Thanks for All Your Kids’ Book Suggestions

A while back, I solicited your suggestions for great children’s books, and you responded mightily, with more than 270 comments. Your answers made me realize how many children’s books we already own, which is probably a good thing, at least according to these guys.

But you also suggested a lot of books we’ve never read, and you made them sound so good that I am going to buy them right now. As promised, I’ll send a signed copy of The Boy With Two Belly Buttons to the five folks below who made the best suggestions, listed below. Thanks to all of you. (There is now a video of The BW2BB on its Amazon page.)

1. Princess Smartypants and Prince Cinders, by Babette Cole. They are nontraditional versions of fairy tales, but they are funny and not heavy-handed. You have to like a hero whose coat of arms reads “Courage In Tesco,” or a princess who comes into the throne room with mucky boots and a pitchfork.

We also love The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson. Anyone for scrambled snake?

2. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Great lessons about people who are different from you, boredom (getting stuck in the doldrums), and fun ways to look at words and numbers. Plus, any story that starts out with a mysterious package and a life-size car in one’s bedroom is a great kids’ story. I actually still read it now and then.

3. One that almost no one else seems to have read: When the Sky is Like Lace by Elinor Lander Horwitz. It’s a little trippy, it has a great cadence, and it uses words that delight (like “bimulous night” and “kissing gourami”).

Also, Ogden Nash‘s The Tale of Custard the Dragon is a delight, even for parents. (Anyone who rhymes “Belinda” with “window” and “gyrate” with “pirate” gets points in my book.)

4. Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen. I was reading it while on jury duty several years ago, during the interminable down time. One scene was so funny that I laughed out loud for 10 minutes, with tears streaming down my face. The other jurors thought I was nuts.

5. I’m so glad somebody else brought up Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Alan Stamaty. “Who needs donuts when you’ve got love?” was a catchphrase in our house when I was growing up. Plus, the illustrations are fantastically complex.

I also really loved The Rainbow Goblins by Ul De Rico. Beautiful, painterly illustrations, and kind of an odd story, but with a happy ending.

Last but not least, a personal favorite of mine was a collection of anonymous poems, gathered by Jack Prelutsky and attributed to “A. Nonny Mouse.” It has crazy illustrations by Henrik Drescher, and I can still remember one of my favorite poems:

Don’t worry if your job is small
And your rewards are few.
Remember that the mighty oak
Was once a nut like you!


Matt

Ha! I like your idea of a "happy ending" at the conclusion of The Rainbow Goblins. (One of my favorite books, btw.) Does "Just Deserts" = "Happy Ending"?

David

Is it just me or is it really odd that Amazon customers (probably parents) who searched for "The BW2BB" also had a high interest in "Two Knotty Boys Showing You The Ropes: A Step-by-Step, Illustrated Guide for Tying Sensual and Decorative Rope Bondage" by Two Knotty Boys?

Jess

I didn't see your post about books the first time, but as an 21 year old former B&N children's section employee, by far my favorite picture books are those by John J. Muth (Zen Shorts, The Three Questions). They're beautiful watercolor books, with interesting little stories.

I also just found a book called "The Arrival" by Shaun Tan which is a meticulously drawn picture book - with no words. It's actually probably more for an older child since it took me about 15 minutes to "read."

JohnBrady

Hi - Thanks for the bibliography. I've linked to you from Blogden Nash where I catalogue the reach and influence of Ogden Nash on contemporary life.

Cheers!

John

teachergirl

I second the Zen Shorts motion. Also, Tiger Rising, The Tale of Despereaux, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane all by the wonderfully talented Ms. Kate DiCamillo (of Winn Dixie fame). Highly recommend her books.

www.reddoorhomeloans.com

The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne is exceptional. My 4 year old son went crazy for these, leaping instantly out of picture books and into chapter books. There is also a slew of them if your child goes wild for them as mine did.

Myrna Knepler

There is a wonderful new book published by a small publisher (Blue Marlin Press), "Hanni and Beth Safe & Sound", by Beth Finke. It's the true story of the author and her intelligent guide dog,a female lab named Hanni, with realistic and colorful illustrations by Anthony Alex Le Tourneau. Designed for reading out loud or early readers,approximately 3-8, both children and parents learn about the blind and their helpers from the main text and more detailed accounts at the end signed Beth and with Hanni's paw print.

Jennifer

There are two series of books that my kids (9 and 4) ask me to read over and over again. One is the Mr. Putter and Tabby series about an old man and his old cat. They are sympathetic without being cloying and are utterly charming. The other is the Hairy Maclary series by Lynley Dodd. The author is from New Zealand and the books are fairly British in tone, all about dogs and cats of various sizes and shapes, with wonderful vocabulary ("a fidget of dogs lined up on the grass..."). I also like "Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep...A Yarn About Wool" by Mary Ann Hoberman. Happy reading!

Jack Mc Guinn

I wont see 91 again and when my 11 year-old grandson came to visit I picked up his copy of Skellig by David Almond and read the whole book in a half hour.
I havent determined if my grandson learned anything but to me it was an instantaneous hit.Cant wait for the Movie version.

Matt

Ha! I like your idea of a "happy ending" at the conclusion of The Rainbow Goblins. (One of my favorite books, btw.) Does "Just Deserts" = "Happy Ending"?

David

Is it just me or is it really odd that Amazon customers (probably parents) who searched for "The BW2BB" also had a high interest in "Two Knotty Boys Showing You The Ropes: A Step-by-Step, Illustrated Guide for Tying Sensual and Decorative Rope Bondage" by Two Knotty Boys?

Jess

I didn't see your post about books the first time, but as an 21 year old former B&N children's section employee, by far my favorite picture books are those by John J. Muth (Zen Shorts, The Three Questions). They're beautiful watercolor books, with interesting little stories.

I also just found a book called "The Arrival" by Shaun Tan which is a meticulously drawn picture book - with no words. It's actually probably more for an older child since it took me about 15 minutes to "read."

JohnBrady

Hi - Thanks for the bibliography. I've linked to you from Blogden Nash where I catalogue the reach and influence of Ogden Nash on contemporary life.

Cheers!

John

teachergirl

I second the Zen Shorts motion. Also, Tiger Rising, The Tale of Despereaux, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane all by the wonderfully talented Ms. Kate DiCamillo (of Winn Dixie fame). Highly recommend her books.

www.reddoorhomeloans.com

The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne is exceptional. My 4 year old son went crazy for these, leaping instantly out of picture books and into chapter books. There is also a slew of them if your child goes wild for them as mine did.

Myrna Knepler

There is a wonderful new book published by a small publisher (Blue Marlin Press), "Hanni and Beth Safe & Sound", by Beth Finke. It's the true story of the author and her intelligent guide dog,a female lab named Hanni, with realistic and colorful illustrations by Anthony Alex Le Tourneau. Designed for reading out loud or early readers,approximately 3-8, both children and parents learn about the blind and their helpers from the main text and more detailed accounts at the end signed Beth and with Hanni's paw print.

Jennifer

There are two series of books that my kids (9 and 4) ask me to read over and over again. One is the Mr. Putter and Tabby series about an old man and his old cat. They are sympathetic without being cloying and are utterly charming. The other is the Hairy Maclary series by Lynley Dodd. The author is from New Zealand and the books are fairly British in tone, all about dogs and cats of various sizes and shapes, with wonderful vocabulary ("a fidget of dogs lined up on the grass..."). I also like "Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep...A Yarn About Wool" by Mary Ann Hoberman. Happy reading!

Jack Mc Guinn

I wont see 91 again and when my 11 year-old grandson came to visit I picked up his copy of Skellig by David Almond and read the whole book in a half hour.
I havent determined if my grandson learned anything but to me it was an instantaneous hit.Cant wait for the Movie version.

Rabbitearsblog

Awesome list! I also loved "Poems of A. Nonny Mouse" and the illustrations were quite wacky to look at! Have you read any other picture books by Henrik Drescher such as "Simon's Book," "Pat the Beastie" and "The Fool and the Flying Ship?"