There’s nothing more fun than reading a book to a child when both of you love the book. On my last visit to see my granddaughters I hit the jackpot with four winners in the 4 – 8 year old category. My four-year old granddaughter fell in love with Sneezy Louise and asked for it six times while I was there. She loved the repetition of sneezing along with Louise in this funny first book by author Irene Breznak. She almost had it memorized after our first reading.
Poor Louise “knew, she just knew, that this wasn’t going to be an easy day. Her eyes were itchy, her throat was wheezy, and her nose was very, very sneezy.” When she sneezed at breakfast, she splattered oatmeal everywhere. At school she scattered papers; in ballet her sneeze caused an avalanche of the other ballerinas; her peas bounced everywhere at dinner; and at bedtime she bonked her brother on top of his head! Each calamity is greeted by a “not-so-friendly” reprimand. I won’t spoil the ending but it’s very satisfying. The rhythm and repetition of this delightful book make for an enjoyable read and the adorable cartoon-like watercolor and pen drawings add to the pleasure.
I could hardly wait to show my seven-year old granddaughter What Do You Do When Something Wants To Eat You? Author Steve Jenkins answers the question of what different creatures do when another wants them for dinner. He identifies the animal on one page (“when the glass snake is grabbed by its tail”) and then follows up with its defense mechanism on the next (“its tail breaks into many small, wriggling pieces.”) I found the unusual animals (bombadier beetle, pangolin, hover fly) and their defense mechanisms fascinating and so did my granddaughter. Jenkins uses cut-paper collages on textured backgrounds to show both attacker and potential prey. The final page can lead to an entertaining discussion as Jenkins invites readers to imagine, “What would you do if something wanted to eat you?”
Another favorite of mine was The Chicken Thief (Stories Without Words) by French author/illustrator Beatrice Rodriguez. This book is part of a series on stories without words, so you can make up your own story about this entertaining take on the familiar fox-and-chicken story. A fox steals a hen away from her home. Bear, rabbit, and rooster give chase, but in a twist on the usual children’s story, this fox is not a villain. I think it’s good for the imagination to select books without words. It tests your creativity and shows children that there are many ways to tell a story.
The final winner was Ladybug Girl at the Beach by husband/wife team, David Soman and Jacky Davis. Jacky writes the stories while David is responsible for the wonderful illustrations. They have created a super hero that little girls can relate to. Ladybug Girl is the alter ego of Lulu, who is afraid of the ocean. But when she turns into Ladybug Girl, who’s not afraid of anything, she conquers her fear of the ocean. The inspiration for the character came from the authors’ daughter when she was two years old. She came running into the room wearing her tutu, boots and ladybug wings. There are five books in the series with a new one due this spring. Ladybug Girl website has some fun interactive games to entertain little girls as well.