Erica S. Perl | The Children’s Book Review | July 20, 2016
Written and Illustrated by Dr. Seuss
This is a book my husband introduced me to, which I went on to read to my kids about a million times. Not only is it breathtaking in its meter and rhyme, but it introduces some of the funniest and most memorable Seuss characters ever concocted. Several SLEEP BOOK characters have become family in-jokes (as kids, my husband and his brother were known as Jo and Mo Redd-Zoff, after the Champion Sleep Talkers of this book, and one of my daughters has been referred to as the Collapsible Frink from time to time), which is in my view one of the highest compliments you can pay a book.
Ages 5-9 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | ISBN-13: 978-0394800912
As a child, I had this book on a phonograph record, complete with songs (I’ll happily buy it if anyone finds it on eBay). There are few elephants in this Babar book, I confess, but oh the monkeys! An entire monkey village, and a monkey befriending secret mermaid sisters, and a kidnapped monkey princess (best line, spoken by a newspaper-selling monkey: “Extra! Extra! Monkey Princess Vanishes!”). And Polomoche and the Gogottes and Crustadele (no relation to Adele)… it is all so trippy and wonderful. Plus the gorgeous and detailed illustrations make you want to live in the book.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | ISBN-13: 978-0394805795
Written and Illustrated by Maurice Sendak
This is a “deep cut” Sendak book, related to the diminutive Nutshell Library books that are far better known (e.g. CHICKEN SOUP WITH RICE) and the musical created in collaboration with Carole King, REALLY ROSIE. We took this book out of the library when my older daughter was about three and it led to her multiple year obsession with the Rosie character (a capital “D” Diva) and lifelong love for musical theater. For my part, I knew all the REALLY ROSIE songs from my own childhood, but I was fascinated with the backstory of the character, who I learned was a girl Sendak observed playing with her friends and tried – successfully, I’d wager – to capture on the page.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins | ISBN-13: 978-0060287955
When my kids were little, we listened to a lot of audio books. Pippi Longstocking was one of them, and we listened to it so many times that my daughters used to say “Hello, I’m Esther Benson” along with the narrator every time it began. I loved Pippi as a child and was happy to share her with my own kids. It was not until I became a parent that I realized that many kids admire Pippi and wish they could live as freely and nontraditionally as she does (with her horse and monkey and no bedtime or rules). Pippi’s life seemed a little terrifying to me, so I always envied Pippi’s friends Tommy and Annika, who have neatly paired socks and parents who serve formal tea.
Ages 5+ | Publisher: Listening Library
Written and Illustrated by John Vernon Lord
This book, like THE SLEEP BOOK, has perfect rhyme and meter which makes it a pleasure to read aloud. It also has perfectly calibrated chaos, which builds like a cacophony of buzzing insects to a crescendo, and then gets properly resolved in a fashion that feels organic to the story and its universe. I also like the way the text joins the illustrations in explaining the mechanics that go into building the namesake sandwich – from the giant ovens to the tools to cut the giant loaves – and kids definitely appreciate that kind of attention to detail!
Ages 4-7 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | ISBN-13: 978-0395442371
There are SO many more, but I’ll stop there for now. All I have to say about reading as a family is that it should be a pleasure for all involved. If you are not a fan of your child’s favorite books, introduce some new ones (independent booksellers are masters of suggesting “if you like this, then you’ll love that!” titles), and don’t be afraid to try something outside your comfort zone. I’m not a big fantasy reader, but my younger daughter and I happily read THE PRINCESS BRIDE, because it was so funny and fast paced, and THE BOOK OF THREE, because I fell hard for the characters. Also, don’t stop reading aloud when your kids become independent readers. I still read to my kids whenever they let me and I have no plans to stop!
About Erica S. Perl
Erica S. Perl is the author of Chicken Butt!, Chicken Bedtime Is Really Early, Totally Tardy Marty, and many other picture books. She lives in Washington, DC.
Written by Erica S. Perl
Illustrated by Henry Cole
Publisher’s Synopsis: Mr. Drake’s second grade class has a new class pet. Fluffity appears to be a cute and docile hamster—but the kids soon discover that she is not the cuddly pet they expected. From the moment her cage door opens, Fluffity becomes FEROCIOUS—biting and chasing everyone down the hall and into the library! Will the class be able to tame this beast and bring peace back to their school? The bestselling team behind Chicken Butt! and Chicken Butt’s Back! has crafted another laugh-out-loud tale that’s sure to be a hit with any child who’s ever wanted a pet. Erica Perl’s pitch-perfect rhymes and Henry Cole’s over-the-top animal character make for the perfect classroom read-aloud.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers | July 19, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1419721823
Erica S. Perl, author of Ferocious Fluffity, selected these five family favorites. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Family Favorites, Erica S. Perl, Henry Cole, and Best Kids Stories.