Well, spring is arriving (in bits and pieces, here in Portland) and we’re gearing up for spring break—a whole week where my kids will start off thrilled to be free and rapidly progress to “there’s nothing to do.” Well, here’s a pile of books about characters doing fun or silly or exciting things. Maybe some of them can serve as inspiration—or at least keep your kids occupied for a little while.
Unicorns seem amazing, right? I mean, particularly if you’re a fan of Phoebe and Her Unicorn (see below): you think unicorns are all magic and cupcakes and rainbows. But this book, written as a voice talking to a little kid who wishes for (and gets) his very own unicorn, tells you some of the lesser known perils of having a unicorn as a pet. For instance, they scratch up the furniture, chew up the carpet, and what do you think happens when a tall animal with a horn jumps around in your house? The book is hilarious, and the illustrations are fantastic. It still won’t keep your kid from wishing for a unicorn, though.
While we’re talking about unicorns, the latest volume of Phoebe and Her Unicorn is out this week! In case you don’t already know about it, it’s a comic strip about a little girl who befriends a unicorn, and it’s wonderful. The comic strip is very contemporary and I think GeekDad and GeekMom readers will be able to relate: in one strip, her parents call her back to come play videogames with them when she’s about to go outside and play. The unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, is magical and totally in love with herself. This volume includes Halloween shenanigans, winter break, and a brief fad involving goblins. Maybe you don’t want a unicorn, but you do want this book about unicorns.
What would you do if you were a snail? or the sky? or a pair of scissors? In this beautifully illustrated picture book, Magliaro imagines a to-do list for various things a child encounters during the day, written as a series of poems. Not only is it fun to read, but it could spark a conversation as your own kids imagine what they would do if they were something other than kids with a whole lot of free time and access to an iPad.
There’s a second Duck, Duck, Porcupine! book available now, once again featuring Big Duck, Little Duck, and Porcupine. This book also has three stories, about a stuck kite, a new friend, and a lemonade stand. Once again, Big Duck proves to be a know-it-all, Porcupine is her willing helper, and Little Duck is the silent-but-wise straight man. The format is a bit like a cross between a comic book and a picture book. I wrote about the first book in this Stack Overflow column, and was happy to see a second book arrive.
A girl heads to the park with her little brother to retrieve her jump rope, but it’s gone missing. It turns out that a group of foxes has found it and thinks it’s a wish come true. I love the little girl’s response to this awkward situation, and the illustrations of foxes jumping rope is delightful.
Charlotte has wanted a pet. She doesn’t care what kind. So on her sixth birthday, her parents got her a pet … rock. It wasn’t quite what she was hoping for, but she makes the best of the situation, and discovers both upsides and downsides to having a big rock for a pet. It reminded me a little bit of Sparky!, a picture book about a pet sloth (mentioned here), but with the absurdity turned up a notch. Stay tuned for the surprise ending, though!
With extra free time at home, sometimes siblings can get on each other’s nerves. Natalie doesn’t mind her little brother Alphonse most of the time, but sometimes he does some things that just drive her bonkers. What’s a big sister to do? This is a cute story about two little monsters mostly getting along and figuring out creative solutions. (If only my own kids did that more often.)
Happy Spring, and happy reading!
Disclosure: I received review copies of these books.