Ros's December library selections, ranked

4. Amelia Bedelia and the Baby, Peggy Parish, 1981


I want to say one thing: if Amelia Bedelia is the lowest-ranking book on your list, you didn’t do too badly. My only gripes are these: a) it is longer than it needs to be and b) saying Amelia Bedelia over and over again gets very awkward. But I gotta say, it’s pretty charming. Amelia Bedelia is pretty confident that she knows what she’s doing. And it’s not that she’s dumb or lazy; it’s that she’s just way, way too literal when following instructions. She puts on the baby’s bib (as instructed!) and decides it looks pretty cute on her. She puts the baby in the stroller (as instructed!) and then takes her out for a while - why can this list-writer person not make up her mind? In or out? I need to hire Amelia Bedelia to proofread all written instructions I leave for childcare providers, lest I accidentally instruct them to make very small food instead of actual food for babies. Amelia Bedelia is right - baby food isn’t actually the most precise descriptor for pureed fruits and vegetables.

3. Moana (the little Golden book edition), Andrea Posner-Sanchez, 2016

I would never have thought to compare two different prose renditions of  Moana , but seriously, this would actually be worth doing when it comes to these two versions. Night and day.

I would never have thought to compare two different prose renditions of Moana, but seriously, this would actually be worth doing when it comes to these two versions. Night and day.

My child’s affinity for Moana (the character, not the movie) and her compatriots has been well documented on this site. Am I tired of reading lesser prose versions of the film Moana? I absolutely am. However, I will happily declare that Little Golden Book Moana is a HUUUUUGE improvement over Step Into Reading Moana. Little Golden Book actually uses a complex sentence or two, and even a punctuation mark other than a period here and there. And contractions! Contractions are nice, people! It resembles much more closely how I’d want my kid to speak and write than its Step Into Reading counterpart. I know they’re trying to simplify the language so that kids can read, but I’d argue (as a proponent of authentic language learning) that we shouldn’t teach kids language such that we’d be ashamed if they actually spoke and wrote in that way. Ask a language nerd, and this is what you get. Seriously, thank god she let me return that thing to the library. It’s true that she only did it in exchange for another Moana book, but any step up in quality is worth the effort. Thank you, Little Golden Books, for catering to my kid’s wishes without sacrificing any possible nuance the English language has to offer.

2. Waiting Is Not Easy! Mo Willems, 2014

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Everything Mo Willems writes is charming as hell. I don’t know how he does it. We have only scratched the surface of Gerald and Piggie, but ever since Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus we have been devout readers of this man’s stuff. See also Knuffle Bunny Free (but watch out, I sobbed at the last three pages) and Time To Pee!, which even my daughter who hates being nudged in the direction of the toilet wanted to read together over and over. Waiting is beautiful, and not just because of its ultimate lesson - that waiting is sometimes very, very worth it. The frustration of Gerald is highly felt, and imitating his huge GROAAAANNNNN is, as Amelia Bedelia would say, “plumb fun.” Poor Piggie is so patient with his impatient friend. Poor Gerald so wants to be patient, but…waiting is not easy, no matter how much you want what’s on the other side!

1. Big Bad Bubble, Adam Rubin, 2014

Book of the month goes to Adam Rubin’s Big Bad Bubble. Now, I got the charm of Dragons Love Tacos, but I really didn’t get what all the borderline-viral fuss was about. It was funny and had some nice turns of phrase, but Ros kind of shrugged over it and I personally thought its randomness was a little overwrought. It was the kind of kids book I could see my husband writing. “Let’s just be real weird and see what everyone does with that!Big Bad Bubble, on the other hand, is no less weird, but it touches upon something quite profound, which is that so many of kids’ fears are both real and totally irrational. Monsters, it turns out, are very afraid of bubbles, even though they have sharp fangs and pointy claws and terrifying horns which would be the immediate end of any bubble! But the fear is there, and so we must teach them that they have what it takes to overcome the bubbles all by themselves. And while we’re at it, we should identify the spreader of the fake news and try to set him straight, too. Ultimately, we liberate the monsters of their fear (spoiler alert) so that they can better enjoy bubble baths, bubble gum and bubble wrap. The world of monsters is a happier and better place. The drawings are pretty cute, too.

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