Read Aloud Roundup–February 2017

Hello and welcome to the second edition of Read Aloud Roundup for 2017!  I’m so glad you’re here!  Today is my forty-third birthday, and I can’t think of many things better to do on my birthday than to share some books we’ve enjoyed.

First, I am sharing some sure-hit titles that my boys have adored.  In fact, almost every one of these has been in our library basket more than once, and a few of them have been in there more times than I could count.

We Are Growing! by Laurie Keller is one such title that has been on repeat at the House of Hope for a number of months.   I have an admitted prejudice against reading aloud books that include speech bubbles or balloons (I’m looking at you, Magic School Bus!), but with the advent of graphic novels, this seems to be a trend in children’s publishing.  Well, I’m warming up to them slowly but surely.  This book is golden for the learning-to-read crowd (see the Theodore Seuss Geisel medal on the cover?), but it works beautifully as a read-aloud, too.  I mean, what’s funnier than talking grass?  An added bonus in this one is that you have opportunity to talk about superlatives (-est word abound) if you’re so inclined.  If not, just enjoy the hilarious conversation among the blades of grass (and a couple of grass-munching caterpillars) and Mo Willems’s perfectly pitched illustrations.  My personal favorite part is when the dandelion blooms.  This is one to add to your early reader collection!  (Disney, 2016)
Another Elephant and Piggie Like Reading! title is The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat, and my boys love this one almost as much as We Are Growing! In this early reader title, a quartet of unlikely friends try to share three cookies.  However, because the hippo is the nervous sort, the three cookies turn to twelve pieces in his highly agitated hands.  Fiasco averted!   This one could definitely double as a math picture book, a vehicle through which to introduce the concept of division to the youngest kids.  I love it because it prompts Benny to say the word fiasco in his heart-melting southern drawl.  Mo Willems’s illustrations are again, pitch perfect.  I see there’s another Elephant and Piggie Like Reading! title coming out in a few months–The Good for Nothing Button.  The title alone assures me that my boys will love it.  We give all the Elephant and Piggy Like Reading! titles a Highly Recommended. (Disney, 2016)

My boys, especially the resident almost-four-year-old (!!!), love nothing better than a book about vehicles:  dump trucks, monster trucks, “excavazers,” whatever–they love them!  How to Track a Truck by Jason Carter Eaton taps into that love and then turns it on its ear in the most delightful way.  The opening page sets up the premise:

If you want to a pet truck–and who doesn’t?–you’ve come to the right person!  I’ve got two dump trucks and a fire engine myself.  I think everyone should have one!  And that’s why I wrote this book.  By the time you’re done, you’ll know everything you need in order to track, catch, and tame your very own pet truck.

What truck-loving little guy or gal wouldn’t be hooked by that opening?  What follows are specific instructions from the narrator (dressed appropriately in his explorer’s gear and riding his two-wheeler) on tracking and catching the truck of your choice.  My boys’ favorite part is the two-page spread of seven different trucks complete with their names:  the ice cream truck named Amelia, the dump truck named Barp, the crane named Professor Porkpie, etc.  This always leads to a discussion of which type of truck my boys would choose to track and catch.   John Rocco’s illustrations are colorful and appeal to the kid in all of us.  Fun!  An equally fun companion title to this one is How to Train a Train.  Both have been gold for my boys!  (Candlewick, 2016)

I admit, I’ve saved my favorite for last.  Egg by Kevin Henkes is one of those books that totally took me by surprise (and it did my children, too)!  I’m usually a fan of more words over few words (ha!  and no one is surprised by that! 😉 ), though I have learned to appreciate a good wordless picture book, and I dearly love good illustrations.  Well, this book has that wonderful balance of fantastic, graphic illustrations (in which color is key), well-chosen words, and, that vital element–surprise!  I don’t want to say much more than that so as not to spoil the effect for you–because surely you want to run out and find a copy of this gem now!  Kevin Henkes has long been a favorite, but this one makes me appreciate him a bit more.  Highly, highly Recommended.  (Green Willow, 2017)  This little video interview with him gives a lot of insight into both his writing and illustrating processes.

The boys and I also enjoyed The Trumpet of the Swan by the inimitable E.B. White.  This was my second time to read it aloud.  (You can read my thoughts from my first time through here.)  I don’t love it like I do Charlotte’s Web, but I do like it.  My favorite parts are the parts in which quiet, wise, observant Sam Beaver makes an appearance.  Oh, and the cob–I enjoy his purple prose.  🙂  I also couldn’t help but think about Some Writer! and how much of himself White put into Sam Beaver.  The boys enjoyed it a lot, especially the DLM.  That makes it a winner in my book.

My girls and I have finished one novel this month, but I haven’t yet reviewed it.  We LOVED Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson.  Stay tuned for more about this fabulous story.  So that’s a little peek into our month of reading aloud at the House of Hope (though I did spare you the seeming dozens of Star Wars books I’ve endured 😉 ).  What have you been reading?  Link up below or share in the comments!