About Me

My name is Genevieve Woods and in addition to being the mother of an adorable preschooler named Oscar and his adorable toddler brother Henry, I am the Children's Buyer at Spellbinder Books, a small independent bookstore in Bishop, California. I am often asked by customers for recommendations...and thus the idea for this blog was sparked.

Many sites recommending books for kids are created by librarians and non-profits. While these are great sites, they often recommend out-of-print books. This site is all about the great books that are available now! While I am not being paid for these recommendations, I would appreciate it if readers would purchase the books I recommend from local independent bookstores, or even B&N. Basically don't buy from the evil empire (A_A_O_), because if you do much of our literary knowledge will be lost.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A 14-Month-Old's Favorite Reads

My younger son, Henry, is now 14 months old. Being a younger sibling has its advantages, one of which is that Henry has more books to choose from. And Henry is choosy. Henry regularly shoves books into my face WHILE I am reading to him, generally a sign he likes the book in his hand better than whatever drivel I've chosen to read. This is occasionally annoying, especially when I've already read Brown Bear Brown Bear four times that morning - but you gotta humor a bibliophile, especially when he is only 14 months old.

Henry's Favorites at 14 Months

by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle
Henry adores this book. His older brother was never really a fan, but they are different children. This book has simple cut-outs of animals on each page, with the phrase animal animal what do you see? (I see a (the next page's animal) looking at me). Of course every parent thinks her child is a genius, and I am no exception. I feel like Henry is especially smart. He seems to understand 85% of what we say, and I bet he just loves knowing that red bird, yellow duck, blue horse, etc. is going to turn up on the next page. I could be fooling myself, he is only 14 months old after all. But if fooling myself makes it easier to read the book 5 times in one sitting, I am happy to be a fool.

by Roberta Grobel Intrater
I have to thank Inyo County's First Five for giving us this book. So really I need to thank all the California smokers for paying an extra $0.25 a pack. That sin tax has given my family a lot of joy. We had a couple of other books with pictures of babies and kids, but this book is by far Henry's favorite. He loved it when he was 9 months old, and he loves it still. This book is part of a series, that includes Splash!, Hugs & Kisses, and more. They are fairly thin board books, and if I hadn't been given the book I probably wouldn't have spent the $4.95 on it, but that would have been my loss. It is worth every penny.

by Mem Fox
illustrated by Helen Oxenbury 
The truth is I primed Henry to love this book. I memorized it and from the time he was three weeks old I would recite the book to him while looking into his eyes and tickling his fingers and toes. By five months old he would giggle whenever I started reciting the book. But now at 14 months he is no longer happy with just a recitation, he wants to read the actual book. I'll start There was one little baby... and Henry will get up, find the book and throw it into my lap. If I take too long to start turning the pages he gets upset.

by Susan Marie Swanson
illustrated by Beth Krommes
This beautiful book has a lot of graphic contrast with bright spots of gold amid richly shaded black and white scratchboard. If you don't know what scratchboard is, don't worry, I don't either, but it looks like woodcuts and in Bette Krommes' hands it is beautiful. Because of the contrast I thought Henry would like it right away, but interestingly he was never very fond of it until a couple of months ago. He loves to point at the gold within the illustrations, be it a book, star, the sun, or the moon.  I'm happy he now loves it, because I get lost in the illustrations and I love the poem. It is always nice when Mommy's favorites are appreciated.

by Susanna Leonard Hill
illustrated by Ana Martin Larranaga
This is a simple lift-the-flap book that describes an airplane flight. Henry likes looking at airplanes in the sky, but I'm fairly sure he has no idea what lifting the wing flaps for departure actually means. Nevertheless he loves lifting those flaps. We have other lift-the-flap books, but this one is his favorite. Perhaps it is the simplicity of the illustrations? Or perhaps it is because his older brother enjoys this book as well? Regardless of the reasons, Henry, who has never been on a plane, loves the book.

by Alice Schertle
illustrated by Jill McElmurry
This book is part of a series that starts with The Little Blue Truck. We have both books, but Little Blue Truck Leads the Way is the one Henry prefers. While The Little Blue Truck takes place in the countryside and is full of animals, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way takes place in a city with lots and lots of other cars, people, and buildings, NONE of which we have where we live. We live in the rural desert with a view of sage brush out our front door. Perhaps that is why Henry loves the book so much, it is so different from what he knows.

by Eric Carle
All the animals ask Spider if she wants to play with them but spider doesn't answer as she is very busy spinning her web. We have plenty of books full of animals and the noises they make, but Henry only moos with the cow when we read this book, and he also meows with the cat; this is adorable of course. He also likes to touch the spider's web, which is bumpy.

by Dr. Seuss
Henry has two favorite touchy-feely books, but this is the one I like the best and so I put its picture on the blog. It is Dr. Seuss, so it is full of funny words and wacky rhymes, as well as yellow hair, blue feathers, pull tabs, and lift-the-flaps. The other touchy-feely book that Henry loves is Furry Friends by Disney. Furry Friends has a lot of fur, and simple drawings; it's a good book, but it doesn't have the zest of Wet Pet.

by Nina Laden
My two boys may be different, but they both love this book. Henry is especially fond of the choo choo page. He can sort of make the sound and he will stare at the page upside down, sideways, and right side up. Henry also loves the die-cut pages throughout the book, which are easy for him to grab and turn.

by Ole Risom
illustrated by Richard Scarry
When I think of Richard Scarry I tend to think of humanoid animals and cars that are often flipped upside down, I don't think of nature scenes. But it is Scarry's ability to depict nature and its seasons in lush, glorious detail that will astound you with this book. Oscar loved this book. Henry loves this book. All our friends who have this book, love this book. 

Honorable Mentions




Monday, February 4, 2013

Early Chapter Books

Fun & Easy to Read


With Pictures!

A bookstore customer inspired me to create a list of chapter books that would not intimidate local third graders. She was especially interested in books that incorporated many pictures. Fortunately in addition to a great many well loved classics, the success of the  Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has encouraged publishers to put out more and more easy to read books that appeal to both younger and older kids.  Reluctant readers will hopefully be reluctant no more!

by Mary Pope Osborne
48 books and counting as of Feb. 2013
Best for grades 1-4

by Geronimo Stilton (of course!)
52 books and counting as of Feb. 2013
Best for grades 2-5

 by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith
16 books as of Feb. 2013
Best for grades 1-4

by Lincoln Peirce
(Big Nate started out as a comic strip. The Hardcover books in this series are actual chapter books while the paperbacks are the comics).
5 chapter books as of Feb. 2013
Best for grades 3-6

by Jeff Kinney
7 books and counting as of Feb. 2013
Best for grades 3-8

by Amy Ignatow
4 books and counting as of Feb. 2013
Best for grades 3-8

by Jennifer Holm & Matthew Holm
17 books and counting as of Feb. 2013
Best for grades 2-6

by Tom Angleberger
3 books and counting as of Feb. 2013
Best for grades 3-8

by Dav Pilkey
7 books as of Feb. 2013
Best for grades 1-3

by Nick Bruel
6 chapter books and counting as of Feb. 2013
Best for grades 1-4