More recommended books of 2012

I just keep coming across these things…

Quill & Quire – Books of the Year 2012: Books for Young People for 5 great titles (2 picture book and 3 chapter books)

Kids Review Books for Kids, from the National Post – I love these reviews. So direct and straight to the point!

Canadian Children’s Literature Award Winners for 2012

And a big batch o’ books from Pinterest.

There. Now you can get your Christmas shopping done!


Make Your Own Tutu!

Thanks to Different Solutions on Facebook, here’s a no-sew tutu I think even I could make!

For Wizard of Oz book fans…

Title plate of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (not...

Title plate of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (not the cover, it’s the interior title page), 1900 Wizard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The blogger Maple Leaf Mommy (aka Deanna) is a hardcore fan of the original Wizard of Oz books. We’ve only read the first and most famous (see my review of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz here), but if you’d like to learn about the other Oz books, check out her commentary and book list. She’s even included links to free electronic versions; since the books are largely in the public domain, they can be found for free online.

Great Link: How to Avoid Terrible Children’s Books

Here’s a link for parents, not kids (the language is a little, um, strong):

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, You’re F*#&ed: 10 Tips for Avoiding Terrible Children’s Books, on a site called Dadspin.

While the piece is written mainly for humour, the basic tips are oh-so-true. My only addition would be with regard to the repetitive books: when story repetition starts getting you down, just make your kids do the work. The repetition means they know what’s coming, and having them chime in the endings to the sentences will make Green Eggs and Ham simply fly by. It also helps to listen to the excellent, rather beatnik version available on CD which, thanks to narrator Marvin Miller and a bongo player, really swings.

(And I just finished raving about another CD in this Seuss series – see last post. They really are great.)

Top 5: Bedtime Books for Toddlers

At bedtime the little ones are always restless and one way to calm everyone down is a real bedtime book… a book about bedtime, and sleep, and yawning, and… oh, pardon me, I nodded off there for a moment.

Here are five rather excellent and beautiful bedtime stories that you may not know about. (Note: No Goodnight Moon on this list – everyone knows about that one already!) Click on titles for full reviews.

1. Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes – infant+

Simple and funny. Kitten thinks the moon is a bowl of milk.

2. Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell – age 2+

All about getting settled for sleep, starring a very patient parent.

3. The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed by Helen Cooper – age 2+

Baby wants to keep playing but his toys are sleepy.

4. One Snowy Night by Nick Butterworth – age 3+

Very funny. All the animals in the park are looking for a warm place to sleep, so they descend on the park-keeper’s little house.

5. The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson – age 3+

Dreamy and gorgeous. A girl imagines she is flying over the countryside at night, all the way to the planets and stars.

And, what the heck, here’s a bonus, one I haven’t reviewed on this blog but that we’ve read and listened to countless times:

Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book by Dr. Seuss – age 2+

A chronicle of all manner of creatures going to bed – yawners, sleepwalkers, sleeptalkers, snorers and dreamers. It’s a little long, but brilliant in its pacing, gradually slowing and mellowing until the final “Good night.” We have a fantastic CD version of it which we’d listen to while following along in the book. The narration, music and fx are terrific and the sound of all those yawns will definitely get you and your toddler yawning too. (Here’s the link to the CD on amazon.)


Picture Books – Best of 2012 lists

Glazomania strikes! (love/obsession with lists)*

We all must start thinking of holiday gift ideas, I suppose, so here are a few lists of excellent children’s picture books from 2012:

Publisher’s Weekly Best Picture Books of 2012

New York Times Best Picture Books of 2012 (annoyingly, in slide show format)

American Library Association’s Best Children’s Books of 2012 (long list, all categories)

Canadian Children’s Book Centre list – for some Cancon! (scroll down for picture books)

Goodreads 2012 Picture Book Semifinalists (voted on by Goodreads members)

Amazon’s Best Children’s Picture Books 2012

How about some award-winning Science Books?

For UK titles, you can download the 2012 Best Book Guide from the Book Trust here – 10 titles in each age category (5 and under, 5-8, 9-12, Teen and Young Adult), and I also love that they give both the Reading Age (at which the child can read the book on his/her own) and an Interest Age (when the child will start to enjoy this book).

*thanks to my friend Ellen for teaching me that word yesterday!




Random House list of YA novels Every Adult Should Read

This is a pretty good list, entitled 11 YA Novels Every Adult Should Read.

I’m typing it out here for you, because I am annoyed by those lists that you have to click ‘next’ to see each individual item, like a slide show. (Perhaps I am rather too easily annoyed.)

1. Blood Red Road – Moira Young (2011)

2. Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maude Montgomery (1908)

3. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs (2011)

4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling (1997)

5. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (2006)

6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon (2003)

7. The Giver – Lois Lowry (1993)

8. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins (2008)

9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky (1999)

10. Wonder – R.J. Palacio (2012)

11. The Taming – Teresa Toten and Eric Walters (2012)

I’ve added the years of publication because, amusingly, the Random House site says

The genre ‘young adult’ clearly signifies that the books are meant for teenagers, but sometimes it’s nice to take a trip down memory lane and relive our younger days.

Since most are relatively new books – 4 were released in the last 2 years – I’m not sure what kind of nostalgia factor is involved here. Perhaps they are talking to Adults who have just turned twenty-one…

For some older classics I might add The Secret Garden, Treasure Island, The Hobbit, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Phantom Tollbooth..

What do you think? What great pre-2000 YA novels would you add?

Going Solo


Going Solo

by Roald Dahl

London: Jonathan Cape, 1986

210 pp.

Age: 10+

Interests: biography, travel, Africa, adventure, airplanes, war, history

Also by Roald Dahl: Boy: Tales of Childhood (autobiography about the years preceding this book)

Related Posts: A Roald Dahl Reading List More

How to Be a Musical Family (and Why You Should)

I’m linking here to a terrific bit of advice, 10 Ways to Be a Musical Family by Nancy Salwen. Nancy runs workshops for kids and adults and her focus seems to be on helping non-musical adults bring music into their homes for their kids.

One aspect of family music-making that I think is very important is that your children get to see you – the infallible grownup – learning, fumbling a bit, making mistakes. Not always hitting the right note but persevering and having fun along the way. If we jump in like this we get to model what we’re always telling them to do in their classrooms and extracurriculars: don’t worry about not being good right away, have fun, keep learning, keep trying, and keep practicing.

Too often we stop trying new things as we get older, and stick to activities that we’re already good at. Our kids only see us playing sports or making art or playing instruments that we have some proficiency at. They may conclude that we never have difficulty with things like they do*, and this could feed their frustration when they attempt new activities with a significant learning curve.

Personally, I think every parent should take up a brand new musical instrument or difficult sport when their child hits about age six or seven, and is coping with new challenges daily!

I also think there is value in demonstrating the enjoyment of being an amateur at something. Just because a person doesn’t have Broadway-calibre talent doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy singing or dancing. These days any interest in the arts for the young seems inextricably linked to a pursuit of excellence and stardom – winning competitions and clawing your way to the top. It’s always valuable to re-emphasize the fun, camaraderie and joy of making music.

To put my money where my mouth is… we’ve been in our new house for almost a month now, and this afternoon I WILL unpack and assemble my looooong neglected drum kit, which I am spectacularly inept at playing. Woo hoo!

not my drum kit


* Of course I’m talking here about the younger years, pre-adolescence. Once our kids hit twelve or thirteen they know for a fact that we can’t do anything right.

All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.