This is a round-up post for the Armchair Cybils, hosted by Hope is the Word. Can you tell I was bringing home books from the Cybils list in alphabetical order?
123 versus ABC by Mike Boldt. An anthropomorphized, cartoonish letter A is arguing with a similar number 1 about whether the book is about letters or numbers when one alligator wanders in, wondering if he’s in the right book. It takes quite a while of arguing, but eventually the two figure out that it’s a book about letters and numbers, which soon develops into a full-scale parade, ending with 26 zebras. It’s just right for preschoolers, with a bonus that the numbers go higher than most counting books for that age. My four-year-old loved it!
999 Frogs Wake Up by Ken Kimura. Illustrated by Yasunari Murakami. I thought this would be another counting book, but it’s more of a spring book, as the large family of frogs wake up in the spring and go exploring. The illustrations (clearly Japanese to an adult eye, at least) are adorable. With humor and excitement, a fine choice for spring.
A Is for Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan. Illustrated by Matthew Meyers. Musk Ox eats the apple that Zebra meant for the letter A in the book and blithely proceeds to tell why Musk Ox can be for just about every letter in the alphabet. It’s a cute concept, but I got tired of it long before the book was over.
Abe Lincoln’s Dream by Lane Smith. Sadly, my kids couldn’t be persuaded to let me read this one to them – maybe it looked too serious? The colors are mostly in neutral browns and beiges, but the typography and the drawings combine woodcuts and modern in a way that I found whimsical and charming. A little African-American girl reassures the ghost of Abraham Lincoln that his goals for the country are mostly working out just fine.
Again! by Emily Gravett. Bedtime readers, beware! A small green dragon asks his mama to read him the same book over and over again. She tries, changing the story slightly each time, until she falls asleep. The little dragon gets so frustrated that he turns red and ends up shaking the startled characters out of the book and burning a hole in it. My daughter adores this and yes, wants it again every time. It’s still probably my favorite from this batch, though that might be my weakness for dragons showing.
Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack. Such a clever book! The whole text uses only two letters, varying between “AHHH!”, “AH HA!” and, just once, “HA HA!” as a small green frog tries to find a quiet place to relax, but keeps getting pushed from one predator to the next. Besides being fun and clever, it’s simple enough even for kids who know their letters but aren’t yet reading to figure out the words so they can read it themselves – such pride!
Animal ABC by Marcus Pfister Beautiful animal artwork for each letter, paired with a short, simple riddle. Some of the animals were ones I’d never heard of – “numbat”? which made it more interesting than I’d been expecting. Both my kids enjoyed it, though of course it’s most fun for kids who are excited about letters.
As Fast As Words Could Fly by Pamela M. Tuck. Illustrated by Eric Velasquez. A moving tale, based on a true story, of an African-American boy in the early days of school integration, who wins grudging respect by winning a regional touch-typing contest. In addition to the lessons on racial inequality, it was fun to look back to a time when touch typing was considered cutting edge. My nine-year-old asked me to read this to him, and enjoyed it very much. I’d say it’s ideal for the early primary grades, as a nonviolent look into the era from a young teen’s point of view.
Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall. A picture book in comic book style. Young Dawson is an inventor who’d rather spend his time inventing a robot to do his chores than actually do them himself. But when his robot starts trying to take over the neighborhood, Dawson and his sidekick, a talking toy cow head, must save the day. Both the four and the nine-year-old wanted this multiple times.