The Pet Dragon by Christoph Niemann is an adorable tale of a little girl and her mythical animal companion, that also teaches basic concepts about the written Chinese language. Niemann was inspired by a trip to Asia, and a his first lesson about Chinese characters. The most memorable characters for him were the ones that most appeared to be symbolic icons for the ideas they represented. Through the illustrations in this book, Niemann demonstrates how the Chinese characters for words such as “tree” “dog” and “mountain” are all understandably indicative of what they mean. It’s also a really cute story, told like a folktale about a young woman who recieves a dragon, loses him, and then must find him again.
If bed time is a big struggle in your house, consider reading How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. Yolen and Teague are the creators of the wonderful “How Do Dinosaurs” series of books, demonstrating appropriate versus inappropriate behavior in a variety of venues. In this installment, they treat us to possible answers to the titular question: Does a dinosaur pout when its time to go to bed? Do they stomp their feet and throw toys around the room? Do they moan and sulk and sigh and cry? They most certainly do not! Dinosaurs, as it turns out, have impeccable manners. When it’s time to turn out the lights, dinosaurs give a hug and kiss to mom and dad and say “good night!”
Australia is a fantastic place filled with many creatures unfamiliar to us: Kangaroos, Koalas, and an adorable burrowing marsupial called a Wombat–the subject of Jackie French’s Diary of a Wombat, illustrated by Bruce Whatley. It’s told in true diary form, the wombat treating us to her day to day routine consisting mostly of eating, sleeping, and scratching. But one day she discovers she has new neighbors–humans! And these humans have delicious carrots, for which she will do most anything for! This is a very cute book you’re sure to enjoy.
I might be a wee bit partial to this book because I am the owner of a formerly stray dog, who I adopted from a shelter a year ago, and now totally rules my life, but this story is great, and I find children really get emotionally invested in it. The Stray Dog, adapted from a true story and artfully illustrated by Marc Simont, tells the tale of a family who grows fond of a homeless canine during a picnic in the park. Mom and Dad and the two kids worry about the mutt they dub Willy until they meet him again, being chased by the dog catcher! “He has no collar. He has no leash.” says the dog catcher, but the little boy takes off his belt. “Here’s his collar,” and the little girl takes off her hair ribbon–“Here’s his leash.” Willy is saved and taken in by the family in this heartwarming book!
Does your child have a toy they just can’t be parted with? They will totally relate to Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems. Trixie takes her favorite stuffed animal, Knuffle Bunny (that’s pronounced ka-nuffle, by the way) on a trip to the laundromat. But Trixie realizes on the way home, her bunny has been left behind. Being a baby, and unable to communicate verbally, she tries to express the dire situation to her father–she bawls, she goes boneless, she becomes quite a handful. Luckily mom knows the reason, and saves the day!
Max’s Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells is perfect for the springtime holidays. Someone (maybe the Easter Bunny) has left a chocolate chicken in the birdbath! “I love you!” Max says to the chicken. He’s ready to chow down, but his big sister Ruby (who’s kind of like the fun police) insists that they hunt for painted eggs. Whoever collects the most can claim the chocolate chicken. Ruby find eggs of all colors and patterns, but poor Max only finds mud, acorns, and ants, so he decides to run away with the chicken and eat the whole thing! This is an adorable story of sibling rivalry, and I guarantee you will fall in love with Max, the young and foolish title character.