Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Halloween Book and a Glimpse into Tasha Tudor's Life

Pumpkin Moonshine
Written and Illustrated by: Tasha Tudor
Recommended Ages: 2-6

I recently discovered a very sweet (and very old) Halloween book for young children (2 and 3 year olds). If you have a child celebrating one of their first Halloweens, then by all means check out Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor.

Pumpkin Moonshine
was originally published in 1938, and was Tasha Tudor's first book. It tells the story of Sylvie Ann who wants to make a pumpkin moonshine (jack-o-lantern) for Halloween, and sets out to find the biggest pumpkin she can. The book follows Sylvie's quest as she heads up a large hill and across the cornfields. Once she sees the pumpkin, she has to roll it home because it is too large to carry. But it escapes her grasp and rolls down the hill, frightening the various farm animals and knocking Mr. Hemmelskamp to the ground. Finally it comes to a halt, and Sylvie Ann and her Grandpa carve a fierce "pumpkin moonshine" with "a big grinning mouth with horrid crooked teeth."

Pumpkin Moonshine is a small book made for tiny hands, with text on one page and detailed pictures on the other. The illustrations are very sweet and hearken back to a much simpler time. There's nothing scary about this book, and it's a gentle introduction to one of the nicer traditions of Halloween: carving jack-o-lanterns. You really can't go wrong with Pumpkin Moonshine.

If you and your child discover that you like the text and illustrations of Tasha Tudor, then please check out some of her other picture books. Here are few to consider: 1 is One, Around the Year and Corgiville Fair.

While you are at it, you might want to pick up The Private World of Tasha Tudor, a rich collection of photographs (by Richard Brown) and text (written by Ms. Tudor), that detail the world that she lived in. Tasha Tudor was born in 1919 and only just died last year. However, she always felt more comfortable in another century:

"I'm drawn to the old ways, convinced that I lived before, in the 1830's. Everything comes so easily to me from that period of that time: threading a loom, growing flax, spinning, milking a cow. Einstein said that time is like a river, it flows in bends. If we could only step back around the turns, we could travel in either direction. When I die, I'm going right back to 1830."

The book chronicles her life on her farm in Vermont. There are beautiful photographs of her garden and the animals, as well as Tasha Tudor herself. She dressed in long dresses, her hair in a kerchief, and was often barefoot. She was the antithesis to the breakneck pace we seem to live these days. I found this book strangely comforting, and it was a reminder to put on a cup of tea, pick up a book and slow things down. I had to keep reminding myself that until last year she lived with us, not back in the 1880's. The book is full of her gentle, and sometimes humorous, wisdom:

"Life isn't long enough to do all you could accomplish. And what a privilege even to be alive. In spite of all the pollutions and horrors, how beautiful this world is. Supposing you only saw the stars once every year. Think what you would think. The wonder of it!"

"Gardening has untold rewards. You never have to go on a diet. At age seventy-six I can still wear my wedding dress and still chin myself. I've never been depressed in my whole life and I've never had a headache. They must be awful. I attribute it to goat's milk and gardening."

"I'm perfectly content. I have no other desires than to live right here with my dogs and my goats and my birds."

"If I have a philosophy, it is one best expressed by Henry David Thoreau: 'If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.' That is my credo. It is absolutely true. It is my whole life summed up."

I think Tasha Tudor would be a fascinating person for a child in the fourth or fifth grade to research and write a report on. I highly recommend checking out The Private World of Tasha Tudor, for a brief glimpse into her intriguing and old-fashioned world.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again

Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned To Swim Again

Told by: Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff and Craig Katkoff
Recommended Ages: 4-12

This delightful story is about how one baby dolphin overcame what could have been a life-ending disability, and emerged stronger than ever. Kids and adults alike will appreciate her remarkable story of overcoming adversity.

Back in December 2005, a fisherman was fishing off the coast of Florida and noticed a baby bottlenose dolphin struggling in the lines of a crab trap. He managed to set her free, but she was too hurt and exhausted to swim away. The fisherman called Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and watched over her until the rescue team arrived a few hours later. They took her across Florida to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

What follows is the remarkable recovery of the little dolphin they named Winter, due to the cold conditions the day they found her. The trainers figured she was only two or three months old at the time, an age that dolphins are still drinking their mother's milk. So they bottle-fed her a special milk formula developed for zoo animals. Under the patient guidance of the head trainer Abby and other trainers, Winter ate and began to gain weight.

Unfortunately, her tail had been severely damaged and pieces of it began to flake off. Eventually, Winter lost her tail, and the trainers wondered if she would be able to swim without it. She surprised them all by teaching herself to swim, but not like other dolphins. Instead she moved her stump side to side (more like a fish or a shark), instead of up and down like a dolphin. While the trainers were impressed, they were also worried that she would injure her backbone.

Winter became quite a celebrity at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, especially after NBC's The Today Show filmed a story about her. She became an inspiration to all, but most especially to people who had lost or been born without a limb. She charmed everyone who came to see her. However, the trainers were still worried about the way she swam because her muscles weren't as flexible as they should be.

Fortunately, a man named Kevin Carroll heard about Winter and as a creator of prostheses, thought he could help. He and his team fashioned together a prosthetic tail and sleeve that matched the natural motion of an actual dolphin tail. Then Abby and the other trainers worked to prepare Winter to get used to the feel of wearing a prosthesis. And at this point, it appears to be a success. Winter seems to like her tail, and wears it every day for a short period of time. The trainers' goal is for her to wear it enough to keep her backbone healthy and body flexible.

Kids and adults will love this story about Winter. The photos in the book chronicle her remarkable journey and the people who have helped her along the way. Click here to see an inspiring video about Winter.

BookNosher Tidbit: The same authors have created several books about animals overcoming adversity. Here's a list: Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship; How One Little Polar Bear Captivated the World and Looking for Miza.

BookNosher Activity: Scholastic is sponsoring a contest for kids to write about their favorite animal hero in 200 words or less. First prize is a chance to visit Winter at her home in Clearwater, Florida, one night's stay at a hotel, $500 travel voucher, a Winter prize pack and a Nintendo DS Game system! 10 runners up with receive a copy of Winter's Tail, a Winter's Tail Nintendo DS game and a Winter plush doll!
Click here for more details.

Note: I was contacted by a publicist to see if I would review Winter's Tale. Typically, I check to see if the book is already in our library system and if it is, tell them I will look at it there. In this case, Winter's Tale was not. So she sent me the book. I am donating it to our public library so that the children in my town will get a chance to read about the little dolphin. I highly recommend you read this heartwarming tale.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Written by: Alice McLerran
Illustrated by: Barbara Cooney
Recommended Ages:

I spent last weekend in Santa Fe, which reminded me so much of the beautiful Arizona desert I grew up in. This got me thinking about one of my family's favorite picture books: Roxaboxen. Roxaboxen is a celebration of the imaginary world that children often live in, and a great reminder to adults that sometimes all a child needs is the chance to play outdoors.

Roxaboxen takes place in a desert where, at first glance, the landscape appears to be quite bare. But it is not bare to the children who live there. For them, Roxaboxen is a place that through the power of make believe, turns into a magical world. As the children outline the streets with stones, the town begins to grow and grow. There's a main street, a town hall, a bakery and two ice cream parlors. ("In Roxaboxen you can eat all the ice cream you want.") The children build houses, which start off quite plain, but take on more and more rooms as time goes on. There's a jail and a cemetery in Roxaboxen, but the only grave is that of a dead lizard.

In Roxaboxen, everybody has a car; all you need is something round for a steering wheel. But you'd better watch out, because there's a speed limit for cars and if you don't mind it, you'll end up in jail. Even better, everyone has a horse. All you need for a horse is a stick and some kind of bridle. (And there's no speed limit for people on horses!)

Barbara Cooney's illustrations lend the perfect touch to Roxaboxen. She captures the essence of the desert perfectly. In particular, I love the ocotillos with the brilliant red flowers at their tips and the colorful desert sky at sunset. It whisked me right back to my own childhood in Arizona.

You can see that Roxaboxen is a "quiet book." On the one hand, there's not a lot going on, and yet there's so much going on. I love this book because it celebrates a childhood filled with play, instead of one filled with "things." My kids all loved Roxaboxen when they were younger. I think it's a book that will inspire your kids to go outside and create an imaginary world in your backyard.

BookNosher Tidbit: Roxaboxen was based on true stories told by the author's mother about how she and her friends would play. There is a real park in Yuma, AZ dedicated to Roxaboxen. Here's a link to find out more.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie Accidental Zombie

My Rotten Life (Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie)
Written by: David Lubar
Recommended Ages: 8-12

If you like books that make you laugh out loud AND feel empathy for what the main character is going through, then look no further than My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie. Kids will identify with Nathan's plight from the first page until the last, as they devour the book to see what happens next.

Nathan is a fifth-grader who is having a bad day. Actually, it starts out as a bad day and only gets worse. First, the girl of his dreams--Shawna Lanchester--humiliates him in front of the entire cafeteria by publicly announcing that she's not inviting him to her annual Halloween party. Later on in gym class, he is the last person to be picked for a team. To add insult to injury, he comes in dead last in the mile run. Finally, he publicly humiliates himself at a video game so that all the kids start calling him a "vidiot." All of these things sound about as bad as it can get for a ten-year-old who is more than aware of where he falls in the social hierarchy of fifth grade.

After school, a new girl in town-Abigail-tells him that her uncle (a mad scientist) is working on a cure to get rid of bad feelings. She thinks that after Nathan's rotten day he would be the perfect subject. So off they go to the lab, only to have the serum mistakenly spilled all over him. And wouldn't you know it, Nathan begins to turn into a zombie.

The book continues with some amusing stories of what happens while one is slowly turning into a half-dead zombie. And quite honestly, life is somewhat better for Nathan. He can't feel pain, so he excels at sports because his asthma doesn't kick in. He doesn't need sleep, so he stays up all night secretly playing video games (and gets good at them). Nonetheless, he knows he doesn't want to live his life as a zombie, so he and his friends, Abigail and Mookie, go in search for a cure.

Along the way, you are drawn into the life of fifth-graders, complete with the popular group, the skaters, the nerds and the jocks. Kids will identify (and laugh) as these hierarchies are exposed and poked fun of. The true meaning of friendship is also explored in a totally convincing, yet fun, fifth-grade way. Finally, Nathan's home life is portrayed realistically: Mom is loving, if not a little neurotic, and video games are not allowed: "Mom thought games were too violent. Dad thought they were a bad investment."

My Rotten Life is written in a lively, very readable style. From the first sentence to the last, readers will be drawn in. Here's the first paragraph:

"It's no fun having your heart ripped from your body, slammed to the floor, and stomped into a puddle of quivering red mush. It's even less fun when it happens three times in one afternoon."

If you have a child for whom reading is not their first choice for an activity, try My Rotten Life. The slightly gross humor and easy-to-read text are sure to reel them in. On the other hand, if you have a child who loves to read, they'll probably read My Rotten Life in an afternoon (laughing all the while). Plus, the last paragraph hints that there's more to come:

"Other than that, things are pretty much normal for the only zombie in Belgosi Upper Elementary. Or, at least, they were normal until the secret agent from BUM showed up. But that's another story."

BookNosher Activity: There's a Reader's Guide at the end of the book to enhance My Rotten Life. Check it out! There are some really interesting individual and classroom activities for teachers and parents to turn this fun read, into something educational.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace (Reading Rainbow Book)

Written by: Mary Hoffman
Illustrated by: Caroline Binch
Recommended Ages: 4-8

When my daughter was around five years old, Amazing Grace was one of her favorite books. I think I must have read it out loud at least twenty times. It's been at least eight years since I last read it, and I wondered if it would hold up over time. I can honestly report that it did, and that this is a perfect picture book for the kindergarten/early elementary school-aged child.

Grace is a child who loves stories. But what she loves even more than listening to stories is acting them out afterwards. Whether it's Joan of Arc, Anansi the Spider or Hiawatha, Grace lets her imagination run free as she acts out all the parts.

One day, her teacher announces that the class is going to put on the play Peter Pan. Grace knows that she wants to play the part of Peter. So when asked who wants the role, she raises her hand. One of her classmates leans over and tells her that she can't be Peter because she's a girl. Then another classmate tells her that she can't possibly be Peter because she's black. This doesn't stop Grace from letting her teacher know that she wants to try out for the part.

When Grace gets home she tells her mom and nana that Raj told her she couldn't be Peter because she is a girl. Her mom tells her, "a girl can be Peter Pan if she wants to." A little later, Grace remembers that Natalie told her she couldn't be Peter because she's black. This time her nana tells her that she can be anything she wants, if she puts her mind to it.

The next weekend Nana takes Grace into the city to see Romeo and Juliet. There starring in the role of Juliet is Rosalie Wilkins, granddaughter of a friend of Nana's from Trinidad. Juliet is black, and Grace is inspired. Later she practices being Juliet by twirling around her room in an imaginary tutu.

The day of the audition comes up and Grace is amazing. She's memorized all the words and knows exactly how to act as Peter. All the kids agree that Grace is the best Peter Pan and unanimously vote for her. And when the day of the play comes, Grace is an outstanding Peter Pan. It's just as her nana told her, "If Grace put her mind to it, she can do anything she want."

Amazing Grace is a delightful story with some wonderful underlying messages. Kids will appreciate Grace's determination, and will root for her to succeed. She knows what she wants and goes after it, even though there appear to be obstacles in her way. Amazing Grace touches on sexism, racism and stereotypes in ways that are appropriate for young children, and not at all preachy. Grace's mom and nana are there for her, and they support her in wise and gentle ways. They tell her that she can do anything she puts her mind to, and Grace shows them that she can.

Caroline Binch's illustrations are colorful and bold. Grace is a one-of-a-kind character, with endless expressions that are quite endearing. Kids will love the way she lets her imagination run wild, as she dresses up as various characters from stories. I think the classroom scenes, in particular, are realistic, as they show a class filled with different ethnic and racial backgrounds.

BookNosher Tidbit: Grace is a spunky character that boys and girls will want to keep reading about. Since Amazing Grace, Hoffman has written other books about Grace. They include:
Boundless Grace

Starring Grace (chapter book)
Encore Grace (chapter book)
Bravo Grace (chapter book)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Visitor for Bear

A Visitor for Bear

Written by:
Bonnie Becker
Illustrated by: Kady MacDonald Denton
Recommended Ages: 2-6

This is a lovely, heart-warming picture book about an unlikely friendship between a bear and a mouse. It begs to be read aloud, and in fact recently won the E.B. White Read Aloud Award for 2009. The E. B. White Read Aloud Award was established in 2004 by the Association of Booksellers for Children to honor books that are wonderful read alouds.

Anyway, A Visitor for Bear begins with a curmudgeonly bear just beginning to make his breakfast when he hears a tap, tap, tap at his door. He opens it to find a mouse, "small and gray and bright-eyed." The bear points to the sign on the door that says NO Visitors Allowed, and says "Go Away!" He then goes back to making his breakfast. But lo and behold, it's not quite so easy to get rid of the little mouse, who keeps popping up-- first in the cupboard, then the bread drawer, the refrigerator and finally the teapot.

Every time Bear finds Mouse he tells Mouse to "Vamoose," or to get "Out" or "Be Gone!" The mouse, very politely, always asks if they could just have a spot of tea, with perhaps some cheese.

Finally, because he can't seem to get rid of the mouse, Bear agrees to have a cup of tea. Mouse asks him if he could also make a fire. As they sit by the fire in silence, Bear says that the fire is nice. Mouse agrees it is "lovely." And it's here that Bear's heart softens a bit, because no one has ever called his fires lovely. He stands on his head for Mouse and tells a joke (and Mouse laugts). When Mouse announces it's time for him to go and Bear throws his body across the pathway and says "Don't Go!" Mouse reminds him that he gave his word to stay for just a cup of tea and points to the No Visitor sign. At which point Bear tears up the sign and says "That's for salesmen. Not for friends." And they go back into the house for more tea.

What makes this such a sweet story, is how Becker has created two distinctive characters with very individual mannerisms and speech. Bear is grumpy and you will have fun putting on a grouchy, deep voice. Mouse is a little more formal and quite precise in his speech. Somehow I think a high-pitched English accent would work well. The muted watercolor illustrations are very inviting, and create a warm world that children will want to visit over and over.

If you want a little more Bear and Mouse, check out A Birthday for Bear. Also, coming out in Spring 2010 is A Bedtime for Bear, a story about Bear and Mouse having their first sleepover. Stay tuned; it's sure to be a winner.

BookNosher Tidbit: In the year since A Visitor for Bear has been released, it has garnered quite a few awards, including:
Foreward Magazines Book of the Year for Picture Books
Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text
Amazon picked it as Best Picture Book for 2008
2009 Notables Book of the Association for Library Service for Children
Selected for the new Oprah Children's Book Club as a great read for 3-5 year olds

BookNosher Activity: A Visitor for Bear made me want to put a pot of tea on and call some friends over for some tea and cake. I think it's the perfect time for your child have a tea party with some favorite stuffed animals by the fire. Here's a link to an easy "pat-a-cake-scone" recipe.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me
Written By Rebecca Stead
Recommended Ages: 9-14

Sometimes a new book comes along that you know is going to make a big splash in the world of children's literature. That's how I felt when I finished reading When You Reach Me. From the beginning, it drew me into the world of sixth-grader Miranda. Set in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 1979, When You Reach Me introduces us to Miranda in a year where she is dealing with friendships gone awry, new friends, first crushes, the beginnings of race and class awareness and, yes, even a little time travel.

The story is written in first person and the accessible language immediately draws you in. In the first chapter, we learn that Miranda's mom just received a postcard from the television show The $20,000 Pyramid, saying that she had made it as a contestant. Very early on, it is clear that the reason her mom wants to go on the show is because they need the money. The contest provides an interesting backdrop throughout the story, and grounds the setting quite nicely. We learn that her mom is a paralegal who had to drop out of law school when she found out she was pregnant. Miranda's relationship with her mom is deftly depicted, as they move through the pre-teen/mom dance of push and pull.

The beauty of the book is that Miranda's world will feel familiar to fifth, sixth and seventh graders. She is very likeable and real, and the other kids in the book are three-dimensional characters. They are sixth graders, with all the typical middle-school angst going on in their lives. We learn that Miranda's best friend Sal has recently stopped talking to her, after an incident in the street where a random kid punched him. Miranda is sad and confused by his sudden change in behavior. She also develops a crush on a boy in her class, and navigates a best friend triangle with typical pre-teen awkwardness. But where the story really takes off is when Miranda starts receiving notes that look like they come from the future. The first one reads:

This is hard. Harder than I expected, even with your help. But I have been practicing, and my preparations go well. I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own.
I ask two favors.
First, you must write me a letter.
Second, please remember to mention the location of your house key.
The trip is a difficult one. I will not be myself when I reach you."

So there's a mystery involved and I'm not going to give away any of it. I can't say much more about the plot, because it's more important to let the puzzle unravel itself to you without any clues. Suffice to say, it is compelling and will make you not want to put the book down until you read the very last page. The ending is quite satisfying.

One important thing I forgot to mention is Miranda's complete devotion to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. For kids that have read the story, it will be a comforting sidebar. For kids that haven't, well I suspect they may want to go pick up a copy afterwards. There is talk of time travel, and that in itself is one of the great wonders of the book. I imagine it will make for some fantastic classroom discussions, as kids share their ideas of what is going on. I also think this would be a great book for families to read at home together, since the time--1979--is sure to evoke a lot of childhood memories from parents.

A final note on the setting. I can't imagine When You Reach Me could have been set anywhere else but in New York City in the late 70's. Stead does a fantastic job of making place an integral part of the book. Miranda is a latchkey kid, and friends with shopkeepers and other regulars in her neighborhood. She is street savvy, and walks around very aware of her surroundings. Yes, her mother worries about her out on the street, but still lets her walk to school and other places because that's what kids did in those days. In a way it was sad to remember just how much more freedom kids had then, than they do now.

I'm sure you can tell by now, that I really enjoyed When You Reach Me. There's a lot of buzz that this could be a Newbery winner next year. Whether or not it wins that coveted honor, I think it should be placed on every middle-schooler's suggested reading list.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Leo Lionni's An Extraordinary Egg

An Extraordinary Egg
Written and Illustrated by Leo Lionni
Recommended Ages: 4-8

My sixteen-year old daughter was straightening up her bookcase this morning and came across An Extraordinary Egg. She asked me if I had blogged about it yet. She remembers that it was one of her favorites. I re-read the story with a smile on my face, as I revisited this lovely tale.

In An Extraordinary Egg we are introduced to three frogs, Marilyn, August and Jessica. As you might expect, one of the frogs (Jessica) is a little different from the other two. She's a wanderer, always exploring and finding treasures that she declares are "extraordinary." Unfortunately, Marilyn and August are never too impressed with her findings.

However, one day she brings home a beautiful, white stone almost as big as she is. This time Marilyn and August are impressed. Marilyn ("who knew everything about everything") declares it is a chicken egg. Jessica, who has never even heard of chickens, asks her how she knew. Marilyn replies, "There are some things you just know."

A few days later, the frogs hear a noise coming out of the egg and out walks a long, scaly, green creature. Marilyn proclaims, "See! I was right it is a chicken."

The beautiful thing about the book at this point is that your child will see that this creature is no chicken, but is in fact an alligator. But Lionni does a delightful job as he continues on with the story, calling the alligator "chicken." The "chicken" and the frogs become fast friends and there's a sweet reunion at the end between the baby alligator and her mama, where the mama greets her baby by calling her "my sweet little alligator." The three frogs think that is quite a funny thing to call the chicken an alligator.

An Extraordinary Egg is great fun to read aloud. It's humorous and kids get a kick out of the mistaken identities. They love it that THEY know what's going on, even if the frogs don't. Ultimately, it's a story about friendship between likely and unlikely sources.

I also want to say a word about the illustrations. They are a combination of watercolors, crayons and collage, and quite extraordinary in their own right. Lionni has a definite signature-style that's imaginative and eye-pleasing, which is evident in his many books (over 40).

BookNosher Tidbit: Leo Lionni was a four-time Caldecott Medal winner for Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse, Frederick, Swimmy and Inch by Inch. All four are wonderful books and definitely worth checking out.

BookNosher Activity: Kids will be impressed that both chickens and alligators come from eggs, and will likely want to know about other egg-layers. Here are a few other picture books that you could have on hand for a fun lesson about oviparous animals: Chickens Aren't The Only Ones by Ruth Heller; Guess What is Growing Inside This Egg by Mia Posada and An Egg is Quiet by Diana Hutts Aston.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Henry and Mudge, A Great Early Reader Series

Henry And Mudge First Book
Written by Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by Sucie Stevenson
Recommended Ages: 4-8

It's hard to believe that I have not yet written about Cynthia Rylant. She is a prolific writer (over 100 books) and one of my favorite children's authors. She's written picture books, early readers, poetry, middle grade and young adult novels. She's won the Newbery and many other awards in a career that spans just 27 years.

One series of hers that all of my kids loved when they were learning to read was Henry and Mudge. They are considered early chapter books, but they also have wonderful illustrations to move the reader along (perfect for the child who is not quite ready for a full-blown chapter book).

The story in each of the books is usually pretty simple. In the first book, we are introduced to Henry. He is a little boy who lives with his mom and dad. He has no brothers and sisters, and lives in a neighborhood with no other children to play with. He's lonely. Finally his parents get him a puppy--Mudge. Mudge starts off as a tiny little thing, only to end up as a 180-pound best friend to Henry. Their friendship is what all 28 Henry and Mudge books is centered around.

The text is simple and straightforward. Each book is divided into chapters (three or four, usually), which help the child feel like they are reading a real chapter book. The pace is perfect for the newly emergent reader, and the length of each book feels just right. If you have a child who is just cracking the reading code, or a reluctant reader, I highly recommend the Henry and Mudge Series.

Here's a list of all of the books. It's wonderful to see that Cynthia Rylant continues to add to the series. There are at least ten new books since my kids last read them.
  1. Henry and Mudge: The First Book (1987)
  2. Henry and Mudge in Puddle Trouble (1987)
  3. Henry and Mudge in the Green Time (1987)
  4. Henry and Mudge Under the Yellow Moon (1987)
  5. Henry and Mudge in the Sparkle Days (1988)
  6. Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea (1989)
  7. Henry and Mudge Get the Cold Shivers (1989)
  8. Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat (1990)
  9. Henry and Mudge and the Bedtime Thumps (1991)
  10. Hanry and Mudge Take the Big Test (1991)
  11. Henry and Mudge and the Long Weekend (1992)
  12. Henry and Mudge and the Wild Wind (1993)
  13. Henry and Mudge and the Careful Cousin (1994)
  14. Henry and Mudge and the Best Day of All (1995)
  15. Henry and Mudge in the Family Trees (September 1998)
  16. Henry and Mudge and the Sneaky Crackers (February 1999)
  17. Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night (May 1999)
  18. Henry and Mudge and Annie's Good Move (January 2000)
  19. Henry and Mudge and the Snowman Plan (October 2000)
  20. Henry and Mudge and Annie's Perfect Pet (February 2001)
  21. Henry and Mudge and the Tall Tree House (December 2003)
  22. Henry and Mudge and Mrs. Hopper's House (January 2004)
  23. Henry and Mudge and the Wild Goose Chase (April 2004)
  24. Henry and Mudge and the Funny Lunch (April 2005)
  25. Henry and Mudge and a Very Merry Christmas (October 2005)
  26. Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas (June 2006)
  27. Henry and Mudge and the Tumbling Trip (October 2006)
  28. Henry and Mudge and the Big Sleepover (May 2007)