But How the Witch Wailed and How the Cat Spat...

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

This book has great rhythm, great rhyme -- it almost seems like it was written by a modern-day Romantic poet. The rhythm asserts itself the moment you start reading, and there is never a stumble.

Great for toddler participation.

Eliza has two parts she likes to say. First, as each new animal asks to get onboard the broom, the refrain is "Is there room on the broom for a dog like me?" And the next line is "Yes!". Well, Eliza is very excited to give her permission: "YES!" she says.

The next line she loves is: "The witch tapped the broomstick and WHOOSH! They were gone." She really gets into that "whoosh", let me tell you!

So, whether it's Halloween or not, this is a fun one.

Baby Likes Upside-Down Books

These days, when Eliza looks at books by herself, more often than not, they are upside down. And sometimes, when we read together, she will grab the book and turn it upside down. Has anyone else experienced this?

She is also into head-tilting these days. It almost seems like she has discovered the idea that she can look at things different ways...

Now YOU feel Daddy's scratchy face!

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

It took my baby a while to warm up to this book. Perhaps the quiet, pastel-hued art just didn't grab her. Also, touch-and-feel didn't really interest her until about 7 months. (She liked other touch-and-feel books before this one.)

The first spread she wanted to play with was "Now YOU play peek-a-boo with Paul." She would grab the little turquoise cloth flap and peek at Paul. So, it was a lift-the-flap experience first. (She liked lift-the-flap before touch-and-feel.)

Then she liked flipping through "Judy's book." Another lift-the-flap experience.

Daddy's scratchy face was the first texture she would touch. Then, later, it became her favorite page (indicated by her smiling, laughing, and/or looking up at me when we would turn to it). It's funny, because she likes to play with her own dad's "scratchy face." In fact, my husband has a little goatee just for her. Is it possible that she was making the connection to her real-life experience? I really think so!

Here is a picture of her touching her uncle's scratchy beard, making the same scrunchy-face smile she makes when we turn to the page in Pat the Bunny.

Anyway, I like to think she makes the connection!

Eliza also likes the mirror spread. She will peek in it and make eye contact with me through the mirror (and smile!). I must say, though -- the art on the mirror spread is one of the lamest pieces of children's book art I have ever seen. Come on, Dorothy! Who looks at a hand-held mirror like that? Did Judy fall over?

Eliza also likes to stick her index finger through "Mummy's ring." It is so cute to see her work her tiny finger through that hole. Takes some dexterity, I think!

Anyway, the funniest thing about our experience with this book is that Eliza refused to "pat the bunny" for the longest time. She would interact with every other page (she would even touch the flowers, which are meant to be sniffed-- lost on her)... but the bunny was always ignored. If I tried to put her hand on the bunny, she would yank her hand out of mine very quickly.

Finally, just a few days ago (right around 9 months), her little hand ventured to touch the bunny fur. It was the very last feature she found. Oh, the irony.

The amazing thing to me is that they still bind this book with a plastic comb binding. My daughter considers this one the touch-and-feel features, as she will frequently touch that part of the book (in fact, she touched that part of the bunny spread before the bunny). My daughter also likes to chew on this book more than any other, and she has managed to get bits of paper off the spine. So, we don't let her play with this book unsupervised.

Anyway, I recommend this book as a "stage two" infant/toddler book, after your child has learned to enjoy flaps and textures in other books.

So They Sent Me a... LION!

Dear Zoo, written and illustrated by Rod Campbell

Eliza LOVES this one. She is very interested in lifting flaps right now (at eight months old), and this book seems to really please her. She is so eager to lift the flaps, she springs to grab each flap as soon as we turn the page, as if to beat me to it.

The premise is:"I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet. They sent me a... [lift flap to reveal animal]. It was too [insert adjective]. I sent him back." This repeats from elephant (too big) down to frog (too jumpy). It ends with the zoo sending a dog, which was perfect.

The only critique I have is that the flaps are not baby-friendly. They are recessed into the page. To help with this, I secretly "prep" each flap before turning the page-- I reach under the page we're reading to make the flap on the next page just slightly "ajar" so she can get her fingers under it. (Unfortunately in her frantic efforts to grab the flap she can sometimes push it back down. So, I will help again. The funny thing is, once she sees me touch the flap, she is usually not interested in grabbing it anymore and instead turns the page to get to the next one. Miss Independent!)

Here are some pics of her in action:

And, of course, the flaps must be tasted:

The "That's Not My" Franchise

That's not my monster...
by Fiona Watt, illustrated by Rachel Wells

This is the first touch-and-feel book my baby would actually touch. (We also frequently read Pat the Bunny, but she still is very hesitant about touching that bunny!)

Each spread shows a monster that is not "mine" because it has, for example, horns that are too rough. Then, at the end, we find "my" monster!

My daughter loves those ears!

As evidenced by the entire shelf of "That's not my" iterations at my local Barnes and Noble, including "That's not my tractor" (!), the publisher, Usborne, is doing quite well with these.

I have browsed them all, and we also own That' s not my dolly...

But this one is my favorite, because those monsters are just so cute. My husband feels the same way. And I think Eliza does too! (She kissed one of the monsters tonight -- either that or she was just tasting him.)

My Little Page Turner

My baby loves to grab the pages and turn them. She learned how to do this when she was five months old. The key is propping up the page for her, as even an adult can have a hard time grabbing individual board book pages. So, when it's about time to turn the page, I prop it up a little with my right thumb or index finger, and she grabs the page and flops it over. When she was first learning this skill, she would just grab the page and flop it back and forth. I would guide her hand to show her how to turn it just once, and in the one direction. Gradually, she started turning the pages in a purposeful way.

At times she starts trying to turn the pages too fast, as if the fun of reading the book is just about turning the pages. When this happens, I will go back to a skill an expert nanny taught me: I tap on the board book page to draw her attention to the art. The nice thing about board book pages is that they make a good sound when you tap on them with your nail. So, that gets her to focus on the page long enough for me to finish reading it (or at least for me to say a few words, so the experience feels like reading).

Then she gets to turn the page and see what's on the next one! Yay baby!

Here is a video of my little page turner in action, when she first learned the skill (at almost exactly 5 months), a bit tentative:

And here she is at 9 months, my little speed demon page turner!

There's Something About Karen Katz

Toes, Ears, and Nose!
by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Karen Katz

There will be other posts about Karen Katz, but I'm starting with this one, as it's my baby's favorite Katz book. It's a lift-the-flap book in which baby's various parts are hiding under clothes and other things (blanket, lollipop), and you lift the flaps to find things.

As with all the Katz books, there are colorful, baby-mesmerizing patterns and sweet round faces throughout. The cover art says it all.

This spread gets the most coos, especially the right page:

The appearance of the bright blue eyes under those glasses gets Miss E very excited.

At six and a half months, my baby is all about grabbing and grappling with things, so she likes to lift the flaps herself. At first she lifts them and looks under them, but if I let her hang on too long, her "must taste everything" reflex kicks in, and she will pull them to her mouth. Ah, babies.

Anyway, I think this is a very satisfying first "lift-the-flap" book, because young babies are so fascinated with faces. In this book, there are lots of them to discover. We have really enjoyed sharing it with our girl.

Update: At age 9 months, she still loves the book-- though she especially enjoys tearing off the flaps these days. We were given two copies, and one of them is now retired due to extensive de-flapification.