Since I’m always trying to find new books for storytime, I often test out new titles on my own kids. My son, at 11, mostly wants to read books on his own now, although my husband and I still read aloud to him at bedtime when he’s not caught up in a novel (right now, my husband is reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy with him. I am anxious for them to finish, because then I will get to share The Restaurant at the End of the Universe).
My six year-old daughter has a love/hate relationship with having a librarian mom. On the one hand, she loves books, so she likes when I bring them home. On the other hand, she’s always been dismayed that she can’t keep them all. With both of my kids, I have been guilty of returning books to the library before they were ready to part with them, so I understand why she gets upset. Occasionally she’ll become so attached to a particular book that I’ll buy her a copy of her own. That was the case with her latest favorite, Gaston, by Kelly DiPucchio and Christian Robinson.
My daughter loves everything about this book: the illustrations (which she talks about at length), the story, the whole package. She asks for it at bedtime every night. She brings it in the car to read for herself. She lies on her bed and pores over every page. Rarely has she fallen so hard for a book.
And I get it. It’s a great book. I think I picked it up originally because it was on a list of the best picture books of 2014. It’s about a family of puppies: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. They are all adorable, except Gaston does not look like his poodle siblings. He also struggles to sip (never slobber!), and yip (never yap!), and all the other proper things their mother encourages them to do, although he always tries the hardest.
Then one day the poodles meet a family of bulldog pups at the park. Or at least three of the pups (Rocky, Ricky, and Bruno) look like bulldogs (and a lot like Gaston). The fourth, Antoinette, looks like a little white poodle. Gaston and Antoinette realize there’s been a mix-up. The two families reluctantly arrange a swap. Now everyone looks alike, but no one is happy. Gaston finds the bulldog family too “brutish and brawny.” Antoinette can’t stand being proper. The next morning they all race back to the park, where the two mothers announce that they have made a terrible mistake. Antoinette and Gaston return to the families they love, and later, when they grow up and have puppies of their own, they teach them be whatever they want to be.
All in all, it’s a wonderful story about the true meaning of family. The illustrations are adorable (there’s a reason my daughter loves them), and the writing is perfect for reading aloud. I always wonder which of the current picture books will become classics, like Corduroy or Harry, the Dirty Dog–books that my kids will remember fondly enough to want to read to their own kids. I’m sure this one will be on my daughter’s list.
As for my son, his current book obsession is the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children books by Ransom Riggs. He tore through them in less than a week, pleading with me to check them all out because he didn’t want to wait even a day between books. I haven’t read them yet myself, although he’s told me enough of the plot that I know it’s a fantasy/sci-fi series about a group of kids with bizarre talents and attributes. The author based the book and the characters on creepy antique photographs of children (I love that idea). I’ve promised my son that I will read them soon.
So those are my kids’ current book recommendations. What current books do you think will stand the test of time?