1. My second grader likes picture books, so that's what we're reading much of lately. Kane/Miller sent me a review copy of Who's Hiding?, and the boy just thinks this book, which is really targeted at preschoolers, is the cat's meow. (Big A little a ran a thorough review back in January.) Junior likes the humorous animals and the bold graphics. With one sentence per page, the interactive book (you find the hidden creatures) is very easy for him to read, and he often chooses it for his school-mandated 15 minutes of reading time at home. He reads it quickly, so I urge him to seek out additional titles, too.
2. Which brings us to Rat Attacks. This one travelled home in the backpack from the classroom library, and Junior has kept it for a long time. I am so skanked out by rats that I have nothing to do with the book, about which Alibris says, "Discusses the history of rat attacks on humans and other animals as well as descriptions of rat species, their life cycle, and habitat." Part of a series, "Animal Attacks," aimed at reluctant readers aged 9 to 12. So far I haven't seen the ones on tigers, coyotes, and sharks, and that's fine by me.
3. Moving right along, both of us read and enjoyed A Sock Is a Pocket for Your Toes, a rhyming picture book by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon, who has stopped by Chicken Spaghetti to visit and who blogs over at Liz In Ink. The sweet book, with whimsical illustrations by Robin Preiss Gleisser, encourages children to look at familiar objects in a different way. "A sock is a pocket for your toes,/a vase is a pocket for a rose." Perfect for kindergarten and perfect as an antidote for #2.
4. In the middle of allegedly getting dressed this morning, Junior sat down to examine Seashore, a DK Eyewitness Book that he got from Santa Claus and had heretofore spurned. Why, he can't possibly go to school; he needs to read! Right now! (I think he has Mom's number.) Santa found Seashore less frenetic than some other DK Eyewitness titles, and in fact it's a nice addition to the library for Beach School, the perfect hands-on school of my imagination.
5. Bunny Cakes, written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells. Surely you know bossy big rabbit sister Ruby and her brother, Max. There's now a whole TV show about them. Ruby wants to bake a cake for Grandma, Max keeps messing things up, Ruby keeps sending him to the store for more ingredients, Max doesn't communicate so well... We have almost worn this book out from repeated readings, and it recently made a reappearance in the beloved stack after a prolonged absence.
6. Swine Lake, written by James Marshall and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. My personal favorite book of the year so far; it was published in 1999. You'll have to trust me when I say that Swine Lake is about the transformative power of art. It's hilarious. The wolf, from the Three Little Pigs, goes to a ballet performed by porkers. Another one Junior chooses often for reading time.
7. The Story of Jaguar, by Jim Mezzanotte. A neat little book about the fancy auto, with photos, good suggestions for further reading and places to visit, web sites, and a glossary—all in 24 pages. Gareth Stevens publishes the "Classsic Cars" series, and Junior, who reads this independently, has already requested the ones on Thunderbirds and Porsches.
8. Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song, by Les Beletsky, has built-in recordings that you can play as you look at the pictures of different birds. Since we're now participants in Cornell's Backyard FeederWatch program, Beletsky's guide has come in handy, though I rely more on Roger Tory Peterson's Eastern Birds for identification. Our whole family loves watching the birds (and the squirrels and the deer) at the feeders, and I don't push the i.d. thing at all, lest I drain the fun out of the experience. Junior does enjoy playing the bird songs, though.
9. In the photo-essay/picture book Just for Elephants, Carol Buckley tells the true story of the arrival of a circus elephant, Shirley, at Tennessee's Elephant Sanctuary. Another elephant, Jenny, immediately recognizes her from their carny days. There is joy, there is elephant trumpeting, there is an elephant sorority reunion. Recommended by our friend P. at the library (thank you!), this book is one we'll have to buy for ourselves.
10. Gina Wilson's Ignis, illustrated by P.J. Lynch, is a perennial favorite. A dragon must search for his inner fire. I used to have to read it to Junior; now he can read it himself.