I can tell my life is in better order when I have time to check out huge piles of picture books and read them with my girls. It's especially delightful now that Ani is starting to enjoy books too.
Last Friday, we spent a cozy morning snuggled on the couch with blankets reading a good fifteen books after breakfast before going upstairs to get ready for the day. It was my idea of a perfect morning.
Between the ALA awards, a new 2x2 list, plus a ton of best of 2013 list, we are experiencing an embarrassment of riches in the book department. And, I like it when my holds at the library take up nearly an entire shelf in the hold section.
Here are ten recent (in the last two or so years) releases we are enjoying most around here right now:
Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett and Kevin Cornell - I thought this was going to be your basic (boring) counting book. Au contraire. Page after page goes by with no monkeys in sight because other scary animals keep frightening them off. The end of the book is coming up fast - will the monkeys ever return? (I loved one review on Amazon that gave it a one star because "Once you remove [the dust jacket], the only page in the actual book that has a monkey is the last page.")
Fraidyzoo by Thyra Heder - When a little girl is afraid of going to the zoo, her parents and sister pose as various animals (A-Z) to see if that's what is scaring her. It's ridiculously clever - Ella and I loved trying to identify each animal (I will admit there were one or two that stumped me).
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle - We got a copy of this about a year ago from the publisher and read it non-stop. You know me, I can't resist a wordless book. And one with flaps? And flamingos? Count me in.
I Dare You Not to Yawn by Hélène Boudreau and Serge Bloch - I'm really super picky about bedtime stories, but this one I thought was hilarious. Yawns are tricky, contagious things and if you let one out, your parents are sure to spot it and have you in cozy jammies and tucked in bed in no time. Better not even look at someone else yawning.
Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street by Mark Lee and Kurt Cyrus - We are not big into vehicles around here (we leave that to Merrick and her boys), but after a year or more of spurning any book that even hinted at being about vehicles, Ella really took to this one. Maybe it's because one of the vehicles is an ice cream truck? That's the kind of vehicle I can be interested in too.
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli - Someone recommended this book on their blog a few months ago (and Feedly is being useless about searching for who it was), and when I rechecked it out last week, Ella was thrilled to see it back again. It's a simple story about a crocodile who swallows a watermelon seed and has the normal horror that he's going to grow a watermelon in his stomach. The facial expressions on that crocodile, though, they sell the story. It has a Mo Willems' feel, I think - kind of that same quick-read, over-the-top-ness of the Pigeon books.
Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson - This interactive book reminded me of Press Here (although I like Press Here slightly more). Ella loves following the instructions on every page as the tree cycles through the seasons with leaves changing colors, buds blooming, and leaves falling off.
Nugget & Fang by Tammi Sauer and Michael Slack - Sometimes you just need a funny book. This is one of them, about a shark and a minnow who are friends, until the minnow goes off to school and everyone tells him that sharks and minnows CAN'T be friends because sharks eat minnows. Fang is brokenhearted - how can he convince Nugget that he has no desire to eat him?
Cat Says Meow by Michael Arndt - Chronicle just sent me a few of their new picture books, and this one was my very favorite. For someone as design-impaired as I am, I love books with clever design. This one is an animal book (always a favorite in our house) but each animal has its features made of letters (the letters that spell what the animal says). This is hard to explain - see the cow ("moo") below which will make you wonder why I even bothered trying to explain at all. (If this kind of book is your thing, I highly recommend Alphabeasties).
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen - I read this book last year, once, when it came out and then was surprised when it got a Caldecott nod. I felt like I just didn't really get it. Then my sister-in-law gave us a copy for Christmas and Ella has really latched on to it. We've read it many many times since December, and every time I like it more (even if I still don't really get it).
(P.S. Need more picture book recommendations? Plenty more here).