My First Library by Baby Einstein

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Baby Einstein has a collection of mini board books that are perfectly sized for newborns and infants. So teeny-tiny! Luke has grabbed, held, and nibbled on these books as soon as he developed those fine motor skills.

This collection contains: Bath Time, Good Night, Happy Birthday, Colors of the Rainbow, Four Seasons, Play Day, Fruits & Veggies, Things That Go, Number Farm, At the Beach, Jungle Safari, & At the Park (12 stories in all).

Every little board book has 10 chunky pages, and they are pretty durable (as tested by my Luke). Each one has a different theme/subject. I love the variety and the topic relatability. The stories focus on constants in a child’s life such as bedtime, play dates, and foods. Einstein board books are a simple way to introduce your child to these everyday subjects!

The collection comes in a cute box with a peek-a-boo window and handle for carrying. Our box set was a baby shower gift from my hubby’s co-worker. Tell me about a gift you received that has become a favorite for you or your child. What would you recommend as “essential” for soon-to-be mommies and daddies?

The Tooth Book by Theo LeSieg

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Who doesn’t love Dr. Suess? This one was written under Theo LeSieg which was a different pseudonym Ted Geisel used for books he didn’t illustrate himself. Joe Mathieu is the illustrator. Not to be harsh on his work, but the pictures are my least favorite part. I find them to be a little on the creepy side due to the exaggerated mouths & teeth, but it’s for kids. Of course, it’s okay to be silly! "The Tooth Book" is special to me and my baby, because my aunt (and Luke’s great-aunt) got it for my baby shower. She picked it out especially because she’s a hygienist and my father is a dentist. So you could say teeth are kinda important to my family!

Obviously, I LOVE my dentist, but I know a lot of people have anxiety going to their appointments. Are you afraid of the dentist?

Books can help us deal with our fears. What other books helped you overcome those negative emotions? (Ooo, this question can go deep!)

The Survivor Tree by Gaye Sanders

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So, “The Survivor Tree” is very different than the books I usually do. Same genre, children’s, but this picture book has a much, MUCH more solemn theme.

Recently, I’ve been writing a lot more reviews trying to keep up one of my New Year’s resolutions to review 12 picture books a month. Sometimes, I end up using a lot of the same words and phrases: “super fun”, “sweet”, “easy read”, “cute”, etc. Obviously, those are not appropriate descriptors for a book that recounts the Murrah Bombing. Finding the right words for this review is difficult to say the least.

To start, I’ll mention my favorite parts of the book. The illustrator’s artistic style is absolutely spot-on for the tone. Children can relate to colored pencil drawings, and Pamela Behrend does a lovely job! I have to highlight Gaye’s magnificent use of repetition. As the story progresses, the tree circles back to describing a day a certain way: a productive day, a day for courage, days of healing, etc. It gives the story cohesiveness and flow. Love it that writing style. I do it, too, in my own writing. Also, I was surprised the story has a first-person point of view! I don’t know what I was expecting, but with that perspective, the reader really connects and empathizes with the main character, the Survivor Tree. Brilliant writing choice, Gaye!

Now, the story touched me on a personal level in two different ways. Firstly, as an Okie I have grown up with the tragedy of the Bombing. I was only five years old when it happened, so it was a prominent part of my childhood. As kindergarten at my school was half-day, I was home with my mother. We went out to the front porch and looked east, the direction where the smoke pillars rose in the sky. I grew worried for my father who worked in Oklahoma City, but my mama assured me his office was in a different part of town. Secondly why this book means so much, well, I wrote a draft of a serious children’s book just a week or so ago. It was a bit of train-wreck according to the first round of readers. I wanted to take a crack at a picture book for young children and how to deal with bullying. I was truly excited with the way I was approaching this sensitive topic; I thought it was unique. Feedback came and replaced excitement with disappointment. But such is the writer’s journey! Disheartened, I haven’t felt up to writing on any of my WIPs (work in progress). I couldn’t wait to read “The Survivor Tree” and see how a professional wrote an eloquent, but solemn, children’s book. Hoped to get some tips to improve draft 2 of my bullying book, and I know I’ll do better thanks to Gaye’s writing.

Tell me about a serious, or even sad, book that touched you? Did it leave a mark on you in a positive way? Did it change you or help you cope?

Farm Life by The Clever Factory

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I picked up this simple board book from the dollar bins at Target. As a child, I loved to read about animals and farm life. I believe it is one of those romanticized careers we have in childhood. But, that’s okay, childhood is meant to be shiny, sweet, and uncomplicated.

This easy read only has a few pages, but they are cut out in certain shapes and staggered for grabby baby fingers. Each page shows a family member, the daily task he/she is doing on the farm, and a rhyming paragraph on the opposite side. The rhymes explain the farmyard chore, and as I’ve said in other book reviews, rhymes certainly make “read-alouds” a lot of fun!

I will touch on a slight negative, though. The story portrays a very nuclear family with a father, mother, brother, and sister. That dynamic is a bit overused in the writing world, especially picture books. Also, the last page comments on making father “a happy man”, and that leaves me with a dry, old-fashioned taste in my mouth. Not that anything is wrong with being old-fashioned! Heaven knows, I am a very down-to-earth, conservative girl. I think diversity is just on my mind, because I was reading how January 25th was Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I am developing a passion for the movement -representation matters- and every child wishes to “read their world”.

Have you read a book that opened your eyes to another culture or unique identity? I’m sure you have; every book lets the reader see through a new perspective! Tell me about it. What do you recommend? I’d love to see a thousand new lives on a thousand new worlds . . .

Where Is Baby's Belly Button? by Karen Katz

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What a fun book! It’s an interactive board book perfect for little ones to play with and enjoy. Each page asks where certain body parts are hidden. This provides ANOTHER level of interaction as parents can point (or tickle!) on their own baby and pair words to their meaning! Reading time will be filled with giggles, engagement, and learning with this fascinating book.

Now, I still turn the pages and lift the flaps myself with my son only being 10 months old. I’m afraid his strong grasp and underdeveloped fine motor skills might lead to tearing. But believe you me, he will learn ASAP to treat books with the utmost care.

Funny thing, a toddler at our library’s Storytime LOVED pointing and showing off her own belly button whenever her mommy asked “where is your belly button?”
Is your baby ticklish? Did this book help teach the names of body parts? What age do kids start “reading” themselves?