(Kids Corner) Favorite Picture Books: September 2011 edition

Because Saturday begins the Cybils nomination process, I’m scrambling to try to get up my picture book thoughts from this month up before I’m deluged with new picture books to read! This month, as always, we found some rather fun books.

My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall (Greenwillow Books, 2009) became an interactive picture book for us. Graphic Designer Michael Hall has designed a zoo full of animals, each one created by hearts. The text provides similes comparing ones’ heart to the animals (such as “eager as a beaver”). Raisin loved counting the hearts one each page, and given the interactive back cover (which shows just how Mr Hall created the heart lion), Raisin insisted on making his own heart animals. Because I’m not very good at cutting out hearts, our animals looked rather sorry in the end. But Raisin loved the project. It involved his favorite things: a book, scissors, and glue. His favorite page in the book is the hippos drinking apple juice.

Raisin’s favorite in-the-car game is “I spy” which usually ends up being “something green” (grass and trees). Needless to say, then, when I spied I Spy with My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs (Templar, 2011) on the new books shelf at the library, I had to check it out. Using bright colors and a perfect eye-sized die cut circle to the next page, Gibbs gives us animals that are different colors. “I spy… something blue” reveals a small circle of a blue whale’s back, and the next page shows the entire whale. To add to the fun and help the kids learn about the animals, Gibbs also has a “clue” on the “I spy” page to help the child learn some fact about the colorful animal that is on the next page. Raisin loved the game, and we reread many times, despite the fact that we of course knew already what the animals would be. The last page gives a die-cut circle through the back cover, asking what we, the readers, spy. Raisin loved looking around the room for something new to spy, and it made the end of the game different every time. As an adult, I loved the illustrations, my favorite one being the majestic lion.

Good Night, Baby Ruby by Rohan Henry (Abrams Books, 2009) tells of a young baby’s bedtime routine. Since Raisin is eager to become a big brother, he enjoyed helping put the young girl to bed by reading this story and giggling over her escape from her parents. I love the simple illustrations of the curly haired little girl. This is a great example of the ways in which white space adds to the strength of simple illustrations.

And finally, The Goodnight Train by June Sobel and illustrated by Laura Heiliska-Beith (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2006) is a perfect goodnight book for the train lover in our house. With bright detailed paintings on each page, there are plenty of amusing tidbits to observe. Raisin loved the cookie coal and we pretended to eat it. The steam from the train made clever shapes in the night time sky, and the silly skunk was often doing something amusing. The gentle rhymes of the text made the story pleasant to read (and reread) aloud many times. Although this was a library book, I wouldn’t mind keeping it for future enjoyment. It was a winner for both parent and child.

What picture books have you been reading this month? Don’t forget to nominate your favorite 2011 books for the Cybils, starting Saturday!

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. These are all great books. As a future educator myself, I always love learning about new books to use in the classroom.

  2. I recently started giving the Baby Storytime at my library and have been learning a lot about titles that appeal to children under 18 months old. One of the favorites so far with the parents and kids was Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton. We also really liked Baby Cakes by Karma Wilson. I’ll look out for I Spy With My Little Eye – I ordered it for my library system and still haven’t seen it!

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