Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Throwing the book at holiday shopping

I know it’s not too early to be thinking of holiday shopping …

*Looks, behind her … to the left … pretty much all around …*

I just feel a little weird about writing "Holiday" and "Shopping" in the same sentence BEFORE Thanksgiving.

But I feel I must, since the nice folks at Simon and Schuster sent me a few books for review and my kids ripped the packages out of my Mom-Fu-GripTM, demanded I read them every night since their arrival, and made me retool my disclosure statement.*



Ittybit took one look at David Carter’s latest book and started jumping up and down. "It’s the Peek-A-Boo Bugs! It’s the Peek-A-Boo Bugs!" she screamed.

She’s loved Carter’s "Peekaboo Bugs: A Hide-and-Seek Book" since she was barely a year old. So his "Snow Bugs," with its familiar bug-eyed characters and its beautiful metallic sheen, was a welcome addition to her collection despite the fact that’s she’s starting to read on her own.

Her reaction to "Snow Bugs," however, paled in comparison to her enthusiasm for "White Noise," his simultaneously released pop-up book, modeled it seems after the mid-20th century Modern art movement hallmarked by such masters as Alexander Calder and Paul Klee. The book, which is meant to be touched, is beautiful in its clean-edge simplicity but also riveting for its playability. Readers will notice the tiny tinkle of dangly paper bits, the crinkle of folded papers and the whimsical ricochet of a paper xylophone right off, but word of warning: once your kidlets learn they can use the book to amplify their voices … look out. You might want to start bedtime a full hour earlier. White Noise, $23 Snow Bugs $12, both published by Little Simon.

Similarly fond of the "David" series by David Shannon, Silas has been glued to the illustrator’s latest picture book: "Robot Zot!" Written by Jon Scieszka, The slightly skewed figures of the tiny but destructive alien Robot Zot, who finds foes in the kitchen of a middle class household (such as the blender and the coffee pot) easily conquered. Robot Zot also makes light work of destroying the toothpaste-shilling television foe only to find his circuitry slightly rewired has he finds a damsel in need of saving -- a toddler toy. The illustrations are breathtaking and carry the story forcefully from page to page, even though the story could lose a few lines for simplicity’s sake.

Spoiler alert: Silas was a little worried Robot Zot would bring harm to the family’s curious little black lab, but relieved when the pup was lifted to safety by the gigantic Dad.

The dog, however, does not seemed to be saved for long as the wordless end page shows the forlorn looking canine surrounded by the appliance detritus as an angry Dad looms overhead.

As the boy is breathing a sigh of relief, I am laughing my fool head off: Everyone blames the dog. Published by Simon and Schuster, $18.


"A Child’s Book of Faeries," Celtic tales from the British Isles are retold by Tanya Robyn Batt and illustrated by Gail Newey. Children of all ages will be introduced to the enchanting, if not dark mischief, of old-world faeries. The book, published by Barefoot Books, features an audio CD that is perfect for long car rides. Hardcover, 64 pages. $20.

"The Best Pet Of All," elegantly written by David LaRochelle, and with retro-styled illustrations by Hanako Wakiyama, is a seemingly straight-forward story of a little boy who wants a dog, but, when his mom says ‘NO!,’ settles for a dragon. How bad could a dragon be? Find out as the charmingly simple tale of a childhood rite of passage takes you down an unfamiliar path. Dutton Juvenile, 32 pages. $17.

What little girl doesn’t love Fancy Nancy? Not mine, that’s for sure. I picked up "Fancy Nancy: Explorer Extraordinaire," last summer, and in addition to the introduction of new vocabulary words, the book is packed with information about flora and fauna. It was even helpful in calming the heebie-jeebies Ittybit gets from garden-variety creepy crawlies. Even a trashcan full of flies didn’t turn our new reader’s stomach. Published by Harper-Collins, 32 pages. $13.

Yoga Pretzels: This 50-card pack has been a staple at our house for mother-daughter yoga sessions. It offers a complete yoga practice from warm up through relaxation, and it helps Ittybit run the class. She picks the poses and off we go. At $15, the set is a bargain for any yoga enthusiast in your life.


*Disclosure: I had planned to donate all new books received for review from publishing houses to the Pajama Program. Since my kids have fallen in hot, germy love with them, however, I have arranged with one of my favorite independent book sellers, Politics and Prose, to send equivalent books to the organization. As luck and timing would have it, my favorite bookshop hosted David Carter earlier this month and the books will be signed by the author.

Since it’s not only the Christmas season but also the danger season, I urge you to support this wonderful organization, which provides new pajamas and books to kids in homeless shelters and who are new to foster care.


apathy lounge said...

My kids may be too old for this, but I'm not. I love children's books! Snow Bugs sounds awesome!

toyfoto said...

Is there really an age limit on classics, though? I'm certain I could read "Where the Wild Things Are" and "In the Night Kitchen" for as long as I can still see the words.