Four Simple Words to Abate Kids’ Complaining at Dinner

I got them from my wife, who heard them somewhere:

Don’t yuck my yum.

That’s it. Don’t yuck my yum.

You may not like the only barely undercooked beans in this chili, or the grilled asparagus, or the salad greens because even though you chew them into a tiny million pieces you still manage to gag yourself on them–

Sorry… where was I? Oh, yeah–don’t yuck my yum.

You may not like this food, but I do, and it’s probably good for you. You’re welcome to not like it, but I find it yummy, so… no “yuck” allowed, please.

Cozy Classics: Best Board Books Ever

I finally read War and Peace last week… in about two minutes!

At first I thought Cozy Classics, 12-word board book summaries of classic works of literature, were gimmicky. But then I read War and Peace and Les Misérables. And the cuteness nearly melted me. (“So adorable it makes our hearts hurt,” rightly said one reviewer.)

My kids (ranging in age from pre-school to lower elementary) love the books, and my littlest one can easily memorize them. They’re perfect reading practice for my middle child.

Yes, it’s really impressive that anyone could even attempt to summarize such massive tomes in a dozen words. Les Mis begins:

poor
rich
sad

But what stands out even more is the beautifully detailed images of needle-felted characters. Check out the detail of the first page of Les Mis. (And note the page in the background!)

 

 

From the adult version of the book:

Cosette was made to run on errands, to sweep the rooms, the courtyard, the street, to wash the dishes, to even carry burdens… It was a heart-breaking thing to see this poor child, not yet six years old, shivering in the winter in her old rags of linen, full of holes, sweeping the street before daylight, with an enormous broom in her tiny red hands, and a tear in her great eyes.

Or, as the Cozy Classic puts it:

sad

 

 

Both Les Mis and War and Peace initially make for a quick read, as you might guess. But my kids have really enjoyed the detail of the images (as have I!), and having so few words makes them easy to understand and retain. I did have to explain “stroll” to my three-year-old, but that provided a nice little vocabulary lesson.

 

Image from War and Peace
Image from War and Peace

 

These books are not only adorable; you’ll feel like a great parent in introducing your kids to these classics.

Check out Les Mis’s product page here and War and Peace here. All the Cozy Classics are here. AND… there is now a Star Wars trilogy.

 


 

Thanks to Simply Read Books for the review copies, given with no expectation as to the content of the review.

Why I am a Pastor, in 10 Words

 

We hiked through the woods on a perfect fall day, our whole family and another family, whom we love spending time with.

My wife and I were talking about my potential as a small business owner. I told her how much I’d love being at the helm of a startup.

But what kind of startup to start?

I: What does the world need that it doesn’t have?

She: Jesus.

I: Exactly! That’s why I’m a pastor.

The startup can wait for me, at least for now.

Alpha: The NATO Alphabet for Kids (and Their Parents)

image

 

With Isabelle Arsenault’s Alpha, I finally have a tool to keep the NATO phonetic alphabet in my head. That’s more useful to me than you might think, not least of which is because I really do have to spell both my first and last name quite often when talking to various phone reps. (A… B as in Bravo… R… A… M as in Mike.)

It’s first and foremost a children’s book–though also a good visual aid for learning what is also known as the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet.

The book’s cover is actually a fine way to judge its contents in this case: It is the clever illustration–a paper airplane–for Delta.

 

image

 

The next spread, Echo, has a child at school throwing such an airplane at the child sitting in front of him.

Each letter of the alphabet receives a two-page spread: the word at left and an illustration at right. Some illustrations you might have guessed–like the couple dancing the Foxtrot. Others are more subtle and creative–like Hotel, which is the Monopoly hotel piece. Romeo and Juliet share a ghostly motif that ties the two images together, separated they are by some pages (and… uh… other impediments).

The letter under consideration has its own color, so that with even younger children you could focus just on A, B, C, D, and so on. Of course, my eight-year-old can appreciate that this section of his Dangerous Book for Boys now has some visual reminders to help him with his NATO alphabet.

There’s no storyline to follow, of course. But it’s been an interesting (and visually pleasing) read for each of my three kids, from three up to eight years old.

The sewn binding and high-quality paper will find approval with parents who want a book that will withstand a few throws across the room. (From the kids, not the parents.)

Alpha is a smart, nice-looking, and useful take on the classic children’s abecedarian.

Find Alpha at Amazon here, or at Candlewick Press’s page here. See Isabelle Arsenault’s page (with lots of images) here.

 


 

Thanks to Candlewick Press for the review copy, given with no expectation as to the content of the review.

Children’s Book Review: The Little Snowplow

The Little Snowplow

 

We need the little snowplow in our neighborhood. Last winter we saw more than 100 inches of snow pile up. The kids loved it, and we parents sort of did, but it made getting around a challenge. And it got old fast.

Enter the little snowplow:

On the Mighty Mountain Road Crew, the trucks came in one size: BIG.

That is, until a new snowplow joined the crew.

“You’re such a little snowplow,” the big trucks said.
“Leave the heavy lifting to us.”
And off they roared.

My five-year-old was enraptured at this point. And what young child wouldn’t identify with the little guy in the story? Each night he does his “reps” (raising and lowering his plow ten times). He pulls blocks of concrete. “Just in case.” Had he been training for 2015 in Massachusetts, he would have been oh-so-glad for all the hours he put in.

Then a blizzard hits–more than the little snowplow can handle, and the plow driver has to call for backup. In the end, against the odds, the little snowplow turns out to be a real hero, with his place secured among the Mighty Mountain Road Crew.

Most grown-ups will see the story coming–the motifs are familiar ones. One thinks of the setting and improbability of Katy and the Big Snow, with echoes of The Little Engine That Could, and a scene reminiscent of Little Blue Truck. The story ends with the little snowplow ready to bed down, though the “He could hardly wait for sleep” ending felt a little less satisfying than expected.

Still, The Little Snowplow is engaging. It’s an important idea that one can succeed even though small or dismissed by others. The message of the book is a good one, and the story moves along nicely. My three kids are all fans of the book.

The Little Snowplow is Lora Koehler’s first children’s picture book. Jake Parker illustrates the story. And the illustrations are great. They’re colorful, clear, and absorbing. They really make the book. There are enough of them, too, that a non-reader can easily enough make his or her way through the story. (See a few more illustrations here.)

I don’t even want to think about winter coming soon, but I’m sure we’ll continue to reach for this book when the snow comes–and we are reading it now, even with potential blizzards months away.

Find The Little Snowplow at Amazon here, or at Candlewick Press’s page here.

 


 

Thanks to Candlewick Press for the review copy, given with no expectation as to the content of the review.

The Family Bathroom: An Ode

Parent: Do you need to go poop or pee? I’m about to go to the bathroom.

Child: No.

Parent: Are you SUUURE? I’m going to take a shower.

Child: I don’t need to go poop or pee.

Parent: (Goes to bathroom, starts water, dares to relax)

Child(ren): I NEED TO GO POOP! I NEED TO GO PEE!