Five Family Favorites with Sue Fliess, Author of Calling All Cars
Sue Fliess | The Children’s Book Review | April 15, 2016
Wow, to choose only 5 family favorites… means I have to create a virtual ven diagram to see the overlap between all of my favorites, my husband’s, and my kids…a difficult task! But here’s my best attempt:
Created by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor
This is a book I grew up with, which I kept (even though I drew a hideous picture in the back of it) because I knew I wanted to share it with my own kids one day. Published in 1971 and surely out of print, (I wish someone would bring it back) they don’t make books like this anymore. On the cover it gives you a teaser: Transparent pages reveal exciting new colors and shapes. There’s no heavy storyline, but it didn’t need one because a boy and a dog create all sorts of very colorful paintings that hold hidden images, using only 3 colors from the color wheel. This book inspired me to be an artist. I couldn’t wait to get to those cellophane pages—it was like an early optical illusions book. My two boys also adored it, though they still tease me for the drawing in the back. I still have this book.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: A & P Books | 1971 | ISBN-13: 978-0675010443
Written and Illustrated by Peggy Rathmann
Oh, how we loved reading this book together when my boys were small. The best part, as anyone who owns this book will tell you, is that because there are basically no words, your children can ‘read’ it to you, too—well before they can read. We’d all crack up when we got to the page when the bedroom is dark and just the word bubbles all over saying “Good night.” We’d say them together in different, silly voices. Then on the next page with the zookeeper’s wife’s eyes –we’d all gasp, because that is what the zookeeper’s wife would have done. So fun to read aloud, but I was also always amazed by how this minimalist story sneaks in a deep love and understanding between the husband and wife, as well as a love between them and every zoo animal. Sweet.
Ages 1-3 | Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers | 1996 | ISBN-13: 978-0399230035
Written by Donald Crews
Such a simple concept, so beautifully done, and a total winner with toddler boys, and grown husband. My kids could predict each page, and then loved to say the last part, going, going…gone. A great short bedtime story, too, for those nights when mom and dad were exhausted. I remember reading this to them and wishing I could write something as crisp, as perfect. The smoke is my favorite part of the illustrations. I do believe we kept this one next to the potty during training as well. You know, going, going…gone!
Ages 1-3 | Publisher: Greenwillow Books | 1996 | ISBN-13: 978-0688149000
By Dr. Seuss*
*Writing as Theo. LeSieg
Illustrated by Roy McKie
Always and forever drawn to rhyming books, this is Seuss at his best. We loved reading this for its quirky, silly illustrations and text that gave us all a giggle. If toddlers could pick a book to bring to the beach, this would be it. It introduced suspended disbelief to my boys: could apples really be balanced like that? 10 piled straight up without falling? This was a go-to in our house because of its light, joyful, catchy, beat and story full of friendly rivalry, group adventure, and inclusion. I’m pretty sure I bellowed out on more than one occasion: Apples! Apples up on top! All of this must stop! Stop! Stop!
Ages 2-3 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | 1998 | ISBN-13: 978-0679892472
Written and Illustrated by Sandra Boynton
Sometimes you just need a book you can read aloud with a southern accent. I promise you, I wasn’t the only one. Try your best southern drawl: Bounce with the bunny. Strut with the duck. Spin with the chickens now—CLUCK CLUCK CLUCK.
My kids delighted in the fact that the barnyard animals were dancing and I think for a period of time, this was a daily read in our home—we had it memorized. Boynton’s illustrations were always a comfort, no matter what kind of day we’d had.
Ages 1-3 | Publisher: Workman Publishing Company | 1993 | ISBN-13: 978-1563054426
About Sue Fliess
Sue Fliess is the author of more than a dozen children’s books, including the popular Tons of Trucks and Robots, Robots Everywhere! Her background is in copywriting, PR, and marketing, and her articles have appeared in O, the Oprah Magazine; Huffington Post; Writer’s Digest; and more. Her article from O, the Oprah Magazine was chosen for inclusion in O’s Little Book of Happiness (March 2015). Sue lives with her family and a Lab named Charlie in Northern Virginia.
Written by Sue Fliess
Illustrated by Sarah Beise
Publisher’s Synopsis: Big cars, small cars, let’s call ALL cars! This bouncy text explores the wonderful world of cars zipping up, down, fast, and slow. A perfect basic concept books for eager young learners from the author of Tons of Trucks. Then cruise into bedtime!
Rest cars, Hush cars
No more rush, cars.
Cars pull in, turn off the light.
Sweet dreams, sleepy cars…goodnight!
Filled with vibrant art, adorable animal characters, and cars of all kinds from love bugs to the demolition derby, Calling All Cars is for every child who loves to read about things that go! Surprise bonus—follow one long road throughout this vividly imagined world and don’t miss the hidden clues in the artwork!
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1492618812
Praise for Calling All Cars
“Each double-page spread offers a surplus of amusing sights: three pigs in a convertible, a kitten chauffeuring a royal pair of lions, love-struck snakes hugging and tugging their cars too close together. Beise’s digital illustrations pop with vivid colors…. [Fliess’] rhyming couplets bounce off the page.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This successful collaboration combines brisk and spirited writing with bold, effervescent pictures and will have wide appeal to young readers. Fliess’s punchy rhymes mimic the speed and energy of the cars being described, making for a lively read-aloud… Young car enthusiasts will enjoy the ride through this zippy, robust picture book.” —School Library Journal