Trio of 2014 Children’s Books


When parents get book order forms from school, sometimes it can be overwhelming

and also, stressful when they have a limited budget. I remember my three kids bringing

home their school picture order forms, their sports group picture forms and then, on

top of all this, Scholastic book order forms. Of course, all school book fees, new clothes

and shoes, sporting equipment also came during the same time of year.

Occasionally, my Mom and Dad may have dropped a check off in the mail, which would

cover some of the items mentioned. I had child support for two of three children, along

with a carefully budgeted babysitting fees from my clients’ list. All of the five children

I watched stayed with me for the seven years I watched them, who were from parents

whose careers were either as professionals or a combination of positions. I could count

on them paying me regularly on Fridays. I had typed up a babysitting contract which

included paying me for sick days or times their children stayed home. Also, for vacations

they chose to take. If I ever needed to call them to ask them to use one of my  ‘back up’

babysitters then I would not get paid, same if I chose to take a rare vacation. I think I

‘called in sick’ on only three occasions in the  7 years, 9 summers  watched their kids.

When we were closely tied like we were, they would tell me when their vacations were

planned. We also would try to have seasonal family gatherings where we would get

our schedules in ‘synch,’ planning sports, extra curricular activities like gymnastics

and jazz dance classes, karate for the kids who chose this outlet. All 8 children, mine

included, took swimming lessons the same 6 weeks, usually in August, hoping the

water would be nice and warm in the morning.

I am rambling a bit, to tell you that my own children fit a lot into their budget.  I did

not expect to receive 5 x 7″ school pictures nor have the joy of seeing the choices of their

Book Fair. My oldest daughter pointed out that the Book Fair is during Parent-Teacher

conference time so you have extra time on your hands. Also, a little bit of pressure to go

wandering around with the kids to check out the books. I reminded her that the boys

have library cards like the three of ‘them’ (my own children) had from early years on.

I also would tell their teachers this, including what I thought was a valuable lesson,

which was to choose books and return them regularly allowed my kids to have many

more books, choosing far more than what we would need to have in our home. She

listened and told me they each were told they could choose one nice book to keep.

The boys, Skyler and Micah, already have a nice collection of hardback books in

their bedroom.

My daughter in law has the children’s book shelves in the play room, which means

they can sometimes need to be reorganized and cleaned up. She allowed the four

children to choose a book, with the two oldest, Lara and Landen, picking chapter


The two little girls, M & M, each chose a book. I felt the ones I was most interested

in viewing would also be the ones you would be curious to hear about. I will include

Micah’s to round this out with a boy’s choice. This ‘trio’ of enjoyable selections is

a collection of picture books that were so endearing and entrancing. Along with one

that is quite dramatic!


1. “Flora and the Penguin” is a 2014 book with 40 pages, written and illustrated  by

Molly Idle. Last year, she won the Caldecott Honor for a wordless picture book called,

“Flora and the Flamingo.” The flamingo and little girl dancing in the different scenes

was quite beautiful and artistic.  Makyah chose the newer book since she loves the

movies, “Happy Feet,” and “Happy Feet Two.” It is one which will appeal to both boys

and girls, ages 3-5 years old. The author, Molly Idle,  mentioned the quote, “Actions

speak louder than words.” Since Makyah is the ‘baby’ in her household at age 3, I felt

this was a wise choice. She can tell adults or her siblings, what the pictures mean to her,

using descriptions and  her vivid imagination, to tell her own story about Flora. At her

preschool, Kyah is learning how to find her own voice, letting others know what she




2. “The Iridescence of Birds,” a Newberry Medal winner, written by Patricia Mac Lachlan,

was chosen by 5 1/2 year old kindergartner, Marley. This is a 40 paged hardback book

which has a wonderfully illustrated story about Henri Matisse. The book has the small town

in Northern France, where the little boy and young artist grew up. It is winter and Henri

feels it is cold and dreary. The pictures show shades of grays in the gloomy scenery.  In the

true story of his life, Henri’s mother paints plates. Henri’s mother has him help her to set

out plates which radiate colors. His life brightens up when he puts fruits and flowers out to

inspire her painting. Rainbows shown in the book are like a prism (to his life) has been

added to every scene. Glorious!  This story of Henri Matisse’s young childhood is like an

‘ode’ or warm ‘homage’ to his mother. It is like we should give credit to her for inspiring

Matisse to create his impressionistic masterpieces of color. Of course, I love the birds.

Hadley Hooper is the artist who has brilliantly illustrated this book to match the tone

of the story told in simple prose.


3. “Draw!” by Raul Colon was chosen by Micah, my 5 year old kindergartner. I am sure

his eyes were attracted by the bold and vibrant illustrations done by Raul Colon. This

book is 40 pages long, which begins with a boy in his room with a sketchbook. He had

read a large book about Africa. He becomes immersed in the world of being on a safari.

He uses paints and an easel to create drawings from his imaginations. They are of very

lifelike animals- elephants, zebras, lions and a very angry rhino. The scenes seem to come

alive and seem inter-active. He ends the book by showing his drawings to his classmates

in school. This book is appropriate for young adventurous children of  ages 4-8. I also

was excited to find out that “Draw!” is not about guns being “drawn” since over the

phone, I had heard its title, mistakenly picturing it to be a Western.


What are some of your favorite children’s books that are more recently published?








18 responses »

    • I am sure there will always be a copy of that endearing, special book around at book fairs, Jill! I was trying to encourage my 10 year old granddaughter to try, “Little Women.” I really love children’s literature. smiles!

  1. Loved this post. I just purchased a few books for my grandchildren, not necessarily recently published but with beautiful illustrations and adorable stories. “The Smallest Snowflake” by Bernadette Watts, and “That’s When I’m Happy” by Beth Shoshan & Jacqueline East.

    • Oh, these sound so sweet. I admit, I don’t know them but will check them out here at the library! I will share them with my grandchildren. I am always happy when people add titles to posts, examples of their interests, too. Thanks, Kim!

  2. thanks for these great suggestions, robin. i’m always on the lookout for great children’s books. i liked the book ‘the hole’ which came out last year, it is really interesting and kind of it’s own piece of art. it has a very simple concept but kids and adults both love it –

    • One of these days, you will have a little one to find books for, probably have Elizabeth’s collection to share with them… Karen will be a super grandma, as you will be the ‘hands on’ best grandpa ever! Smiles!

  3. A great post, I enjoyed reading it as an author I am always interested in what is coming out and what children read. I would also like to comment you must be one very relaxed and have great patience to babysit children for so many years. Though it is rewarding (I too did a short stint of it) it is tiring and demanding.

    • I appreciate this compliment, you may think it was hard, but somehow I found it really the best years of my life! We had a schedule, which helped our days to run smoothly, but lots of fun on rainy days, or snow ‘no school’ days, too. Their favorite activity was inventing their own “Funniest Home Videos” and playing different versions of ‘house’ or school. Thanks for this very nice comment!

    • Thanks so much for loving the fact this is still around! Yes, amazing, Colleen! Wonderful memories of my kids’ years, mainly American Girl books for the girls, along with horses, then for Jamie he liked adventures and Jack London books. Smiles!

  4. Oh Robin, I love the sound of the story of the young Henri Matisse – he’s one of my all time favourite artists – what a great choice – I must see if I can find it here.
    I read your whole post with interest – both from being in the school system and having been Mum to a book loving child. We read through loads of different stories as he was groing up but his perennial favourite, especially if he was feeling a bit poorly, was “The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me” by Roald Dahl.
    Any books with Teddy Bears would also have to be a favourite, too, for me.

    • I liked Roald Dahl, so this is a great one to suggest. I am so glad you enjoyed this post, which really includes a lot about me, in setting up the whole trio of books… Thanks, Jenny. I loved Winnie the Pooh books, along with Beatrix Potter, as a child. Thanks for sharing the fact you and your son liked “The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me.”

      • I have several of the books I treasured as a child, ones my Dad read, then the ones I read to my own and last, new ones purchased along the way… I am the ‘keeper of the books’ but also pass them out to my grandkids, if they express an interest to keep them, my little one bedroom apt. is pretty busy with a variety of things!

  5. I loved the Book Fair, too, Robin, but I do remember having to hold my daughter back. We just simply could not afford all those brand new shiny and wonderful books! Also, she turned out to be a speed reader. So it was not practical. Like you, I quickly steered her to the library. I loved the Beatrix Potter books. And also the ones the “Runaway bunny” author wrote. Not recently published. Also not recently published, was a series of books by the author who wrote “When Mama Comes Home.” I read all these to my daughter every nap, every nighttime. Probably why she writes so well as well as the speed reading!

    • Hollis, thanks for telling me about your wonderful speed reading daughter! I am so proud of her, too. It would be hard to keep up with purchases of books due to her continually needing more! Smiles! Thanks for agreeing with me, about the library.
      Special treasures, ones that need to be read aloud and kept, were often purchased for birthdays and holidays. They were ones we would find on sale at bookstores…
      I loved “The Runaway Bunny” by Margaret Wise Brown… I think I may have posted about her.. times like bedtime, naptime and other cozy moments, books ‘magic’ is to help us to ‘unwind’ with children. Thanks for sharing one I had never heard of, “When Mama Comes Home.” I like to add ‘new ones’ to my own collection when I have overnight visitors…

      I will be checking back tomorrow, since I am off to dinner with my out of town sister in law, she is down in Columbus for a conference! Smiles and hugs, for your nice comments that made me feel warm inside, Hollis!

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