Wednesday, September 1, 2004

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September's books of the month

Give the anti-globalization protestors their due. After the Battle in Seattle, most of the claims of most of the protestors were dismissed by the commetariat within the space of a single op-ed column. Five years later, they've managed to convince a fair fraction of the globe of the correctness ofd their ideas.

The result has been a raft of books devoted to debunking the myriad claims of the anti-globalization and alternative globalization crowds, some of which I've discussed here. However, September's international relations book of the month blows the other books in this category out of the water. Martin Wolf's Why Globalization Works is the best single book I've read to date that comprehensively addresses all of the claims and counter-claims with regard to economic globalization. It's the kind of book I wish I'd written. Go buy it. Now.

In light of recent events, today's general interest book is Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon. As one who's had to read a fair number of toddler books over the past years, I'll always have a soft spot for this one. Brown's The Runaway Bunny
is also good -- and Margaret Edson uses it to brilliant effect in the closing of Wit. And of course I love Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. However, Goodnight Moon will always be my favorite to read out loud -- the cadences are just lovely.

However, opinions vary on this. So readers are invited to submit their favorite children's book for the under-five set.

posted by Dan on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM


Guess How Much I Love You (with Little Nut Brown Hare and Big Nut Brown Hare). Don't remember who wrote it.

posted by: stan on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

"Arm in Arm" by Remy Charlip, (196?)

For mom & dad too, not just the yung'ins. Getcher whimsical side up-to-snuff.

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

"The Very Hungry Caterpiller" by Eric Carle.

posted by: TexasToast on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

I'm a big fan of "Chicken Soup With Rice," myself.

posted by: praktike on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Oh that 'Guess how much I love you' is a tear jerker - my wife read it to my little boy every night when I had to travel to Europe for 6 weeks - he loved it. I cried when I read it to him for a week after and its bringing tears to my eyes now.

the seuss books, but in particular the 'fox in socks' works pretty well with my little guy at 2 3/4 years.

posted by: mickslam on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

I am very fond of another Margaret Wise Brown book, The Sailor Dog, although I am not sure my son liked it as much as I did.

I have an unfortunate tendency to react to The Runaway Bunny as a quasi-Freudian horror story -- You can never escape! I think of things like Franklin Roosevelt's mother acompanying him to college (if I recall correctly). I realize this transfers the context to a later stage of life than the book intends; but good poetic symbolism often has the potential for multiple meanings.

posted by: Martin on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

They are no longer PC, but my Dad read me the Uncle Remus stories - of course the disney ones- and we hung on every word.

posted by: mickslam on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

My friends all agree -- "The Monster at the End of This Book", by Stone, Smollin. About at the just-learning-to-read level, but fantastic. (I'm not going to recommend the sequel; I've never read it, and it apparently features ELMO.)

posted by: Joe on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Goodnight moon was my son's (and my) favorite nightime read for a long time. He still asks for it every once in a while now (he's almost 6) . . .

For the older half of your age range, my favorite is The Red Wolf by Margaret Shannon. Great story, wonderful pictures (sly pictoral references to Matisse and Where the Wild Things Are - another winner). And don't forget Green Eggs and Ham . . .

posted by: BD on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Jamberry by Bruce Degan

posted by: PD Shaw on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]


For toddlers I recommend anything by the illustrator Richard Scarry. Detailed, funny, light. For some reason my 2 year-old is magnetically attracted to any Scarry books.


posted by: lex on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

while you're on the moon theme, i've always had a soft spot for i know the moon.

posted by: jb on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

For delightful cadences, any of Lewis Carroll's songs or the funny poems in Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach

and a rather smelly jelly made of armadilloes' toes...

posted by: lex on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Any of Dr Seuss's Beginner Books are great fun for little kids- and tolerable for parents.

And my three and a half year old is nuts about Curious George.

posted by: JKC on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

When I was little, my sister used to make me read Richard Scarry's _Find Your ABCs_ to her over and over and over again. It's a great little book.

posted by: Rick Almeida on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Just yesterday on the syndicated episode of The Simpsons, Christopher Walken was reading Goodnight Moon. Talk about great cadences.

Goodnight moon.
Goodnight cow...jumping...over the moon.

Even in my head it is funny.

posted by: JJ on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Remember to read the baby a mixture of books, including some above her current comprehension level. That is what will keep her progressing in her ability. Even if she doesn't understand the words she will like the sounds and rythym of your reading, and sitting in your lap.

So I would say get Choo-Choo and Katie and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton; Train Song by Diane Siebert; Firemouse by Nina Barbaresi (1st edition if you can find one - the print job was much better).

And most of the Boyonton's are fun to read, although after being forced to read Doggies 225 times on a long car trip I can't stand it anymore ;-)

I can send you 100 or more when I get home if you like!


posted by: sPh on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

I like Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.

posted by: Arjun on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

"Goodnight Moon" was a favorite of both my daughters, and the cadences are lovely. See also "Millions of Cats" by Wanda Gag.

posted by: rashomon on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Have you considered Why Globalization Works, by Martin Wolf? I hear it's pretty good, and it should be effective at nap time.

posted by: steve on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

if you like martin wolf, you should read what he's been saying lately about US deficits; guaranteed to put your children to sleep! (and give you nightmares :)

posted by: glory on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

The voice of the fanatic: Hate most Seuss, but love many of the suggestions above. I would add Milne's When We Were Very Young; Gobble, Growl, Grunt; and Make Way For Ducklings -- best to work the classics in early.

If you have stretched out the attention span over the years, you can start chapter books earlier than you'd think. We did the Taran Series and The Hobbit before the boys turned five.

posted by: Assistant Village Idiot on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Leo Lionni's Frederick and his Friends, which is really a collection of four of his books, the best of which is probably Frederick, though both Swimmy and Willy and the Wind Up Mouse give it a run for its money (and Fish is Fish is extraordinarily beautiful -- talk about lovely cadences! -- but it ends on a note that bothers me). In my judgment, only Sendak rivals Lionni; though I have always had a slight preference for In the Night Kitchen over Where the Wild Things Are. Goodnight Moon is great, but I too find The Runaway Bunny a little creepy.

posted by: Jeff L. on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

At every mention of Runaway Bunny I now think of Wit, although my interpretation on first read was more like Martin's.

As for recommendations, I especially enjoyed Sandra Boynton's books, especially "But Not the Hippopotamus." I think my kids enjoyed it too, but honestly, I remember my own reaction better than theirs.

posted by: kenB on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Our kids faves include

The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord

Hug by Jezz Alborough ( not so hot on the cadence)

One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root

Most anything by Lois Ehlert

All of the above work with the 3.5 year old and the smaller ones.

posted by: Tripp on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

I should also mention "Crossing" a poem by Phillip Booth illustrated with attractive paintings of a train crossing.

posted by: Tripp on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

"Runaway Bunny". Two girls, a couple of years apart, totally different personalities and styles -- and they both loved it no matter how many times it was read to them (and no matter how many times the older one "recited" it to the younger). And there were many many times that it was read or recited.

It does good things for the parent(s), too. And the drawings are perfect.

posted by: Lagavulin on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Well, not that I can know what is true or false, but another view:

Why Free Trade Doesn't Work

It's always annoying to me when two bright, seemingly honest people argue about the complicated facts of a situation. How is someone not versed in the arcana supposed to decide?

posted by: JC on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

"The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein. Made me well up every time.

"Love You Forever" by Robert N. Munsch, Sheila McGraw. As my kids got older they would ask me to read this just so they could laugh when I became teary at the end.

posted by: steve on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

The Foot Book and Hop on Pop, by Dr. Seuss, are sure winners even under 2. Later you can move on to other Seuss (Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose makes an excellent primer on public-choice theory, BTW)>

posted by: aeon skoble on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Anything by Sandra Boynton is good, my daughter gets "Dinosaur's Binkit" every night before she goes to sleep. It is a Boynton book AND it has flaps. Trust me, in nine months flaps will be a very important part of your life.

posted by: Aaron on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Our little man has gotten hooked on Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman. This was also one of my favorites back in the day. Another hit in simple board books is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see.

My favorite book at that age was The Adventures of Clovis Crawfish, a locally published thing from Louisiana.

posted by: Ted K on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Bruce Degen's Jamberry was well-liked by my kids, as was his Daddy is a Doodlebug. Interesting pictures, catchy verses.

posted by: LizardBreath on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

For sheer musicality you can't beat Poe, esp "Annabel Lee":

she was a child and I was a child, in that kingdom by the sea...

for the moon never beams without bringing me dreams of my beautiful Annabel Lee...

The kids will be entranced by the music, and not to worry about the gothic/necro aspects of the poem: "sepulcher" and the like will pass right over their heads.

posted by: lex on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Donald Hall, "The Ox-cart Man"

It's profound.

posted by: goethean on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Harold and the purple crayon. My son loves the 'trim little boat' and the 'hungry moose'. He makes me read the story with his name substituted for Harolds - a good trick with lots of books.

posted by: mickslam on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Y'know, Mr. Drezner, you're picking the classics --- but here's a gorgeous one we stumbled across with our (14 month old) daughter: "The Water Hole" by Graeme Base. The artwork is about the best I've seen in a children's book, with a lot of hidden pictures to keep "you" captivated. I am pretty sure you'll dig it.

posted by: Sanjay Krishnaswamy on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

There is a really good series of books called "I Spy" for 2-4 yr olds. The illustrations are photographs of toys arrayed in incredibly rich collages. We have I Spy Little Animals and I Spy Christmas and there is one called I Spy Numbers. All of the popular Children's cartoons like Dora, Blue's Clues and Dragon Tales have pretty good books too.

posted by: matt on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Dan, another vote for "Guess How Much I Love You." A great book.

posted by: Brian King on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

I recommend The Little Red Hen (the original, not the one about the pizza).

It's a great story about the value of hard work and reaping the fruits of your own labor.

The little red hen lives with a cat, a dog and a mouse. She finds some wheat seeds and wants to plant them to grow wheat and ultimately make bread.

At each stage of the process she seeks help, and, of course, her lazy roommates who do nothing but sleep all day won't help her cultivate the wheat or bake the bread. So when its time to eat the bread, everyone suddenly has his hand out, but the Hen, having done all the work herself, eats it herself.

It's a really cute story which invites the child's participation. For example, whenever I read the hen's line "who will help me knead the dough?" My daughter loves to shout out "Not I, said the cat; not I, said the dog; not I, said the mouse."


posted by: Dansnare on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Oh, and also the original Richard Scarry books -- the ones wrote while he was alive, such as "What Do People Do All Day?"

He illustrates, with his famous animal characters, in great detail how ordinary everyday commerce works and, in doing so, demonstrates beautifully the complexity of market driven societies.


posted by: Dansnare on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

If you like Goodnight Moon, you'll LOVE Goodnight Gorilla. Sweetly subversive.

posted by: Poppleton on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

"The Elephant Who Liked To Smash Small Cars", by Jean Merrill, who is better known for writing "The Pushcart War". Of course, it's out of print... but it was still a very cute book.

posted by: Dan on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

I second the Scarry recommendations. Get "Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever" for a broad cross-section of his stuff. Some short point-n-name items, some longer stories.

I also recommend two by Barbara Berger, "Grandfather Twilight" and "When the Sun Rose". Her pictures and simple stories really appealed to my daughter. Note: "The Donkey's Dream" has a Christian theme, being about a donkey that carries Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.

posted by: ech on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Julia Donaldson (writer) and Axel Scheffler (illustrator) are my three year old's current favorite team. Try "The Gruffalo" and "The Whale and the Snail". Both wonderful.

posted by: dominic murphy on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

The Kissing Hand

posted by: NC on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Am I the only one that found the "Editorial Review" on the Amazon link for Mr. Wolf's book to be less of a review and more of a response?

It seems like any challenge to the anti-globalization orthodoxy must be responded to, while editorial reviews of anti-globalization books garner breathless endorsements. For comparison, see the editorial reviews of Naomi Klein's screed, "No Logo"

Amazon doesn't have a duty to be objective, of course, but why does a general everything store benefit from having a political point of view?

Also, for a similar phenomenon, compare the lyric editorial review of Marx's Communist Manifesto with the sparse offerings for Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

Maybe I'm the only one amused by this.

posted by: Humphrey Bogus on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

My girls loved "Ferdinand the Bull"--the illustration is wonderful. It was one of my childhood favorites, and I'm glad they enjoyed it, too.

posted by: Nat Turner on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Another Richard Scarry recommendation, especially "What Do People Do All Day?" It's great for giving toddlers a model of how the world works -- where food comes from, how savings are invested in tools, how houses are built, how roads are built, etc. Economics for two-year-olds.

posted by: Russil Wvong on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

I nominate "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type" by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin.

OT: Is that Morgan Freeman I hear reading the part of The Cat in the audio version of "The Cat In The Hat"?

posted by: Paul on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

I would have gone w/Scuppers the Sailor Dog and Make Way for Ducklings after, of course, Good Night Moon. But, going to the source, I asked my now college-age son who agrees with Scuppers, but will go with three Golden Books:
--The Three Billy Goats Gruff
--The Saggy Baggy Elephant and
--Scuffy the Tugboat
followed up by
--Uncle Wiggly and His Friends by Howard Garis
--The Tall Book of Make-Believe--a great collection of stories and poems edited by Jane Werner & illustrated by Garth Williams
--Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty, a 1938 classic
--and there is always the Little Fur Family (also, I think, illustrated by Garth Williams), a book which is literally covered in fur and small enough to fit in a child's pocket.

posted by: in medias res on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

New book, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, by (I think) Mo Willems. My 20-month-old daughter made me read it to her 20 times in a row once.

posted by: scott on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

Sorry, five times. Twenty would be a bit much.

posted by: Scott on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

How about some of those great Kane/Miller books?
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, The Dog that Dug, Paul and Sebastian, Everyone Poops, Nina Bonita, To Fly, Contemplating Your Bellybutton...

posted by: slash on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

A few favorites from our household:
-Is Your Mama A Llama (fun to read)
-Miss Spider's Tea Party, (counting)
-Miss Spider's New Car ( Vroom! Swissh!)

-I Love You, Blue Kangaroo, by Emma Chichester Clark (it occurs to me this is also esp. good for an older sib)
-Loud Emily, Alexis O'Neill: (good cadences, once you figure them out) Like an Amazon reviewer says, *everyone* likes hearing ""AVAST! LUFF HER UP BEFORE WE"RE STOVE!"

posted by: Thomas Nephew on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

After Goodnight Moon it's George Washington's Cows
by David Small.

posted by: Kevin on 09.01.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

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