Lasts Longer than Chocolate

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Last Easter we left the baskets in a hurry to get to church on time, which turned out to be a really dumb move, as our dog ate every piece of candy she could get to. Once I determined all that chocolate wasn't going to kill her, and the requisite wailing and gnashing of teeth from the children was lived through, I learned that candy sold the day after Easter is a lot cheaper than that which one can purchase the day before. 

This year, I'm thinking of a little candy, a couple of small things, and some books. Books last longer than chocolate, and I have a few on my radar this spring that are worth gifting. So whether you're looking to fill an Easter basket, celebrate a spring birthday, or just for some new books to take home from the library, consider these.

Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis, Douglas Florian and Jeremy Holmes

We checked this one out from our local library about a week or so ago, and my 5 and 8 year olds loved it. You can't go wrong with imaginative, fun poems written by the United States poet laureate, along with established, award-winning children's poet, Douglas Florian. These two writers conjure up every different kind of automobile you've never imagined, from a backwards car, to a banana split car, to a dragonwagon and a sloppy-floppy-nonstop-jalopy. The detailed mixed-media illustrations provide hours of entertainment, and comprise a book that your kids will want to read more than once. 

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything by Maira Kalman

Before you skip this one because presidential history is too boring for an Easter basket, consider Maira Kalman's ability to bring a complex historical figure to life in a way that kids adore. She speaks in a relaxed, engaging tone that at times sounds just like a ten year old's voice and at others like a loving teacher. She doesn't gloss over Jefferson's oxymoronic stance on slavery, but also celebrates his insatiable thirst for knowledge, turning this towering historical figure into a human being. And the hand-lettered print and bright gouache paintings make it even more accessible to kids. My daughters are really into anything on presidents and they both loved this book.

What's Your Favorite Animal? by Eric Carle, et al.

This multi-authored title is super cool! It's not an Eric Carle book, but one in which multiple authors render and write about their favorite animals. It's so neat to see various artist's concepts appear next to each other in the same book, culminating in a title that will inspire your kids to think about their favorite animals and how they might draw, paint, and write about them. 

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Here Come the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood and Claudia Rueda

This one is the surprise hit of the season, and a book that I guarantee that you will enjoy as much as your child. Most holiday books are less than fabulous, but this one is genuinely hilarious, with the added bonus that it appeals to children of all ages. An irritated cat, tired of the Easter Bunny getting all the attention, conveys his plan to take over the holiday through signs, body language, and some very funny facial expressions. Because these are conveyed quite humorously in pen and ink drawings, even young children are brought in on the comedy.  And this is a book your family will enjoy throughout the year, not just during the Easter season. There's nothing like a feline attempting world dominance for laughs.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

J. K. Rowling fans rejoice. There is good fantasy to be had post Harry Potter. Having heard nothing but positive  about this chapter book, which the critics have been falling all over themselves praising the past few months, I gave it to my 11 year old, who promptly devoured it in two days. It's based on the fairy tale of the Snow Queen, and touches on issues of friendship, trust, and courage. She said it was absolutely fabulous and that she would highly recommend it to (upper elementary and middle school) boys and girls who are looking for a good fantasy. Here is the publisher summary to give you an idea of what the novel is about:

A luminous retelling of the Snow Queen, this is the story of unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard who doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room.  He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen.  And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested.  Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

I love any book about a girl who is so much braver than she gives credits herself, which I find is often the case in real life, not just in fantasy.