It’s time for the 4th installment of my Alphabet Booklists. These are really forcing me to look back at the books I’ve read and loved but never shared. I should probably say again that the books on this list don’t include every book I’ve ever read starting with this letter. If I’ve already blogged about it, it’s also not on here.
I also realized with the letter “D” that most of the books are about 3 animals I want to make separate booklists for: dinosaurs, dogs, and ducks. So I decided to keep those books off this list and combine “D” and “E” this time. This is a shorter list, but there’s some good stuff on it.
The Daddy Mountain by Jules Feiffer.
I’ve watched my 4 year old niece climb my brother, so I’ve seen firsthand the phenomenon of scaling the Daddy Mountain. I probably got more of a kick out of this one than most kids would, but it is fun for any little girl who loves her daddy but doesn’t like treacly sweet books. The little girl in this story starts at her dad’s toes and works her way up to the top of his head, discussing the challenges of climbing along the way. Dad’s body parts are shown on each page like gray statue pieces until she reaches the top at the end and he is finally revealed. Cute.
The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani.
I’ve honestly never thought at all about day-glo colors and their origin, but this is a super cool read about the science behind inventing impossible colors. And the way Tony Persiani uses neons to highlight the history of the Switzer brothers’ invention is spot-on. It’s fascinating and totally kid perfect. Bob Switzer, the older brother, was serious and focused. Joe Switzer was creative and a free spirit. He was also a magician who wanted to beef up his act, and he discovered that blacklights gave a great glow. From there he and his brother created something incredible. It’s also a cool story of very different siblings working together.
Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss.
Doreen Cronin is fabulous. She just is. And this book is kid comedy gold, with equally fabulous illustrations by Harry Bliss. And it’s surprisingly packed with information, I learned a lot about earthworms with this one. The baseball-cap wearing worm protagonist keeps a diary of life as a worm, hanging out with his friend Spider, teasing his sister, all the usual kid stuff. But from a worm’s perspective. He teases his sister by telling her her face will always look like her rear end, which…is actually true for worms. He likes being a worm, with perks like no baths and no dentists. This is super clever, with situations and observations totally relevant to kid readers while also managing to be informative. Cronin followed this one with Diary of a Spider and Diary of a Fly.
Eloise by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight.
Who doesn’t love 6-year-old Eloise? And pink hot chocolate? And a glamorous life lived at the Plaza Hotel? No one, that’s who. First published in 1955, Eloise is still beloved. The classic trouble-maker, long before Ramona, Junie B. Jones, and Clementine. She drives hotel guests crazy and spends her life devising new adventures within the most famous hotel in New York City. She has New Yorker sass, and Hilary Knight perfectly captures the slightly askew clothes and hair of a precocious little girl. Love, love, love.
Emily’s Balloon by Komako Sakai.
“One afternoon, Emily got a balloon.” I adore this quiet, nostalgic little book. I’ve wanted to read it to a class for years, but it’s just too young for my students. Emily’s mom buys her a yellow helium balloon, and instantly it becomes her most treasured thing. The balloon is tied to Emily’s finger, and when she nearly loses it her mother ties it to her spoon so it floats but stays nearby. Emily’s mother is very tuned in to the little girl without being a central character in the book, which kind of elevates it’s cozy, safe vibe. Emily plays and plays with the balloon until a gust of wind blows it up into a tree, out of reach. Emily is devastated, and she tries to deal with the loss. She watches the balloon out of her bedroom window and feels comforted that it looks like the moon. Sakai’s touch here is so endearing, and the soft-lined illustrations are just right. This is a gem.
Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Claire A. Nivola.
I’d never really thought about the famous poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. I’ve never thought about who wrote it, or why. It’s so ingrained on my subconscious, like it just appeared and has always been. Especially growing up right outside NYC, the lines feel like they’ve always been part of my environment. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This book is a strong introduction to the history of Emma Lazarus’s life and her poem “The New Colossus.” She grew up privileged but was drawn to those less fortunate, and she left quite a legacy.
EXTRAordinary Pets by Barroux.
This one is just great to look at. Barroux’s art is gorgeous, but I don’t know if this is a title that will stand up to time or the constant influx of great new children’s books. But it is a looker, especially if you’re a fan of his other books. It’s a fun idea: why just stick to normal, boring, everyday pets? There are so many other animals in the world that would make great pets! This taps right in to kid fantasies of elephants and spiders as companions. The illustrations are brimming with personality, I do like this one.