January 31, 2011

Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum

"Bubble gum, bubble gum, 
Chewy-gooey bubble gum,
Icky-sticky bubble gum
Melting in the road."

Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum by Lisa Wheeler was one of the very first books we ever checked out from the library.  We enjoyed it so much the first time around that we've checked it out three times since!  This enjoyably wacky rhyme begins with a single blob of bubble gum in the road.  That tiny blob of icky-sticky gum causes big trouble as one by one a whole slew of animals become stuck in the chewy-gooey mess.  What will the animals do when a big blue truck comes rumbling down the road?  They "must chew, and chew, and chew" of course!  The "light and lifty bubble gum" "floats them toward the sky as the truck zooms by."  Just when you think the story is over, along comes a big burly bear, and the bubble gum saves the day once again.  "Oh what luck!  The bear got stuck," and the icky-sticky story begins all over again.

The vibrant acrylic and collage paper illustrations by Laura Huliska-Beith make the story pop right off of the page.  They are the perfect complement to the energetic, onomatopoeia-filled rhyme.  And who doesn't love a good onomatopoeia?  We give Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum two enthusiastic thumbs up!

January 27, 2011

Bubble Trouble

"Little Mabel blew a bubble, and it caused a lot of trouble...
Such a lot of bubble trouble in a bibble-bobble way."

Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy is a tongue-twisting tale of a runaway bubble that causes nothing but trouble as it carries Mabel's baby brother away.  Mabel and her frantic mother chase the bubble all over as the baby bounces high above the town.  One by one the townspeople join in the pursuit, trying to come up with a solution to the baby bubble predicament..."they giggled and they goggled until all their brains were boggled."  Finally, the wicked boy Abel, "a rascal and a rebel" unintentionally saves the day with a sling and a pebble.

The use of playful rhyme and alliteration throughout the story make this tongue-twisting tale a delight to read.  The watercolor and cut paper illustrations by Polly Dunbar are whimsical and enchanting, much like the text.  So the next time you want to give your tongue a tickle, give Bubble Trouble a try.

January 24, 2011

Shake Your Rump

"I'll wiggle my rump with a bump, bump, bump, and smash your house!"

Ok folks, this one made me laugh out loud!  The Three Little Gators by Helen Ketteman is a very entertaining retelling of the classic tale The Three Little Pigs.  In The Three Little Gators, Mama Gator sends her three little gators out to make their mark in the wild swampland of East Texas.  But before they depart, she warns them to build sturdy houses to protect themselves from the notorious Big-bottom Boar, who would love nothing more than to make a tasty snack out of little gators.  So each little gator sets out to build his new home.  The First Gator wisely chooses to build his house out of rocks, but his two brothers think rocks are too heavy and require too much work, so they continue on to build houses of their own using sticks and sand.  Unfortunately, sticks and sand are no match for the Big-bottomed Boar, who wiggles his "rump with a bump, bump, bump," and smashes the houses down.  The Second and Third Gator "scramble through the brambles" "faster than a fox after a muskrat" straight to the home of First Gator.  Although the Big-bottomed Boar "wiggled and bumped, and waggled and thumped," he couldn't knock down the rock house.  Never one to miss out on the chance for a tasty snack, the Big-bottom Boar attempts to enter the rock house through the chimney, and receives a nice set of grill marks on his rear end as a souvenir.

From the silly catchphrase to the bold illustrations, The Three Little Gators kept us smiling from beginning to end.  We highly recommend this new humorous twist on an old classic.

January 20, 2011

Way Out in the Desert

'Way out in the desert near the ocotillo door
lived a rattlesnake mother and her baby snakes four.
"Rattle!" said the mother.  "We rattle!" said the four,
so they rattled in the shadow of the ocotillo door.'

Based upon the children's song "Over in the Meadow," Way Out in the Desert by T.J. Marsh and Jennifer Ward transported us right into the heart of the Sonoran Desert.  With each new verse, we met new and unusual desert dwellers such as Gila monsters, javelinas, and horned toads.   At it's core, Way Out in the Desert is a clever counting book.  The number of animals increases with each new verse, and the corresponding number is hidden on each page.  The spectacular illustrations by Kenneth Spengler really bring the desert creatures to life.  Living in Texas, we're familiar with most of the creatures featured in Way Out in the Desert, but we enjoyed referring to the glossary in the back of the book to learn more about a few of the more unfamiliar things like saguaros and palo verde trees.  The melodic text is a delight to read, even if you're not familiar with the original tune.  Luckily, sheet music for the song was thoughtfully included on the last page, an entertaining bonus for a certain little girl with a brand new keyboard! 

So the next time you feel the urge to run with the roadrunners or jump with the jackrabbits, Way Out in the Desert is a one-way ticket to a Sonoran Desert adventure.

January 17, 2011


Whenever I'm selecting a new batch of books to check out from the library, I'm always drawn to humorous retellings of classic songs, rhymes, and stories.  That is exactly what this book delivers.  There Was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea by Jennifer Ward gives a Southwestern twist to the classic silly song "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly."  In this version, a wily coyote swallows a tickly flea, plucked right from his knee.  In his quest for a remedy he continues swallowing a series of very interesting things, each one a little bit zanier than the last.  "It takes lots of practice to swallow a cactus!"  The flow of this rhyme is so catchy I find myself singing the story instead of simply reading it.  And the bold, delightful illustrations by Steve Gray make this one a new family favorite.

January 12, 2011

Troublesome Tresses

"She whines and she moans and she howls in despair, but Ella Kazoo will not brush her hair."

I'm sure that at some point as parents, we've all matched wits with a tenacious toddler who refuses to brush her hair.  This is a daily battle that I can certainly relate to, so when I saw this book at the library last week, I couldn't resist checking it out.  Ella Kazoo Will NOT Brush Her Hair by Lee Fox is a cautionary tale about a little girl who would rather do anything else on the planet besides brush her hair.  Ella "stashes her brush in the drawer with her socks," and when her mom desperately tried to tame Ella's mane, "she just runs off like a swift hurricane."  Ella's untamed tresses grow longer and more tangled with each turn of the page, until one morning Ella discovers her locks have grown so out of control that they've taken over the entire house!  "This hair must be stopped!"  A team of hairdressers rescue Ella from her troublesome tresses and "all due to a haircut, quite simple and snappy, both mother and daughter are blissfully happy."

We enjoyed watching Ella's tangled mane take on a life of it's own as the story progressed.  The wonderful ink and watercolor illustrations by Jennifer Plecas brought Ella's increasingly wild hair to life.  Most importantly, the hilarious Ella Kazoo Will NOT Brush Her Hair taught my daughter an important lesson...take control of your hair before it takes control of you!

January 7, 2011

"Howdy Folks!"

Hey y'all, our next book takes place deep in the heart of Texas!  The Cotton Candy Catastrophe at the Texas State Fair by Dotti Enderle is an amusing tale about a boy named Jake and his misadventures with his favorite sugary confection.  When Jake walks into the fair, he heads straight for the cotton candy booth to pick up a cone of his favorite fair food, pink cotton candy.  Little does he know that as he strolls around the fairgrounds, a strand of his cotton candy is still attached to the spinning machine, and he's leaving a trail of sticky pink fluff everywhere he goes.  Jake is completely unaware of the havoc his cotton candy is creating as he visits the midway, the merry-go-round, the haunted house, the livestock pens, and the Texas Star Ferris wheel.  Even Big Tex, the icon of the State Fair of Texas, can't escape the chaos, and the 52-foot tall cowboy soon finds himself wrapped in a pink tutu of cotton confection.  Luckily, Jake realizes what has happened and is able to herd the cotton candy into the Cotton Bowl, and in the end it's back to business as usual at the fairgrounds. 

The entertaining illustrations by Chuck Galey made us giggle as we witnessed the pink fluffy mass wrap itself around icons of Texas like longhorn cattle, the Texas Star, and Big Tex.  Whether you are a native Texan, or just wish you were one, The Cotton Candy Catastrophe at the Texas State Fair is sure to bring a smile to your face.

January 4, 2011

Five Little Monkeys

"No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"

I don't think there is anyone on the planet who hasn't heard the classic children's rhyme "Five Little Monkeys."  Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow brings the bedtime antics of the crazy little monkeys to life.  As the book begins, five little monkeys go about their bedtime routine, taking a bath, putting on pajamas, brushing their teeth.  Mama tucks them into bed, but as soon as she closes the door the fun really begins.  The five little monkeys have a blast jumping on the bed, but one by one each little monkey falls off and bumps his head.  Each time Mama calls the doctor and the doctor says, "No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"  Colorful sketches illustrate the little monkeys' tale.  Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed is just one book in an entire treasury of monkey adventures by Eileen Christelow, so if your little one loves this book, he will surely love to follow along as the five little monkeys wash a car, play hide and seek, and bake a birthday cake.  The fun goes on and on!

January 1, 2011


  "Before you know it, they will be running and chasing all around, oh, so busily..." 

I love books that make me feel nostalgic, and Babies by Gyo Fujikawa does exactly that.  I was given a new copy of Babies from my aunt when my daughter was born, and upon first reading it was instantly taken back to my own childhood.  The beautifully drawn illustrations of sweet little babies have a vintage feel.   The text simply describes tiny babies doing the things they do best, "eating, sleeping, laughing, and crying."  The book has a lovely message...whether they are being little angels or little rascals, "all babies like to be hugged and cuddled and loved." 

Babies and toddlers are fascinated by pictures of and stories about other babies.  As a baby, my daughter loved pointing to the babies in the book, describing their actions, seeing them do the same things she did, and now as a big sister she enjoys pretending that each baby in the book is her baby brother.  The delightful illustrations combined with simple text makes Babies a perfect first book for your little one.