tiny reads

Writer and Creative Director. Part-nerd/part-hipster mom. Curator of cool things for kids. Blogging mostly about books with lots of pictures.

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Five Nice Mice, by Chisato Tashiro

Apparently, frogs only like to sing for amphibians. So when five mice sneak into a frog concert, they quickly get bounced. Keen to make music of their own, the mice make instruments out of bits n’ bobs and plan a gig in the local mouse concert hall. When some gate-crashing frogs are discovered, they’re invited onstage to play with the mice. Species-crossing friendships are made, woot!

You guys may or may not know that I’m a big ole Star Wars fan. I still remember the first moments of watching the original movie at the theater, when the Imperial Cruiser seemed to pass right over my head. I can’t lie: it was a thrill. Anyway, yes, I’ve passed my fandom on to my kid, thank you very much. In fact, we’re waiting patiently-not-patiently for a vintage Hasbro Darth Vader Voice Changer mask and helmet to arrive (yay eBay!). Every day, my kid asks: Is it going to get here today? No, not today. But soon. 

But it’s not like we’re not the only fan-peeps in the world. Check out these posters for an exhibit, Star Wars Identities, which is about…well, it’s a bit unclear what it’s about, but I’m sure it’s cool. Although, it might be hard to be as cool as these posters. 

Five books I hope my kid will read this summer INSTEAD of Captain Underpants.

Hallelujah, my kid loooooves reading. Just having him understand that reading opens up vast universes of coolness is awesome. Alas, I find Captain Underpants less awesome. Ditto Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which has him belly-laughing on the couch in the loveliest way…but also seems a bit mean-spirited. Am I being overly critical?

Here are five books we picked up at the library this weekend. The goal? Pick just one and read it on our vacation. I’m hoping that he’ll see that books that have more words than pictures are not that hard, and the stories can suck you in like crazy.

1. Fart Powder I think it’s pretty clear that my kid’s literary tastes run towards slapstick comedy and fart jokes, so this book about a genius and eccentric professor who invents a fart powder so explosive that it can send people into orbit may be an big hit. 

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Hello again. Again.

My last post before this one was two years ago. I looked it up, but I didn’t have to, really. Because two years ago is when I went from being a freelance copywriter/creative director to taking a full-time client-side gig. I believed what every advertising person does about client-side jobs—that it would be a piece of cake compared to an agency job. Well, it wasn’t. It was way more predictable, but the hours were looooong. 

But here I am, two years later, with a new job. Long hours will always be part of the deal, but they’re inspiring hours, so I’m down with it. 

I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting, but hopefully more than biannually. Onwards!

Wish I’d known about these about four years ago. 

Happy Springtime! (Two days early.)

via Trend Tablet.

I kind of love-hate these posters. On the one hand, I appreciate the thinking that went into each of them. They’re gorgeously designed and beautifully produced. Buuuuut, methinks they’re also kind of a downer. More Grimm than fairytale? 

Got the perfect place to hang ‘em? Buy them here

Just look at this juicy bit of design goodness from Saul Bass! It’s straight outta 1962 and all-out gorgeous. It’s been out of print for-evah, but now you can get your mitts on a copy of your own. Okay, let’s all breathe a sigh of relief that a new generation of kiddos will what good design looks like. 

Available here

Forget making this for the kids, I want one for myself. Every night, sleeping will feel like a roll down the California Coast. Sweet!

Planning a trip to London with the kiddos? Check out map-maker Herb Lester’s family-friendly guide to the city. 

This just about sums it up: “In this guide we have hand-picked 29 places which should be diverting to young and old. There’s bowling, boating, aeroplanes, swimming, dinosaurs, trench warfare and chickens. We cannot guarantee a good time will be had by all, but we are quietly confident.”

Illustrated by Deanna Halsall. Also available: Chicago, New York, Berlin and Paris maps. Find ‘em all here

Super-cute and crafty Valentine’s Day idea. 

Take a gander at the 2012 Caldecott winner: A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t as super-crazy about this book as the Caldecott committee apparently is. Yah, I get that the illustrations pack a punch with just a few choice brush strokes. And yes, the story is indeed touching. But, I dunno, I just couldn’t get that worked up about it.

Well.

That was before I read it to my kid. (I say “read” but I really mean “look at the pictures and talk through the story,” since it’s a pure picture book.) It’d been sitting around the house for exactly two weeks and six days. I know it was that long because it was due back to the library the very next day. Of course, once I revealed that the book would be disappearing back into the stacks, my kid’s level of interest went from zero to ten. And so we decided to read it together at bedtime. 

The plot in a nutshell: Daisy the dog has a red ball that she loves. Another dog she meets at the park breaks her ball, and Daisy is bereft. She grieves for the red ball, but is happy when the owner of the other dog brings Daisy a new ball. 

So, there we are, going through the book, and we’re get to the part where Daisy’s ball breaks and has to be thrown away and, lo and behold, I hear sniffles. No kidding, sniffles. And a quivering lower lip.

Suddenly, I started to feel the impact of the story, too. I realized that losing a favorite toy could very well be a kid’s first experience of true and deep loss. Or, maybe it’s that Daisy’s red ball is such a tangible expression of loss. After all, when a person dies, we make a point of remembering that person, keeping their memory alive, and saying that they’re still with us in some way. But not Daisy’s ball. It breaks. And then it’s gone. The end. 

Fortunately for me and every other parent reading A Ball for Daisy, the story has a happy ending, with Daisy getting a new blue ball. My kid’s sniffles were gone, but I know the experience stuck with him because he woke us up early the next morning saying he was thinking about Daisy and it had made him sad. At the same time, he also said it was “a reallllly good book.”

In terms of life lessons, I liked that Daisy’s new ball isn’t exactly the same as her old one. Because a lot of times, things can’t be exactly replaced, and that can be okay. I also liked that Daisy was allowed to really embrace her grief for awhile. It seems like we’re so often afraid of sadness, but wrapping yourself up in it is sometimes the only way to get through it. 

So, okay Caldecott committee. I’m not 100% sure if I totally agree with you on this one. But, hey, r.e.s.p.e.c.t.

Find it here

I’m not a doll lover, but c’est impossible not to love Kiki & Coco in Paris. It’s Knuffle Bunny meets Betty and Rita in Paris, only with 1000% better styling. The book started out as a slideshow by photographer Stephanie Rausser, so the images are rich, full-bleed and lovely. If you want to give yourself a two-minute Parisian escape, check it out here

I’ve seen this book plastered all over blogs talking about how it’s the girliest of girlie books for little girlie girls. Yah, it’s true there’s lot of pink in this book, and Coco the doll is dressed to the nines in her frills, but she strikes me as more the Nina Garcia/Anna Wintour type than the uber-girlie Barbie/American Girl type. And I dare anyone to call Nina or Anna “girlie.” Yeah, you try it. I’ll wait for you here. 

Tiny gems.

Someone made these. They didn’t even know whether or not their work would get noticed. No fame or glory. Just a person taking the time to create a piece of art to make people smile. It’s enough to shatter a person’s cynicism.   

One of the NYTimes Best Illustrated Books of 2011.

Follow the cyclist as he explores up, down, and all around. Great illustrations all the way through, but my favorite part is the author’s name within the sign on the cover. Cle-vah!

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