Other alphabet booklists: “A” Books, “B” Books, “C” Books, “D” and “E” Books, “F” Books.

I have gotten so behind on these, I haven’t posted an alphabet booklist in almost 2 months. Well, back to it now.

Garmann’s Summer by Stian Hole.

This is such a strange and lovely little import from Norway. Garmann’s summer is ending, and first grade is on its way. But Garmann’s perfectly childlike thoughts about time and the unknown future ring slightly truer as a back to school book than the traditional stories of anxious anthropomorphic creatures (why are they always mice?) going through the standard catalog of kid feelings. All of these books have their place, and it may take a few reads to really absorb Garmann’s charms, but he’s worth it.

Gator by Randy Cecil.

I’ve read more than one review that finds this book about a nostalgic gator kind of depressing. But I don’t know, I find most of Randy Cecil’s illustrations charming, and there’s something about that Gator. But at the same time, I’m not racing to purchase this one and bring it into a readaloud. Gator used to be part of a popular carousel, but when the amusement park shuts down he sets off on his own little odyssey for company. Complete with a hole in his heart where the carousel pole used to be. Okay, maybe a bit heavy-handed with the loneliness theme, but it has its qualities.
George and Martha by James Marshall.

Well, there’s George. And there’s also Martha. What else can you say about this absolute classic from James Marshall? I’m probably more amused than is appropriate by the shared names with America’s first First Family, and that is solely because Marshall’s pair are hippos. Worlds collide as the 5-year-old in me clashes with the sensible adult who thinks such things make no sense whatsoever. And yet they do. I’m so conflicted! But the adventures of this larger than life pair of best friends are just awesome and timeless.

George Washington Carver by Tonya Bolden.

This is an exceedingly good looking biography of the famous peanut innovator, from an author who excels at that sort of thing. I love children’s biographies, they are full of great stuff that kids love and that I still wonder at as a grownup. Every time I read one I think, “Why didn’t I know that before?” This one helps educate us all about Carver, who was so much more than just the Peanut Man. He was amazing: born a slave and died a brilliant conservationist. This biography is worthy of his achievements, absolutely.

The Giant of Seville: A “Tall” Tale Based on a True Story by Dan Andreasen.

I think this is such a great book that could be tied into a number of subject lessons. Or just for fun, it’s pretty awesome. Captain Martin Van Buren Bates was nearly 8′ tall and almost 500 pounds. And in this biographic yarn, when he moves to the sleepy town of Seville, OH the townsfolk bend over backwards to make him and his wife feel at home. This warmed my heart, it just did. The way the people of his adopted town accept him and help him is just such a great lesson to read to kids. He’s the most exciting thing to happen to that town, and rather than ostracize him they embrace him as a fascinating new friend. I hope he was really treated that way. I Wikipedia’d him, and now I am in awe of his wife. She gave birth to a stillborn 18 pound baby. I want to read this story to the kids and HER story to myself.

Girls A to Z by Eve Bunting.

This is just a sassy little girl power alphabet book from the extremely prolific Eve Bunting. Seriously, she’s written more than 250 books. There are a trillion alphabet books out there, and many of them are standouts. This one just happens to remind me of my kindergarten graduation, when Tracey Donvito and I took to the stage and told the crowd why we wanted to be zookeepers. For each letter of the alphabet here, there is a little girl who dreams of an excellent career (Zoe wants to be a zookeeper). It’s just fun.

Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Julie Paschkis.

When I talk to students about fairy tales, I love seeing their faces when I describe the plethora of Cinderella variants around the world. They can’t believe there are so many, and that they are so different from the Disneyfied version they know and love. This gorgeous book perfectly illustrates the differences. It melts all the versions of Cinderella together, taking tidbits from many cultures and creating an entirely new take on perhaps the most famous fairy tale of all time. This is impressive, and a must have for any library with a decent fairy tale collection.

Goldilocks Returns by Lisa Ernst Campbell.

And speaking of new versions of fairy tales, we have Goldilocks Returns. Fifty years have passed since Goldilocks first had a run-in with the 3 bears, and she has been haunted by the experience ever since. She feels incredible guilt (she’s now a locksmith protecting other people from prowlers), so she decides to return to the woods to make things right. The ensuing results are like your mother-in-law coming to town and rearranging your house. She “fixes” their mattresses, restocks the cabinets with healthy food…you get the idea, and you can imagine how the bears take it. A fun fractured fairy tale.

A Good Day by Kevin Henkes.

Bird, dog, fox, and squirrel are having a terrible day. Favorite treasures (and relatives) are lost, the dog gets tangled in a fence. But then things start to turn around, and the day doesn’t seem so terrible after all. Nobody knows early childhood feelings like Henkes, and this is pitch-perfect for little ones learning to cope with things that are small to us but huge to them. The pictures are gorgeous, everything works out in the end, and feelings are front and center here. This is perfect for preschoolers.

Goodnight Lulu by Paulette Bogan.

Lulu the chick is possibly in need of some therapy. She will not go to bed until her mother explains what she would do if…a million different disasters happened (tigers getting in, bears getting in, etc.). But Lulu’s mom handles the frantic questions like a champ, telling her young chick exactly how she would come to the rescue if any baddies got in at night. Lulu is neurotic, but her fears are very real ones to small children. I think kids will like hearing about the parental protective instinct. Nighttime can be so scary.

Goodnight Moon ABC by Margaret Wise Brown.

This is kind of a shameless attempt to capitalize on the ginormous success of Margaret Wise Brown’s ode to bedtime. But in the end, it kind of works for me. Possibly because Goodnight Moon is the bedtime story I remember above all others. And no matter how shameless it is, there was something comforting to me about seeing the familiar creatures and objects tweaked into a slightly new form. Nothing can replace the original, and for god’s sake don’t introduce a child to this ABC version before the original (blasphemous!), but this is a sweet enough companion.

Gracias/Thanks by Pat Mora, illustrated by John Parra.

I do think bilingual books are fantastic, and Pat Mora knows her stuff. This one couldn’t be simpler or sweeter. A young multiculti boy gives thanks for everything around him (bees that don’t sting, for example). Everyone of the diverse cast of characters here is warm and welcoming, with lush and happy illustrations from Parra. This obviously makes perfect sense as a Thanksgiving book, but it’s just a great title to have for any time of year when we want to teach kids about being gracious and happy. Absolutely worth adding to a Spanish language collection.

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest by Lynne Cherry.

When my old school did a year-long, schoolwide rainforest theme I couldn’t keep this book on the shelves. It was the single most requested rainforest title in the building, possibly because it’s the one everybody knows. A man heads into the forest to cut down the titular kapok tree, but he falls asleep on the job and is introduced to all the amazing creatures of the Amazon rainforest. When he wakes up, he drops his ax and leaves. This is an overly didactic (but effective) book about saving the rainforests, and if it’s something of interest to you or your population scoop it up.

Grumpy Cat by Britta Teckentrup

We all know this cat. Permanently with his knickers in a twist, never a smile or a cuddle for anyone. Many of us have HAD this cat. But Teckentrup (author of the equally delightful Big Smelly Bear) proves that even the grumpiest cat on earth is no match for an adorable little kitten. The orange kitten shows up and does its best to befriend Grumpy Cat, who initially is having none of it. But few things can wear down one’s defenses like a baby ball of fluff and when Kitten has an accident Grumpy Cat is there to save the day. Perfect illustrations, rock-solid kid appeal, it’s just made of win.

Guess Again! By Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex.

I met Mac Barnett at BEA, and I didn’t have the nerve to tell him how positively bizarre this book is. It is honestly, truly, one of the most surprisingly strange things I’ve ever read. It absolutely creeps out one of the other elementary librarians in my district. But I kind of adore it, and so do my students. They roll on the floor laughing as they try to guess Rex’s silhouetted shapes on each page, which are obviously pointing to certain animals. Or are they…? The mysteries are just weird, and so strange when you really think about them, but this is just the kind of wackadoodle humor kids adore. So do I.