A Few Blooms for Your Spring Collection

A couple of weeks ago, Preschooler and I planted flowers in our porch flowerpots.  This has led to an interest in all things flower-related, and the reading of several books about flowers and spring. Just in case you’re doing the same at your house, here are a couple worth checking out.

For the tiny sprouts:

Maggie’s Colorful Garden by Salina Yoon

Yoon’s simple but brightly illustrated board books are perfect for small hands.  In Maggie’s Colorful Garden, readers discover green cabbage, purple eggplant, blue berries, and a whole wheelbarrow full of fruits and veggies.  Piggy Toes Press (2008).



For the blossoming middles:

My Garden by Kevin Henkes

Henkes is perhaps best known for his famous mice.  In this whimsical story a young girl’s imaginary garden comes to life on the pages.  It’s a place where seashells grow and chocolate bunnies abound, where flowers come in all shapes and colors, even patterns.  Preschooler, who insists on planting rocks in our front yard so that she can grow more rocks, wants to hear this repeatedly.  And the illustrations?  GORGEOUS.  Beautiful pastel colors that I wish would leap out of the page and into my own garden attempts.  Greenwillow Books (2010)

For the flourishing flowers:

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small

I first read this book about 8 years ago, and it has never let me go.  Set during the Great Depression, the story revolves around Lydia Grace Finch, a young girl who has been sent to live with a cranky relative in the big city.  How she cheers up her new home and friends is somewhat predictable, and yet still touching without feeling cliche.  Small’s illustrations, which won him a Caldecott Award in 1998, make the story complete. Macmillan (1997).

Can you add to my list?  Any books for the sprouts or the flourishers that you’re reading in your house?


Friday Confession: Raiding the $1 Bin

Hello, friends.  I have to admit, I’m a little taken aback that it’s Friday already.  This week has been a busy one, and I’m surprised to see that Friday is here already.

Nevertheless, Friday it is.  My confession this week is part confession, part secret shopping tip:

I get some of the Toddler’s books from the $1 bin.

Specifically, I get them from the $1 bin at Target (oh, how I love Target!)  Don’t get me wrong– we have numerous books on our shelves that are beautiful hardbound books.  But I supplement that collection with “in the moment” texts from the $1 bin.  These are books that are not necessarily ones that she’ll keep forever and ever, but capture her interest at this stage of her life.

In other words, Sesame Street books.

$1 each, folks.  Which means that I can snag several and put them in her backpack as a nice surprise during our upcoming travel.  Kids not Sesame Street fans?  There are often others on colors, modes of transportation, or even rhyming.  And for toddlers who can still be a little rough on their books, the board books are perfect.

My confession, and secret for inexpensive, colorful, purposeful toddler books.

Because really, who doesn’t need another excuse to visit Target?

Book Review: Five Silly Monkeys and Good Morning, Good Night

Remember on Sunday, when I said that I would be back Monday to give you more information about that cute little book?  Yeah.  I didn’t take into account The Sickness that was about to descend upon our house.  So we’re crawling out now, and I’m back.  Without further ado…

When Piggy Toes Press offered me the chance to review two books at Once Upon A Story, I jumped at the opportunity.  A few days later, a package arrived on our front porch while I was making dinner.  I retrieved the box, peeked inside, and then decided to put it aside until after dinner when The Toddler and I could sit down and enjoy the books together.

Except The Toddler had already seen me open the box and pull out one of the books, and that was the end of that.  Dinner was put to the side as she gleefully pulled out her treasures.

Five Silly Monkeys,  illustrated by Steve Haskamp (2003)

Mom Thoughts: We know the familiar Five Little Monkeys nursery rhyme, but this book adds a nice little twist.  Not only do the little monkeys jump on the bed, they also eat, swing, slide, and spin.  This is great for building vocabulary!  The Toddler and I act out each of these verbs as we read.  I also appreciated the new ending…”Nobody mentioned anything about…jumping on the couch!”

Toddler Thoughts: Monkeys happen to be a favorite animal, so you can imagine the excitement!  She loves touching and “counting” the 3-dimensional faces.  The book is the perfect size for little hands, and extremely portable.  This one has ended up in her “purse” which goes with us in the car and on errands.  She calls it her “ooh-ooh!” book.

Good Morning, Good Night! A Touch & Feel Bedtime Book designed by Laurie Young, illustrated by Melanie Mitchell (2007)

Mom Thoughts: The easy rhythm of this makes this an ideal read-aloud, especially at bedtime or when you have a little one cuddled sleepily on your lap.  Which is exactly what we did.  Several times a day, as The Sickness took its toll and worked its way through our house, we cuddled and read this story.

Toddler Thoughts: The Toddler loves that the pages open further to reveal a full spread.  The touch-and-feel component, of course, is also a win.  She enjoys turning each page, pulling open the spread, and then whispering “nigh-nigh” to each animal as we read.  Her favorite part, though, is tucking the little girl into her big girl bed on the very last page.

Thank you, Piggy Toes, for our delightful reads!  We’ll be enjoying these for a long time!

Want to learn more about what Piggy Toes Press has to offer?  Visit their website to flip through the catalog, or find them on Facebook!

Valentine’s Day Picks for Tiny Readers

Valentine’s Day is less than a week away.  In our household, we typically exchange a gift between the adults (well, most years…), but since the toddler arrived on the scene, we’ve put together a small gift for her, too.  After all, Valentine’s Day celebrates love and affection of all kinds, right?

On Thursday, I’ll be sharing some favorite picture book recommendations for Valentine’s Day.  Today, I want to share a few Valentine’s Day picks for the littlest readers.  The board books below grace my own bookshelf, so they’re kid-tested for your convenience.

How Do I Love You? by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church (Scholastic, 2009)

Inspired by Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s famous ‘How Do I Love Thee?poem, this book compares love to a singing bird, dancing snowflakes, and “each shining star.”  The curly-haired toddler and her snuggly friend suggest not only a parent-child love, but also the love between a child and his or her favorite toy.


Guess How Much I Love You? by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram (Candlewick, 1994)

This one is a classic, but for good reason.  Little Nutbrown Hare and his daddy outdo each other with comparisons of each other’s love.  A sleepy Little Hare thinks he has the final say when he declares, “I love you right up to the moon.”  But nothing surpasses a daddy’s love, as your child will learn with the end of this story.


In Grandma’s Arms by Jayne C. Shelton, illustrated by Karen Katz (Scholastic, 2001)

“In Grandama’s arms/ In our Storybook Chair/We can do anything– /We can go anywhere.”  So begins this story of a little girl whose storytime in her grandmother’s rocker takes her through her wild imaginings.  Karen Katz is one of my all-time favorite author/illustrators, and this book is the perfect gift from grandparent to grandchild.


You’re My Little Bunny by Claire Freedman, illustrated by Gavin Scott (Scholastic, 2010)

This story has lots of wonderful action verbs – leap, flop, munch, skip- that provide fun, energy-burning daytime reading.  But the rhythm and sleepy-soft ending also make it the perfect pick for bedtime, naptime, or just some quiet cuddling.



Counting Kisses by Karen Katz (Simon and Schuster, 2003)

Each member of the takes a turn trying to lull this fussy baby into sleep by kissing each part of her squirming body, from her ten teeny toes to the top of her (finally!) dreaming head.   Perfect for little ones who are learning body parts and numbers.  This last pick is actually my own personal selection for my daughter’s Valentine’s Day gift this year.

There you have it!  My personal favorites from my own shelf.  Kid tested…Mommy approved.

Chime in!  Do you give books as Valentine’s Day gifts?  Are there any favorite board books that I’ve missed?