Charlotte and I spent a huge chunk of yesterday afternoon perusing the children’s section of the library. We pulled up a bean bag and I just let her bring books to me as they caught her fancy.
This is one of my daughter’s favorite things to do. When we pull into the library parking lot, she goes bananas. Once upon a time, the only thing that kid thought was worth getting worked up about was my boobs. Now my mammary glands have been replaced by the Berenstein Bears. You know what the perfect word for this situation is? BITTERSWEET.
I mean, on the one hand I’m thrilled that my nipples can finally catch a break. THE OTHER HAND is the problem, though. On the other hand, my kid thinks bunch of goody-two-shoes beasts are cooler than me. ME! SHE WHO BIRTHED THE CHILD! Shouldn’t that give me a coolest-person-ever pass for at least three or four years?
Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that while I was knee-deep in a heartfelt discussion about why fake bears should not pollute and it occurred to me that now that we have a book rotation system that works for our family, now is as good a time as any to start talking about children’s books again.
So here are two books in our current rotation that I have been dying to share:
All the Places to Love is written by Patricia MacLachlan and brilliantly, beautifully illustrated by Mike Wimmer. I recommend this book CONSTANTLY, it is one of my favorite discoveries of the year and I hope that it goes down as a classic. It’s about a boy experiencing for himself all the places that his parents and grandparents love most.
Wimmer’s paintings are stunning, realistic, and detailed. He is clearly a very well-trained artist. It’s hard to believe anybody can paint like that. The first time I opened the book, I flipped right to the page with the grandmother holding the baby up to the window and it wasn’t until I saw the other illustrations that I could be certain they were paintings, not photographs. Seriously.
The book also has a very strong natural component, which I think is part of the reason that Charlotte and I both enjoy it so much. She loves seeing the images of wildflowers, dogs, a stream, cattails, etc. And I love reading the sentiments to her and helping recreate some of them in our own life. I can’t wait until the creek fills up again in spring so that I can try sending her little bark boats from a few feet away. All the Places to Love also lends itself to discussions about siblings, conservation, sustainability, and what really matters in life.
As a last note, the two children in the story are both born at home. I personally love this detail. I can pretty much guarantee that I will never birth at home – it simply isn’t something I’m comfortable with for myself – but I do think it’s a very nice touch.
And How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird, written by Jacques Prevert and translated and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein, is one of the most creative storybooks we own.
Gerstein’s artwork is vibrant and fun, but Prevert’s concept really steals the show. It is unique (I’d tell you the plot, but the title actually says it all: it’s a whimsical guide on painting a bird) and children we share this book with are always fascinated. It opens the doors for discussion about goals, perseverance, and patience – and it’s imaginative enough to not bore me when I’m reading it for the seven millionth time in two days.
More than anything, though, How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird has proven to be an excellent book for Charlotte simply because art fascinates her. She has never met an art project that she does not like, but it is remarkably difficult to find books about art that she can identify with. I love that this book encourages artistic imagination.
Prevert’s book also entertains Charlotte for a good thirty minutes each time we bust it out. I’ve had to move this book to the end of our morning circle time because after I read it a few times, she wants to sit with it quietly for awhile and soak in the illustrations by herself. It’s the cutest damned thing, but also? I think we can all agree that thirty minutes of toddler enthrallment is a good thing.
What to do: You can enter this giveaway by leaving a comment below or sending me an e-mail answering this: do you have any favorite kid books about nature or art? All you need is an e-mail address. The giveaway ends next Thursday evening at 9 P.M. Pacific Time. You can leave one entry every day. There will be two winners.
To purchase this book: You can buy either of these books through Better World Books (just click the title you’re interested in: All the Places to Love or How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird, through Amazon.com (again, click the title of interest: All the Places to Love or How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird or you can locate a local retailer through Indie Bound.org.
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