Monday, January 15, 2007

Put Some Fun into Bedtime with These Books!

If your young reader is one of those wonderful kids with a sense of humor, these books for the preschool and early elementary set are good additions to their bookshelf, and they'll give adults reading them out loud something (besides lights out) to smile about, too):

For the preschool-Kindergarten set:

Mommy? by Maurice Sendak, Al Yorinks, and Matthew Reinhart. Scholastic, 2006.

This high-tech pop-up book features a typical monster-taming Sendak protagonist, a toddler who wanders into a suitably spooky-looking house calling “Mommy?” and proceeds to de-“bolt” a Frankenstein monster, nip the knickers off Wolf Man, and unwind a mummy’s wrappings, until he finds a suitably maternal monster at last.. A slightly macabre take on Are You My Mother?, this book has some sly fun for the adults who will undoubtedly have to “read it again!”

For the Kindergarten-Grade Two reader:

Cha Cha Chimps by Julie Durango. Illustrated by Eleanor Taylor. Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Ten bed-bound chimps slip out to cha cha the night away at Mambo Jamba’s, where they count down from ten to zero as they hokey-pokey with a hippo, macarena with a meerkat, and belly-dance with a cobra. When a hip Mama Chimp “hustles” them home to jam in their jammies with a sitter, she goes back to boogie the night away. Kids hearing this story will pick up the refrain “Ee-ee-oo-oo-ah-ah-ah, ten little chimps do the cha cha cha” by the second time around.

Bats at the Beach, by Brian Lies. Houghton Mifflin, 2006.

Bats break out the moon-tan lotion and frolic on a moonlit beach, doing all the things kids love doing by day on the sand. Rhymed verse dances through enchantingly dark but luminous night time fun. (See if the kids notice that the author is hanging upside down on the “About the Author” back flap!)

Trosclair and the Alligator by Peter Huggins. Illustrated by Lindsey Gardner. Star Bright Books, 2006.

Despite dire warnings from his Pere, Trosclair and his dog Ollie brave the waters of Bee Island Swamp, inhabited by the world’s biggest alligator. When treed by Gargantua, Trosclair (channeling Brer’ Rabbit), pretends to offer up Ollie instead of the honey-(and bee-)filled beehive. Predictably, Gargantua “bites," Trosclair drops the beehinve into his open mouth, and the Trosclair’s trick and the subsequent bee stings rid the swamp of Gargantua forever.

<The Most Perfect Spot by Diane Goode. HarperCollins, 2006.

When Jack takes Mama, wearing her best pink hat and unknowingly trailed by a stray spotted dog, to “the most perfect spot for a picnic,” each place they choose results in disaster, as they fall into the lake, are pelted by horses kicking up mud, survive a runaway carousel, are surrounded by a pack of yapping dogs, and make a run for home in a downpour. In two-page spreads, the careful reader will see the spotted dog as the author of each adversity. Back home at last, Mama and Jack, followed by the dog dragging the bedraggled pink hat, settle down to a picnic on the floor, with the “dog they named Spot, the most perfect Spot!”

For the sophisticated not-too-old-for-picture-books set (and anybody else who’s still alive):

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and Other Stories You’re Sure to Like, Because They’re All About Monsters, and Some of Them Are Also About Food . (You Like Food, Don’t You? Well, All Right Then.,.)
by Adam Rex. Harcourt, Inc., 2006.

A real tour-de-force by author-illustrator Adam Rex, with rhyming spoofs of the lifestyles of such monsters as Wolfman (hair clumps in his roommate’s drain), Dracula (spinach in his teeth), Invisible Man (can’t get a decent haircut), Yeti (“Don’t call me BIGFOOT!), and the Phantom of the Opera (has writer’s block because he can’t get “The Girl from Ippanema” and other ditties off his mind). The copyright page even features a snow angel left by The Invisible Man. A book for all ages (even those old enough to KNOW the tune to “Girl from Ipanema”)!



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