Once every couple of months I try and share tidbits about some of the pictures books we find at the library. Since Miss M and I are still in the middle of a very long read-aloud about the Civil War, it seemed like a good week to do just that.
A little over a week ago we took a trip to the Minneapolis Central library branch downtown. Among their large collection of picture books, it’s always easy to find books by beloved authors and illustrators – including older books that may not be on the shelf quite so often at our neighborhood branch.
Lois Lenski has a special place in my heart as an author/illustrator–mainly because she illustrated the first four books in my all-time favorite children’s book series, the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. We own a couple of Lenski’s picture books, but there are many of her picture books we haven’t read yet. I found a few of her “Mr. Small” titles on our trip to Central Library.
I read “Policeman Small” to the boys at bedtime last night. Tony was out, so I was pulling bedtime double-duty of reading to the boys and to Miss M. Everyone enjoyed the rhythm of this old-fashioned story of a traffic officer’s day and all the people and vehicles he sees. I was actually just thinking the other day about what city life was like before traffic lights – I’m sure there must have been a lot more traffic police men doing what Policeman Small was doing in this book. J He has a great “manual” version of a stoplight, in a manner of speaking (it’s two “stop” signs and two “go” signs on a pole that can be rotated so one faces each side of a four-way intersection). I’ve never seen a picture of one of these before, but I would have to imagine these were actually used in the days before stoplights.
Here’s another little tidbit about this book I found completely fascinating. Policeman Small actually opens with “sheet music” for a song about the book’s namesake character. The words were written by author/illustrator Lois Lenski, and the music appears to have been written by none other than prolific children’s book author Clyde Robert Bulla. I had no idea he was a composer as well. We’ve read and enjoyed several books by Bulla.
Here’s a few quick tidbits on a potpourri of other picture books we’ve read over the last two months:
When You Meet a Bear on Broadway. The boys and Miss M all enjoyed this to some degree, but this was a favorite of mine in the stacks from the last couple months. When you meet a cute little bear on Broadway…you should help it find its mama.
I Don’t Want a Cool Cat. A favorite of both boys, who liked the clever and funny descriptions of all kinds of cats that a girl does not want for a pet.
Dirtball Pete. A sweet story about accepting someone for who they really are – even if that means they are covered in dirt!
A Home for Bird. Thanks to Amy for this recommendation. We all enjoyed this wonderful picture book and read it several times. The first time, it was fun to try and guess what was going to happen. Miss M correctly guess that it would end with a cuckoo clock.
Knit Your Bit – This World War I-era story is another recommendation from Amy that we all enjoyed. I wasn’t sure if the boys would really be “into” it, but they liked it enough to request it to be read to them more than once.
The Great Doughnut Parade – this was another favorite of mine that the boys liked as well. Mr. K (age 4) asked many, many times if he could REALLY tie a doughnut to his pants with a string after reading this book.
Two Sticks – A girl with a love for drumming drums her way out of a jam in a swamp full of alligators. This was a favorite with Mr. E (age 6).
Wumbers. I feel like I heard about this one from another Read Aloud Thursday post at some point, but I am not 100% sure. This is a puzzle picture book where the pun-like puzzles come in the form of numbers melded with words. I love books like this, and Miss M really enjoyed it too. I always find word-play picture books to be not quite as fun as I wish they would be with the boys though, since I have to explain so many of the jokes! I also just realized that this book is by the same author of a picture book we really enjoyed a few months ago, This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations.
What Can a Crane Pick Up? A classic “truck” book, I heard the boys repeating lines from this book over and over again after we read it.
How Rocket Learned to Read – The boys thought this was okay, but I saw Miss M reading this cute picture book about a bird teaching a dog to read several times while it was in our library basket.
The Cobbler’s Holiday or Why Ants Don’t Wear Shoes. This is one of those books that I thought was “okay” and I hoped the boys would only want to hear it once. We, in fact, read it several times before it went back to the library. I’m still not quite sure what appealed to the boys so much about this book, other than the ridiculous idea of ants wearing many, many pairs of shoes. It seemed to me like it should have been a parable of some sort, only I didn’t know what the “moral” of the story was supposed to be – other than that you don’t need shoes to be fashionable.
I’m linking up to Read Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!