Thursday, November 7, 2013

Xander's Panda Party

Xander's Panda Party
Written by Linda Sue Park
Illustrated by Matt Phelan
Recommended for ages 4 and up

This is my new favorite children's book. And that is not an easy accomplishment.

In Xander's Panda Party, by Linda Sue Park, Xander wants to throw a panda party. For pandas. But he's the only panda at the zoo. So he plans a bear party. But when he gives Koala her invitation, she points out that she is not a bear, but she would still like to come to the party. So Xander plans a mammal party. But Rhinoceros refuses to attend without his bird. So Xander plans a bird and mammal party. But Crocodile points out that reptiles and birds are distantly related...I think you can see where this is going. In the end, everyone parties!

This is the rare children's book that has nearly perfect rhyme and rhythm. The first sentence (and you have to let it roll off your own tongue; it won't work just in your head) is, "Xander planned a panda party." Go on, try it. You can whisper it if you have to. I won't tell anyone. And the story only gets better from there.

And the ILLUSTRATIONS. Don't even get me started. I want to hang them on my wall. Well, maybe a nursery wall. And they complement the story so well. I just can't say enough good things about this cute little book.

Xander's Panda Party is available on To purchase, click on any of the Amazon affiliate links in this post.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Perfect Pumpkin Pie

The Perfect Pumpkin Pie
by Denys Cazet
Recommended ages 3 and up
I know, I know...The Perfect Pumpkin Pie sounds like it should be read on Thanksgiving. Maybe on Christmas sometimes. But I promise you that this story takes place on Halloween.

Mr. Wilkerson is a crabby old man who insists that his wife make him perfect pies. Lucky for her, he kicks the bucket one Halloween night, and she buries him in the yard and moves away. The next Halloween, Jack and his grandmother are about to dig into a pumpkin pie when the ghost of Mr. Wilkerson assaults them, chanting, "Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkin pie!" If they don't bake him a perfect pumpkin pie, he'll haunt them forever. Luckily, Grandmother is a smart, sassy old lady who knows just what to do.

This is a nice change from the usual stories about witches and cutesy ghosts. (Although I love those stories, too.) My only warning is that for some children, the illustrations might be a little too gross. But then again, for other children, that will be the best part.

The Perfect Pumpkin Pie is available on To purchase, click on any of the Amazon affiliate links in this post.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Leaf Man

Leaf Man {The Storybook Shelf}
Leaf Man
by Lois Ehlert
Ages 3-6
Leaf Man is a pretty popular autumn read-a-loud, but I thought I'd post it for those of you who haven't read it yet.

The story begins, "Leaf Man used to live near me, in a pile of leaves." But the wind blows Leaf Man away, and we watch as he flies over gardens, marshes, farms, rivers, and meadows. Someday, you might find him floating past your house.

The best part of this book, though, is that it's almost entirely illustrated with leaves. Leafy chickens, gourds, fish, opens up all kinds of possibilities for creating leaf pictures with your kids.

Leaf Man is available on To purchase, click on any of the Amazon affiliate links in this post.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hank Finds an Egg

Hank Finds an Egg {The Storybook Shelf}
Hank Finds an Egg
By Rebecca Dudley
Recommended for ages 2 and up
Cuteness alert! Hank Finds an Egg, by Rebecca Dudley, is so stinkin' adorable that I can hardly stand it.

Oh, and The Boy likes it, too.

Hank is a little...bear, I think?...who finds an egg on the ground in the forest. He sees that its nest is high above him in a nearby tree, and try as he might, he can't reach the nest to put the egg back inside. He takes care of the egg overnight, then returns to the tree in the morning. Hank finds someone there who can help him, but they'll have to work together to return the egg to where it belongs. The sweetness of the ending might knock you over.

This is a wordless picture book, which really works here. I'll be keeping my eye out for more books by Rebecca Dudley.

Hank Finds an Egg is available on To purchase, click on any of the Amazon affiliate links in this post.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Written by Angela Johnson
Illustrated by Dav Pilkey
Recommended for ages 3-6 
We've already taken Julius back to the library, but I'll tell you what I remember about it.

I remember that Julius, an enormous Alaskan pig, was given to Maya by her grandfather, who lives in Alabama (but winters in Alaska). Maya and Julius have a lot to learn from each other and accept about each other at first--like manners (for Julius) and appreciating jazz music (for Maya). In the end, they become devoted friends.

I remember the vibrant illustrations, and I remember the sweetness of friendship existing between Maya and Julius, who are so cartoonishly different. Friendship isn't necessarily about being the same--it's about learning from each other and enjoying each other's differences.

Julius is available from Amazon; click on any of the Amazon affiliate links in this post.


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