20 December 2009

The ULTIMATE Holiday Book Guide for Kiddos:

I know! I know! Only 5 days left. Well, I'm re-posting this for all of you out there who may be in need of a Christmas Hail Mary pass of sorts.

To: Any and all
With Love: One part-time nanny with a penchant for adventure and imagination. Happy Holidays!

10 Pre-Naptime/ bedtime picture books that will inspire cool dreams:

1.) 14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy and Thomas Gonzalez and Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah (Peachtree Publishers): After reading Nicholas Kristof’s review, I sped right over to B&N and spent a few minutes in the adjoining cafe, devouring this one. A  wonderful introduction to foreign aid, I advise pairing a reading of this with a discussion on sharing.

2.) All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee (Beach Lane Books): These 40 pages tell the tale of one day, one family, and one beach. I promise you this: you and your kiddo(s) will find the extraordinary in the ordinary before the final page.

3.) A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis (HarperCollins): One day a little penguin named Edna decides to venture away from her norm, and upon doing so, she discovers new friends and new possibility. Consider this for the munchkin who is constantly asking “why not” or “what if.” Plus, it’s funny.

4.) Buying, Training, and Caring for Your Dinosaur by Laura Joy Rennert and Marc Brown (Knopf Books for Young Readers): Obviously, this one’s a hit with the prehistoric crowd. Beyond the dino-heads, however, this story will find a spot in the imaginations of any kid who might be teetering between overusing the word “mine” and learning the full responsibility of caring for a pet, a toy, or a baby brother or sister.

5.) Julie Andrew’s Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies by Julie Andrews, Emma Watson Hamilton, and James McMullan (Little, Brown): This collection (compiled by the famed Andrews and her daughter, Emma) is a literary treasure trove. In the last two weeks, I’ve spotted it on bedside tables in six different homes. After you purchase, I recommend that you keep it within reach at all times.

6.) The Little Prince Pop Up by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (HMH Books): A classic goes 3-D. I cannot tell you how beautiful this is.

7.) Otis by Loren Long (Philomel): I suggest gifting this to the child who hums “Bob the Builder” under his or her breath all morning long…or the one who asks, “Handy Manny?” upon waking up for a mid-morning nap. This is a story of the friendship between a tractor and a calf, a story that would make Bob [the Builder] proud.

8.) The Peace Book by Todd Parr (Little, Brown): To a child, one definitive answer to a question can often be helpful. When explaining abstract concepts to wide, questioning eyes, however, one size does not always fit all. Parr offers many definitions of peace. A helpful and sweet book.

9.) Redwoods by Jason Chin (Flash Point): I found this stuffed in a couch cushion. The couch belonged to a family that had recently switched coasts. I grinned from ear-to-ear when the five-year-old owner of the book explained to me that, these pictures would help him if he ever forgot how “way cool” the redwoods looked in person. (A good one for the Magic Tree House crew.)

10.) Yummy: 8 Favorite Fairy Tales by Lucy Cousins (Candlewick): Greatness strikes again. Maisy creator, Lucy Cousins, brings fairy tales to life by removing the training wheels and swapping sugar-coated for hilarious.

5 Books to gift the pre-tween (ages 6-8.5):

1.) Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls by Meg Cabot (Scholastic): I have linked the most current edition (Stage Fright) but suggest the whole series. If you read quietly (and between the lines) you’ll hear the approving voices of Junie B. Jones, Ramona, and Anne with an E.

2.) Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures: The Japanese Ninja Surprise by Jeff Brown and Macky Pamintuan (HarperCollins): I have yet to read Ninja Surprise, but have had such fondness for its predecessors that I have to recommend it. My best friend (and current Kindergarten teacher) also is a fan…and that’s saying something.

3.) Ivy and Bean Secret Treasure Box (books 1-3) by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall (Chronicle): I’m borrowing words here, but I feel they do the trick. “Meet Ivy and Bean two friends who never meant to like each other. This boxed set is a delightful introduction to these spunky characters. It includes the first three books in the Ivy and Bean series and a secret treasure-hiding box with a cool surprise inside!” -Amazon

4.) The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo and Yoko Tanaka (Candlewick): Again, borrowing a better summary: “Peter Augustus Duchene goes to the market square of the city of Baltese. Instead of buying the fish and bread that his guardian, Vilna Lutz, has asked him to procure, he uses the coin to pay a fortune-teller to get information about his sister, whom he believes to be dead. He is told that she is alive, and that an elephant will lead him to her.” (You want to read more, huh?)

5.) Scat by Carl Hiassen (Knopf Books for Young Readers): A mystery, eco-suspense, and fun, all packed into just under 400 pages of incredible.

3 Books for the kitchen. These will be a welcomed addition to, “and YOUR job is to open the Annie’s cheese packet” : 

1.) Gastrokid: Feeding a Foodie Family in a Fast-Food World by Hugh Garvey and Matthew Yeomans (Wiley): This may just be my favorite kiddo cookbook out there. That’s a statement, because I am a person who has organized multiple bakery crawls throughout multiple countries. These recipes are easy, healthy, and adaptable. A must-gift for any foodie family.

2.) The Silver Spoon for Children: Favorite Italian Recipes (Phadion Press): Buono appetito! This book could be a how-to on training your tot to cook like Grandma (as long as Grandma is famous for her rigatoni with meatballs).

3.) The Usborne First Cookbook by Anglea Wilkes, Rebecca Gilpin, Stephen Cartwright, Sally Griffin, and Carrie Armstrong (Usborne Books): This is one of the best in terms of an introduction to cooking. This book can really be his or hers—to keep next to his or her bedside leaving mom and dad out of the picture until it’s time for the measuring and oven stuff.

1 Book to Bring on the ride (plane, car, train or otherwise) to Grandma’s:

1.) A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Byrson (Delacorte Books for Young Readers): I really believe the title says it all with this one.

**Full disclosure: Since I do not work in children’s publishing (nor am I a librarian or parent) I thought it might be a good idea to provide you with a little reassurance that I am, in fact, a moderately decent judge of kidlit. There are two reasons:

  1. I’m a nanny. A nanny who studied literature as an undergraduate. For the past few months I’ve worked as a temp. nanny with a wonderful agency. Read: when the normal nanny needs a siesta or catches a bug, I head on over and act as a temporary Mary Poppins. I read with children every single day. I read with different children every single day. Since signing with the agency I have sat for nearly 65 children. Last week, I read 423 pages…aloud…in one day. I do voices—soft ones, loud ones, snarly ones, and cute ones. I’ve developed a system where each child has a special sign, signaling him or her to turn the page (a sprinkle of fairy dust, a tug on the nose). Having said this, children definitely crawl out of my lap from time to time and I’ve been told once or twice that my Grinch voice is too scary.
  2. Furthermore, I made most of my picks after consulting the gift guides of many, more qualified than myself, so you’re in good hands. Here are a few other guides for your shopping pleasure:

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