is going to come home. Matilda goes on the hysterical and thoughtful search to find her kisses.

Matilda Rose learns that you can never really lose your kisses — they will always be there when you need them.

Review:

This book is so cute.  Just precious. No, it’s actually like cute married precious and then gave birth to I Lost My Kisses.  I find that as child reader turned adult reader turned parent reader there aren’t that many new-to-me books that I enjoy reading as a boring old grown up.  So often I find myself only reading my daughter books that I loved as a child because I still love them, but new books have a hard time piercing my cynical shell and reminding me of the way I used to think when I was little. At this point we have joined Matilda Rose on her quest to find her kisses at least a hundred times, and each time we mourn with Matilda Rose when she cannot find her kisses and no one seems to be much help. We get nervous as Daddy’s arrival approaches and she still does not know what kisses look like. And we rejoice when Daddy comes home and gets the big kiss that Matilda Rose has been storing in her heart for him all day. I know you aren’t supposed to say this about a novel not written by Josh Grisham… but I Lost My Kisses is gripping. You should see my nails – they are down to the nubs.

I don’t know anything about art or art appreciation and I have no vocabulary on the subject so I don’t usually notice or comment on drawings. I may embarrass myself here, but I really loved the illustrations. The pictures were exaggerated without being cartoonish, and I loved the minimal-with-the-occasional-bright-splash color scheme.  Toddlers love repetition and they will enjoy and soon be repeating Matilda Rose’s little song that she uses to call for her long lost kisses.  If your child is a little older, consider stopping at each point in the search and asking him or her what kisses look, feel, taste, and sound like.

I think I Lost My Kisses is Trudie Trewin’s only book sold in the USA, and I am hoping that she has more coming. As is typical for her age, my three-year-old goes through those monotonous stages where she wants the same book read to her over and over again, and as her primary reader, I actually enjoyed her “I Lost My Kisses” phase.  It is a very cute book that children and parents will enjoy, and the best part of the story is that you get to end it with your own big smootcheroo!

Get it! Amazon, Barnes and Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Family Fridays – A Link to a List

It’s been a crazy busy week, so instead of writing my own blog post, I’m going to cheat and use someone else’s.

The Simple Mom is one of the few blogs I follow on a regular basis – occasionally funny, occasionally practical, occasionally sentimental, and almost always a good read. I tend to read it early, early in the morning while struggling to wake myself up and get my baby fed.

A few days ago, the founder of the blog posted this list of “Twaddle-Free” children’s books. It leans pretty heavily towards the classics, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think there are some really great contemporary children’s authors out there as well. The list mentioned some books that I vaguely remember from my own childhood that I don’t have yet for my son. I do remember absolutely loving Make Way for Ducklings – I might have to get that one soon! However, it was the second nudge for the Francis books that I’ve had in a week, so one of those might sneak its way into the cart as well.

What do you think of the list? What would books or authors you add to it?

Family Fridays – Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

Book: Danny the Champion of the World (1975)

Genre: Children’s General

Ages: 7-12

Blurb:

Can Danny and his father outsmart the villainous Mr. Hazell?

Danny has a life any boy would love—his home is a gypsy caravan, he’s the youngest master car mechanic around, and his best friend is his dad, who never runs out of wonderful stories to tell. But one night Danny discovers a shocking secret that his father has kept hidden for years. Soon Danny finds himself the mastermind behind the most incredible plot ever attempted against nasty Victor Hazell, a wealthy landowner with a bad attitude. Can they pull it off? If so, Danny will truly be the champion of the world.

A young English boy describes his relationship with his father and the special adventure they share together.

Review:

Roald Dahl was quite the interesting character, and wrote many beloved children’s books. I would recommend reading the synopsis before buying a title you are unfamiliar with, as some of his stories contain morals that you may not want to pass on to your children. For example, George’s Marvelous Medicine is about a boy who murders his grandmother through poison, but it’s ok because she’s mean. I will say that the writing is so fun and captivating that I didn’t notice these things as a child, it’s only now that I look back on it that I’ve realized some of the ethics are a bit…questionable.

Danny the Champion of the World is a delight to read, for both children and adults. It does glorify illegal poaching, but it is really about the great relationship between Danny and his father. So many children’s books feature orphans, cruel step-parents, or otherwise dysfunctional or nonexistent families that it is refreshing to see the bond between a father and son celebrated. Danny and his father are always doing fun new things together (and none of them involve a TV! Imagine!). Some other positive themes of the book are the enjoyment of nature and the importance of education. This is a book that I can’t wait to share with my son when he’s older. Fans of Dahl might also recognize the Big Friendly Giant, one of my favorite stories of his, which started out life as a bedtime story told to Danny in this book.

There was a movie adaptation, which I haven’t seen in decades, but I remember as being really well done. My mom also remembers it as a delightful film, so I’m going to go ahead and give it the Lector’s Books stamp of approval (and it’s going on the list for my next library visit!).  It stars Jeremy Irons and his real life son (and his father-in-law as the doctor), and Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid, to you Harry Potter fans) as the baddie. (Oh no! I just looked for it online and it’s only available on VHS! Hopefully they’ll rerelease it onto Blu-Ray or DVD soon.)

At the very end of the book, after the story is done, Dahl included this: “A message to Children Who Have Read This Book. When you grow up and have children of your own do please remember something important. A stodgy parent is no fun at all. What a child wants and deserves is a parent who is SPARKY.” Don’t be afraid to have fun with your kids – take inspiration from this book and fly a kite, or try out some stilts, or do something completely unexpected and different.

Get it! Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

What are your favorite Roald Dahl books? What’s something fun that you’ve done either with your own kids or with your parents when you were a kid?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Family Fridays – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Book: A Wrinkle in Time (1962)

Series: The Wrinkle in Time Quintet

Genre: Children’s Fantasy / Children’s Science Fiction

Ages: 10 and up

Blurb:

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn’t know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L’Engle’s unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

 A Wrinkle in Time is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal.

Review:

I have loved A Wrinkle in Time for decades. The writing style, which I can appreciate more as an adult, is clean and beautiful. It manages to be simple without being simplistic and never feels like it has been dumbed down for children. Written just over fifty years ago, it will ring just as true to children today as it has over the last half century. The story is a classic, the world building is unique and interesting, and the characters are well drawn. It is particularly wonderful for children who feel like misfits. I do remember being scared the first time I read it, which was well before the 10-11 years old that I see online as age guides, but as previously noted (often) I have always been easily frightened. I sometimes feel that books written earlier (such as Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia – see my review here) end up with higher age ranges than books being written now. Maybe it’s like how older movies had stricter guidelines for what got rated as PG-13, what got rated as R and so on.

There are five books in this series, with some branch off books about the Austin family. The Austin family books are good (at least the couple that I read) but more mature – I would recommend late junior high or early high school. The Wrinkle in Time Quintet is very good overall. I didn’t actually care for Many Waters, but the rest of the books I thoroughly enjoyed (though do be aware the themes get more mature as the series progresses). My second favorite is probably the last book: An Acceptable Time.

In order, the Wrinkle in Time Quintet books are as follows:

  1. A Wrinkle in TimeAmazon, Barnes & Noble
  2. A Wind in the DoorAmazon, Barnes & Noble
  3. A Swiftly Tilting PlanetAmazon, Barnes & Noble
  4. Many WatersAmazon, Barnes & Noble
  5. An Acceptable Time Amazon, Barnes & Noble

The full paperback box set (which is the version I have) is available here: Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

Apparently there’s a movie, but I haven’t seen it. Any of you seen it? Read any of Madeleine L’Engle’s works?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Family Fridays – Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead and Erin Stead

Genre: Children’s General

Ages: 2-6

Blurb:

It was almost winter and Bear was getting sleepy. But first, Bear had a story to tell…

Bear found his friend Mouse, but Mouse was busy gathering seeds and didn’t have time to listen to a story. Then Bear saw his friend Duck, but Duck was getting ready to fly south. What about his friend Toad? He was busy looking for a warm place to sleep. By the time Bear was through helping his friends get ready for winter, would anyone still be awake to hear his story?

This endearing story of friendship and patience is a worthy companion to Philip and Erin Stead’s last collaboration, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal

Review:

This is a sweet, sweet book. Created by husband and wife team Philip (author) and Erin (illustrator) Stead, it is just a beautiful story. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous – simple, yet incredibly evocative. There are a lot of great lessons in here about friendship, caring, helping each other, and you could also use it as a jumping off point to talk about seasons, and how animals cope in the winter. I know I say this about many of the Family Fridays selections, but this really is one of my favorite books for this age group. I also have A Sick Day for Amos McGee, which is very good also, but Bear Has a Story to Tell just has a little extra something that gave it a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf.

Get it! Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.