The Big Bad Wolf and Me

Befriend the Big Bad Wolf? That’s exactly what happens in The Big Bad Wolf and Me, an offbeat, charming book by Delphine Perret. In the story, the Big Bad Wolf, named Bernard, has lost his confidence and thinks his days of scaring are over. It’s only when a young boy meets up with the skinny and sort of depressed creature on his way home from school that things start to turn around for the famed storybook villain.

This book is hysterical. With its dialogue format and Bernard being a gruff, fun character for the guys, it’s a great Read with Dad Month pick. The interaction between the wolf and the boy, who takes on the role of coach and counselor, is clever and entertaining. The boy is a nurturing and positive friend as he encourages Bernard to practice being scary, while letting him live in his closet and feeding him chocolate chip cookies and canned meat—in this case cat food.

The story is fast moving and told through short vignettes, which help show the time that passes as Bernard gradually gets his confidence back. Perret’s illustration in this story is a very simple, line drawn style. It works wonderfully with the book and enables a lot of detail to be covered with each interaction between the boy and Bernard.

French author and illustrator, Delphine Perret, has written and illustrated many books that were published in France, including Mademoiselle Lisa and Oncle Hector. The Big Bad Wolf and Me is her first book to be published in the United States.

Perfect for boys and girls, ages 5+

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Father’s Day Book Picks!

Hi Friends. With this Sunday being Father’s Day, I wanted to share some of my top Read with Dad picks all in one post. These are all on the calendar to review this month, but I haven’t been able to get to them this week as planned. Unfortunately, both my boys have had stomach viruses and it has derailed my writing a little bit. Sick little ones are one of the not-so-pleasant sides of parenthood, for sure!

If you’re looking for a great gift to give Dad, Grandpa or another father figure in your child’s life, this list will give you some great options to choose from.

The Giving Tree
written and illustrated by Shell Silverstein
This is one of my favorite children’s books of all time. It is THE most beautiful story of selfless giving. Box of tissues warning: it can be a tearjerker. I believe every family should own a copy of this book. It provides an amazing opportunity to discuss friendship, sharing, giving and aging.

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel
written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton
This is a classic book with a sweet story about friendship, love and caring. It provides a great opportunity to talk about the value of things and treating them with respect (i.e. toys), as well as recycling.

The Paperboy
written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
This Caldecott Honor winner is the story about a young paper boy and his commitment to doing his job. The book features Pilkey’s beautiful painted illustrations of the early morning hours. The Paperboy provides a great opportunity to discuss leadership and how to be responsible.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz
Sweet, funny story about a little boy and one very bad day. The story presents the opportunity to discuss how we deal with things that don’t go our way, our emotions and what makes us feel different ways. Also nice to share that bad days are something everyone experiences!

Giant John
written and illustrated by Arthur Loebel
Originally published in 1964, this Caldecott Medal winner is back in print. The story tells of a giant who goes out and gets a job to support his family. Giant John shows kids what it means to be responsible and take action to fix a bad situation, in a fairy tale sort of way. Arthur Loebel is the famous author and illustrator of the Frog and Toad series – also great, classic books.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?
by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague
There are a number of books in this series and they’re all good, but this is my favorite. The story gives some great examples of proper behavior and plays off of Dad and Mom in a sweet, fun way. Perfect for bedtime, the book features lovely, detailed illustrations by Mark Teague. In addition to the behavior lesson, the story is a neat way to introduce many different types dinosaurs by name to your child.

Sending very best wishes to all the families out there, especially dads, for a wonderful Father’s Day 2011! Enjoy every moment with your kids and I hope you share many wonderful stories together.

Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity

Let me start off by saying that I love all Mo Willems books. Every time I read one to a child, it’s an instant favorite. You can’t go wrong with any of them; all of his books are funny–written to appeal to both kids and adults–and feature his wonderful illustrations. I’ll be sharing more Mo Willems books in future posts and, frankly, any of them are great choices. In this review, however, we’re talking about Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity.

When Dad takes Trixie to school with her beloved, one-of-a-kind Knuffle Bunny to show all of her friends in Pre-K, she gets an unexpected surprise. Sonja also has a bunny…a Nuffle Bunny. Suddenly, Trixie’s one-of-a-kind bunny isn’t so one-of-a-kind anymore. Each believing that their bunny is the most special, the girls argue and one-up each other until the teacher, Ms. Greengrove, has no choice but to take the bunnies away. When school ends and the bunnies are returned, the story gets even better.

While this is a fun story for anyone to share, there is a sweetness in the relationship Trixie has with her Daddy that qualifies it as a great Read with Dad Month pick.  In the middle of the night when Trixie realizes she has a problem, she and her Dad go on a late night rescue adventure. Through her Knuffle Bunny experience, Trixie learns a valuable lesson about jealousy, sharing and, eventually, friendship. This is a really nice book for a Dad to share with his daughter–although any little boy with a favorite special toy can relate as well. Make sure you read the epilogue too, it’s the perfect ending.

The illustration features Mo Willem’s full-color, hand drawn characters on top of black and white photographs. The effect is so different and interesting; you can’t stop looking at all the detail. The story is realistic and clever, and in my experience reading it to kids, always keeps their attention. Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity is a 2008 Caldecott Honor winner and the sequel to Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, a 2005 Caldecott Honor winner.

Mo Willems started his career in television, writing for Sesame Street and earning six Emmys. He is the author of many favorite children’s books, including Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (a 2004 Caldecott Honor winner) and its sequels, as well as the Elephant and Piggie early reader series.

Perfect for girls and boys ages 4 to 8.

Too Many Frogs!

Sometimes those that are different from us can be…well, annoying. Even little kids can tell you who they find annoying, once they know what it means. It may be the kid that won’t let them take a turn on the swing, or the one that writes on their hand in art class. In any event, there are times when someone we find really annoying at first, becomes a friend. This is the premise of Too Many Frogs!, written by Sandy Asher and illustrated by Keith Graves.  When conservative Rabbit gets an unexpected “knock-knockety-knocking” on his front door from Froggie, his life will never be the same.

There are a lot of things to love about this book, but given that I’m recommending it as a Read with Dad pick, let me start there. With Rabbit being a sort of persnickety character and Froggie being boisterous and a little goofy, this book is perfect for multiple voices that guys can do really well!  My husband has read it our oldest son’s school classes over the years and his voices are HILARIOUS. The kids love it and it pulls them into the story even more. He gives Rabbit a real nasal, whiny type of voice and Froggie a really deep, raspy one. You can also do it with two readers–one for each character–and that’s fun too.  It’s like you’re putting on a little play for your child. Trust me, you’ll get repeat requests.

Too Many Frogs! does a great job of showing just how different people can be. Rabbit and Froggie are complete opposites. Rabbit lives a simple life, and Froggie is anything but simple. As the story continues, Rabbit—being very set in his ways—grows more and more frustrated with Froggie’s different style of doing things. Rather than tell him, he keeps it inside until he finally lets his feelings out in a big way. Once Froggie is gone, Rabbit has a chance to think about the things he did like about his new friend and misses him—learning that different can sometimes be better. In addition to being really fun to read, the illustration is fantastic and detailed, down to the mushrooms on the doormat and the ladybugs on the lamps. Use this book as an opportunity to discuss patience and the idea of trying new things with your child. Maybe you’ll even get them to take a bite of broccoli at dinner.

Sandy Asher began her career began writing stories, poems, and articles in children’s magazines. Her first book for young readers was published in 1980 and she’s written 25 more books since, including Too Many Frogs! and its sequel, What a Party!. Texas-based artist Keith Graves is the author and illustrator of several children’s books including Frank was a Monster who Wanted to Dance, Loretta: Ace Pinky Scout, and Uncle Blubbafink’s Serious Ridiculous Stories.

Perfect for boys and girls, ages 3 to 8.

Why a Blog About Children’s Books?

813358_book_stack_3I thought the very first Wise Owl Books blog should give some background on my intention and why you’ll want to read every post and visit often. I love all kinds of books and always have.  I have a degree in English Literature and as an adult have continued my passion for reading.  Since becoming a mom, I’ve shifted my focus towards children’s books and have read MANY with my children. The truth is that there are a lot of children’s books  published every year, and while it pains me to say it–there are some that are not very good.  My kids find them boring.  I find them poorly written.  My husband falls asleep before the end.  One often wonders why they were published in the first place.

As parents, we’re busy people.  While we want to do the very best for our kids and we understand the importance of reading every day, we also want to read quality books that are engaging,  inspiring and entertaining for both of us–kids AND parents.  Why wouldn’t we?   If the book is bad, that 20 or 30 minutes spent reading feels like time wasted vs. time enjoyed.  No one wants that.  Enter Wise Owl Books.

The goal of Wise Owl Books is to highlight great children’s books and give you some insight on what makes the book special.  We’ll also give reviews from kids–the best critics of all! Before you head out to the library or bookstore, I hope you’ll stop by and see the fantastic books we’re talking about.  We’ll also be reviewing the latest children’s books as they are published to give you the inside scoop.   Thanks for reading!