Sit still before Mommy screams!

Back in October, Max and I received and reviewed two books in the Mini Myths series by Joan Holub, illustrated by Leslie Patricelli (and gave them both 5 snacks!). One was about Hercules and being gentle, especially with little kids, which is an excellent lesson for a new big brother like Max. The other was about Pandora and being patient, which is an excellent lesson for … pretty much any preschooler, including Max!

We were lucky to recently receive the two new additions to the Mini Myths series from the author in exchange for an honest review: Brush Your Hair, Medusa! and Make a Wish, Midas!

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.10.23 AMMake a Wish, Midas! equates the king of myth with a little boy who can’t get enough of the color yellow. When Mommy picks out a blue shirt and jeans, he finds his own yellow t-shirt and pants. He draws a yellow sun, a yellow house, and even a yellow Mommy! Midas’ best friend is a green dinosaur, which is a problem. He wants to be surrounded by yellow! He figures out a way to turn Dinoboo yellow, but it doesn’t work out how he thought it would, and Midas is sad.

Luckily, Mommy is able to fix Dinoboo, and Midas learns to appreciate what he has rather than wishing for something else. Great lesson in our world full of materialism!

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.10.09 AMIn Holub’s other tale, Brush Your Hair, Medusa!, Medusa is a little girl with crazy hair. Her curls stick out in a wild wave around her head, and she puts off using her hairbrush anyway she can. (Can’t really blame her: I wouldn’t want to try to get a brush through those tangles either.)

I struggled with finding a lesson out of this story. I would say that Medusa learned to listen to grownups, but at the end you can tell from her mischievous grin (which is super adorable) that she didn’t plan on letting Dad brush her teeth anymore than she allowed him to brush her hair. What I finally landed on was using Medusa’s experience to explain consequences for not doing what parents ask you to do:

Because Medusa wouldn’t let her daddy brush her hair, they had to cut it off!

Make a Wish, Midas! deserves 5 snacks for the beautiful illustrations that elicit so much emotion from the characters and the lesson to appreciate what you have.

Snacks for Max 5 snacks

Brush Your Hair, Medusa! deserves 4 snacks for the cute depiction of a well-known myth.

Snacks, Gerber

A cupcake a day keeps the whining at bay

Some lessons you just HAVE to teach your kids. Being gentle with babies and small children, waiting for turns quietly rather than screaming and throwing fits, and learning to love reading are three top ones, to me.

Mini-Myths-Holub-1024x789Knowing Max needs to work on these things, I was thrilled to receive for review two board books from Joan Holub’s Mini Myths series, “Be Patient, Pandora!” and “Play Nice, Hercules!”

We started off with Hercules, first because it featured a boy, second because Max loves the Hercules Disney movie, and third because I’ve found myself saying “play nice” quite a bit since May. Luckily my five-month-old is laid-back because his brother likes to play rough. The board book format is perfect because I can read it to both boys at the same time and not worry about the baby ripping or drooling all over the pages; rather, the only problem is the possibility of Max throwing the books at nap time or bedtime because he’s “NOT TIRED” – yeah right – but I digress.

In “Play Nice, Hercules!” the character, just like my toddler, plays a little too rough with his little sibling. Hercules’ father has eyes in the back of his head (or just knows the nature of toddlers) and asks when he walks by, “Are you being nice, Hercules?” This is enough of a reminder to Hercules that he starts to play nicely with his sister without threats from Dad. Perhaps rereading this book a few thousand times will teach Max that lesson!

Next we moved on to “Be Patient, Pandora!” which also fit in well with our household experiences. Little man doesn’t wait well. I’ve been trying to teach him with the mantra “What is being patient? Waiting without whining!”

In the book, the little girl finds a wrapped present that her mom tells her to leave alone. While Pandora keeps herself from straight out opening the box, she gets a little closer to it, nudges it, stands on it, and jumps on it. When she jumps on it, the box opens by itself, and ruined cupcakes fly out. Pandora is worried that her mom won’t love her anymore, but of course Mom banishes that thought quickly. Great lesson, though. Next time Max starts to whine, I just have to remind him that he might ruin the cupcakes!

At the end of each story is a page that summarizes the myth. While it’s a lot of text on one page for my boys right now, I do love the introduction to Greek mythology. It was one of my favorite concepts to learn in elementary school!

Joan Holub’s Mini Myths earn five snacks:

Snacks for Max 5 snacks

Lay off the baby, please!

At bedtime, I always tell my three year old that I will read him two stories, emphasis on the word story rather than book. The reason I have learned to use the word story is because once when I made the mistake of saying book he brought me his copy of Disney Storybook Collection.

“I’m sorry, sweetie, I can’t read you a book with 320 pages of stories,” I told him.

“But you said…”

I know, kid, I know. You’re too smart for me.

Anyway, not only did the Disney Storybook Collection teach me something valuable, but it also has quite a few lessons for my toddler.

disney“Donald’s Campaign Trip” teaches him the value of books; “Pinnochio” shows why disobeying and lying is a bad idea; and on and on. Last night we read the story about Pinnochio. In the story, Geppetto warns the puppet not to let a cuckoo out of its cage, but the minute his father’s back is turned, Pinnochio lets it free. Rather than confessing, the puppet blames the missing bird on Figaro the cat, then tries to get the bird back, telling a lot more lies in the process.

While we haven’t had a problem with lying yet (fingers crossed), we certainly have a problem with obeying Mommy and Daddy, especially since baby brother came home in May. Max gets jealous of the baby and acts out by pulling on Mason’s arms and legs. Mommy says stop; Max doesn’t; and that starts the not minding.

Hopefully, reading Pinnochio a few more times – and other books with a similar lesson – will help us out so poor Mason is stretched and screaming! (Actually, that’s not accurate. Nine times out of then, no matter what Max does to him, all Mason does is smile and laugh, leading Max to say, “But he likes it, Mommy!”)

Long story short, the Disney Storybook Collection earns 5 snacks:

Snacks for Max 5 snacks

Travoltify your favorite kids book character

Author C. Drew Lamm did John Travolta one better by actually meaning to mix up the words in the title of “The Prog Frince: A Ribbeting Mixed-Up Tale”. I picked it up at the library first because of the frog on the cover – Max is a huge fan of frogs – and then because the title made me giggle.

Scroll to the bottom of the post to Travoltify your favorite kids book title! Continue reading

The Dinosaur Blues

At Christmas, the one present Max wanted from Santa (whose lap he refused to sit on) was a blue dinosaur. We searched everywhere for a blue dinosaur. I went to five stores in one day. My husband went to several more throughout December. We finally gave him Rex from Toy Story, even though he’s green. Luckily, Max was cool with it (mostly because Rex snaps when you make him sit down).

dinosaursOne of the wonderful women I work with tried her best to help, calling her son to search through his old toys for the elusively colored reptile. While they didn’t end up finding the toy, she did find a book that she passed onto us, “Ten Terrible Dinosaurs” by Paul Stickland. Continue reading

The Mom Dreaming of a Three Year Nap

Every mom has at some point wished she could take a three-year nap. I have not even been a mom for three full years yet, and I know this. Every mom has also at some point wished her child would do a little more around the house. For those with infants: come on, you know you’ve wished your child didn’t fill up diapers quite so fast!

The Boy of the Three Year Nap by Dianne Snyder illustrated by Allen SaySeveral times over the past week Max and I have read The Boy of the Three Year Nap written by Dianne Snyder and illustrated by Allen Say. This book has so much going for it! The illustrations are gorgeous, the twist is excellent, and the lesson is perfect.Some of the honors this book has deservedly won include Caldecott Honor Book (1989), ALA Notable Children’s Book (1988), and Boston Globe/Horn Book Award (1988). Continue reading

THANK YOU Fireman Small!

In honor of 9/11, today we’re reviewing a book called Fireman Small by Wong Herbert YeeI came across this book at Half Price Books and couldn’t not bring it home with us, especially with the anniversary of the tragedy coming up, giving all of us another chance to remember the great sacrifice made by so many first responders 12 years ago.

Fireman Small, Snacks for Max, 5 snacksFireman Small is about a fireman in a small town who comes to the rescue for everything from a cat up a tree, to a child down a well, to a fire at the bakery. Like the first responders at the Twin Towers, Fireman Small is brave and true of heart. He puts his own needs (like safety and sleep) aside to help others. The book tells the story of so many courageous firefighters all over the country and shares wonderful values that I want my son to embody. Continue reading

This is one burning book

The Library Dragon is one burning book. An elementary hires a new librarian who really fires up the rest of the faculty. She has green, purple and gold scales; she breathes fire; and she incinerates any books she deems cruel to dragons.

Library Dragon book The worst part of the new librarian’s reign is that she is too good a guard of the books. She posts signs telling students not to even think about touching, let alone reading, any of her precious books. The students’ spirits and grades die down like a doused campfire—until one brave yet unwitting student changes all of that. Continue reading

Meatballs!

Max loves Dora. When it’s time for bed, he always lifts one finger and says “One Dora!” meaning the TV show, to which I reply, “We will read one Dora book.”

Dora and Backyardigans Carry Along Box SetHe runs to his bedroom, grabs the first Dora book he can find, and jumps into bed with it. We added to his collection recently at Half Price Books when we found a little Nick.com carrying case with six books inside – three Doras and three Backyardigan stories. Continue reading

Shel Mooseclumps

When I was little, I adored the Shel Silverstein poem collections. The rhyming, the silly ideas, and just the different way of looking at ordinary things drew me in. And then there was The Giving Tree, which simply took my breath away. I still cry when I read it.

catclumpsMooseclumps by Ryan T. Bliss is very reminiscent to me of Shel Silverstein, both from the structure of the book – it is a collection of poems – and from the whimsy involved in the content. The topics of the poems range from a grumpy cat with a crown to a nice monster with a teddy bear, to a knight being defeated by a magnet, to the ailing seasons. Continue reading