One of my most favorite times of the day is the time before bed when I curl up with my son and my daughter and read them books. Now, my daughter is excited to read any story at any time of the day. My son however, is becoming a bit more particular. Not just any old story will do anymore. As he gets older and pays attention to what's happening in stories, bedtime reading is becoming even more fun. It's especially great because I love to read books and I have a particular fondness for children's literature. There are so many great books out there and I have many "favorites". Ask any student in my class; during story time almost every day I say, "Today I'm going to read you one of my favorite books." Honestly there are too many great ones to pick just one, right?
So in the spirit of football season and "Monday Night Football" I have decided to add a "Monday Night Book Review" to my blogging. Every Monday I plan to post a review of a children's book that I love. I will tell you why it's great and what age level it's good for, as well as where you can get it. The books I choose I will, hopefully, have read with either my son or my students and I'll let you know what they think too. I hope that you enjoy these books as much as I do!
I start with one of my all time favorites, you might hear that a lot, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems, one of my favorite children's book authors (I know shocking). In all seriousness Mo Willems, is very funny. When I taught first grade years ago, we did an author study on Mo Willems and my students LOVED his books. He is the author and illustrator of all of his books and he has a great sense of humor that comes across in his writing. Some of his books are just plain silly and reduced my students to fits of giggles. Even today, when the librarian reads a Mo Willems book to the students they practically fight over checking his books out.
I know, back to Knuffle Bunny. I had all but forgotten about this book until I came across it at the public library when my son and I were looking for a good picture book to check out. I thought he would especially like it because it's all about a little girl named Trixie who has favorite stuffed animal and my son has a favorite "Buddy" that he loves and takes almost everywhere. I think many kids have a similar stuffed lovey in their lives, so it's great for making real life connections. When kiddos are making connections they remember stories and what they were about, which is what we usually talk about first when we are teaching reading comprehension at school.
In Knuffle Bunny, pronounced kuh-nuffle bunny, toddler Trixie takes a trip to the laundromat with her Daddy. On the trip back home from the laundromat, Trixie realizes that she has forgotten her Knuffle Bunny, only she doesn't talk yet so she tries to communicate that her beloved bunny is missing in typical toddler form. Daddy doesn't realize the problem until after he arrives home with his flipped out toddler and Mommy asks where Knuffle Bunny is.
As a parent this account of the missing bunny is funny because it's such a real life situation that you can absolutely relate to. As a child, my son just thought it was funny to see Trixie throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of the city. In addition to the storyline, the way Mo Willems illustrates his characters and their facial expressions is spot on. You can see by the look on Daddy's face that he is completely frustrated by Trixie's meltdown, as well as the sheer look of panic when he realizes what has set her off. I also love the way the illustrations mix black and white photography for the background with colorful pops as the characters and key items are added to the picture.
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale is probably best for children ages 4-6 and is the first in a series of three stories about Trixie and her beloved Knuffle Bunny. Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity and Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion are equally as entertaining, perhaps they will be the subject of an upcoming review. I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did!