My oldest daughter recently had a tantrum. An EPIC tantrum. The kind that happens about once a year at our house, and included kicking chairs and doors, throwing toys, and lots of yelling and crying. I was startled. Then perplexed. And then simply downright angry at this unusual display from our usually cheerful and easy-going daughter. I kept my cool, mostly ignoring her outburst, and alternately asking her to take a time out in her room to calm down. She did eventually tromp to her room with a slam of the door, leaving me fuming in the kitchen. My three-year old had been silently sitting on the counter during our interaction, adding ingredients to a bowl of bread dough. After the door slammed, she remarked with wide eyes, “Wow-ee, Mom. She is mad at you! Yi-yi-yi!”
“Yeah. It sure seems like she’s having a rough day, doesn’t it?” I mumbled while kneading furiously.
“Poor thing. You should help her or somepin’. She probably needs a hug.” I responded with a nod, digesting the suggestion slowly and hoping it would work its way through my frustration.
An hour later, my oldest daughter is stepping out of the shower and calling for a towel. I’m up to my elbows in bread dough, now wrestling it into loaf pans. I say to my three-year old, “Can you get Emma a towel from the hall closet? Any towel will do.” She scampers up the stairs, pulls down a towel and hands it through the bathroom door with a cheery, “Here you go, Emma!” Silence from the other side. “Emma! Here’s your towel! I got it for you!” A hand reaches out to snatch the towel with an “Alright! I got it!” and then is quickly followed with a blast of irritation: “Aaargh! This is the wrong towel!”
“Hey, how about a thank you?” I call, with obvious irritability, and an incoherent “Thanks” wafts through the door. My three-year old beams benevolently at me as she marches down the stairs, replying, “Any pleasure, Emma! Any pleasure.” And so it is: I often find my children are several steps ahead of me, in compassion, in patience, in thoughtfulness and in life.
So I couldn’t help but smile while reading through the opening lines of this month’s featured book, Mama Panya’s Pancakes, by Mary and Rich Chamberlain, illustrated by Julia Cairns: “Surprise! I’m one step ahead of you, Mama!” Meet Adika, a young boy from Kenya, who generously invites all those he meets to a dinner of pancakes. His mother, nervously fingering the two small coins in her pocket, becomes more and more anxious with each new invitation, worried about how she will manage to stretch her meager cup of flour. But Mama and readers alike soon discover that Adika’s kindness will not go unrewarded. A beautiful folkloric tale illustrated with vibrant watercolors, Mama Panya’s Pancakes is a great read for the 6- to 8-year old crowd, but is also a hit with little readers due to its easy-to-follow plotline. A comprehensive appendix follows the tale, including a Kiswahili pronunciation guide, facts about local animals, and even a recipe for Mama’s spicy pancakes!
Log in today and celebrate Mother’s Day by enjoying Mama Panya’s Pancakes with your sweet readers, and make a mother’s day by surprising her with breakfast (perhaps some spicy pancakes?) in bed! A special thank you to Barefoot Books for providing May’s Book of the Month.
When daughter number three joined our family, it seemed like the right time to put the two older girls in the same room. I never shared a room as child, so the idea held a Disney-esque sparkle for me – I imagined giggling softly in the dark, never feeling afraid of shadowy corners, and sharing stuffed animals, late-night whispering that slowly ebbs into blissful sleep.
I was wrong.
Imagine our surprise when our five- and three-year old’s whispering did not gently ease them into dreamland, but crescendoed into ear-shattering screams and raucous laughter. Stuffed animals were bouncing off walls! Children were jumping on beds! And, for heaven’s sake, they had the gall to turn the light back on! We quickly checked their unruliness with a not-so-subtle threat of separation if we heard even One. More. Peep.
Needless to say, it was several peeps later and weeks of persuading, cajoling, threatening, sticker-charting, bribing and pleading before we finally heard the sound of…quiet. 8:00 pm, and all was still. We congratulated ourselves on our competence as parents, and settled in to watch a movie together. As the credits were rolling at about 10:30, we heard a distinct crash. Hearts racing, we rushed into the darkened hall, straining with eyes and ears in the sudden quiet. And then – a faint tap, tap, tap coming from the direction of our daughters’ room. My husband slowly turned the doorknob, his heavy-duty MagLite at the ready. The room was black, except for a tiny strip of light coming from under the closet door. We advanced carefully, held our breaths, and opened the door to reveal –
our three-year old daughter, sitting in a clutter of books and toys. She paused in her play, a My Little Pony suspended in mid-swoop, and greeted us with a cheery, “Hi, guys.” I suppose there are half a dozen morals to be learned from this story, but those that resurfaces almost daily are: (1) Just when you think you have everything under control, get ready to be surprised, (2) Kids have minds (and wills) of their own, and (3) If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Your own little willful ones will adore April’s featured title, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, a charming sotry about one resolute gardener and three determined little bunnies. Mr. McGreely has finally decided that this is the Spring to realize his dream of growing his own fresh vegetables. One day, his hard work and patience are rewarded with tiny green sprouts: “Lettuce! Carrots! Peas! Tomatoes!” But his efforts have not been unnoticed by three hungry little bunnies who impertinently enter the garden (“Tippy-tippy-tippy, Pat!”) to have a little taste. Mr. McGreely is furious, of course, and decides to take action. After a wire fence (“Spring-hurdle, Dash! Dash! Dash!”), tall wooden fence (“Dig-scrabble, Scratch! Scratch! Scratch!, and moat (“Dive-paddle, Splash! Splash! Splash!) do nothing to deter the tenacious little bunnies, Mr. McGreely decides to get serious. He builds a huge cinder-block wall complete with spotlights and barbed wire and awakes in the morning to…an undisturbed garden. But don’t believe those bunnies are beaten yet! Enjoy the surprise ending with your reader, while savoring the onomatopoeic language, delightful illustrations, and delicious moral.
Have your little reader point out the three little bunnies in each illustration of McGreely’s attempts to thwart them, and have them guess how the bunnies will overcome each obstacle before turning the page.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for providing this month’s featured book. Please stop by our Facebook page to leave any comments, reactions, or questions. I’d love to hear from you!
“Have a great day!” My daughter’s bus driver says cheerily, smiling broadly.
My daughter turns slowly, pausing in mid-step with a wry little grin: “No, you have a great day!”
“No, YOU have a great day!” the good-natured bus driver rejoins. “No, YOU!” my six-year old insists, and I am slightly relieved when the bus driver sees that this could actually take all day, and merely smiles and waves in reply. I seize the opportunity to herd my little one off the bus, hoping to spare the bus driver awkward explanations of why she is 15 minutes late for her next stop.
At lunchtime, during a rare, quiet moment, my three-year old pauses between bites of quesadilla (“It’s a torsadilla, Mom”) to say, “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you, too,” I say with a smile.
“I love you more,” she counters.
“I love you most!” I say, triumphant.
“I love you a-hundred-million-miles-all-the-way-to-infinity-so-much-I-can’t-even-tell-you.”
What to say to that? And she, wholly satisfied that there could not possibly be any superlative response, takes a big bite and lapses into meditative chewing.
It got me thinking about the ways in which we attempt to articulate our love for our kiddos, and whether they can truly understand the magnitude of it. The wise elephant mother in this month’s featured book,1, 2, I Love You, written by Alice Schertle and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, seems to have the right idea. She embarks on a series of fantastical adventures with her elephant son, all the while describing her love in sing-song counting rhymes. This mother’s love (and her energy!) seems to have no bounds as they march through a desert (“5, 6, clickety sticks, /a trumpet and a drum,/ I’ll march with you to Timbuktu,/ toot-toot tumpety-tum“), sail on an ocean, and hurtle down a grassy hill in a little, red wagon. Enjoy the vintage-looking watercolor illustrations that feature quite an array of headgear for mom (Can your little reader count how many fashionable hats she wears?) and ask your reader if she can find the two tiny mice friends that accompany mother and son on each page.
The book concludes as the counting reverses (“2, 1, now we’re done…”) and mother elephant tenderly tucks her little one into bed, softly beckoning him into sweet dreams and sailing among the stars.
So, next time my three-year old proclaims her inexpressible, infinite love, I’ll just say, “Come here. I have a book I want to read to you.”
Express your love this month by logging in to read 1, 2, I Love You with all of the sweet children in your life, and don’t forget to stop by our Facebook page and tell us what you think. We love hearing from you!
Thank you to Chronicle Books for making this story available to read during the month of February.
Happy Valentine’s Day! And happy reading!
We recently welcomed daughter number three to our growing family, and though we frequently run out of wipes and milk, we find that we are never in short supply of (1) pink clothes, (2) hair accessories, and (3) opinions. My three-year old has made a high art of expressing her opinion, especially when it comes to doing things herself. “I can do it!” is an oft-heard expression, and is offered up every time a helpful hand attempts to intervene. I steel myself every time I try to help her out of the car: she perches precariously on the edge, waving me away, chanting her refrain, “I can do it!” before tipping out of the car and somehow, miraculously, landing on her feet. Her stubbornness is serendipitous at times; I once watched, open-mouthed, as she muscled a 5-pound can of wheat into the house, all the while reassuring me, “I can do it!” One can was impressive, but after hauling ten similar cans, I was downright amazed by her determination.
Later, she watched me and her dad lug a seven-foot Christmas tree into our living room. She coolly appraised the situation, a hand on one hip, while I waited for her to bodily insert herself into the situation. She merely watched me huff and puff for a moment, then declared: “That is a mama job.”
But I’ve wondered, why do children insist on being such independent little souls? And at such young ages?
Meet Suzy, the spunky little goose of this month’s featured book, Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star, by Petr Horacek. The book opens onto a charming scene of farm animals admiring a Christmas tree. The tree is beautifully decorated, but Suzy notices that something is missing: a star for the top! Suzy has already spotted the perfect star in the sky, and determinedly begins a journey to attempt the impossible.
Watch your little reader use great comprehension skills as he predicts what will happen when Suzy climbs atop a fence to reach the star, or giggle together as Suzy launches off a hill and lands with a comical “Splat!” Though she must finally trudge home empty-handed, you will enjoy reading about Suzy’s happy ending as she returns to the warm comfort of home and friends.
While Suzy’s story is slightly silly, she teaches us something about children’s need for independence, and perhaps even our own. The desire to help — and to be helpful — stems from a desire to contribute meaningfully to our community, to be wanted and valuable to those around us. Just as Suzy rushes down a snow-covered hill in her effort to be helpful to her friends, little people need opportunities to be valued and needed in a big person world. Discuss ways your little reader can make a big difference this Christmas season, perhaps by donating gently-used toys to those in need, contributing to a food drive for the hungry, or saving up money to buy a present for a lonely classmate.
Please comment on our Facebook page, and tell us about your acts of kindness, and give others some great ideas for perpetuating that Christmas spirit! All of us at Readeo wish you and yours a very happy and content Christmas.
Thank you to Candlewick Press for making this story available to read throughout December with your loved ones.
October’s Book of the Month is one of our favorites for Halloween. Rebecca Dickinson’s Over In The Hollow is a fun take on a counting book with rhymes that make it perfect for reading aloud—and illustrations by Stephan Britt that make it exciting to turn each page.
Who lives over in the hollow? A papa mummy and his two little mummies, a mama owl and her three little owlets…and more! And they all have something to say, whether it’s to hoot, to howl, to hiss, or to yowl. Inspired by Olive A. Wadsworth’s classic counting rhyme, “Over in the Meadow,” Over in the Hollow is a spooky take on the popular Appalachian poem. The playful rhyme and repetition will delight readers of all ages who enjoy a fun—not scary—approach to the world of ghosts, werewolves, and other fun Halloween characters.
Special thanks to Rebecca and Chronicle Books for this book of the month!
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