Favorite Kids' Books

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Favorite Kids' Books for the iPad

Edwin the Super Duper Otter
by Mike Hayward , illustrated by Cody Shipman & Shawn Herron


  This charming e-book is *free* on the iBookstore, sponsored by The Seattle Aquarium. Edwin the Super Duper Otter  is a good early example of what a multi-touch e-book for the iPad can do, and I'm pretty sure it was built with the iBooks Author app. It's educational and sweet and includes seven little videos of sea creatures with music which my daughter loved.

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Princess Diamond and the Baseball Toad
by Holloway McCandless

Princess Diamond and the Baseball Toad cover

 This charming e-book is *cheap* and yes, it's mine. But it is a true favorite for three out of four impartial reasons:
1) It promotes back-yard sports, empathy, and letter writing for princesses and toads.
2) It teaches little kids baseball basics.
3) It reads itself aloud and it has embedded accessibility descriptions.
4) My kid (Toad/Dustin), my neighbors, and my garden are in it.
[Can you guess which reason is partial?]
Make your own partial judgment for free, by downloading the free sample of Princess Diamond and the Baseball Toad on iTunes (iPad only).

Favorite Kids' Sports Books

Zachary's Ball
by Matt Tavares



 I read Zachary's Ball to my youngest over and over. It was a huge favorite, especially after he made his own visit to Fenway Park (with less miraculous results). The pencil illustrations are unusual and appealing and don't grow old with re-viewing. The story's magical twist is well pitched (mea culpa pun alert) to young imaginations.

See more at Matt Tavares' website, or click on the "Shop Indie" link above.*

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A Strong Right Arm: 
The Story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson 
by Michelle Y. Green


 I read A Strong Right Arm with my daughter when she was in fourth grade (Eliza is unable to read independently). We both loved it. It's a true story that reads like a YA novel. Only 5' 3", Mamie "Peanut" Johnson learned to throw a curveball from legendary 6'3" Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige. The biography depicts the day Mamie and a friend were not accepted to try out for the all-white All-American Girls Baseball League in 1953, and describes her teenage career pitching to the guys (and batting against them) for the Negro League's Indianapolis Clowns.
A Strong Right Arm tells Mamie's story from childhood to retirement in short, easy-to-read chapters illustrated evocative photographs. Great for ages 7-12.

To see a picture of Mamie in her uniform, read this New York Times article that gently fact-checks her story without diminishing its barnstorming glory. This blog post has links to two video interviews in which Mamie reminisces about her youthful baseball career.

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The Paper Bag Princess 
by Robert Munsch


This short and roasty book about a princess who rescues the prince was a huge favorite of my daughter's (and mine). I've filed it under "Sports" because I hereby deem dragon-wrangling a sport. Deservedly a modern classic: no little girl should grow up without this book. Check out Munsch's website to read about the inspiration for The Paper Bag Princess (mom gets an assist). 

Favorite Classic Kids' Books

Eloise
by Kay Thompson


 You probably already know about Eloise, but I couldn't create a "favorites" list without her. The original scamp, hair-disaster, owner of Skipper-Dee, and incorrigible denizen of New York City's (now condo-ized??) Plaza Hotel. (I think there's a dash of  Eloise inspiration in the more recent Upper East Side kids' book character, Olivia the posh pig.)

Eloise is packed with delight and mischief, not the least of which is Nanny's nervous nattering. Storyline includes bonus hidden grownup implications about Eloise's off-page mother, who seems to lead a rawther high-end Holly-Go-Lightly existence.

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The Mitten
by Jan Brett


 A perfect winter holiday present, Jan Brett's The Mitten renders a Ukrainian folk tale with crunchy-snow backgrounds and textured forest animals. (The illustration in which the hedgehog's quills bristle through the mitten is exquisite.) This young picture book includes delightful border vignettes that make repeated readings rewarding for parents, too.
Brett's The Mitten proves that 2-D can be even better than 3-D, and that children's books don't have to be cloying to be sweet.

Visit Jan Brett's website for free craft activities, recipes and information about her many great kids' books.
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