Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Children’s Books

I don’t care how old I am, I still love reading children’s books and watching my favourite childhood movies. There’s something comforting about revisiting old, familiar favourites and re-experiencing the story from a different perspective. I know a lot of adults tend to scoff at the idea of reading books intended for younger audiences, but there are many great children’s books out there that have just as much appeal for adults.

I have always been a huge fan of popular children’s series like Berenstain Bears, Frog & Toad, and the Little Critter books. I also adored anything by Robert Munsch, and of course all of the classics by Dr. Seuss. I still have the majority of my children’s books in a box in my basement because I refuse to part with any of them!

As tempting as it was to go the easy route and list the usual suspects like Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events, I decided to go for books aimed a little younger. I think picture books are very underrated, and there are quite a few that I think would be fun and worthwhile for everyone.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Purple, Green and Yellow (Robert Munsch)

201434This was one of my all-time favourite books when I was in elementary school. Robert Munsch is a brilliant children’s author, and this book is one of the best. It is about a young girl named Brigid who begs her parents to buy her progressively fancier sets of markers, on the condition that she only draws on paper. Of course, Brigid gets into trouble and colours all over everything, including herself. I’ve always loved this book for the colourful illustrations and the simple but hilarious storyline. Of all the books on this list, this is probably the one that has the least “message” to deliver, but it is a thoroughly entertaining book.

2) Chester’s Way (Kevin Henkes)

20692I would also highly recommend the brilliant Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes, but since I have already written about that (here), I decided to pick another one of his books. This book is about two friends named Chester and Wilson who have always done things a certain way. When they meet their new neighbour Lilly for the first time, they are surprised by how different she is and try to avoid her. Kevin Henkes books are illustrated with adorable mice as characters, and carry wonderful messages. This book is about learning to accept other people’s differences, and that it is still possible to be friends with someone different.

3) Odd Duck (Cecil Castellucci)

16002008This is a children’s book that only ever read as an adult, and it was actually one that my mom discovered and recommended while working at the library. This book is about a duck named Theodora who is very happy with her normal life, which is mostly just like all the other ducks but she has a few unusual quirks. Like with Chester’s Way, Theodora meets an unusual new neighbour named Chad who is very different from her. Theodora and Chad become friends, with each seeing the other as the odd one. This book carries one of my favourite messages — that normal is relative, and it is important for everyone to be themselves. Even reading this as an adult, it was a great and very meaningful book.

4) When Elephant Met Giraffe (Paul Gude)

513vzs0ko4l-_sx258_bo1204203200_When Elephant Met Giraffe is another book that I’m sure I’ve discussed before, and another that I read only as an adult. I discovered this book at the library while looking for something to read to some of my participants at work, including one who is obsessed with elephants. This book consists of three stories that all focused on what it means to be a good friend. It seems to be a running theme with the books I’m recommending that they focus on friends learning to manage being very different. In this book, talkative Elephant is offended because Giraffe is silent until he learns that giraffes actually can’t speak. Instead of letting that get in the way, Elephant figures out how to make friends with Giraffe anyway. My favourite of the three stories is the third one, where they decided to play with costumes but can’t agree on what to play. It is a simple, straightforward, and adorable book!

5) Me Too! by Mercer Mayer

1342091I debated for a long time whether to include any Little Critter or Berenstain Bears books on this list, because there were so many to choose from. I decided to choose one that stood out to me most, but I would highly recommend any of the books from these two series! I’ve always loved the Little Critter series because of how cute the illustrations and the stories are. This one specifically is about how annoying it is to constantly need to share everything with a younger sibling. Being the younger sister myself, I can’t say I necessarily relate to the story but I thought it was a great and realistic view of sibling dynamics at an appropriate level even for young children. It tells them that it’s okay to be annoyed with your sibling sometimes, and that it will pass. It is so important for children to understand that more negative feelings are normal and okay, instead of books trying to cover them up.


Top 10 Tuesdays: 10 Books That Caught My Attention at the Bookstore While on Vacation

Top 10 Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Top 10 Tuesday topics are currently not available, as explained on The Broke and The Bookish, so I was on my own to pick a topic. One of the prompts in my reading challenges this year is “a book you bought on a trip,” which I knew would be one of the most difficult prompts for me to fulfill. I actually decided not to buy anything due to a combination of the cost, a lack of luggage space, and the knowledge that I have no more room on my shelves! I decided to alter the prompt a bit to choose a book that I discovered while on a trip.

Every July, my workplace closes down for two weeks while our participants go to summer camp and to give the staff a well-deserved break. I usually take this time to go on a trip for a few days, sometimes to a new place and sometimes to places I’ve visited many times before just to relax a bit. This year, it was the latter kind of vacation, visiting two cities that I’ve been to many times over the years to see family and friends.

One of my favourite things to do while on a trip is to check out the bookstore. I do have Indigo about half an hour by bus away from me, but sometimes I find better deals or otherwise unavailable books more easily on other cities. Since I was on my own for a Top 10 Tuesday topic, I decided to list the 10 books that caught my attention most while at the bookstore during my trip.

1 and 2) Small Great Things (Jodi Picoult) and Two by Two (Nicholas Sparks)

2858795730002998I decided to lump these two together because I decided not to buy them for the same reason. As I mentioned in my recent post about the cost of books (found here), I have been hoping to buy both of these books for quite a long time, but haven’t been able to get my copies yet because they cost a lot more than I am willing to spend right now. I went to two different bookstores during my trip hoping to find these on sale, or some kind of deal available (ie. “Buy 2, get 1 free”) but I had no luck. They were both still over $30 each! I guess I’ll have to just get them from the library for now, and wait to get my copies later.

3) Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory

1331904749It’s been a very long time since I bought any classics at all, and this was never one that I really strongly was interested in. I read The Once and Future King last year and loved it, but my understanding is that this is quite a similar book. When I was at Chapters a couple of nights ago, I saw an absolutely gorgeous version of this book and was extremely tempted to buy it. I can’t even find an image of the right version to show, but it was a leather-bound hardcover and it had gold edges on all of the pages (like the old Royal Diaries YA series, if anyone knows those books). The picture I included here is the closest I could find. I wanted to buy this book partly because I love King Arthur legends, but also because of how amazing it looked! I’m never one to go for books just because of how they look, but I almost made an exception for this one. It looked kind of old-fashioned, and it was awesome!

4) Crosstalk by Connie Willis

25430566This is another book that I’ve been meaning to read for quite a while, ever since I discovered it on Goodreads late last year. The more I hear about it, the more I want to read it! I’ve seen this book several times in bookstores over the past year or so, and each time I see it I’ve considered buying it. I’m not usually a huge sci-fi fan, but this book fits in perfectly with my recent interest in reading about anything to do with social media and how it affects our lives. This book is about a couple who undergo a procedure designed to increase empathy and communication, but sometime goes wrong and the woman is connected to someone other than her soon-to-be fiance. It seems like such a great concept, so I will have to find a place in my reading challenges for this book! I decided not to buy it because it was way too overpriced ($37 for the hardcover!).

5) Tales from Gombe by Anup Shah and Fiona Rogers

21563972I have never been a big fan of coffee table books, but my mom and I both strongly considered buying this one! We have both always been interested in the great apes, especially Jane Goodall and other researchers who lived with and studied apes. This book includes stunning pictures taken of the chimpanzees at Gombe and lots of information about their lives and even personalities. I’m always hesitant to buy this kind of book because it seems like the kind of thing I would only read once and then never touch again, but it is very hard to resist those photos! Compared to the other books above, this was also very reasonably priced, and I’m still considering getting myself a copy.

6) Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

20708810Gregory Maguire is one of my favourite authors and one that I check to see when new books are coming, so I was shocked to notice this book on the shelves! I had no idea at all that he had released something new… and even more shocked to discover that this book has already been out for three years! I only found that out as I started putting together this post. I have no idea how I could have missed this one. Actually, I think the main reason I’d missed it in the first place is because it was in the YA section and most of his other books were with the general fiction (I feel a bit weird calling it “adult books”). I guess I’ll have to be a bit more careful checking for updates from my favourite authors!

7) The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

494610On the other hand, this was a book and an author that I had never heard of before. The cover art of this one caught my attention as I was walking past, and I thought the synopsis sounded very intriguing. This book is already 10 years old and the title sounded vaguely familiar so it is possible I came across it on Goodreads at some point. After adding it to my list, I found that several of the reviewers I follow have read and loved this book so it was even more incentive to want to pick it up at some point. I’m a bit reluctant to buy books now without trying them first because of a combo of cost and lack of space, but I would definitely be interested in reading this one.

8) The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

32681108This book was a truly random find. I love just walking up and down the shelves and looking at all the books. This one was displayed pretty prominently on one of the shelves, which I later discovered was because it was a brand new release. The bright blue cover caught my attention as did the unusual formatting of the title. As soon as I checked the synopsis, I knew this was a book I had to add to my list. This book is about a young woman named Elvira who has been sheltered by her mother due to difficulties interacting with others. After her mother dies, Elvira is on her own to try to figure out how to live her life, and starts by creating herself a list of seven social rules to follow. It seemed to me that Elvira might be on the autism spectrum, which is something I’m very interested in reading about.

9) The Takedown by Corrie Wang

31423554This book is one of the new releases of the year that I’ve been most excited for. It is another story focusing on the dangers of social media. In it, a popular high school student named Kyla discovers that a video of someone who looks like her sleeping with a teacher has gone viral. Kyla faces the near-impossible task of trying to get the video off of the Internet. I’ve been very excited to read this because it seems like such a unique plot, even among stories that focus on the Internet and social media. I don’t think I have ever read a book about viral videos or the permanence of posts online. I was hesitant to buy it because I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the self-imposed hype, but it is one of the books that I strongly considered getting.

10) Waste of Space by Gina Damico

28473381To be fair, this was not a book that I saw at a bookstore but it was one that I discovered while on vacation through one of the blogs I follow. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I saw it! This book is a new release about a group of teenagers who take part in a reality show where they live in a replica spaceship and believe they have been genuinely sent into space. I’m not a huge fan of reality TV, although I do enjoy Hell’s Kitchen and I used to love Survivor and American Idol. I thought this book was another unique concept for a YA story and it seemed like it could be a very interesting story that combines teen drama and the risks of reality TV.