My Cozy Classics: Literary Board Books!

I have just discovered my #1 Christmas Gift Pick for Babies! Too bad I don’t know any babies to give these to!

I’ve just stumbled across these at our local library – a gorgeous little series from Simply Read Books entitled My Cozy Classics by Jack and Holman Wang, which presents famous novels in stripped down fashion with lovingly crafted felted illustrations. Here’s an example:

51uA6B0p8AL._SS500_Les Misérables


That’s it! Victor Hugo’s classic in just 12 words.  More


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.)


A Ball for Daisy


A Ball for Daisy

by Chris Raschka

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2011

32 pp.

Age: infant+

Interests: dogs, pets, wordless books

Also by this illustrator: The Hello, Goodbye Window


Top 5: Poetry for the Very Young

Poetry is a perfect way to introduce your child to the sheer pleasure of words, playing with rhythm, rhyme, humour and imagination. Even a baby will enjoy the musical qualities of poems read aloud, even if they don’t quite understand their meaning.

Of course a great many picture books are written in rhyme – Each Peach Pear Plum, the Madeline books, Drummer Hoff, Mister Magnolia, and the entire works of Dr. Seuss for example! Here are some poetry collections and classics to begin with, suitable for infants on up. (Click on links for full reviews.)   Coming soon: poems for preschoolers (3 to 6).

1. The Mother Goose Treasury, ill. by Raymond Briggs (Hamish Hamilton, 1966) – Ages: infant +

There are many, many collections out there to choose from. This one is particularly comprehensive (and a Greenaway Medal Winner). A nice big book of nursery rhymes is also a perfect baby shower gift!  (Available at

2. The Rooster Crows: A Book of American Rhymes and Jingles, Maude and Miska Petersham (Simon & Schuster, 1945) – Ages: infant +

Another collection of old folk rhymes, including such classics as “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a Bear”. The kind of rhymes you don’t remember anyone teaching you… you just feel like you’ve always known them. (Available at

3. All Join In, Quentin Blake (Jonathon Cape, 1990) – Ages: 2 +

Rollicking rhymes that invite everyone to “all join in!” Poetry at its most accessible: loud, raucous and fun!

4. The Owl and the Pussycat / The Quangle Wangle’s Hat, Edward Lear – Ages: 2 +

Lear’s classics of nonsense and word-invention (runcible spoon?) successfully stand the test of time. The Owl and the Pussycat is especially lovely and romantic. (NB. Lear’s limericks are rather more problemmatic, fairly violent and dark, but these two poems are blissfully serene.)  (Owl on amazon; Quangle on amazon.)

5. A Visit from St. Nicholas, aka ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – Clement Clarke Moore (1823) – Ages: 2+

Don’t forget this seasonal classic, available in many, many editions. (Here’s one on

Check out my follow-up list – Top 5: Poetry for Preschoolers (3-6).

Each Peach Pear Plum


Each Peach Pear Plum

by Allan Ahlberg

illustrated by Janet Ahlberg

London: Viking Press, 1978

30 pp

Ages: infant +

Interests: nursery rhymes, eye-spy, puzzles, poetry

Also by these authors: Burglar Bill, The Jolly Postman, The Jolly Christmas Postman


Top 5: Insect Books for Preschoolers

Whether they fear them or love them, what kid isn’t fascinated by insects?


Top 5 Insect Books for Preschoolers:

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle – Age: infants +

The classic book is available as a board book for the very young. Everyone knows this one (or should). The caterpillar eats his way through a ton of food before making his dramatic transformation.

2. Frog Went A-Courtin’, by John Langstaff – Age: 3 +

Old folk song wonderfully illustrated for children. Ostensibly about Froggie and Miss Mouse but there are an awful lot of insects invited to the shindig.

3. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, by Verna Aardema – Age: 4 +

A traditional African tale about events spiralling out of control as a result of a simple lie.

4. Grasshopper on the Road, by Arnold Lobel – Age: 5 +

Grasshopper hits the open road and meets many interesting insects along the way.

5. James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl – Age: 5 +

James adventures across the ocean on a giant peach, accompanied by several larger-than-life insect friends. A chapter book, perhaps about 9-yr-old reading level, but eminently suitable to read aloud to a five-year-old. Very short chapters, lots of action and humour.

The Mother Goose Treasury

The Mother Goose Treasury


Raymond Briggs

London: Hamish Hamilton, 1966

217 pp.

Age: infant +

Interests: poetry

Also by this author: The Snowman, Father Christmas, Fungus the Bogeyman, UG: Boy Genius of the Stone Age, and books for older audiences: When the Wind Blows, and Ethel and Ernest


ABC (Brian Wildsmith’s ABC)


Brian Wildsmith, illustrator

London: Oxford University Press, 1962

Ages: infant +

Interests: animals, alphabet


Kitten’s First Full Moon


Kitten’s First Full Moon

Kevin Henkes, author and illustrator

New York: Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, 2004

29 pp

infant +

interests: animals, cats, moon


Prayer for a Child


Prayer for a Child

Rachel Field, author
Elizabeth Orton Jones, illustrator

New York: Macmillan, 1944
26 pp

Age: infant +

Interests: prayer, God, bedtime, night


Previous Older Entries

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