Other alphabet booklists: “A” Books, “B” Books.

Getting sick set me behind on my planned schedule for alphabet booklists, so I’m just now getting to the “C”s. Agh!

Cake Girl by David Lucas.

Originally I thought this was solidly in the Halloween genre, but it’s actually just a fun story any time of year. A very lonely witch decides to bake a girl out of cake to have someone around for her birthday. Already, this book has witches, cake, and friends. It had me at “hello.” But because the witch knows so little about friendship, her plan is to keep Cake Girl around as a servant for the day. And then eat her! This girl should be named Cakerella, complete with housework. But fortunately, Cake Girl is extremely clever and teaches that witch a thing or two. Love. It.

Calvin Can’t Fly by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Keith Bendis.

Calvin the bird is dear to my heart. He would much rather be sitting under a tree with a good book than learning to fly. Flying doesn’t seem nearly as great as reading (I agree!), and the other birds (including his 67,000 starling cousins) tease him and call him “nerdy birdy” and other such names. So Calvin heads to the town library (with great animal patrons), the only place he really feels like he can be himself. I…mean. This book speaks to me! But when it’s time to fly south for the winter, Calvin has no idea what to do. To the credit of his huge teasing family, they don’t leave him behind. Their attempts at getting Calvin south are hilarious, and the hijinks that ensue are winning.

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina.

What can I say about this one? It’s a classic. But if I read it as a kid, I honestly don’t remember. When I worked at the public library a few years ago, patrons asked for this book nonstop. So I read it. And loved it. What’s not to love about that mustache? Or the tower of hats? Or the monkeys in a tree (where on earth does this guy live?)? Or the hilarious process of retrieving hats off of a tree-full of monkeys? Side note: I imagine that process is a lot like this one. Anyway, this book is fabulous.

Cat the Cat, Who Is That? by Mo Willems.

I will not continue to rant here about my almost religious belief in Mo Willems as the genius of all things picture book, but…he’s a genius. Anyway, this is the second of Mo’s picture books for very young children, introducing them to all new characters and easy text that’s just right. And the story is simple, Cat the Cat (her full name) really likes her friends. And she wants you to meet them all, including Duck the Duck and Fish the Fish. And that strange looking alien kid. Really, truly winsome.

Chalk by Bill Thomson.

This book was a curiosity to me at first. It’s called “Chalk,” but it’s about a dinosaur? Well…yes. Yes, that’s exactly what it’s about. And what’s more, it’s a story without words. I love everything about it, I’m reading it to my 1st graders next month as part of our Wordless Stories unit. Three kids find a bag of chalk on a rainy day at the playground, and it turns out to be magic chalk that makes everything they draw come to life. What follows is told in absolutely gorgeous illustrations, rich, vibrant, fall-in-love-with-them illustrations. How this was passed over for the Caldecott this year, even an Honor, is beyond me.

Chester’s Back and Chester’s Masterpiece by Melanie Watt.

God, how I love Chester. That impossible cat, interrupting poor Melanie Watt’s attempts at writing a book, are everything cats are: self-centered, in the way, and completely lovable. And the mouse doesn’t hurt, either. In these stories Ms. Watt tries to write a fairy tale with hilarious help from Chester (Chester’s Back), and then she has all her art supplies hijacked and is reduced to Post-It notes (Chester’s Masterpiece). Neither of these are quite as magical as the first book, but even not-quite-as-great Chester is still great picture book material.

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown.

Yep, I still completely 100% adore Peter Brown’s books. Take a moment just to look at that book cover. Go on, look at it. Click on it if you need to see it larger. Got a good look? Okay, then. I defy you not to fall in love with a book about a tutu-wearing bear, with hearts surrounding her, falling in love with a puzzled boy in a striped shirt. I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to start reading, but once I did I was not disappointed. The tides have turned here, and instead of small children cuddling improbably-clothed stuffed bears, we have this. And children really do make terrible pets, as do many of nature’s creatures. Many children have learned this lesson, and they can learn it again here.

Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming, illustrated by G. Brian Karas.

Jack’s story starts off a lot like countless fairy tales and folk tales before it. He is a poor boy living out in the countryside who accidentally receives an invitation to the princess’s birthday party. Although, I guess in true fairy tales she would be throwing a ball. “Party” sounds so un-royal. Anyway, Jack knows he cannot show up to the festive occasion with anything less than a great present, so he manages to collect the ingredients for a really spectacular birthday cake. But on his way to the castle he finds that the forest’s creatures have other plans for that cake. They slowly eat it away, until he arrives at the event with nothing for the princess but the delightful story of the cake. And that turns out to be a pretty good gift.