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.

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Great Books for Dad this Month at Wise Owl!

Hi everyone! Isn’t June such a great month? School is out for the kiddos, the warm weather is finally hitting most of the country, summer officially begins, and we have the big daddy holiday of the year—Father’s Day!

In celebration of the knowledge and experiences that dads and other positive male role models can share with kids, we’re proclaiming June as Read with Dad Month at Wise Owl! With ‘dad’ representing dad, as well as any of the many possible father figures in your child’s life.

Along with our planned reviews, all month long we’ll feature books that are great selections for the guys to share. Why are they great?  The book may be even more fun when read with deep, funny voices that men can do really well. It may be about cars, tools or other things that men typically find especially interesting. Or it may be a story about a dad, grandpa, uncle, brother, cousin, teacher or another great guy a kid can look up to.

Look for the Read with Dad Month logo on the review and then head out to your local library or bookstore to pick up a copy. And, if you’re looking for a Father’s Day gift, any of these books would be a great choice.

What a great way to share a wonderful experience and foster a love of reading.

P.S. Use our Summer Reading Adventure to track all the great books your child reads and reward their efforts. To learn more about the program, click here.

All Aboard the Dinotrain

What do you get when you combine dinosaurs, a train and a roller coaster ride? One fun book, a happy kid and a great story time! All Aboard the Dinotrain written by Deb Lund and illustrated by Howard Fine is pure fun. When a group of all different types of dinosaurs embark on an adventure—by train—it’s hard to know what to expect. First, they’re too big to fit in the train, so they ride on top. Next, they’re too heavy for the train to move fast, so they have to push. Then, they have to dump the cargo to get uphill. When they finally get to the mountain peak, the story takes on the excitement of a roller coaster ride as the dinos ride the rails and run into some unexpected surprises.

I absolutely love this book. Not only because I have sons, who happen to love dinosaurs and trains. I love this book because it’s so well written and such a treat to share. With rhyming verse and a “dino” language all its own, it takes you on an journey that both kids and parents can’t help but enjoy.

“We think we can!” they dinosay.
“Our dinomight will save the day.”
The smokestack coughs out dinosoot.
They sweat from dinohead to foot.

I also appreciate that the book has some bonus teaching. As part of the story, kids learn a little bit about steam engine trains and how they work. It also exposes them to different types of dinosaurs—some of them having a role on the train crew. There’s the Triceratops Switch Operator, the Stegosaurs Conductor and the T-Rex Porter, just to name a few. The painted illustrations are pure art. From cover to cover, it features beautiful, bright and colorful scenes that pull little ones into the story.

Perfect for boys and girls, ages 3 to 7.

Sock Monkey Goes to Hollywood

SMIn Sock Monkey Goes to Hollywood:  A Star is Bathed, the adorable and nostalgic Sock Monkey is reinvented as a modern day character AND a famous actor!  Written and illustrated by Cece Bell, this story is funny, endearing and a great read for both kids and parents. When Sock Monkey is nominated for an Oswald Award for the Best Supporting Toy in a Motion Picture, he is completely excited.  That is, until he reads the fine print: Nominees Must Be Clean

It appears that Sock Monkey has been busy over the years and has never taken a bath.  NEVER.  The story tells of Sock Monkey’s journey to cleanliness by traveling to exotic locations with his friends Miss Bunn, Froggie and Blue Pig by his side.  Once clean, we follow him to the Oswald Awards where he’s up against some stiff competition including Teddy Bear, Jack-in-the-Box and Baby Doll.

SockMonkey_2I love a lot of things about this book–for starters the fact that Sock Monkey gets clean (if you have kids that don’t want to take a bath, you’ll understand).  I also like that Sock Monkey overcomes his fears and by doing so gets to have a once in a lifetime experience.  The ending is a great surprise and teaches a valuable lesson about losing and winning.  Cece Bell’s narrative is modern, clever and hilarious — especially when the characters chime in.  When I’ve read this with kids, they think it’s funny that Sock Monkey has never taken a bath and love to see what happens at the Oswald Awards.

Sock Monkey Goes to Hollywood:  A Star is Bathed was Cece Bell’s first book.  There are a few other Sock Monkey stories that followed, including Sock Monkey in the Spotlight and Sock Monkey Rides Again.

Perfect for boys and girls, 4 years and older.

The Bugliest Bug

bugliestbug3For the first recommended children’s book on this blog, I had to go with an all time favorite in our house. The Bugliest Bug written by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Scott Nash is pure fun.  Not only is the rhyming verse an absolute treat to read, but the illustration is bright, colorful and beautifully done– especially important since we’re talking about bugs here.  It opens up with a question: Do you have six legs?  Do you wiggle or crawl? Could YOU be the bugliest bug of them all?

The story of the contest for the bugliest bug continues describing the contest stage, as well as detail of all of the different types of  insects that enter the competition, “…from tiny no-see-ums to fat termite queens. Some had great pincers, some had proud horns, some looked like branches or flowers or thorns.” We have loved this book since my oldest son was 4 years old.  When I was asked to choose a story to read to his kindergarten class, I knew this would be my choice.  What shocked me was that not one kid in the class had ever heard of or read the book before–not even the teacher.

bugliestbug2As I read it and the mystery of the somewhat questionable contest judges began to unfold, the kids were completely glued to the story.  They laughed at the funny parts and sat quietly engaged as the antagonists are revealed and the battle between the lovable insects and the less lovable arachnids plays out.  Not only does this book tell a wonderful tale of an underdog–Young Damselfly Dilly– saving the day, but it challenges children with language that inspires their curiosity and teaches as well.  You will no doubt be asked questions from your little one as you read, proof that this book promotes interest, learning and earns their attention.

Perfect for boys and girls ages 4 and older.