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.

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

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

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

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


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

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 – Frank Asch

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


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’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.


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!


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?

Mary Poppins



I’m just going to say it – the movie was better than the book!

I wasn’t really expecting the book to start singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” to me. Although, wouldn’t that be fabulous?? 

So the book was less musical and a little less magical than I was expecting. I have to add that my memory of the film is a long-ago one. I remember parts of it, mostly the songs, and the chimney sweeps. But while it is a hazy memory, it is a saccharine sweet, cheerful, colorful one. It is a Disney movie so I’m guessing that my recollection is somewhat right!

But the book, it isn’t all sweet:

“Perhaps she was only being nice,” said Jane to soothe him, but in her heart she felt as disturbed as Michael was. She knew very well that Mary Poppins never wasted time in being nice.”

As book-Mary Poppins is less cheery and far stricter than movie-Mary Poppins aka Julie Andrews ever was.

Apparently, author PL Travers couldn’t stand the movie version of her book, partly because of that. The story of the development of her book into the film was turned into Saving Mr Banks, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson. I’ve yet to see it but since finishing book-Mary Poppins I was curious about it and did some googling. It was raved about mostly, with 80% on the Tomatometer but the Time magazine reviewer wasn’t quite convinced:

Saving Mr. Banks tries to turn a lie about securing a book’s film rights into a parable about St. Walt and the Dragon Lady. I hereby denounce the movie and all its works (except for Hanks). But for a few moments there, I was like the movie’s P.L. Travers, helpless under the Disney spell.

But I’m still curious about the struggle to turn the book into the Academy Award-winning 1964 movie. PL Travers refused to give up the copyrights to the rest of the Mary Poppins series, and when she allowed when Cameron Mackintosh to produce the stage musical, she added the condition that only English-born writers and no one from the film production, especially the Disney songwriters, were to be directly involved with creating it.

As for reading this children’s classic as a 30-something, well, I’m not convinced that my younger self would have enjoyed it. Book-Mary Poppins is a little bit, well, cantankerous at times. She’s hardly the kind of nanny who would hug and dance and sing. But you know that deep down inside, she really does care for the kids.

As an adult, parts of the book were rather humorous.

“Where have you been?” they asked her.
“In Fairyland,” said Mary Poppins.
“Did you see Cinderella?” said Jane.
“Huh, Cinderella? Not me,” said Mary Poppins, contemptuously. “Cinderella, indeed!”
“Or Robinson Crusoe?” asked Michael.
“Robinson Crusoe— pooh!” said Mary Poppins rudely.
“Then how could you have been there? It couldn’t have been our Fairyland!”
Mary Poppins gave a superior sniff.
“Don’t you know,” she said pityingly, “that everybody’s got a Fairyland of their own?”

And some bits that were a bit sobering, especially considering that it’s a children’s book

We are all made of the same stuff, remember, we of the Jungle, you of the City. The same substance composes us— the tree overhead, the stone beneath us, the bird, the beast, the star— we are all one, all moving to the same end. Remember that when you no longer remember me, my child.”

So, strict mysterious book-Mary Poppins or sweet singing film-Mary Poppins? I leave it to you to decide! But now I cannot get A Spoonful of Sugar and Chim Chim Cher-ee out of my head.



 I read this book for the Back to the Classics Challenge – A Classic Children’s Book




Mary Poppins, 1934
Mary Poppins Comes Back, 1935
I Go By Sea, I Go By Land, 1941
Aunt Sass, 1941
Ah Wong, 1943
Mary Poppins Opens the Door, 1943
Johnny Delaney,  1944
Mary Poppins in the Park, London: Peter Davies, 1952
Gingerbread Shop, 1952
Mr. Wigg’s Birthday Party, 1952
The Magic Compass, 1953
Mary Poppins From A to Z, 1963
The Fox at the Manger, 1963
Friend Monkey,  1972
Mary Poppins in the Kitchen, 1975
Two Pairs of Shoes, 1980
Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane, 1982
Mary Poppins and the House Next Door, 1988.

Stories from Mary Poppins, 1952

Moscow Excursion, 1934
George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, 1973
About the Sleeping Beauty,  1975




The beginning of a library

The first few things we bought wee-reader-to-be were books! We were wandering around the local Costco one weekend, picking up our usual supplies, when, passing the books section, I noticed some very nicely priced boxed sets. We picked up one Dr Seuss board books set as well as this cute set of bunny books. Very fitting as wee reader will be born in the Year of the Rabbit (which begins February 3). Unfortunately, we missed out on the chance to buy a lovely box set of Peter Rabbit books. I hesitated, and then never saw it again, no matter which Costco we hit!

Wee reader’s aunt (my sister-in-law) picked up Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates when she was in New York. A really cute story about a dog setting up a bookstore. Thanks, V!

And then I ordered The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, which I’ve had my eye on since it was named the 2010 Caldecott Medal winner.  I loved the cover and was delighted to see such gorgeous illustrations within as well.

I know it’ll be quite a while before wee reader will appreciate these books but I like having them on the shelf. And it’s a start to a growing collection!

By the way, if you have any recommendations for board/picture books, please let me know!