Board Book Memories

We had a birthday party for Lily on the weekend. It was lovely and we had so many of our nearest and dearest over to celebrate. At one point, my dear friend’s husband said, “Your kids definitely have a literary advantage.” He’s so polite. What dear Joseph MEANT by that was, “Holy crap, you have way too many books.”
But again, he’s far too kind to say that.
But he’s right.
We do have a LOT of books. You know how some families are into sports, and they have all kinds of sporty paraphernalia around? Well, we’re like that, but with books. We have a bookshelf in every single room (except the bathrooms) and we are constantly borrowing books/using gift cards for books/books, books, books.
One thing we went a *little* crazy with when Vivi was born was board books. We have a LOT of them. They were taking up a ton of shelf space on Lily’s bookshelf and she’s really past them at this point…so we did the big clear off. We put them into a giant Rubbermaid and kissed them goodbye. Not to give away! Let’s not be unreasonable, peeps. They’re going to live in our basement storage room (among a billion other Rubbermaid containers) until my kiddos have kiddos of their own.
It was weird. It was weird putting away such a big part of their little libraries for the past six years. It was weird knowing I likely wouldn’t see those books again for X number of years (where X equals the amount of time it will take for my girls to have kids). And knowing that maybe they would never go to a grand baby. Overall, unsettling.
But it was nice taking a stroll down memory lane. And so, because I want to share my wonderful board-book love with you, here are my top 20 board books, in no particular order:

1. Perfect Piggies – Sandra Boynton (she’s on this list a lot)
2. Oh No, George! – Chris Haughton
3. Goodnight, Gorilla – Peggy Rathmann
4. But Not the Hippopotamus – Sandra Boynton
5. Dear Zoo – Rod Campbell
6. A Color of His Own – Leo Lionni (this is also a picture book, but the board book version is sweet)
7. The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson
8. Hippos Go Berserk – Sandra Boynton (told ya)
9. Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
10. Doggies – Sandra Boynton
11. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom – Bill Martin Jr.
12. Where is Green Sheep? – Mem Fox
13. Grumpy Bird – Jeremy Tankard
14. AlphaBlock – Christopher Franceschelli
15. That’s Not My…series – Fiona Watt
16. Pat the Bunny – Dorothy Kunhardt
17. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes – Mem Fox
18. Huggy Kissy – Leslie Patricelli
19. Hey! Wake Up!- Sandra Boynton
20. You Are My Cupcake – Joyce Wan

Shall I go on? No? Please stop? OK. I will. For now. But for real, pick up one or all of those books. You will not be sorry!

The Truth About Stacey? You can’t HANDLE The Truth About Stacey!

Title: The Truth About Stacey
Author: Ann M. Martin
Illustrator: Raina Telgemeier
Published: Scholastic (Graphix), 2015

 

You guys might’ve heard that I’m a wee bit of a BSC fan (BSC, yeah you know me). Karl heard that too and ended up getting me the first four graphic novelizations of the original series. Initially, I was apprehensive. Would the graphic novels live up to my memories? Would having the girls right there in front of me, in living colour, take away from my the pictures of them that live(d) in my mind?

The answers are: yes to the first question and no to the second! The books are fantastic. I love them. Here’s why:

    1. Raina Telgemeier is a genius. I said to Karl the other day that she’s the Kate DiCamillo of graphic novels. After remembering who Kate DiCamillo was, he readily agreed. I just finished reading¬†Ghosts (written and illustrated by the talented Raina) and I LOVED it. Anything this artist/writer touches turns to gold. I already have (and adore) Smile and Sisters. And Drama is on its way, thanks to a Chapters gift card! I’m a Raina fan, is what I’m saying. Her art style is just PERFECT for the BSC. I love all the character designs, but I especially enjoyed Claudia. I love the purple hair. It’s just something she totally would’ve done. The girls look the way you’d imagine them (although, TBH, Claudia’s room is far less messy than I envisioned, and her clothes are waaaay tamer than I figured they’d be).
    2. The BSC series has some terrific books (looking at you, Kristy’s Big Day) and some real duds (looking at you, Claudia and The Phantom Phone Calls – book two in the original series, but not at all used in the graphic novels. Why not? Well, because now everyone has call display. So…you know…if the phantom phone caller phoned, Claudia could just check the number, block it and…er…story over. Things were potentially scarier in the eighties, kids.) The first four books they made into graphic novels are really solid. That’s why Claudia and Mean Janine is in there, although it was book 7 in the original series. It’s a really good book with a lot of drama and an interesting, emotionally charged story. And although I didn’t do a side-by-side comparison (yet), I found the graphic novel versions lacked any of the draggy bits that the originals tend to have. And also? No long chapter two intro to the club members in EVERY SINGLE BOOK. OMG, we know MaryAnne is the shy one with the boyfriend! Kristy is mouthy and short! Stacey has diabetes and is from New York! Claudia can’t spell for beans and wears clothes she found on an abandoned scarecrow! Dawn loves the environment and would totes marry it if she could! Jessi is a ballet star and reads horse books! So does Mallory (who has braces and glasses and her life is SOOO hard)! Gotcha, loud and clear!
    3. Vivi adores the books. Anything that my six-year-old enjoys and reads on her own makes me happy. She is reading a couple of grade levels ahead, so finding books that appeal to her, are age-appropriate but not boring, and that she can read independently is a bit of a challenge. These fit the bill perfectly. She devoured Kristy’s Great Idea in literally two hours. I thought she might’ve skimmed it/skipped bits of it, but after a thorough grilling to make sure she understood what she had read, I had to admit: her comprehension was 100%. She read the whole thing. And she has re-read them. Vivi is also presently into Phoebe and her Unicorn, but those are a bit over her head, joke-wise. She gets about 70% of the book, but enough of it is above her that we end up answering a lot of questions.

 

Anyway, this post is supposed to be all about Stacey. So, the review: The Truth About Stacey is terrific. It’s enjoyable. It’s…well…let’s hear from Vivi:

“It’s one of my favourite BSC books. I just love the art and the story is really good. My favourite part is when Stacey and Laine meet up and eventually become friends again. It’s just so sweet. By the way, the truth about Stacey is that she has diabetes. Diabetes is when you can’t eat too much sugar or you’ll get sick. Stacey doesn’t always handle it well, but she learns to deal with it more by the end of the book.”

Vivi: A+
Mama: A+

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

 

Title: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Published: Candlewick Press, 2014

 

We’ve talked here before about books that certain members of the family like and certain other family members…don’t feel as strongly about. Today’s book falls into that category: it’s OK, and I don’t DISLIKE it, but it’s not SUPER (although it IS super creepy…stay tuned for more).

Lily disagrees and really enjoys the story.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole is written by the talented Mac Barnett and illustrated by the always awesome Jon Klassen. Lily immediately recognized the art style and said, “Hey! That’s the guy who did the I Want My Hat Back book!” She was enthused to read the book, especially when I reminded her that this dynamic duo penned/illustrated Triangle and Square, two books she adored this summer (as part of our ‘let’s borrow all the books from the library and see if they notice’ project).

So we read the story. It can be summarized thusly: 2 brothers (Sam and Dave) decide to dig a big hole in search of something spectacular.¬† Unbeknown to them, every time they dig in a new direction, they miss discovering a large jewel. They then fall asleep (due to exhaustion and lack of snacks) and their dog (who seems to be quite wise) digs a bit further. Sam and Dave fall through it and end up outside their grandfather’s house. They go in for a snack. A simple, kinda meh ending, right?

WRONG.

The house at the end (where they fall through and end up) is NOT the same as the house they started at. Want proof?

Prepare to have your mind BLOWN:


Oh, look! A nice apple tree. Grandpa must grow apples! How sweet.

 


Oh, look! A nice pear tree. Wait, Grandpa doesn’t grow pears! That’s not Mr. Whiskers! Where the hell are we, Sam?!

(Also: sorry my camera is potato-quality.)

So now I’m kinda freaked out. Where did you end up, Sam and Dave?! Will Grandpa have button eyes? Are you in the upside-down? WHERE ARE YOU?!

Ahem.

What works:

1. The illustrations are, of course, fantastic. The subtle glances the dog gives, both trying to point out the jewels and trying to point out that they ARE NOT IN THE SAME PLACE THEY STARTED are good…and creepy. Every page is lovely. Jon Klassen is a master. Although Dan Santat is my #1 art homie, Jon Klassen is top five.

2. The freaky ending. I did NOT see that coming. In fact, truth be told, I’ve owned this book for a while now and hadn’t noticed it until tonight. And now I’m so creeped out.

What isn’t my favourite:
1. The super-simple story. Lily thought it was hilarious that the boys kept missing the jewels – and this seemed to be a common kid-reaction on Goodreads (I like to see what the general populous thinks of a book before I weigh in). I found it kind of frustrating. What does that say about our personalities? Type-A, Type-B? Fun/no-fun (I’m the no-fun, naturally)? Without the super-freaky ending (which is subtle), the story just feels really basic. Kind of meh overall. When you realize that it’s actually Black Mirror-esque, it gets much stranger. I wonder how many people actually did as I did, and simply missed the subtle details because they were too busy reading the book to a kid, who likes the simplicity of the story.

LIly wanted me to add that she also really liked the cat character. Because, well, it’s a cat.*

So the book is interesting. Simple, but interesting right at the end. Chilling, even. Downright freaky, if you will.

I’m sleeping with the lights on tonight.

Lily: Let’s read it again!
Mama: The apples are pears! The apples are pears!

*The cat at the end is not the cat at the beginning. The dog knew everything. Always trust the wise-looking dog.