Picture Books to Bring the Family Together

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Soon your house will be filled with family, friends and, most likely, kids of all ages. One of the best ways to spend time with your favorite little ones is to read a good book together, so I have created a short list of some of the newer picture books that moms, grandmothers and aunts may want to add to their library in preparation for that special holiday time together.

Call Me Gorgeous!

By Giles and Alexandra Milton
ISBN 9781906250713
$14.95, Boxer Books

This strikingly illustrated book is perfect for boys and girls ages 3 to 6. Each page gives the reader a clue as to the appearance of a fantastical creature, such as “reindeer antlers and the ears of pig. A porcupine’s spines and a crocodile’s teeth.” Page after page of wonderful illustrations, coupled with a funny, engaging text, will have children laughing aloud as they attempt to figure out what exactly this creature will look like. But my favorite aspect of the book is the message. As the “reinde-piggy-porcu-croco-touca-flami-roos-dalms-chameleo-bat-frog” reveals its extraordinary appearance, it joyously says, “you can call me gorgeous,” showing that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Guess Again!

By Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
ISBN 97814116955665
$16.99, Simon & Schuster

This absurdly entertaining take on guessing game books had me laughing out loud. Nothing is as it seems in this ridiculous romp. For instance, when faced with a picture that seems to be the silhouette of a rabbit accompanied by the clue, “He steals carrots from the neighbor’s yard./His hair is soft, his teeth are hard./His floppy ears are long and funny./Can you guess who?/That’s right — ” children will immediately pipe up with “my bunny.” But when you turn the page you discover that it is really “My Grandpa Ned,” who is standing on his head (his baggy socks are the bunny ears). The age range is listed as 4 to 8, but appreciation of Guess Again! will depend on the child being old enough to make predictions based on the rhyming text and
suggestive pictures.

The Pout-Pout Fish

By Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna
ISBN 9780374360962
$16.00, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

If you have a child in your life aged 2 to 6, The Pout-Pout Fish is a must. I absolutely love this book. The bright cheerful illustrations of The Pout-Pout Fish’s underwater world are engaging, the rhyming text is delightful and the story is precious. The Pout-Pout Fish explains, “I’m a pout-pout fish/With a pout-pout face,/So I spread the dreary-wearies/All over the place,” — that is until a beautiful shimmery fish gives him a kiss. The Pout-Pout Fish then learns the truth. He is “a kiss-kiss fish/With a kiss-kiss face/For spreading cheery-cheeries/All over the place!” This adorable book is destined to become an all-time favorite. It was equally enjoyed by me and my 18-month-old.

Robot Zot

By John Scieszka and David Shannon
ISBN 9781416963943
$17.99, Simon & Schuster

Robot Zot is a little boy’s dream book. Robot Zot intends to conquer Planet Earth but finds it difficult because he is only a few inches tall. His diminutive size does not deter him, however, and he continues on his mission by attacking Earth’s shiny Captain (a toaster) and Earth’s fearsome Commander General (the family dog), and eventually “zooms off to distant galaxies” (the town dump). The delightful illustrations will remind readers of co-author David Shannon’s No David! and the sense of humor is reminiscent of Scieska’s Stinky Cheese Man. Robot Zot should be a hit with any little guys ages 3 to 5.

Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep!

By Maureen Wright, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
ISBN 9780761455608
$16.99, Marshall Cavendish

The leaves have fallen off the trees, the weather has turned colder, and Old Man Winter is calling to Big Bear, telling him that it is time to hibernate. There is one problem with that, however; Big Bear cannot hear very well and misunderstands the sigh in the wind saying, “Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep.” An exhausted Big Bear believes that he is being told to drive a jeep, sweep, leap, dive deep and even climb a mountain steep. Eventually Old Man Winter has to shout, “Hey there, Bear!/Did you hear what I said?/ It’s wintertime,/Now go to bed!” “Big Bear’s eyes were droopy and red./ ‘You should have told me before,’ he said./He lumbered nearby to his cozy den,/rubbed his eyes and yawned again.”

This sweet book is delightfully illustrated. Children will enjoy the sing-song rhythm of the text, and parents and children alike will chuckle over Big Bear’s antics. This book is a perfect read aloud for little ones ages 3 to 7.

The Christmas Magic

By Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jon J. Muth
ISBN 9780439774970
$16.99, Scholastic

I usually prefer to save my Christmas book recommendations for after Thanksgiving, but The Christmas Magic is so lovely that I feel that I must make an exception. Lauren Thompson’s gentle tale of Santa’s preparations on Christmas Eve is a perfect match to the exquisite pastel and watercolor illustrations of Jon Muth. One look at the cover and I knew that this was a different kind of Santa. The sweet simple poetry of the story is captivating. “Every year, just when nights are longest and the stars shine brightest, Santa feels a tingling in his whiskers. Then he knows that the Christmas magic will soon be here.” This book is appropriate for ages 4 to 8 but would also make a wonderful gift for anyone who loves Christmas and Santa Claus.


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Tags: book review, books, family, Parenting, reading

Theresa Bolish Grossman

Theresa Bolish Grossman is one of the three owners of Tuesday Books, which is located at 137 West Grand River Avenue in Williamston. The other owners are Beth Phelps and Justine Dailey.

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