“I’m a dirty dinosaur with a dirty face. I never have a wash – I just shake about the place. Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake about the place!” This is another book that goes in my this-author-really-gets-little-kids category. Dinosaurs? check. Getting dirty? check. Lyrical, repeated phrasing? check. And, as an added bonus for the parents, the dinosaur washes in the lake at the end – check!
I’m a Dirty Dinosaur (a Kane Miller book by Janeen Brian and Ann James) follows a little dinosaur as it plays in the mud – and yes, the artist used real mud for the illustrations! The dinosaur gets its snout dirty, then face, then tummy… until it’s completely covered in mud! Then, at the end… “I’m a dirty dinosaur. I’m YUCKY! Oh, my gosh! I think I’ll stomp right to the swamp and… give myself a wash!”
So the little dinosaur ends up all sparkling clean. Of course, as any parent who has hung out with little kids knows, it doesn’t last long – the final page of the book shows the clean dinosaur eyeing the mud puddle again…
"A is Awake, how I feel after dinner." Reading this first line in B is for Bedtime (a Kane Miller book by Margaret Hamilton and Anna Pignataro), I could tell this was going to be a fun book to read with toddlers. From the first page - the little girl wide awake, zooming around on a little cart - to the last page, where she is tucked into bed and sleeping soundly, this is an alphabet book that any parent can relate to!
There are a few sweet elements that make this book feel special. For one, the watercolor illustrations turn a typical bedtime routine into a serene, heartfelt process - they make you want to cuddle up on the couch with your little one, dimming the lights to get in that peaceful bedtime mindset. And if you're of an artistic persuasion, you'll love the subtle integration of real textures - polka dotted cloth, cut pieces of paper, hints of plaid - that add depth to the watercolor.
Another fun element is the little girl's dog, who echoes the alphabet throughout the process. Although "Y" is for Yawn, you also see the little dog wagging his tail at a toy yacht. While the little girl's mom is singing a Lullaby for L, the little dog is watching leaves fall.
The dog's wordless participation adds another layer of letter integration for you to talk about with your little kiddos as you read. And while the dog also starts out wide awake ("D is my Dog, who's not sleepy at all"), on the last page of the book, we see that the little dog is also fast asleep.
It's that book for bedtime that can't help but relax both you and your wide awake little ones.
Buy B is for Bedtime here! (hardcover, $11.99)
"That was a sweet book!" This was Josh's (age 4) reaction after I read Cuddle Bear to him for the first time. And that pretty much sums it up... if a toddler boy recognizes a book is sweet, you know it's true! It's a simple story but one with an important message - and illustrations so snuggly that you want to hug the book itself when you're finished reading it.
The premise of Cuddle Bear, by Clair Freedman and Gavin Scott (published by Kane Miller) is this little bear who wants to give hugs to anyone feeling down. He reaches out to lonely animals, angry animals, happy animals - everyone deserves a hug! "The world needs hugs," Cuddle Bear explains, "to make each day feel bright. So stretch both arms and wrap them round your friends to hug them tight!"
One aspect of this book that I love is that it isn't only lonely or sad animals that get hugs. The lion looks angry and has never smiled because the other animals have been too afraid of his wildness - but not Cuddle Bear! And then... "Now Lion's happy as can be. One hug was all it took!" But even happy animals deserve hugs! Take Little Rabbit, for example - he's in a happy mood, and he wants a hug, too! The message here, of course, is that hugs are good in all weather for any occasion.
And, if you want to hug Cuddle Bear but don't want to bend your book, you can buy a plush version of him! He's equal parts squishy and lovable. :)
Hi there! I'm Christine - Usborne Books & More independent consultant, kids' book fan, English teacher, mom of two boys.