Little Blue Truck

L recently turned 1 (1?! *gulp*) He stopped chewing books (see previous post,) and has a lot more interest in stories and, um, sitting still. As a birthday gift, we finally brought Little Blue Truck home.

L loves this book and given his age… he mostly loves our attempts at making the animal greetings, truck sounds and our versions of a friendly beep. You’ll start to feel like that guy in Police Academy who is the king of sound effects. Remember that guy?

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve heard Little Blue Truck, too. This book is all over the place– and goodness, the publisher even has a FREE party kit for blue truck lovers to download online!
blue truck

The story begins by introducing the readers to the blue truck whose horn and engine make “the friendliest sounds you ever heard.” On his way (to wherever he’s going,) animals greet him and he takes a moment to greet each of them in return.

All of the sudden, a humongous yellow dump truck forces his way around Blue and his new animal friends– some of them look a little stunned and one (the duck,) looks terrified as he flies out of the way of the speeding dump truck. Close one!

Quickly, the Dump truck finds himself deep in a mud puddle and really stuck. He shouted for help but…

‘”Honk!” cried the Dump,
and he sounded scared,
but nobody heard
(or nobody cared).’

Blue rushed in to help push him out, but when he became stuck, too, he cried for help and allllll of his new animal friends ran to the scene. With their help, eventually, both trucks were on their way again. This adorable story teaches readers a few lessons– on being a friend, being helpful and being kind.

The sweet, blue truck was made for story time.

Little Blue Truck (2008)
Alice Schertle (Illus. Jill McElmurry)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Baby Peekaboo (Indestructibles)

Our son loves books.

More specifically, he loves to chew on books.

Aside from chewing on the bench in our hallway, books are his fave.

Bless you, Indestructibles, bless you.

Baby Peek

You might not be able to see it, but right on the front it says

“Chew Proof – Rip Proof – Nontoxic – 100% Washable”

Chewing baby parents JUMP FOR JOY!

Baby Peekaboo was created by Kate Merritt and her artwork is bright, bold, and sure to capture your little one’s attention. Maybe they’ll be so entranced in the pages and the game of peekaboo that they’ll forget their desire to chew, chew, chew.

Maybe.

Baby Peekaboo (2014)
Kate Merritt
Workman Publishing

Teeny Tiny Toady (+ interview with the author!)

B is almost 3 years old. *Pinch* WHAT?!

Now, she examines books. She looks deeply at the illustrations and turns the page when she’s ready. She sits still for long periods of time. That’s a story time game changer in this house!

Last night she was desperate to read a superhero book– so a superhero book we picked.

teeny

In Teeny Tiny Toady, you’ll be led through rhyme to the time when Teeny became a hero. Teeny, a little teeny toad (and sister of seven brawny dudes,) witnessed a toad-napping. Her own Mother, captured and put inside a bucket. *GASP* Imagine…

“Hopping faster than she ever
in her tiny life had hopped,
hurry-scurry, wild with worry,
Teeny flopped
and plopped
and slopped,
dodging spiderwebs and mushrooms,
leaping bugs and sluggy mothers,
till she skidded through the door– at last!– to gasp…
I need you, brothers!”

Don’t you feel like you’re there?! Poor Teeny.

She wishes she could be strong like her brothers so she could help save their Mama. After several attempts to free her, the brothers accidentally ploop into the bucket (whoops!) and Teeny is forced to find her strength (hint: she’s a smart little chick) to save the day.

You won’t regret getting this one for your bookshelf. Esbaum’s story + Yamaguchi’s illlustrations = fireworks!

Read on to the very first interview on the blog with my very own Mom, Jill Esbaum. 🙂


What (or who) was the inspiration for Teeny?

Jill: Hmmm. I guess it would have to be the toads and frogs I used to capture while on family camping trips. I’ve always liked the tiniest ones. Thinking about those camping trips must have jogged something loose…maybe regret at the thought that I might possibly have forgotten to release them a time or two? How, I wondered, did the poor toads feel about being stuck in a bucket? 😦

I know there is often a lot of writing (and then re-writing!) that happens before a story is “complete.” How long did it take for Teeny and her family to come to life?

I started the story in early 2011, and Teeny and her dopey brothers sprang to life pretty quickly. By June, it was finished, so I sent it to my agent. A few rejections followed, one that took nearly A YEAR. I kept tweaking, smoothing lines, honing details, adding humor. The lines that never changed at all were the opening ones. I felt like those sort of dropped from the sky, honestly. In February of 2014, the story sold to Sterling. I did a few small revisions and, two years later, it was a book.

Did your visions for the story match up with the world the illustrator created?

Illustrator Keika Yamaguchi created a toady world that was better than anything I could have imagined! I was bowled over by her work. You feel like you’re right there in a lush toady paradise with Teeny and her brothers as they try to get their Mama out of the bucket. Who knew toads could be so roly-poly and adorable?

Which do you prefer? Toads or frogs?

Toads. They aren’t quite so quick to hop away, so they’re easier to catch. Plus, they’re dry, so they aren’t as slippery.

Blech. Next: what is your workspace like?

Neat and tidy, for a change. But that’s because I just went through every. single. paper. that’s been piling up all winter/spring, waiting to be filed or dealt with. Yay! I can see the top of my desk again!

You have several (how many?) published books. Which one was the easiest to write? The hardest?

I recently sold number 40, counting both picture books and the nonfiction books I do for National Geographic. The easiest book to write was I HATCHED! That’s because I dreamed it — in a little birdie voice that rhymed. When I woke up, I ran to my office and started jotting the lines I could remember. There were only TWO, but I remembered the gist of the whole thing, so that was a really fun (and quick) one to piece back together. The hardest … ? Probably I AM COW, HEAR ME MOO because it took me 10 years to find the right story for the main character, Nadine the cow. I wrote two totally different stories starring Nadine during that time, but they just didn’t feel right. So I’d put her story away for a few months or a couple of years before feeling myself pulled back in to try again.

Describe your perfect productive writing day.

A perfect writing day is rare. Like, sometimes-not-for-months rare. It happens when a) there’s nothing on my calendar, b) nobody waiting for anything from me, business-wise, c) my house is clean, and d) I have a manuscript I’m itching to work on. And if it’s raining, that’s even better, because there’s nothing I “should” be doing outdoors. 🙂 Most writing days are filled with other obligations, which is one reason I love writing picture books. I can think about them anytime, jotting notes into a little notebook no matter where I am, then working on them at home for half an hour here, two hours there.

Last one! How does it feel writing picture books that your grandchildren want to read?

Strange, like worlds colliding. But delightful, too. For so many years, my kids were no longer interested in picture books, and I didn’t have grandkiddos. So now, when one wanted to read HOW TO GROW A DINOSAUR every bedtime for weeks and the other wanted FRANKENBUNNY or TEENY TINY TOADY? Pretty cool. And surreal. Makes me want to write more books for them, while they’re still little.


Thanks, Mom, for everything.

Be sure to say hello in the comments! You can find more from Jill here:

http://jillesbaum.com/ or http://picturebookbuilders.com/

Teeny Tiny Toady (2016)
Jill Esbaum (Illus. Keika Yamaguchi)
Sterling Children’s Books

Spot Goes to the Park

In our house we have…well, a load of books. Like I say in the About section on Books for Babies, the library in the Beast’s castle is a dream.

Just outside of B’s room is a lonnnng bookshelf, and lately she’s been running to it and yanking a book (or several, since they’re being yanked,) to read before bed. Night after night, the chosen ones are the “monkey book” and Spot Goes to the Park.

How could a kid not like spunky, playful Spot?

img_5366-1

In this lift-the-flap, Spot, his friend Helen, and his mom go to the park to play. Spot is in a big hurry to get there. He “plays” with some pigeons, joyfully plays with his friends around the playground, and then they all play catch with their ball that goes… too… high!

“SPLASH!”

Spot and his pals get to make another friend– a sweet duck who kindly returned their ball after its surprise landing in the pond.

Your little one just might want to read this page turner over and over again… and again. 🙂

Spot Goes to the Park (1991)
Eric Hill
Ventura Publishing, Ltd.

Baby’s First Words

Baby’s First Words by Sassy is one of the first books that 4 month old L has really been able to focus on. The items in this book are made of bright, vibrant colors and designs that are noticeably outlined in black. They *pop*!

There isn’t much to say for how he reacts to me sharing this book with him. He lays there staring and looks at it really hard— soaking it all in. I just know he likes it… so, it’s a winner!

In Baby’s First Words, each spread is home to a different setting filled with things that belong there: animals on a farm, food for a picnic, “things that go”, animals from the forest, and things that one might find in a child’s room– bunny, ball, blocks, etc. The illustrations throughout the book are bound to keep Baby’s attention, and everything has its name printed underneath it English and Spanish!)

Soon enough, your genius, bilingual baby will be paging through books, holding their bottle, trying new foods and demanding more pureed manzanas. 🙂

Baby’s First Words (2014)
Sassy
Grosset & Dunlap
Ages 0-2

FIVE Little MONKEYS jumping on the bed

B has a new favorite. It’s the every-single-night-til-forever book.

She has it memorized, and when she reads it to us at bedtime, it makes me want to squeeze her and never let go because I’m so proud. She looks so grown reading (the pictures) in her book.

But… I could do without reading it every. single. night. Just being honest here, folks. 

Chances are, you know this story, so I’ll keep it short. The little monkeys, of course, are stinkers who just won’t quit jumping on the bed until there are none left to jump (due to falling off the bed and bonking their heads.)

While you’re reading this to your little pal, they can practice counting and they’ll quickly notice that every phrase is matched to its own illustration.See? Isn’t that great?

Do your smartie a favor and bring this book home for them– and you’ll see how proud they are when they memorize it and can “read” it, too.

Oh, and then go ahead and squeeze them and never let go, because they’re suddenly growing up much, much faster.

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (1989)
Eileen Christelow
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co.