The theme for my list is WHIMSY - books that I find charming and heartwarming. Whimsy can be a nebulous, hard to define, je-ne-sais-quoi element that defies description. It might be the spark in the characters’ eyes, or the subtle humour or charm in the illustrations. It could be the surprise ending that makes me draw in my breath in an “ah!” Sometimes it’s all of the above. Either way, these books are super fun to share with children. It was hard to choose just ten, and my list kept changing, but finally here they are:
- I Need a Snake - Lynne Jonell
- Interrupting Chicken - David Ezra Stein
- Good Night, Good Knight - Shelley Moore Thomas
- Alfie’s Long Winter - Greg McEvoy
- Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden - Edith Pattou
- Sidewalk Flowers - JonArno Lawson
- Good Night, Gorilla - Peggy Rathmann
- Those Darn Squirrels - Adam Rubin
- Ginger - Charlotte Voake
- Big Mean Mike - Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Scott Magoon
I Need a Snake - by Lynne Jonell
Robbie’s efforts to convince his mother to get him a snake are unsuccessful, but with a little searching and imagination, Robbie finds several “snakes” at home. Petra Mathers stick-figure illustrations are a perfect match for this charming story.
|Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein|
Laugh out loud funny! The exuberance of the young rooster during their nightly bedtime stories is priceless. While father rooster reads several familiar fairy tales, little rooster calls out a warning to the fairy tale character just as father gets to the critical point. Great book for using voices with read-aloud.
Good Night, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas
Technically this is published in an early reader format, but it works as a wonderful read-aloud with the most adorable dragons who are dragging out their bedtime, and a sweet-heart of a knight who has the patience of a saint. Thomas includes lots of repetition for audience participation. Jennifer Plecas’ illustrations are charming.
See also Gell Well, Good Knight; Happy Birthday, Good Knight; Take Care, Good Knight; A Good Knight’s Rest; A Cold Winter’s Good Knight.
Alfie’s Long Winter - Greg McEvoy
I love, love, love this book! Alfie is such an endearing character with his fears about leaping off his branch when the time comes. The illustrations have lots of extra details that add to the fun of this story. And the ending is priceless! Students always give a satisfied laugh on the last page.
Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden - Edith Pattou, illustrated by Tricia Tusa
I love to read this one at either the beginning or end of the year. Every year the principal brings Mrs. Spitzer a new packet of seeds that she plants and tends throughout the year. Students usually start to get it by about halfway through. It always gives me a warm feeling to read this story.
Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Sydney Smith
There’s a bittersweetness and a quiet power to this wordless book that tugs at my heart strings. The child is infinitely wiser than her father, far more observant of her surroundings, while the father is distracted by the pressures of adult life. How much of the world do we miss with our faces buried in our devices and our minds in our worries? Hmmm…
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
What makes this nearly wordless book so funny is the complete oblivion of the zoo keeper to the parade of animals that follow him home. The reader is in on the secret from the start when the gorilla breaks the fourth wall and signals for your compliance. Utterly delightful! The zoo animals even make a guest appearance in Rathmann’s 10 Minutes To Bedtime.
Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Old Man Fookwire is a crusty, cantankerous, curmudgeon, and the neighboring squirrels are the recipients of his ire when they keep raiding the bird feeders. Both the story and the illustrations are a riot, and tender, too!
This makes a great read-aloud. The children love to shake their fists and chant in a curmudgeonly way, “those darn squirrels” even weeks after reading it. Don’t miss Those Darn Squirrels Fly South, and Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door.
Ginger by Charlotte Voake
Ginger does not want to be friends with the kitten that the little girl has brought home. Told with large simple text and double-page spreads, the expressions on the cats’ faces and their body language are hilarious. Maybe it’s because I am a cat owner (dog owner, too), but Voake nails it in my opinion. The ending is sure to get a laugh from the children.
Big Mean Mike by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Scott Magoon
What’s not to love in this wonderful book about misconceptions, bullies, and self-image? Mike is a classic tough guy, and the bunnies are pure fluff and sweetness. Together they’ll melt your heart in this funny and satisfying story.