Books for Children, Books for Parents

12 Days of Holiday Books: Llama Llama Holiday Drama

December 15, 2012

Llama Llama Holiday DramaEvery parent knows that while the holidays are a magical time for children, they can be a difficult time to be patient, too (heck, many adults we know feel that way). Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama Holiday Drama (40 pages, Viking Juvenile, 2010) addresses the joys and frustrations felt by children during the holiday season in a heartfelt and humorous way.

Llama Llama, the eponymous protagonist of Anna Dewdney's popular series of books, finds it hard to wait until Christmas is finally here, especially with all the shopping, activities, cookie baking, decorating, and more. Finally, it's up to Mama Llama to set things right and help her child understand not only the need for patience but what's really important during the holiday season.

12 Days of Holiday Books: The Magical Christmas Horse

December 5, 2012

The Magical Christmas HorseThe Magical Christmas Horse (40 pages, Paula Wiseman Books, 2011) by author Mary Higgins Clark and illustrator Wendell Minor tells the heartwarming Christmastime tale of a young boy, Johnny, who travels to his family's ancestral farm on the East Coast to spend the holidays with his grandparents. While Clark is mostly known for suspense novels, here she tells a simple and charming holiday story for young children

Johnny's favorite memory of his grandparents' farm is of a beautiful, hand-carved wooden horse, and Johnny promises his younger brother Liam that this year will be his year to ride the horse. Unfortunately the wooden horse is nowhere to be found, and much Christmas wishing ensues.

Of course a little miracle of sorts happens on Christmas Day, and all ends well. While the story is a bit simplistic, it's charmingly written and includes a refreshing message that's all about giving rather than receiving. After all, that's what the holidays are supposed to be about, right? And of course Wendell Minor's (The Last Train, Night Flight, and Christmas Tree!) beautiful luminscent paintings evocatively bring the story to life.

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah

November 27, 2012

Chanukah Lights EverywhereMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin children's librarian Lisa Katz, who highlights some fantastic Hanukkah books for kids.

While we are resting our bellies from a grateful evening of our delicious Thanksgiving meals, we now have to quickly switch gears and prepare for Hanukkah. With only a short time until the first candle is lit on the menorah (Saturday, December 8th), we must get ready for our holiday treats. It is time to get out those dreidels, chocolate gelt, menorahs and candles. Here are some fabulous Hanukah books to share with your family and friends. They make for some great presents too!

I have put asterisks next some wonderful stories for children who celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in their homes. I have also included a short poetry list as well as the PJ library list.

Dream Big, Read! this Summer at the Marin County Free Library

June 6, 2012

Summer reading at the Marin County Free LibraryNow that school is almost out and summer vacation is just around the corner, it's a good time to start looking for fun activities to do with the kids. One of our favorite summer activities is the summer reading program at the Marin County Library. It's a great way to discover new books and revisit some old favorites. Children are awarded prizes based on the number of books they read—books that are read to them count, too, so even younger children who can't read yet can get involved in the fun.

This year the Marin County Free Library sponsors its “Dream Big, Read!” reading program from June 9 through August 11. Prizes include rainbow gel pens, magnetic bookmarks, Round Table Pizza coupons, and a "Dream Big, Read!" T-shirt. To claim their prizes, your kids can take their reading logs to the children's librarian at your local library branch. Check with your local library for details.

Book Review: "Zoe Gets Ready" by Bethany Murguia

May 19, 2012

Zoe Gets ReadyAny parent who's been through the challenge of getting a small child ready to go in the morning will appreciate the new children's book by Sausalito author Bethany Murguia, Zoe Gets Ready (40 pages, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2012). It goes without saying that children will love this book, too, since it looks at the whole situation from a child's eyes, too!

For parents, the question "What will I wear today" usually isn't that complicated to answer, but for kids it can be pretty complicated, as Zoe Gets Ready demonstrates. The book delves into the myriad different decisions—is it a pocket day or a twirling day, for example—a child has to make before finally deciding what to wear today.

With delightful and colorful illustrations, this book is sure to be a hit in your house, especially if your kids have a hard time deciding what's appropriate to wear today.

Book Review: Meet Me at the Moon by Gianna Marino

March 26, 2012

Meet me at the MoonMarin Mommies presents a book review by guest contributor Barbara McVeigh. Meet Me at the Moon will be available March 29, and Gianna Marino will be at Book Passage in Corte Madera April 20 at 10 am.

Local author Gianna Marino’s new children’s book Meet Me at the Moon honors the quintessential dance between a mother’s love and a child’s need for reassurance. Vibrant textured hues of reds, greys, oranges and greens set the tone while exquisite elephants, zebras and giraffes move along sun drenched landscapes, under starry skies, in rainstorms and more upon the African plain.

Mama Elephant tells Little One she must go away for a while. The land is dry and she will climb the highest mountain to ask the skies for rain. Little One is worried and grips Mama’s trunk “I don’t want you to go.” Will Mama return?

A Book for Chinese New Year: The Year of the Dragon

January 15, 2012

The Year of the Dragon by Oliver Chin and Jennifer WoodChinese New Year takes place this year on January 23, and one way you can get ready for the Year of the Dragon is by reading Oliver Chin's new book of the same name with your kids. The Year of the Dragon: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac (36 pages, Immedium, 2012) is the seventh book in this series by Chin, a local San Francisco writer and dad, and follows the adventures of Dominic the young dragon as he meets the emperor and empress, befriends a boy named Bo, and enters a paddle boat (a literal "dragon boat") race with a crew made up of Bo and the other 11 animals from the Chinese zodiac.

The Year of the Dragon does a great job introducing kids to the dragons of Chinese lore, and offers a gentle tale of friendship, teamwork, bravery, and acceptance. The illustrations by illustrator and cartoon character designer Jennifer Wood, who's done work for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, are colorful and dynamic and add a lot of appeal for both kids and grownups.

Great Snakes: Tintin Comes to the Big Screen!

January 1, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin movie posterAs a lifelong Tintin fan, I greeted the news that Steven Spielberg was making The Adventures of Tintin, a computer-animated movie version of the boy reporter's escapades, with a mix of delight and dread. Like many Tintin fans, I feel a sort of irrational protectiveness for the stories and characters, and was worried about Hollywood making a mess of things. If you're new to Tintin and wonder what it's all about (he's unfamiliar to many in America), read my earlier blog post about him here.

I've made a point of introducing the Tintin graphic novels to my kids, who are now 8 and 6, and together we've read most of them. They were also excited at the prospect of a Tintin movie, and have been bugging me to take them since they heard about it.

So last week we finally made it to the theater to see The Adventures of Tintin. The Adventures of Tintin is ostensibly based on The Secret of the Unicorn, but it's actually a pastiche of that, another Tintin story The Crab with Golden Claws, and a lot of stuff that's pure Hollywood. Although I had a hard time shaking my feeling of dread, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the movie. (By the way, there may be spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk if you haven't seen the movie yet.)

Spooky Halloween Books for Kids of All Ages

October 10, 2011

Room on the BroomAs Halloween nears, kids love to read spooky (and not-so-spooky) stories about ghosts, goblins, witches, and pumpkins. Actually, in our house, we read some of our Halloween books year-round. If you're looking for some great Halloween reads to enjoy with your family, here's a list of some of our current favorites, arranged by age/reading level.

Since many kids (ours included) have a love/hate relationship with the spookier aspects of Halloween, you'll probably want to check and make sure some of these books are appropriate for your children, especially the ones listed for older readers.

The book links below take you to Amazon.com; search for them online in the children's catalog of the Marin County Free Library here.

Baby/Toddler

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