Green. I had the good fortune to go on a lunch date with our dear librarian friend recently, and we made a trip to our local children's bookstore (it's truly wonderful, and I feel incredibly lucky to live in such close proximity). She lit upon this book immediately, which is a good thing, because I certainly never would have picked it up. It's a stunning concept book, each page a depiction of the various shades of green throughout the world. My favorite is "sea green," showcasing a giant sea turtle drifting through blueish-green water, though "shaded green," a gorgeous portrait of a boy sitting under a tree with a book, is a close second. There are few words in the book, but it provides a great opportunity for talking to your child about what they see on each page.
The Quiet Book. For the record, this book didn't capture Baby A's attention the way it did mine, though I'm sure some day he will admire the illustrations. I can feel my entire body relaxing and my heart warming as I read the incredibly poignant and thoughtful pages. There is a companion book, The Loud Book, but I think that I'll stick with this one, reading things like "best friends don't have to talk quiet" and "first look at your new haircut quiet."
The Cow Who Clucked. This was a book fair purchase that I never paid much attention to until one day when Baby A plucked it off the shelf. About a cow who has lost her moo, who sets off on a day-long journey encountering not just the typical farm animal but also a bee, snake, and squirrel, it's another great example of how even very young children are captivated by patterns and predictable text. Baby A doesn't often sit still through other books of this length, but he seems to thoroughly enjoy hearing the animal sounds and gazing upon the splashy illustrations.
Old Bear. Words cannot express how much I love this dear book. That Kevin Henkes is a man of many talents. To think that the mind behind such characters as Lilly and Chrysanthemum (side note: does anyone besides me remember how to spell "chrysanthemum" as a direct result of watching Anne of Green Gables 100's of times?) could create such an appealing vision of the seasons, as seen through the eyes of an old bear dreaming he was young again...it's a wonder.
And now for the titles that Baby A and I indulged in during our late-night reading hours, both trying to recover from SERIOUSLY TERRIBLE jet lag after our European adventure (post-travel post soon to come!)
Swimmy. Our dear librarian friend came through once more by initiating Baby A's Leo Lionni collection with this especially adorable book. She knows that we've taken several trips already to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (Baby A has loved these trips from the very beginning, and seems to take it in more there than at the zoo), and felt it would be appropriate. I love the sparse, only faintly colored illustrations and am especially enamored of the description of brave Swimmy as "black as a mussel shell."
Tikki Tikki Tembo. Funnily enough, Baby A has never once wriggled out of my lap during a reading of this classic tale, which even a four- or five-year old might not tolerate. I partially attribute this to my feet tapping and knee raising to the beat of Tikki Tikki Tembo's monstrously long name, but perhaps also to the simple, blue-toned illustrations and the relatively quick way I read the text. It's one of those books that I vividly remember from childhood (in fact, one of my lifelong friends is visiting this weekend, and if she reads this post she will be sure to chant out the beloved moniker wistfully) and probably contributed to my fearful fascination with wells. I'm sure that Baby A will love it for many years to come.
The Three Bears. I have already gone on about my newfound appreciation for the Paul Galdone classics. Though I love the humorous turn that emerges in modern-day versions, particularly for its appeal to the adults reading the story, the extremely traditional Galdone approach seems especially appropriate for very young children. They aren't going to get the humor anyway, and even at Baby A's tender age, I think there is a vague comprehension that comes with the methodical, orderly "The porridge was neither too hot, nor too cold, but just right," semantics. It's on the long side, I'll warn you-if I didn't use it as a pre-nap read, I am not sure we'd get through it every time.