"Mom, can we read this one?" These days, whenever I hear that question, there's a pretty good chance one of my boys is holding up one of the books from the Billy and the Mini Monsters series, Usborne books written by Zanna Davidson and illustrated by Melanie Williamson. My boys were captivated as soon as I pulled the books out of the box they arrived in, and their love has only grown since then.
Billy is a boy (I would guess around 10 years old) who finds five tiny monsters living in his sock drawer. He winds up saving their life in the first book when they get trapped in the washing machine, and they swear their allegiance to him for life. Captain Snott, Fang Face, Trumpet, Gloop, and Peep may be monsters, but they're actually pretty cute, more so than scary - and Billy takes to them instantly.
Each book in the series focuses on a different adventure Billy has with these mini monsters. Wherever they end up, trouble seems to follow - at school, during swim lessons, moving house, at a party, even at the airport. The monsters and Billy work together to ultimately sort out their problem, and life continues.
Although the monsters tend to complicate Billy's life, they also help him grow and learn important lessons. At school, Billy learns to not be intimidated by a bully. At a birthday party, Billy realizes his sister isn't actually that bad, and they can have fun together. At his swim lessons, the monsters help Billy overcome his fear of heights and diving off the diving board. The situations may seems silly on the surface, but the bigger lessons are meaningful and relevant to kids.
"My mommy is a hero; courageous, strong, inspired. She keeps the peace and protects us; for this she is admired." The picture book My Mommy is a Hero (written by Isabel Otter-Barry Ross and illustrated by Hannah Tolson) is a beautiful salute to the brave and selfless service women in our country.
Each page of this book focuses on a different post in the armed service, from parachuters to medics to dog handlers and pilots. Written in first person from a child's perspective, it highlights how strong and smart women are, what good leaders they are, what dedication they give to their posts.
The narrative also acknowledges the special and unique relationship service women have with their kids. One page reads, "My mommy is a hero, leading others every day. I know she's always with me, even when she's far away". The illustration shows a woman directing an army boat, along with a cut-out of a little girl writing a letter to her.
Of course, the book's counterpart, My Daddy is a Hero, is equally powerful, showing roles men play in the armed forces. This book includes different roles and responsibilities but the same pride and recognition for jobs well done.
It's that book that honors the selfless dedication our service women (and men) give to our country.
Buy My Mommy is a Hero and My Daddy is a Hero here! (hardcover, $12.99 each)
"I love you endlessly like the Cape Cod sands. I love you dramatically like the bare Badlands. I love you intensely like Niagara Falls. I love you immensely like the Grand Canyon's Walls." For those of you who love Animally, this is another winner for your shelves!
Americanly, written by Lynn Parrish Sutton and illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg, celebrates love through the bounty of America's famous landmarks and landscapes. Sutton's sing-song rhyming couplets paired with Greenberg's whimsical illustrations create an instant winner that is both sweet and educational.
Hi there! I'm Christine - Usborne Books & More independent consultant, kids' book fan, English teacher, mom of two boys.