Friday, May 11, 2012

Our top 5 bedtime stories for April

List by Danielle

"It's very simple why kids are crazy about dinosaurs -- dinosaurs are nature's Special Effects. They are the only real dragons. Kids love dragons. It's not just being weirdly shaped and being able to eat Buicks. It's that they are real."

~ Robert T. Bakker, Honolulu Advertiser, Jul. 9, 2000

February was superhero month.

April - April was also superhero month.

I don't think the superheroes are going anywhere anytime soon.

Spiderman is up there as flavour of the month, though he's got tough competition from Ben 10 and the Powerpuff Girls. Also, as far as literal flavours of the month go, cookbooks are also still a firm favourite amongst the kids. They love to flip through pictures of food and chat about what looks good enough to lick the page and what makes them go EWWWWWW.

Over the last couple of months we've really enjoyed visiting our new local libraries (Glenfield and Northcote), and browsing through a whole new collection of picture books and graphic novels. (We also made a nostalgic trip back to Tupu - hey, Richie & the team! - and Botany to raid their awesome kids' collections.) The kids have been having a lot of fun exploring not only the libraries but their play areas, gardens and surroundings. You can't get much better for a free outing for little kids than taking them to a library they've never visited, for real. Plus - stuff to take home!

The amazing Spider-Man. The complete Ben Reilly epic. [Book 1] [graphic novel] / [writers, Tom DeFalco ... [et al.] ; pencilers, Mark Bagley ... [et al.] ; inkers/finishers, Hector Collazo ... [et al.]
When Peter Parker discovers he is a clone, he retires as Spider-Man, leaving Ben Reilly to take up the superhero role as the Scarlet Spider.

Not sure I should cop to this one. Yes, I let my three year old look at an adult graphic novel. We don't so much read it at bedtimes as flip through it looking for the characters he recognises from Super Hero Squad, to his immense delight. He loves the dynamic pictures - yes, there is fighting, but Spiderman is also an acrobat, and the pages soar and swoop and the gravity is playful. We have fun making up our own stories and there is a lot of chat about what could be going on. Plus, he loves guessing what the sound effects say - and his big sister can even read some of them to him.

We have the three year old to thank for this one, too. One of his enduring favourite bedtime stories has been the Disney Princess cookbook, and now he's branched out into magazines. Two issues of Donna Hay got dumped on my borrowing stack during one recent library visit with instructions to bring them home. One has cake on the cover - the other has home-made fruit iceblocks. Wonderfully, the instructions for the iceblocks are simple (once we get our hands on some iceblock moulds) and we may well tackle them sometime soon. 

Eliza and the moonchild / Emma Chichester Clark
A wild Moonchild tires of his white, white moon surroundings and zooms down to Earth in search of colour. Will he find what he's looking for and just who will he meet along the way?

I have a big soft spot for Emma Chichester Clark's books. I love both her stories - often wise, but not at all preachy or overbearing - and the cute, softly colourful art. 'Will and Squill' and the Blue Kangaroo stories are great. This book appeals to my love of painting, especially communal painting with kids, and its ability to make the world around you a bit brighter.  

T. rex trick-or-treats / by Lois Grambling ; illustrated by Jack E. Davis
A Tyrannosaurus rex cannot decide what kind of costume to wear on Halloween night.

Fun as crazy T. rex and his friends compete to be the spookiest on Halloween. The pics are great; big, colourful, larger than life dinosaurs with huge, comical facial expressions. The kids enjoyed both the dinosaurs (always a winner) and the humour.

Two homes / Claire Masurel ; illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Alex has two homes - a home where Daddy lives and a home where Mummy lives. But whether Alex is with Mummy or Daddy, one thing stays the same: Alex is loved by them both - always. This title is the positive portrayal of the life of a child whose parents are divorced.

Over the last couple of months, like Alex, our kids have been adapting to having two homes. The library has a few picture books in the collection to give kids some ways of thinking about/dealing with/naming emotions connected with separation. This one is the kindest and the gentlest, maybe aimed at kids who have gone through the rawest first flood of emotions immediately around learning of the split, and are now getting used to new routines, new bedrooms, new ways of spending time with parents. Its message is simple and heartfelt - things are changing, but our love for you is a constant. Recommended. (Recommended highly, too, for adults: Helping your kids cope with divorce the Sandcastles way / M. Gary Neuman, with Patricia Romanowski. Insightful and very, very kid-focussed.)

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