Category: Bookish Baby

Feb 06

Penguin Books for Every Occasion: Kid Lit with my Kidlet

Bookish Baby, Children's Books, Children's Fiction, Kidlit with my Kidlet 2

Hiya Bookworms!

Y’all know by now that I’m an avid penguin enthusiast, and that I shamelessly roped my child into the obsession (check out his first Halloween and nursery if you require proof.) Sammy has a MASSIVE book collection, and a large swath of that is dedicated to our flightless feathered friends. I know what you’re thinking. “How many penguin books can there possibly be? And on how many subjects? There are only so many cutesy rhymes one can make with ‘waddle’!” But you, my bookish friend, would be incorrect. Lo, there is a penguin book for EVERY occasion and learning opportunity. Lest you doubt me, I’ve complied a list (which is by no means exhaustive) of some very excellent children’s books featuring penguins. Prepare yourselves: it’s unbearably cute.

Penguins Teach Science: I wish I could find my copy of If You Were a Penguin by Wendell and Florence Minor (review)! I misplaced it long before Sammers was born, sigh. It’s such an adorable book full of rhymes and penguin facts. I’m sure it’s packed away in a box somewhere that will turn up eventually, but for now, I am bereft. Luckily, we have another great option for fun penguin facts and science tidbits on hand: Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere! by Bob Barner. The illustrations are bright and fun, though I confess I prefer the illustrations in If You Were a PenguinCurse my absent-mindedness!

Penguins Whose Parents Take Business Trips: Love, Mama by Jeanette Bradley is a sweet little story featuring a young penguin whose mother goes away on a business trip. I love that the mama penguin appears to be a scientist- the illustrations suggest she’s on some sort of research expedition. I also love that this book portrays the mama penguin as the one on a work trip while the daddy penguin holds down the fort. And, while the baby penguin and mama penguin miss each other, they’re reunited at the end. This would be a great addition to the library of any toddler with parents who travel for work! (I do not have to travel for work, but Jim occasionally does. Sam and I like to read this one when he’s out of town. I think it would be helpful for kids who are anxious about being away from their parent/caregiver for any length of time.)

Penguins Teach Basic Skills: Sarah Aspinall has a charming series of books tackling basic toddler skills including Penguins Love ColorsPenguins Love Their ABC’s, and Penguins Love Counting: Let’s Make Snowmen (I can’t find a shopping link for this anywhere, sorry! I bought it at a Scholastic book fair- what a rush!) There are six penguins (one named Broccoli!) who get up to all sorts of shenanigans while learning. Sam’s particularly fond of Penguins Love Colors, and really digs that the book sort of breaks the fourth wall (is that a thing in books the way it is in TV?). It encourages audience participation- these would make AWESOME choices for library/daycare story times.

Penguins Have All the Feels: Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer follows a penguin who has had a particularly rough day. We don’t know why the penguin is so upset, but neither does the penguin. This is a great book to help teach toddlers about moods and feelings. It also encourages them to take baths to wash away the grumpiness, and that’s never a bad thing. A nice bubble bath has been known to lift my spirits too!

Penguins Offer Companionship: Your Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton is adorable. I highly recommend looking up the song before reading it- if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up sing-reading. The premise of the story is that a penguin desperately wants to become BFF with a hippo. Because why not? The penguin spends the book trying to convince the hippo that they should be platonic life partners. As an added bonus, the song was performed by none other than everybody’s favorite Monkee Davy Jones (RIP) so it’s bouncy and cute.

Penguins Teach Manners: Penguin Says “Please” by Michael Dahl, Illustrated by Oriol Vidal teaches the little ones how to ask for things, rather than demanding. The Mama penguin in this book is very patient, but she’s not going to be ordered around. This little penguin needs to say “please!” And so does my toddler. He’ll say “please,” but it’s often in a heart wrenching and plaintive wail. Like “pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease don’t make me go to bed, you absolute monster of a mother.” Or, um, something like that.

Penguin Moms Who Just Need a Minute: Baby Penguins Everywhere!and Baby Penguins Love their Mama by Melissa Guion are super cute books and both of them feature an overwhelmed Mama penguin taking a time for herself. In one, she even takes a NAP! It’s wonderful! I think it’s great for kids to see that their caretakers are human too and might need a little rest from time to time.

Penguins Teach About Adoption and/or Same-Sex Parent Families: I couldn’t make a list of penguin books for all occasions without bringing up the one about the same-sex penguin couple who want to have a family (oh, my soft, squishy heart!) The two male penguins fall in penguin love and try to hatch a rock. When the zookeepers see this, they give the couple an egg that’s been rejected by its parents to raise and, voila! And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (review) is often banned and challenged which irks me for a number of reasons. I mean: It’s a true story, LOVE IS LOVE, and while parents can (and should) monitor and approve what their own children read, they have no business denying access to other people’s children. But I digress. I haven’t read this one with Sammy yet simply because it’s a lot more text-heavy than most of the others on this list. He’s got a pretty good attention span for 2 and a half, but this one’s geared toward more of a kindergarten crowd, I think. Still, it’s a wonderful and penguiny way for kids to learn about adoption and same-sex parent families.

Would it surprise you to know that this is not an exhaustive list of our penguin literature? I could write so many penguin kid book posts. And I reserve the right to do so. There is a zero percent chance of me parting with any of these books once Sammers outgrows them. I shall be the curator of my own private penguiny library and it will only be, like, medium weird.

One day, he may not want to wear penguin PJs, but today is not that day.

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links within the above text direct to Amazon, but if you prefer to shop through local, independent book stores, please see the links below*

If You Were a Penguin
Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere!
Love, Mama
Penguins Love Colors
Penguins Love Their ABCs
Grumpy Pants
Your Personal Penguin
Baby Penguins Love Their Mama!
Baby Penguins Everywhere!
And Tango Makes Three

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Feb 05

Reading Books, Lifting Flaps

Bookish Baby, Children's Books 1

Hiya Bookworms!

This is probably the least surprising thing about me, but I LOVE reading stories to little kids. One of the things I looked most forward to when I imagined having a child was the bedtime stories. Reading in our house is not confined to bedtime by any means, but since my husband and I both work full time and the kiddo goes to bed early, there’s not a lot of time on weekdays to read outside of the bedtime routine. (I am NOT complaining about the early bedtime, I LOVE the early bedtime, please do not smite me, Universe!) Sammy has liked to participate in the story time process by turning pages for quite a while now, but he’s starting to get REALLY excited about lift-the-flap books (and any book with an interactive element.) Here are some of our current favorites.

ONE: Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell- This was a gift from the sweet, wonderful, Stacey at Unruly Reader. My BEA commuter squad met up for a little reunion when I was, like, medium pregnant with Sammers. Stacey had picked up a couple of books for me that her nieces and nephews had loved, and this was one of them. It’s so cute! Imagine writing the zoo to ask for a pet and being sent a series of animals that aren’t what might traditionally be considered house pets. Until, the end, that is, when SPOILER ALERT, the narrator receives a “DOGGY! DOGGY! DOGGY!” as Samuel so succinctly puts it.

TWO: Never Touch a Monster by Rosie Greening, Illustrated by Stuart Lynch: We’ve got a wide variety of books with texture in our library, but this one is delightfully unique. Instead of having little patches of fabric for texture, these monsters have this funky silicon nubby stuff. It’s a sensory delight for me as a grown woman, so it’s no surprise Sam loves it too. It’s also got some really fun rhyming and general silliness so it’s great fun to read out loud. We’re very lucky in that Sammy’s Grandma (a retired elementary school teacher) is exceptionally passionate about children’s literacy and gives him books at every giftable occasion, some questionably giftable occasions, and frequently just because. This was, unsurprisingly, one of her finds. (Sammy’s Nana is also an avid reader, but as a semi-retired dental hygienist, she’s more likely to make sure her grandson is in possession of high tech toothbrushes than books, which works out well. He has his own Sonicare AND an impressive library. This child wants for nothing.)

THREE: Little Red Penguin Shapes, Colors, Words, Numbers by Angela Muss: I actually purchased this set of board books myself which is kind of surprising. We have received so many books as gifts that our shelves are full to bursting without much help from me. Sammy’s daycare did a sale through Usborne books. Knowing the school was going to get a percentage of the overall purchases in free product was what finally made me take the plunge, as I’ve been invited to many digital Usborne “parties” and never made a purchase. These are sturdy little board books with lots of colorful illustrations and plenty of flaps to lift. Obviously, my primary motivation in ordering this particular set was the penguin protagonist, but I’m very pleased with the quality. I do have to admit that when I purchase board books, I usually get them from discount retailers. As a result, the price on these felt a bit high to me for something that’s going to end up battered and soaked in drool, however I don’t think the prices are terrible when compared to list price on similar books. (PSA: If you haven’t gone on a book binge through Book Outlet, you’re missing out.)

FOUR: Hi-Five Animals! by Ross Burach: Rather than having flaps or textures, this book is interactive in that you literally hi-five it. As you turn the pages, different animals hold up various appendages asking for you to give them a love tap. It’s a really fun book to read with a toddler (I’m guessing this would be a big hit with the preschool set as well.) Who doesn’t like to give hi-fives? Plus, hi-fives are a nice alternative greeting for kids aren’t comfortable giving hugs to everyone who asks. I’ve accepted many a hi-five from bashful tots. There have actually been a couple of times when I go to pick Sam up at daycare and a random kid will run up to me. I’d be happy to give them a squeeze, but if I don’t know their parents, I think it’s kind of weird to go in for the hug, so I offer them a hi-five instead. I can’t take responsibility for the one time I sat on the ground to read Sam the book that he handed me and another kid crawled into my lap, though. I doubt that little girl’s mom would have minded because she’s one of the few daycare parents with whom I’ve shared friendly banter. I’d totally be Mom Friends with her. You know. If I knew how to make Mom Friends. (I have plenty of friends who are also parents, but I’ve never made a parent friend directly through my child. That’s what I mean by “Mom Friends.” I feel the need to clarify that, for fear of receiving sassypants texts from my actual IRL friends, Book Club being the most likely culprits. They’re the sassiest.)

FIVE: That’s Not My Penguin by Fiona Watt: This was a gift from one of Sam’s baby showers, and, coincidentally, another Usborne book. It shows a different penguin on each page highlighting a textured feature that proves they are not “MY” penguin. Fuzzy tummies, shiny beaks, fluffy penguin chicks- it’s really cute. We also have one of the siblings to this book which replaces the penguin with a reindeer. I think there are at least a couple of other animals available too, but OBVIOUSLY this is my favorite. We have more than a few penguin related titles. I’m not mad about it.

SIDE NOTE: Remember how I posted about a month ago that I was concerned about Sam’s lack of walking? HE CAN WALK NOW! The doctor was right, being the only non-walker in the toddler room put a bee in his bonnet and now he toddles around like a drunken sailor. It’s ridiculously cute. It’ll probably be less cute when he’s running away from me in public, but I have one of those backpacks with a tether and I’m not afraid to use it, SAMUEL. I’ll take the side eye from other parents for having a kid on a leash over my kid running into traffic any day of the week, y’all.

Trying to get a decent photo of him walking is a challenge because he’s still kind of wobbly and they all come out blurry. But here’s a triumphant smile. Actually, it’s just a smile because I was singing the “Hop Little Bunny” song and bouncing a stuffed rabbit, but you get the idea. He’s proud of himself. We’re proud of him. Smiles for days.

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I may receive a small commission.*

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Jan 31

A Perfectly Bookish Nursery: Penguin Edition

Bookish Baby 13

Salutations Bookworms!

Today I’m going to explain how to create the world’s most adorable penguin and book themed nursery. You ready?

Step One: Go back in time. You know that girl who walked into the first day of 6th grade late carrying a trombone? Make friends with her. It’ll be easy, her locker is right next to yours and you have the same schedule. Plus she’s weird, like you.

During this period, you may also exchange tiny sticker versions of your school photos. 7th grade fashion. This was during the “we simply must grow out our bangs” awkward stage.

Step Two: Wait 22 years.

Step Three: Give your artistic best friend of over two decades creative license to design your kid’s nursery.

If you’re lucky enough to have a BFF like mine, she will weep tears of joy when she finds out you’re expecting at long last. Then she will offer her services to help you in any way she can. Fabric swatches will be exchanged, designs will be discussed, and two states away, your child’s bedroom decor will be lovingly constructed.

See those penguin curtains? The wall art? The coordinating Diaper Genie?!

I just realized as I’m posting this photo that my BFF’s mom was the one who made the throw blanket on the back of the rocking chair. It’s a family affair, the craftiness. The lethargic looking penguin was something I already had in my possession. Like that’s in any way surprising.

Possibly the most important element the bookish penguin nursery: a book shelf. It’s full of books and penguins, naturally. In the 5 months Sam has been here, many of these toys have shifted to new homes to make room for more books, but I didn’t feel like taking new pictures. If you look closely, you’ll notice that many of the stuffies on the bottom shelf are Little Golden Books and Dr. Seuss characters! And yes, that IS a Fraggle Rock puppet on the top shelf. (My SIL is amazing.)  If you needed more proof my BFF is among the best of humans, the coordinated penguin set next to the Wembley is a penguin bowling toy that I bought for my “nephew” when he was teeny tiny. He’s almost 10 now. She saved all the penguin stuff I ever bought for her kids to give back to me when I had one of my own one day. Excuse me, my eyeballs are leaking.

The penguin mobile wasn’t handmade but it was one of the first things I put on my registry. Obviously. And no, the Sleep Sheep didn’t stay in the crib once the baby arrived. I don’t know why I feel the need to clarify that, but I DO know the rules of safe sleeping.

Here’s a close up of the wall art pieces. I know a lot of bookish types get a little cringe-y when book pages are used in craft projects, but let me assure you that all the books used in this project were battered old copies destined for recycle bins. I chose some of my favorite children’s book quotes and the Bestie decoupaged pages from the books in the background and painted the quotes over top. We’ve got Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, and The Phantom Tollbooth represented. The Green Eggs and Ham quote is right over Sam’s crib, for obvious reasons.

Sam’s book collection is going to be another post entirely, but I wanted to show off how delightful his nursery is. You know. Before he’s old enough to tell me he’s had quite enough of the penguin stuff, MOM.

Did I mention she and her fellow drove 5 hours with two very small children in tow to attend my baby shower? Then we had dinner in a microbrewery that used to be a church. As you do.

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Of course, the coolest stuff in the post isn’t available for purchase because it’s one of a kind homemade goodness. You’ll just have to find your own crafty weird BFF. Mine is taken.*

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Jan 08

We’re All Mad Here: A Baby Shower Story

Bookish Baby 16

Greetings Bookworms!
It’s a brand new year and my only resolution was to smother my baby in kisses and dress him in as many cutesy outfits as he’ll tolerate because it’s a short window until he has opinions about what he wears. But if I were in the market for doing a REAL resolution, it would involve writing some of the blog posts that have been bouncing around my brain. I thought we’d start by featuring one of my baby showers (yes, ONE of. I had two major ones, a small one from my husband’s co-workers, and more gifts and cards than you can shake a stick at. Let’s just say this is one blessed baby and the 100 pack of thank-you notes I ordered came in super handy.)

I’m a big fan of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass. I realize that’s not at all uncommon among bookish types, but nevertheless it’s true. I have a substantial Alice collection (though nothing when compared to Julz’s- her entire guest room is Alice themed and it’s GLORIOUS. It’s even cuter in person, which I’m mentioning because I feel fancy as heck for knowing this gal IRL.) Hence, two of my neighbors/book club friends/craft queens/excellent humans took it upon themselves to plan the most adorable Alice in Wonderland themed baby shower in the history of ever. MOVE OVER, PINTEREST, YOU HAVE NOTHING ON ANGIE AND EMILY. Behold.

Yes, the invitations were bookmarks!!! Also, ignore the teddy bear. I figured it would be rude to put my girl Angie’s personal phone number on the internet. I believe I shrieked and jumped up and down when I saw these.

Not even the magnificence of the invitations could have prepared me for the party that was to come, though. Every teeny tiny detail was so perfect! I’m just going to insert a zillion pics now, okay?

A brief overview of the tablescape. If you’re in Central Illinois, this was in the party room of So Chic Boutique which was cute AF.

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know I’m a sucker for flowers, particularly gardening with annuals. See some examples here, herehere, or here. One of my favorite places to shop for annuals is a local seasonal garden center which happens to be run by Emily’s mom. Total coincidence, BTW. I shopped there before I knew who owned it. If you’re in Central Illinois, Best Buds always has beautiful and unusual stock. I highly recommend them. This year, as soon as their flowers began arriving, Emily texted me to tell me about a new variety of petunia, not only because it was pretty, but also because it was named Queen of Hearts. Yeah, I bought like 6 of them for my yard. The minute I saw them on the tables at the shower, I started telling everyone, “OMG those are QUEEN OF HEARTS PETUNIAS!” She knew I’d appreciate them, and I so, so did!

Also, the Mad Hatter flower pots read 8/15- my due date. The details they put in are still boggling my mind months later. Sam, however, was born a FULL WEEK AFTER his due date. Which in hindsight is totally fine, but it led to the LONGEST WEEK OF MY LIFE.

 

The games were beyond adorable and the favors were the drink me/eat me cup and saucer with the little packets of tea. This literally could not be any cuter. It just couldn’t. Unfortunately I am crap at taking photos when I am this excited, so blurry.

This is the perfect example of how EXTRA Angie is. She painted the freaking roses red! She made these cupcakes in her own kitchen, got the frosting to look like a rose, and then airbrushed the white rose to look like it was being painted. I don’t deserve friends this awesome.

Everything was so sweet and perfect! I was completely overwhelmed by my friends’ creativity and holy smokes did the guests EVER set me up for life with Sammers. Generous would be a gross understatement. But at the very end of the party, Angie pulled the Angie-est move that has ever been Angied. That’s right, the gal who color codes her closet included a request in the invitations that guests wear blue so we could get a color coordinated photo op. I laughed so hard when I found out, but I’ve got to be honest- it turned out really nicely. In hindsight, her asking what I was planning to wear clearly had an ulterior motive…

Friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and a super charming sign to cover my swollen ankles. (The sign now hangs in Sam’s room, of course. My little Wild Thing.)

 

 

L to R: Angie, me & Sam & my cankles, & Emily.

The thank you notes have long since been delivered, but reliving this shower to write this post has made me grateful all over again. BRING IT IN FOR A HUG, Y’ALL!

*If you make an Amazon purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. If you make a purchase at either of the small businesses in this post, I will receive nothing but good karma.*

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