Bunny Cakes

Title: Bunny Cakes
Author/Illustrator: Rosemary Wells
Published: Puffin Books, 1997

 

I used to tutor a little boy who loved, loved, loved Max and Ruby. Whenever we’d go to the library for our weekly book haul, we’d comb the shelves for any new Rosemary Wells books. And, failing that, we’d just renew the ones we were bringing back. We did this for about 3 years.

I read a LOT of Max and Ruby, is what I’m saying.

I also ended up sewing my little charge Max and Ruby dolls. But that’s another story.

I figured, when I had kids, that they might also like Max and Ruby. And they do. Kinda.

My 5 year old, Vivi, informed me that Bunny Cakes is now “too babyish” for her (she loved it when she was 2-3 and we read it almost daily, but now that she’s nearly 6, it’s just not her speed anymore). 3 year old Lily is still a fan, however, so I’m only posting her review at the end.

Basically, Bunny Cakes is about brother-and-sister rabbits Max and Ruby preparing a birthday dessert for their grandma. (AKA: the only grownup who ever appeared in any of their books/TV shows until recently when the writers realized that it’s SUPER WEIRD not to have adults in a TV show. Looking at you too, Ryder and Paw Patrol.)

So Grandma has taken another trip around the sun. Max wants to get some Red-Hot Marshmallow Squirters to decorate her cake with. Ruby just needs to replenish all the ingredients Max constantly spills/wrecks. Max takes Ruby’s written requests for eggs/milk/flour to the grocery store and tries to add his own “Red-Hot Marshmallow Squirters” addendum each time. Only on his last visit to get Ruby some cake decorations does he DRAW (as opposed to illegibly scribble) Red-Hot Marshmallow Squirters on the list and voila – he gets his candy!

Max and Ruby then present Grandma with two cakes and Gran can’t figure out which one to eat first (pro tip: eat the one without the caterpillar guts for frosting).

So I like this book. It’s funny, it’s cute, the art is always good when it comes from Rosemary Wells. And it’s about cake. If you know me, you know that’s a selling feature.

Mama’s Review: 4/5 buttercream roses
Lily’s Review: “I like it so much, you should read it again!”

 

The Thank You Book

Title: The Thank You Book
Author/Illustrator: Mo Willems
Published: Hyperion Books for Children, 2016

I don’t know about you, but I have a list of people I would totally LOVE to have lunch with. They include (but are not limited to) Lin-Manuel Miranda, Idina Menzel, Tina Fey, Dan Santat and, of course, the fabulous Mo Willems. You might say I’m a *bit* of a Mo Willems fan. And by *bit*, I mean *I literally have every single Elephant & Piggie book he’s ever written (all 25), along with about 90% of the rest of his work.*

We read a LOT of Mo in my house, is what I’m saying.

I first discovered Elephant & Piggie at Chapters when Vivi was under a year old. I was looking for a series of books because, well, grandparents and aunts and uncles are generous and it’s easy to say “just pick up the latest blah-blah-blah book.” Which is what we did. (Which is why we have the complete collection.)

The last book Mr. Willems wrote for Elephant & Piggie is The Thank You Book. (Note that this is not including the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading books, which are books not written/illustrated by Mr. Willems that feature the beloved pig and elephant as sort of book reviewers/recommenders.)

It’s also probably number 2 or 3 in my “list of favourite E&P books.” (I have a lot of lists. I’m one of THOSE people.)

Why is The Thank You Book so good?

1. Because it’s funny. In fact, that’s usually part of the reason Mo Willems’ books are so good. At some level, there’s humour in almost all of them. (City Dog, Country Frog kind of bucks this trend, but you should totally buy that book because it’s amazing and will make you feel all the feelings.)

2. ALL of the characters from the past books are featured. It’s like one of those TV shows that has a ton of guest stars on one episode. You’re all like, “OMG, is that Shirley from season 2? WHOA! What’s Doug from season 1 doing here? Man, I love that actor.” (Full disclosure: I don’t watch much TV.)

3. I love the Ice Cream Penguin. And Whale. And Brian Bat. And, well, all of them really. I have specific voices I do for each one when I read them, which makes the entire process far more entertaining. (Pro-tip: Dr. Cat sounds like an actor from a Spanish soap opera. Brian Bat sounds like a high-pitched version of Snake. Piggie kind of sounds like a mellow Miss Piggy and Gerald just has a deep, slightly melancholy voice. But, you know, you do you.)

4. There’s also a genuine sweetness to the book. The last page is *perfect* when Piggie restates that she is, indeed, one lucky pig. I love the idea of thanking your friends for just being the people they are. I also love the fact that Piggie initially forgets Gerald (don’t we always forget to thank those we’re closest to?) and then realizes she also forgot to thank the reader!

5. Mo Willems’ art is gold, period. Elephant & Piggie are deceptively simple characters, but the emotion/motion/little details that Mr. Willems adds just prove what a talented illustrator he is.

If you’ve got a little one, pick up Elephant & Piggie. I promise they will get a LOT of mileage. I promise your kids will memorize them. I promise they will be the type of books that you can read over and over and not lose your dang mind.

And, in case I forgot to mention, thank you for being my reader!

Mama’s review: A+ for the whole darn series.

 

Archie Snufflekins Oliver Cupcake Tiberius Cat

 

Title: Arthur Snufflekins Oliver Cupcake Tiberius Cat
Author/Illustrator: Katie Harnett
Published: Flying Eye Books, 2016

As you might’ve noticed, we have a lot of books about cats. I blame one family member for that: Lily. My little three (almost four) year old LOVES cats. Anything with cats. Cat jammies. Cat jewelry. Cat dresses. Cat tights. Cat books. And, most of all, real, live cats.

So she REALLY likes this book.

And so do the rest of us. Arthur Snufflekins Oliver Cupcake Tiberius Cat is a simple but sweet story of a neighbourhood cat who visits each house on Blossom street…except one. Number eleven is inhabited by Mrs. Murray and, unlike the people on the rest of her busy street, her days are spent mostly in quiet solitude. Mrs. Murray knits and drinks tea and watches TV, but that’s about it.

Until her shipment of yarn is delivered to her front porch, with Cat sitting atop it.

After a few days of not seeing the cat, the neighbours become worried and begin to look for him. Since everyone on the street calls him something different, the neighbours don’t initially realize they’re all searching for the same feline. When it’s pointed out (by a little girl) that Archie, Snufflekins, Oliver, Cupcake, Tiberius and Cat are all exactly the same kitty, the neighbours figure out where he must be: at the one house no one goes to. Number eleven.

When the neighbours show up on Mrs. Murray’s doorstep, she explains that yes, Cat is living there. And he doesn’t really want to leave. He likes the peace and quiet. So, the neighbours realize that Cat must stay where he’s happiest…but they definitely want to visit him. And, in visiting Cat, Mrs. Murray suddenly has friends and a social life. What a great ending!

The art is really well done and its sweet style suits the story well.

If you’re looking for a lovely book about neighbours, remembering each other, friendship and, yes, cats, you cannot go wrong with this one.

Mama’s review: 9/10 cans of tuna

Vivi’s review: “I really just enjoyed the entire book. It’s lovely.”

Lily’s review: “I liked it so much because it’s about a cat.”