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In the first installment of Kid Book Reviews, we asked 3-year-olds Fern and Kabes (and their moms, Lauren Hartmann and Heather Neal) for their thoughts on eight new children’s books. Keep reading to find out what they loved (and what they didn’t).
Tell Me What To Dream About | Giselle Potter
What it’s about: The story of a little sister who asks her big sister for help in coming up with what to dream about before bedtime. The big sister comes up with a wide variety of creative dreams, but the little sister doesn’t see the dreams in quite the same way.
He said: “It’s about tiny donkeys and a tiny pig, and a guy, and his mommy. I like tiny things.”
Mom said: “Kabes is just starting to understand what dreams are and loves to tell me about his when he wakes up in the morning (they’re almost exclusively about dragons — friendly dragons), so I liked reading to him about all the different possibilities in this story of two girls who are trying to come up with different scenarios to dream about. I like how it encourages imagination while still creating a fun story to read together.” — Heather
She said: “I like this book because it’s so pretty and I like the dreams. I just like it. Other kids would like this book if they don’t have some books about dreams.”
Mom said: “It’s a great look at perceptions and how one person can imagine or experience the same thing in a very different way. The illustrations in this book are absolutely stunning, and I love the vivid dreamscapes the author comes up with. They seem over-the-top, but they are just the type of elaborate dreams I recall having as a child.” — Lauren
Aqualicious | Victoria Kann
What it’s about: According to Fern, “It’s about mermaids and seashells and Aqua a merminnie and a seagull.”
He said: “Oh, mermaids! I love mermaids! Mermaids have bellies. They have those things (*grabs chest*) and bellies. And I like the mommy and daddy sleeping in the sand.”
Mom said: “I love that my son’s favorite book in the whole stack was the one that had pink and glitter all over it. This was a cute story about a “merminnie” finding her way back home and some of the adventures she has along the way. I’m going to pick up some others in the series after seeing my son’s delightful reaction to this one. Plus, I enjoyed reading it, which is always good considering I’ll likely be reading it about 1,000 more times this year.” — Heather
She said: “I like this book because it’s about seashells and I like seashells. Other kids would like this book because it’s about seashells! And if they don’t have enough books.”
Mom said: “For the little girl who adores all things girly, this book is sure to be an instant favorite. A little girl named Pinkalicious is exciting enough, but add in beachy adventures with a rare breed of a miniature mermaid named Aqua, and you’ve got a recipe for the stuff little girls dreams are made of.” — Lauren
Pete the Cat: Rock On Mom and Dad | James Dean
What it’s about: This story features the ever-popular and much-loved Pete the Cat coming up with a creative and sweet way to thank his mom and dad for all of the wonderful things they do for him. And as an added bonus, it comes with a pull-out poster, cards, and a bunch of stickers that will have little ones completely thrilled!
He said: “This is the best book ever. It has stickers! Where’s the song?”
Mom said: “We are huge, huge Pete the Cat fans. I like the message and the rhythm of the books, and Kabes loves the songs that come with many of the books. I love the ‘interactive’ approach to the book to reemphasize the overall lesson. And it goes without saying that I love the lesson: mom and dad are awesome.” — Heather
She said: “I like this book because it has stickers and Pete the Cat. Other kids would like this book because it’s good and it has fun stuff inside.”
Mom said: “The stickers were a huge hit with Fern, and the story was a huge hit with me. Parents will love this one.” — Lauren
Goodnight Already! | Jory John and Benji Davies
What it’s about: The story of a very sleepy Bear who just wants to get some sleep and his very awake neighbor, Duck, who just wants to stay up and hang out. He keeps interrupting Bear’s sweet slumber and in a funny turn of events, they end up switching places.
He said: “But it’s not sleepy time yet, we have to read books! Don’t say goodnight yet!”
Mom said: “I knew this one would be a hit just given the title — it’s the same thought that goes through my head every night when I’m attempting to put my 3 year old to bed. This one tends to start the same argument each time — to not say goodnight yet! Though it hits a little close to the let’s-not-go-to-bed-yet theme for me, I love the humor wrapped up between these pages.” — Heather
She said: “This book is really silly because Bear is not respecting the duck. My favorite thing about the book was that it was funny. This book would make other kids feel happy. Maybe we can send it to them!”
Mom said: “The illustrations in this book are bright and modern, and the bantering dialogue between Bear and Duck is entertaining for kids and adults alike.” — Lauren
Winnie & Waldorf | Kati Hites
What it’s about: The tale of a lovable pair of friends: a little girl named Winnie and her dog, Waldorf. They can often be found getting into mischief, which frustrates Winnie’s big sister, until Waldorf’s antics end up working in her favor.
He said: “That doggie’s like me … he gets in lots of trouble.”
Mom said: “My 3 year old identified almost too well with this story of a dog who causes accidental mischief, but in the end, makes things better for everyone.” — Heather
She said: “This book is good because it’s pretty. Kids will like Waldorf because he does lots of funny faces.”
Mom said: “Kids always love fun-loving, goofy characters, and Waldorf definitely fits the bill. He will be quickly endeared by little readers.” — Lauren
If You Plant a Seed | Kadir Nelson
What it’s about: The story follows a group of animals as they plant seeds to grow a garden, while metaphorically illustrating the consequences of selfishness and kindness.
He said: “This book is about being nice. Oh, and bunnies, and birds, and food!”
Mom said: “This book has such a great message. As we first read it, I thought it might go over my son’s head, but I was impressed when he seemed to grasp it at least a little. Through metaphor, the book expresses how selfishness can lead to trouble, but spreading kindness lets it grow and grow. When I asked Kabes what he thought the story was about, he summed it up quite simply: ‘Be NICE!’” — Heather
She said: “This book is really pretty; I like the drawings. It’s about mouse and bunny and they plant some seeds. Birds come and say ‘Can I share?’ They say, ‘No!’ and they have a fight and they’re throwing tomatoes at each other and they’re yelling. They all got tomato on them. Then mouse shared! Then they said, ‘Thank you!’ and the birds spread seeds in the ground of different colors. They shared because they were kind. Sweet animals sharing.”
Mom said: “It’s a book that brings the ugliness of selfishness and the beauty of kindness to a child’s level with beautiful illustrations and a simple but unique storyline.” — Lauren
Goose | Laura Wall
What it’s about: This is a sweet book about a little girl who is without a friend. She ends up finding an unlikely match in Goose while at the park, and the two become fast friends. Their friendship hits a snag when Goose’s friends head South for the winter, but these two prove that true friendship can overcome.
He said: “I like slides and swings, too. And things that go honk, honk, HOoNK!”
Mom said: “This is a sweet story about a girl who wants a friend to play with and finds one in a goose. I love the bright illustrations that can almost tell the story without the words, perfect for young kids to follow along.” — Heather
She said: “I liked that Sophie had different dolls and maybe she has a doll house. Kids would like it because it’s about friends.”
Mom said: “It’s a very sweet story, and the simple illustrations make it a perfect book for an emerging reader to begin practicing their literacy skills.” — Lauren
Paddington in the Garden | Michael Bond and R. W. Alley
What it’s about: Paddington and his mischievous antics have been winning kids over for ages, and this book was no different as he embarks on an adventure in gardening, making friends — and trouble — along the way.
He said: “Mmm … I’m done. Can we read the next one?”
Mom said: “Though the Paddington series is a classic, I think it lends itself to a certain audience. While the story about Paddington planting his own garden is cute, the language and length were a bit too much for a 3-year-old-sized attention span.” — Heather
She said: “It’s about a bear named Paddington who makes a garden. He has rocks made out of orange in his garden. He meets Rug Lemon and he said, ‘Thank you very much for the star!’ I think little kids and big kids would share this book, because it’s not scary.”
Mom said: “I loved Paddington Bear when I was a kid, so this was a fun and nostalgic book to read together with my daughter. This book is a bit advanced for my 3 year old and much of the vocabulary was a bit over her head, but she was able to follow along and seemed to get the overall gist.” — Lauren