Tag Archives: mo willems

The Last Books Before Kindergarten: A Few More Recommendations from my Son and I before September

4 Aug

I have written two previous posts (click here and here) about the fun and important campaign 1000 Books Before Kindergarten which encourages parents to read to newborns, infants, and toddlers to foster an early love of reading as well as an important bonding opportunity.  Of course grandparents, older siblings, cool aunts, and other caregivers are also encouraged to help meet the goal that before Kindergarten every child has 1,000 books read to them.  As we get ready for my son’s first day of Kindergarten this autumn, we continue to read together; one of the best parts of my day is reading him books before bed.  Several books from the previous post continue to be favorites, but here are several more that we’d like to recommend.  Now is the perfect time to check them out and sign up your child(ren) and yourself for our summer reading challenge (hobokenlibrary.beanstack.org) where reading doesn’t just entertain and educate, but also wins you prizes!

Penguin Problems by Jory John and illustrated by Lane Smith

You may have heard of First World Problems, well they are nothing compared to penguin’s problems.  Jory John’s Penguin Problems look at the troublesome annoyance that plague a grumpy little penguin.  The message about focusing on the larger positives in one’s life instead of minor daily aggravations is one that I find important to be reminded of not just for my son, but for myself as well.

The Secret Life of Pets by Dennis R. Shealy

The Secret Life of Pets is my son’s favorite book right now.  We have to read it every night, and as we start him on his journey of reading himself, he is beginning to pick out sight words and sometimes will attempt to read the book to me.  The book is based on the popular animated movie and in my opinion is better since it focuses on the best part the cute and quirky animals that live in a New York City apartment building and what they do when their owners are away, and leaves out the convoluted rescue plot that makes up the second half of the film.  My son’s favorite pets are the zaftig cat Chloe and the hyper Pomeranian Gidget.

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

Another book on almost nightly rotation continues to be the Very Hungry Caterpillar, but Tommy is also a fan of other books by Eric Carle as well.  There are many books that emphasize the special bond between moms and their children, but this is the perfect choice for all the dads out there.  As Mister Seahorse swims around waiting for his own babies to emerge from his pouch he encounters the other paternal caregivers of the fish world including Mr. Tilapia, who shelters his eggs in his mouth.  Mr. Seahorse also swims right past some camouflaged fish as well who are depicted “hiding” behind clever translucent foregrounds.  This is often Tommy’s choice for times his dad reads to him.

The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan

Who is creating the beautiful topiary around town?  My son loves a good mystery and has a good heart so he can relate to the little boy in the story who not only finds out who the mysterious man who is creating the arboreal masterpieces is, but also helps him with his work in this charming picture book by the Fan brothers.

Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems

The quirky rhymes and bright colors are enjoyable fun as a cute little frog living in France attempts to run her very first errand with tongue twisting hilarity in Nanette’s Baguette, a recent work by the always popular Mo Willems.  My son is a fan of both fresh made baguettes as well as this silly story.

The Man in the Moon and The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie by William Joyce (Books 1 and 2 Guardians of Childhood Series)

The Guardians of Childhood Series has been adapted as animated feature, but even more engaging are the original stories.  The first two in the series, The Man in the Moon and The Sandman were gifts from my artistically inclined Aunt and Uncle and the illustrations are gorgeous.  The Man in the Moon tells the story of the very first guardian of childhood who started out as a little orphan on the moon.  My favorite of the two The Sandman tells the story of the guardian who brings children good dreams.

The Gingerbread Man by Nancy Nolte and illustrated by Richard Scarry

There are many types of literary gingerbread men to choose from including The Library Gingerbread Man (Dotti Enderle), The Ninjabread Man (C.J. Leigh), or Gingerbread Baby (Jan Brett), but my son frequently devours the classic Golden Book about the constantly on the run version that is the same one my mom would read to me as a child and was one of her favorites to have her mom read to her.  This is one of the early books illustrated by Scarry, author/illustrator of the popular Busytown series.

Biscuit Loves School by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

My son was introduced to the Biscuit series about an energetic little puppy by my mom (aka Meme to my son) and any time he sleeps over Meme and Pepe’s house she would have to read him a Biscuit book before bed. He has started working to read a few at home to himself.  You may want to start your children with Hello, Biscuit which introduces the little pup and explains how he got his name.  If your little one is getting ready for the first day of kindergarten or preschool have them check out Biscuit Loves School.

The Popcorn Book written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola

The Popcorn Book was a baby shower gift from a family friend who enjoyed reading it to her own son. It turned out to be a great choice since my son LOVES popcorn and finds science and history interesting so this classic work which discusses the background of popcorn is his favorite nonfiction book on our rotation.  Also check out one of my favorite fictional picture books from my childhood Popcorn by Frank Asch which features a bear’s party overrun by popcorn when all the guests bring some to share.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Favorites from My Author-Signed Books Collection

23 Apr

For my last post I wrote about my magazine collection. Today I’m writing about my collection of author-signed books. In some cases I met the authors that signed the books at events, or received them as gifts. These books (not signed editions, though) are all available to borrow at the Hoboken Public Library or through interlibrary loan. Some are even available as eBooks or audiobooks through eLibraryNJ, eBCCLS, and the 3M Cloud Library–see the links below the book’s cover image.

Sex and the City, by Candace Bushnell.


Sex and the City was the first author-signed book I received (a gift from a former boss) that established my collection. The book consists of the articles Candace Bushnell wrote for the New York Observer that inspired the hit show, but that is where the similarities end. Bushnell’s tone differs. Like many women, I spent Sunday nights watching Sex and the City on HBO. Most of all I loved the incredible outfits the actresses wore. I remember preferring the show over the book, but plan to reread it as my feelings for the show have changed over the years. (I still love the fashion, though.)

My Year in Meals, by Rachael Ray.


I received this book for free at a taping of The Rachael Ray Show. This four color cookbook is beautifully designed. The layout is like a journal, where Ray documented a full year of recipes. Throughout are assorted cooking notes and personal photos from Ray. Flip the book over for a section on cocktail recipes by John Cusimano, Ray’s husband. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, so I cannot comment on those. I can say that if you attend a taping of The Rachael Ray Show, wear a sweater. The studio temperature was like that of this past winter’s polar vortexes (vortices?). Brrr.

Sula, by Toni Morrison.


(link to eBook)

During my senior year of college, some friends and I trekked to (pre-Girls) Brooklyn to attend a reading of Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. If I recall correctly, the reading was in a church and the book signing was at the nearby Community Bookstore. I chose to have Morrison sign Sula instead of her new work because I had recently read Sula for a literature course and enjoyed it most of all her books I had read. The publicists at the signing forbade us from speaking to Morrison to keep the line moving, but I still thanked her for signing by book because, manners.

Red Velvet Cupcake Murder, by Joanne Fluke.


(link to eBook)

This title is part of the “Murder She Baked” mystery series that follows Hannah Swenson, owner of bakery in a sleepy small Minnesota town with a rather alarming murder rate, as she solves crimes that usually involve baked goods. I’ve read all the books in the series, and while I feel that the love triangle between Hannah and her two suitors is tired I still enjoy the recipes included in the books. I made the Hot Stuff Brownie Cookies with chopped green chilies featured in this book, which several family members that taste-tested the cookies found too experimental, or “weird” to use their words.

The Tao of Martha, by Jen Lancaster.


(link to audiobook)

This one is my favorite because there is a good story attached to it. As Lancaster signed my copy of her hilarious and touching memoir about her efforts to live, garden, and keep house following Martha Stewart’s magazines and books, I asked Lancaster for restaurant recommendations in Chicago (she is based in the Chicagoland area) as I was going there for a conference. She was awesome enough to suggest three and wrote them down on a post-it note. I didn’t get to any of the restaurants on that trip (sorry!), but plan to try at least one when I go back to Chicago next year–I still have that post-it note.


We Are in a Book!, by Mo Willems.


This book is my favorite signed children’s book. The publicists at the signing (probably not the same ones from the Toni Morrison event) were moving everyone along, so when it was my turn I quickly told Willems how much I love reading his books aloud. I have read this book to my nieces and we giggled the whole time. (We also like There Is a Bird on Your Head!) This book, much like the other Elephant & Piggie books, is so silly and you can’t help but have fun reading them. The Elephant & Piggie books make great gifts for the children in your life–bonus if they’re signed by Mo Willems.

Do you have any signed copies of your favorite books?

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

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