One of my favorites: Sheep in a Jeep

February 23, 2010

Sheep in a Jeep

Just received a board book edition of Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw and illustrated by Margot Apple. If there is a toddler in your life, this is must have for your own library. The story and illustrations are a treat!   First published in 1986, it has been followed by many other sheep stories (my other favorite, Sheep Out to Eat).  Both books are at Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Blue Chip Classics.  You can also visit Nancy Shaw’s site and read more about Margot Apple at her publisher’s site.


Free Game: To Go With Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear?

January 11, 2010

Chances are you have a copy of Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s Polar Bear Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

Here’s one of the games we recommend in Read It! Play It! with Babies and Toddlers that you play after you share the book with your child.

I Went to the Zoo

Borrow the refrain of “Polar Bear, Polar Bear…” as you pull your child’s toy animals out one at a time. Before long your child will be adding animals as you both say…”I went to the zoo and what did I hear? A little lion growling at me!”

Make a “zoo” for the animals with a collection of shoe boxes or blocks that your child can continue to play with alone.

(from p. 46, Read It! Play It! with Babies and Toddlers)

Top-Rated Science Books for Kids

January 5, 2010

If you have a child interested in all things science, take a look at Joanne’s  new featured list of’s  top-rated science books for kids.

Star Wars Heroes…the saga continues

November 18, 2009

Board books are great–they make books much more accessible to toddlers.  They can enjoy “reading” a book even when they are in the search, destroy and taste zone!  Recognizing that publishing a picture book in board book format gives a title two bites of the apple, books stores are now chock full of books that aren’t really for toddlers in terms of their content — but they are sturdy!  We’ve written about this before.

But now we’re seeing books that aren’t even really for preschoolers in board book form.  Earlier in the year there was Star Wars Spaceships.

Now there’s Star Wars Heroes….I LOVE Star Wars…but not for kids in the knowing and naming stage of toddlerhood. Somehow we’ve lost track of the developmental stage here–where they do not have the reasoning to make the distinction between real and make believe.  So take a look at these images and ask yourself are these important images to know and name?


Maybe these books are really intended for Urban Outfitters and the teen/adult market–that’s fine.  I just hope they’re not in any toddlers stocking this holiday.

Worth Taking a Look: Take Your Pix Board Book Photo Album

November 18, 2009

Just got a sample of Take Your Pix Board Book Photo Album from  Made of very sturdy stock, you can load (and change) the photos in this book for your toddler to enjoy!   Toddlers love looking at pictures of the people and pets in their world.  The company was started by Laura Miranti- who created one of these books to help her daughter with a speech delay.  I love hearing these types of light bulb moments.

Talking Baseball…

November 3, 2009

Not sure what to do tonight without the World Series…sleep might be a good idea!  All of this baseball reminded me of one our Platinum Award winners, Testing the Ice, A True Story About Jackie Robinson written by his daughter Sharon (published by Scholastic) . Read our review.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days

October 28, 2009

417Zb5YN60L._SL160_Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days by Jeff Kinney is ranked # 7 on Amazon this week and the series  now enjoys print runs in the millions. In Dog Days, many kids will relate to Greg’s preference to spend his summer indoors, playing video games…”with the curtains closed and the lights turned off.”  We’ve all been there as parents of school age kids–it’s hard to compete with the mind-sucking video games and 24 hour access to cartoons,  movies and reruns of 80 sitcoms.  (My own current addiction to Bubble Spinner makes me much more empathetic to the whole video game time loss phenomenon.)  I laughed out loud at Greg’s Mom — who is full of “great” suggestions for the summer.  She even starts a reading club…of course that doesn’t go very well.  Her book selections for a bunch of boys are also so clueless (Anne of Green Gables, Little Women), it’s hard not to see Greg’s point of view.

I also get the appeal of the illustrations that have a very current look to them and make the book more accessible to kids that would otherwise shy away from a 200 plus page book.  All good–I get it.

Most of the debate about these books has to do with the less than stellar moral and ethical compass of the main character Greg.  Yes he’s decidedly lazy, anti-reading, anti-doing anything really beyond watching tv and playing video games. Yet, I’m confident that kids can appreciate the exaggerated nature of his character- rather than believing that he is someone to emulate.  In fact, Greg readily gives them someone that they can be better than (it’s not too difficult).   In a recent interview by Tara Parker-Pope in The New York Times,   Jeff Kinney shares that “[i]f there is a lesson in the book, it’s to do the opposite of what Greg does.”  I agree with Mr. Kinney–kids are pretty smart.  They get it,  much the same way we watch Larry David in  Curb Your Enthusiasm…it’s a train wreck at times, utterly painful –  but entertaining (most of the time).

Here’s my problem and perhaps it’s because I am now watching my son Matthew, a high school junior, get ready for the grammar portion of the SATs.

Here are some quotes from the book:

“But I spent the first part of the summer at my friend Rowley’s pool, and that didn’t work out so good.”

“Me and Rowley were better off without a girl hanging around, anyway.”

“I told Mom me and Rowley are just kids and it’s not like we have salaries or careers or whatever.”

I don’t mind that Greg is lazy, has no ethics and no ambition in life–but could we clean up his grammar?    I don’t think it would take away from his persona – and at least on the grammar front, he could do the right thing.


My mother–always the teacher at heart– suggested that kids should “edit” the book and correct Greg’s grammar.  Not a bad idea–certainly sounds more enjoyable than the worksheets we all used to get to learn these rules.