It's always been our philosophy that a child can never have too many books (or too many raisins). When your head finally explodes from reading all of those Dr. Seuss books, go to Amazon and pick up something fresh, such as:

Ahoyty-Toyty by Helen Stephens (David Fickling, 2004). In this stylish British import, best-friend pups Butch and Victor embark on a cruise with their owners, Miss Loopy and Miss Froopy Frou-Frou, but soon find their friendship threatened by the snooty captain’s dog, Lord Laa-Di-Da. Listeners will absorb a lesson in loyalty, but the real fun, as you can well imagine, is repeating all those silly names over and over again.

Bed Bed Bed by They Might Be Giants (Simon & Schuster, 2003). The book is little more than a hardcover lyric sheet for the four-song CD packaged inside, but when the lyrics are this silly and the tunes this catchy, one hardly objects. A sequel to the veteran New Jersey hipsters’ preschool smash, "No!" this CD is a series of odes - to ambition, partying, sleep, and a place called Idlewild.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (Hyperion, 2003). This Caldecott Honor winner is a phenomenon that hardly needs another plug, but still deserves one. In the finest Sesame Street tradition (Willems has worked on the show for years, and this book will remind you of the classic "The Monster at the End of This Book"), the story tinkers with the physical space of the book and inspires kids to interact by yelling "no" at the persistent pigeon with a jones for public transportation. (Yeah, there's now a worthy sequel, in which the pigeon tries to keep his hot dog away from a duck, but I think Willems got it more purely right the first time.)

I Stink! by Kate McMullan and Jim McMullan (Joanna Cotler, 2002). While you sleep, a gregarious garbage truck rolls up and down the city streets, feasting on your fetid waste and wholeheartedly reveling in the filth. Unless you view the truck as an inspired metaphor for Jerry Springer, you'd have a hard time making a case that the McMullans have produced the most polished children’s book on the block. Still, their inspired A-to-Z of garbage is something of a tour-de-force that will win over any refuse-inclined preschooler (such as Small Fellow, who always calls, "Let me see the poop!" whenever we change Tiny Girl).

Stone Soup by John J. Muth (Scholastic, 2003). The brilliant graphic novelist relocates the familiar European folktale to China and soups up its moral. In Muth’s version, the monks who inspire the gullible populace to make a soup out of stones are not mischievous tricksters, but benevolent wise men restoring a sense of community to a downbeat town, while discovering "what makes one happy." In our era, I could envision the monks coming to a downtrodden city and attempting to unite the townsfolk by putting fantasies about hosting the Olympics in their heads . . .

June 17, 2004 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS


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