VARIOUS PEOPLE WANT ME TO RECOMMEND KIDS’ BOOKS, but my chief exposure to those has come from my daughter’s reading, and she’s now moved on to Anna Karenina — which she liked. But in response to these reader requests, I called in someone with more expertise — the Insta-mom, who’s an elementary school librarian. Here are her recommendations:


For the preschool set:

Mommy? by Maurice Sendak, Al Yorinks, and Matthew Reinhart. Scholastic, 2006.

This high-tech pop-up book features a typical monster-taming Sendak protagonist, a toddler who wanders into a suitably spooky-looking house calling “Mommy?” and proceeds to de-“bolt” a Frankenstein monster, nip the knickers off Wolf Man, and unwind a mummy’s wrappings, until he finds a suitably maternal monster at last.. A slightly macabre take on Are You My Mother?, this book has some sly fun for the adults who will undoubtedly have to “read it again!”

For the Kindergarten-Grade Two reader:

Cha Cha Chimps by Julie Durango. Illustrated by Eleanor Taylor. Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Ten bed-bound chimps slip out to cha cha the night away at Mambo Jamba’s, where they count down from ten to zero as they hokey-pokey with a hippo, macarena with a meerkat, and belly-dance with a cobra, until a hip Mama Chimp “hustles” them home to jam in their jammies with a sitter while she boogies the night away. Kids hearing this story will pick up the refrain “Ee-ee-oo-oo-ah-ah-ah, ten little chimps do the cha cha cha” by the second time around.

Bats at the Beach, by Brian Lies. Houghton Mifflin, 2006.

Bats break out the moon-tan lotion and frolic on a moonlit beach, doing all the things kids love doing by day on the sand. Rhymed verse dances through enchantingly dark but luminous night time fun. (See if the kids notice that the author is hanging upside down on the “About the Author” back flap!)

For the sophisticated not-too-old-for-picture-books set (and anybody else who’s still alive):

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and Other Stories You’re Sure to Like, Because They’re All About Monsters, and Some of Them Are Also About Food . (You Like Food, Don’t You? Well, All Right Then.,.)
by Adam Rex. Harcourt, Inc., 2006.

A real tour-de-force by author-illustrator Adam Rex, with rhyming spoofs of the lifestyles of such monsters as Wolfman (hair clumps in his roommate’s drain), Dracula (spinach in his teeth), Invisible Man (can’t get a decent haircut), Yeti ( “Don’t call me BIGFOOT!), and the Phantom of the Opera, (has writer’s block because he can’t get “The Girl from Ippanema” and other ditties off his mind.) The copyright page even features a snow angel left by The Invisible Man. A book for all ages (even those old enough to KNOW the tune to “Girl from Ipanema”!) [GLENN ADDS: I like the cover on this one, too!]


Hope these are helpful. I’ve been trying to talk her into starting a children’s book-blog of her own.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, the Insta-wife points out a book written by a kid.