Best books my kids read in 2015

 

My kids (aged 2 and 4) love reading, and as we are big fans of our library, and visit it nearly every week, we borrow several hundred books a year!

Here are some of our favourites last year.

Favourite series

 

The kids continue to love Mo Willems’ Piggie and Gerald stories. And last year, we discovered Cynthia Rylant’s Mr Putter and Tabby, a series about an old man and his old cat, and their neighbours Mrs Teaberry and her dog Zeke. It’s about ordinary things like taking a train or making soup or walking the dog, but has some funny bits and it’s just good old fun. Also, because boys will be boys, we read Thomas books nearly every day. And there are plenty of Cars (as in Pixar Cars) books too.

poutpoutfish
The Pout-Pout Fish
We loved it so much we’ve read all the Pout-pout fish books so far.

goodnightgorilla
Good night, Gorilla – Peggy Rathmann
The best part, as the kids say, is in the dark.
bearstaysup
Bear Stays Up for Christmas – Karma Wilson
Bear’s friends make him stay up for Christmas by decorating a tree, baking and more.

nonipony
Noni the Pony goes to the beach – Alison Lester
Gentle simple rhymes and delightful illustrations

flyingbooks
The fantastic flying books of Mr Morris Lessmore – William Joyce and Joe Bluhm
A must for a booklover!

wandering whale sharks
Wandering whale sharks Susumu Shingu ; translators: Ann B. Cary and Yasuko Shingu
A muted palate of blues, whites and blacks add to this non-fiction picture book about whale sharks

mrpostmouse

Mr. Postmouse’s rounds – Marianne Dubuc
Darling illustrations of animals’ homes, and a postmouse who has to deliver their mail

onecoolfriend
One Cool Friend – Toni Buzzeo; David Small
So many things work great in this book – the penguins, the very proper young boy and his father, that surprise ending. I wasn’t sure if the kids would find it as delightful but they asked for it again and again.

 

pizza

Pizza – Frank Asch

My two-year-old asks for this book nearly every night. Needless to say, he loves pizza.

hamster

My Humongous Hamster goes to school – Lorna Freytag

This one was the older boy’s favourite. He likes hamsters and thought it was hilarious.

magritte

Magritte’s Marvelous Hat – DB Johnson

You might know some of the famous paintings by Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte, but even if you don’t, this picture book will surely inspire you to see things differently.

littleowllost

Little Owl Lost – Chris Haughton

It’s a simple story. A baby owl falls from his nest and looks for his mummy, with the earnest help of Squirrel who doesn’t quite get things right. Love the bold illustrations!

0-545-15761-7

Stick Man – Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheppler

Ok so I’m starting to love Julia Donaldson’s books. Great illustrations and fantastic rhymes, and that bit of whimsy, whether it’s Tabby McTat or Highway Rat. Although oddly, we have yet to read The Gruffalo. Must amend that.

“I’m Stick Man, I’m Stick Man, I’M STICK MAN, that’s me!”

There are plenty more books that I could have highlighted that I think I will have to get my act together and do a proper round-up each month of the best kids’ books we read.

What were some of your favorite picture books of last year?

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Weekend Cooking: Books for little foodies

 

Do you have a little foodie in your house? I’ve been trying to cultivate my four-year-old’s palate ever since he was born.

We’ve had a lot of problems with food early on. He had really bad eczema all over his face and arms ever since he was a few months old and finally we took him for allergy testing – first blood then when he was a bit older, skin. And discovered that he’s allergic to tree nuts and peanuts. And initially eggs and wheat too. You wouldn’t know he had eczema today though. A combination of bleach baths, steroids, lots of moisturizing and regular visits with allergists and dermatologists, at least for the first couple of years of his life.
 

His first skin test

 

The first time he broke out in hives. It still happens once in a while, due more to high temperatures than with food

 

So we spent the first couple of years of his life worrying about his diet. We managed to slowly introduce eggs and wheat into his diet and he’s no longer allergic to eggs and wheat. Nuts are of course a different matter. So for a kid with allergies, or really, for a four-year-old in general, he’s done exceptionally well for his age I reckon, as he is wiling to try new things, like smoked salmon. His favourite meals include avocado sushi, mac and cheese, He’s also the kid who says “yay! Roasted cauliflower!” when he hears what’s for dinner. Asked to name his favourite vegetables and he includes Brussels sprouts, corn and edamame. We generally eat together as a family and I don’t make separate meals for the kids but I do try to come up with a variety of different styles of foods, pasta one day, rice, meat, veg the next, noodles, that kind of thing.

 

He loves his carbs

I also have a two-year-old and he is in an absolute anti-vegetable stage at the moment. I have only recently managed to get him to like eating baby carrots again, after serving it with Japanese mayonnaise. He’s a funny one, he’s kind of like an old Asian man, telling me today that the leftover birthday cake was “too cold”. He has had a love for soups – clear, Asian-style soup – since he was 1.5. He prefers to eat rice instead of baked potatoes and loves noodles.

beebimbop

Anyway, about those books, I recently picked up Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Ho Baek Lee from the library book sale. It’s a fun little book about a girl and her family preparing beebimbop (bibimbap?) and then sitting down to eat it for dinner. There’s even a recipe for bibimbap at the back of the book. Of course after reading it, the kids asked for it for dinner. I’ve made it several times before but this time they really seemed to like it. I made it with beef, carrots, eggs, mushrooms and peas and corn.

 Then I started thinking of all those foodie books for kids that we’ve borrowed in the past few years.

minettesfeast

Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat, by Susanna Reich and Amy Bales

Told from the point of view of Julia Child’s cat! It has a rustic, handpainted, almost vintage look to its illustrations. And by that I mean, it seems more geared towards adults than younger children.

dimsumeveryone

Dim Sum for Everyone – Grace Lin

The family goes out for dim sum and everyone gets to choose their favourite dish. Simple language, colourful drawings. A hit with my kids.

booksushi

mangiamangia

For babies, there are foodie board books like My First Book of Sushi by Amy Wilson Sanger. Sanger isn’t just doing books about sushi, she’s also written books about dim sum, Italian food, Indian food, soul food and more. The rhymes are simple and the pictures colourful, just right for little ones.

lmnopeas

LMNO Peas – Keith Baker

Peas are the stars of this alphabet book

mooncakeshapes

greenchile

Round is a mooncake and Green is a chile pepper– Roseanne Thong

We’ve not yet read Green is a chile pepper but Thong uses different cultures to demonstrate these concepts – shapes and colours.
nightkitchen

In the Night kitchen – Maurice Sendak

A classic, and lots of fun

maxmakes

Max makes a cake – Michelle Edwards ; illustrated by Charles Santoso

And not just any cake, a surprise Passover birthday cake for his mummy! It involves a lot of frosting, so my older son was very pleased.

 

Frank Asch has also written a few food-related books, like

popcorn

I loved this book as a kid and was delighted to find a copy at my library’s book sale

 

pizza

 

Monica Wellington is another children’s book author who has a few food-related ones:

crepes cookiebaker

 

There are plenty of other books that I’ve come across, but that we’ve not yet read, like

juliachild

Julia, Child – Kyo Maclear  (Author), Julie Morstad (Illustrator)

pancit

 

 

What are some foodie picture books that you’ve come across lately? 
weekendcooking

Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

Library Looting plenty of picture books and more

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

 

It has been ages since I’ve done a Library Loot post!
   
   
Which is odd as ever since we discovered the little library that opens only on Wednesdays and more importantly, has a great playground in the park behind, we’ve been going every week.

The library always has a great selection of picture books and board books. Recently, I’ve been picking up more non-fiction books for the four-year-old who is especially interested in the solar system and the universe these days. Who knows what we will read about next?

 

 


 However, the adult sections are a bit scanty.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes was something I did find on the shelves (Hood is on Scribd). But the Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear is a request that I made from another library.

I also have recently downloaded some e-books from the library. These are from the 3M catalogue.

uprooted swimmingantarctica

 

Naomi Novik is a new-to-me author. And I have been wanting to read Swimming to Antarctica for a while now. Cox has been long-distance swimming since a teenager! I mean, just read this:

By age sixteen, she had broken all records for swimming the English Channel. Her daring eventually led her to the Bering Strait, where she swam five miles in thirty-eight-degree water in just a swimsuit, cap, and goggles. In between those accomplishments, she became the first to swim the Strait of Magellan, narrowly escaped a shark attack off the Cape of Good Hope, and was cheered across the twenty-mile Cook Strait of New Zealand by dolphins. She even swam a mile in the Antarctic.

I do realize that an exciting life doesn’t necessarily make for a good read, but we will see how it goes!

The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories

serialgarden

 

 

It is times like this that I wonder what I was reading as a child. And why did I never read any Joan Aiken?

Would the child-me have enjoyed the Armitage family’s antics as much as the adult-me does today?

Because it was such a fun, silly, charming and enchanting read that I so wished I could share with my kids.

(They’re 2 and 4 and while they are developing their own sense of humour, I don’t think they’re ready to appreciate this book quite yet.)

What is an Armitage Family story?, you may wonder.

Well, there is Mark and his sister Harriet, and of course their parents, Mr and Mrs Armitage. Mark and Harriet are very likable, rather sweet kids, to whom delightfully odd things happen. Their parents often get turned into things, but react in very straitlaced manners. Like fundraisers and business meetings. Although the fundraiser is for the Distressed Old Fairy Ladies and Mr Armitage takes his meeting as an insect. As in, oh I am an insect, oh bother, here, son just take me to my office so I can conduct my meeting anyway.

You know, because these things happen. And mostly on Mondays. Because on Mondays, “unusual things were allowed, and even expected to happen at the Armitage house”.

One of my favourite stories involved Brekkfast Brikks, a dusty kind of cereal with a cut-out garden on the back. A magical cut-out garden that is!

And the one where Mr Peake, the ghost who lives in the house, takes Harriet out from school for the holiday weekend.

Or maybe it’s the one where the unicorn makes its appearance.

It’s just full of wonderful stories to read, reread and share. Whether it’s a Monday or not.

“Well,” she allowed, “we could have a special day for interesting and unusual things to happen – say, Mondays. But not always Mondays, and not only Mondays, or that would get a bit dull too.”

Top Ten Books from my Childhood

 

toptentues

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from the Broke and the Bookish is:

Top 10 Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit

I grew up in Singapore, which was a former British settlement, and we are still influenced by British culture quite a bit. So as a kid I read a lot of Enid Blyton.

Like:

The Wishing Chair

The Children of Willow Farm

Such magical stories! It’s not easy to find these Enid Blyton titles in the libraries here (although there are plenty of Secret Seven and Famous Five books), so I’m going to have to try to find them elsewhere! Book Depository perhaps.

 

Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfeild

I just bought myself the sweetest copy from Book Outlet the other day. And am so pleased with it! I can’t wait to read it again!

 

charlottesweb

Charlotte’s Web – EB White 

I bought a copy from an independent bookstore in Palo Alto last year, intending to read it out loud to Wee Reader but I haven’t yet managed to do it. Part of me hesitates because it’s so sad!!

justaslongaswere

Just as Long as We’re Together – Judy Blume

It’s hard to pick a favourite Judy Blume book. I loved Deenie and Tiger Eyes and Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself. But this was probably one of the Judy Blume books I reread the most.

storyping

The Story about Ping – Marjorie Flack, Kurt Wiese (Illustrator)

Thanks to the frustration magic of having children, I’ve been able to revisit some of my childhood favourites already. Like this story about a little yellow duck who lives on the Yangtze River. I remember that we had our own copy as a kid and I rather adored it.

popcorn

Popcorn – Frank Asch

I picked up our very own copy at the library book sale last year. I was so very pleased as I was rather fond of this book as a kid.

bfg

The BFG – Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake

I tried to read this to Wee Reader a year or so ago – which was a bit of a mistake as it begins with a dark night and a creature creeping around! I’m going to try again this year.

littleprincess

A Little Princess – France’s Hodgson Burnett

Oh poor little Sara Crewe. I can’t remember when I first read this but I was quite devoted to Sara Crewe. I’m not sure why, as thinking about it now I realize how sad the story is. An orphan. A horrible woman runs the school and treats her like crap when the news breaks. It looks like I’m going to have to reread this with my 30something eyes.

anne

Anne of Green Gables – L M Montgomery

How my sister and I adored Anne – the book and the TV series! She’s so much fun to read. Ok I really want to go read this now…

Can’t wait to read these Library Loot books

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

 

 

With grandma around to read to the boys for a bit, I got to wander among the fiction shelves and pick up some goodies.

 

Fortunately the Milk – Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Skottie Young 

Yup this was more for me than the kids! Hee hee!

fortunatelymilk

“I bought the milk,” said my father. “I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road.”

“Hullo,” I said to myself. That’s not something you see every day.” And then something odd happened.

Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal.

Mildred Pierce – James M Cain
I just realized this would be perfect for Back to the Classics. I’ve watched a little of the HBO series via Amazon Instant Video and Kate Winslet is amazing as always, even playing an American housewife.

mildred pierce.jpg

Mildred Pierce had gorgeous legs, a way with a skillet, and a bone-deep core of toughness. She used those attributes to survive a divorce and poverty and to claw her way out of the lower middle class. But Mildred also had two weaknesses: a yen for shiftless men, and an unreasoning devotion to a monstrous daughter.

Out of these elements, Cain creates a novel of acute social observation and devastating emotional violence, with a heroine whose ambitions and sufferings are never less than recognizable.

 

Four Souls – Louise Erdrich

Ok I did not know that this was a continuation! Hopefully it will work reading it on its own.

foursouls
Four Souls begins with Fleur Pillager’s journey from North Dakota to Minneapolis, where she plans to avenge the loss of her family’s land to a white man. After a dream vision that gives her a powerful new name, Four Souls, she enters the household of John James Mauser. A man notorious for his wealth and his mansion on a hill, Mauser became rich by deceiving young Indian women and taking possession of their ancestral lands. What promises to be a straightforward tale of revenge, however, slowly metamorphoses into a more complex evocation of human nature. The story of anger and retribution that begins in Tracks becomes a story of healing and love in Four Souls.

Children of the Sea #1 – Daisuke Igarashi

I kind of love these covers

childrensea1

When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea as she does.Ruka’s dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the oceans’ fish.

Children of the Sea #2 – Daisuke Igarashi

childrensea2

The sea has a story to tell you, one you’ve never heard before. Umi and Sora are not alone in their strange connection to the sea. Forty years ago, Jim met another young boy with the same powers. As penance for letting the boy die, Jim has been searching the world for other children with those same ties to the ocean. Anglade, a wunderkind who was once Jim’s research partner, lures Sora away with the promise of answers. This leaves Umi severely depressed, and it is up to Ruka to help her new friend find his brother. But time is quickly running out… When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea that she does. Ruka’s dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the ocean’s fish.

 

 

E-books:

Black Water Rising – Attica Locke

I’m supposed to read Locke’s latest, Pleasantville, for an upcoming book tour. But didn’t know that it had the same characters as Black Water Rising. So thought I would try to read this first! Also, I enjoyed reading her previous book, The Cutting Season. 

blackwaterrising

Writing in the tradition of Dennis Lehane and Greg Iles, Attica Locke, a powerful new voice in American fiction, delivers a brilliant debut thriller that readers will not soon forget.

Jay Porter is hardly the lawyer he set out to be. His most promising client is a low-rent call girl and he runs his fledgling law practice out of a dingy strip mall. But he’s long since made peace with not living the American Dream and carefully tucked away his darkest sins: the guns, the FBI file, the trial that nearly destroyed him.

Houston, Texas, 1981. It is here that Jay believes he can make a fresh start. That is, until the night in a boat out on the bayou when he impulsively saves a woman from drowning—and opens a Pandora’s box. Her secrets put Jay in danger, ensnaring him in a murder investigation that could cost him his practice, his family, and even his life. But before he can get to the bottom of a tangled mystery that reaches into the upper echelons of Houston’s corporate power brokers, Jay must confront the demons of his past.

With pacing that captures the reader from the first scene through an exhilarating climax, Black Water Rising marks the arrival of an electrifying new talent.

Kids’ loot:

 

Library Loot (Dec 10 2014)

 

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

Lots of books to return. A storm brewing. Hurry hurry home with library loot! Just one for me. I haven’t downloaded any new e-books either. Hmmm what is going on??!?!

Kill my mother: a graphic novel – Jules Feiffer
Not sure why I requested this but the hold came in and I picked it up. Ok rather long blurb here from Goodreads

killmymother

Adding to a legendary career that includes a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award, Obie Awards, and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Cartoonist Society and the Writers Guild of America, Jules Feiffer now presents his first noir graphic novel. Kill My Mother is a loving homage to the pulp-inspired films and comic strips of his youth. Channeling Eisner’s The Spirit, along with the likes of Hammett, Chandler, Cain, John Huston, and Billy Wilder, and spiced with the deft humor for which Feiffer is renowned, Kill My Mother centers on five formidable women from two unrelated families, linked fatefully and fatally by a has-been, hard-drinking private detective.

As our story begins, we meet Annie Hannigan, an out-of-control teenager, jitterbugging in the 1930s. Annie dreams of offing her mother, Elsie, whom she blames for abandoning her for a job soon after her husband, a cop, is shot and killed. Now, employed by her husband s best friend an over-the-hill and perpetually soused private eye Elsie finds herself covering up his missteps as she is drawn into a case of a mysterious client, who leads her into a decade-long drama of deception and dual identities sprawling from the Depression era to World War II Hollywood and the jungles of the South Pacific.

Along with three femme fatales, an obsessed daughter, and a loner heroine, Kill My Mother features a fighter turned tap dancer, a small-time thug who dreams of being a hit man, a name-dropping cab driver, a communist liquor store owner, and a hunky movie star with a mind-boggling secret. Culminating in a U.S.O. tour on a war-torn Pacific island, this disparate band of old enemies congregate to settle scores.

In a drawing style derived from Steve Canyon and The Spirit, Feiffer combines his long-honed skills as cartoonist, playwright, and screenwriter to draw us into this seductively menacing world where streets are black with soot and rain, and base motives and betrayal are served on the rocks in bars unsafe to enter. Bluesy, fast-moving, and funny, Kill My Mother is a trip to Hammett-Chandler-Cain Land: a noir-graphic novel like the movies they don t make anymore.”

The kids’ loot.
We are becoming fans of Mo Willems in our house. Wee Reader has caught on to the sense of humor and quite enjoys it. And of course the usual construction-related books, some of which we had borrowed before and that I’ve not featured here.

What did you get from your library this week?