Monday, August 8, 2011

Winning Kids: Little Nippers Top 10 (Classics)

Little Nippers Top 10
Mythological Creatures
by Michelle Berg

It may seem odd, but only until recently have I discovered many of the well-known Classic Picture books available today. Not until I became a parent did I come across books like Make Way for Ducklings or Where the Wild Things Are. It actually saddens me a little. I guess my parents, as wonderful as they were, just didn’t value the written word as much as I do. But nonetheless, finding these amazing books have truly been an inspiration; for they’ve awakened a long unfulfilled desire in me to become a published author. Therefore, I dedicate this month’s top 10 to all the new parents out there who, like me, may not be aware of these amazing treasures.

10. Too Many Mittens (1958)
Written and Illustrated by Florence and Louis Slobodkin

For Ages 4-8. While this book is not on many lists regarding classic picture books, it is worthy of recognition. I found this book at a yard sale about 5 years ago and it has been a favorite in my family ever since. Ned and Donny are twins from Michigan. One week, while their Mother and Father went away on a trip, their Grandmother came to stay with them. As they played outside with a friend, Donny lost one of his red mittens. And since news spreads very fast in small towns, anyone who found a red mitten anywhere brought it over to the twins’ house. Their teacher, a neighbor, the postman, the garbage man, the milkman, the grocer, in fact practically the whole town came to see them. Soon they had so many mittens they didn’t know what to do! Too Many Mittens is a very charming story. Look for it at your local library. You will not be disappointed.
Story about Ping9. The Story about Ping (1933)
Written and Illustrated by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese.

For Ages 4-8. The Story about Ping involves a young duck who lived with his mother, father, two sisters, three brothers, eleven aunts, seven uncles, and forty-two cousins on a boat that sailed on the Yangtze River. In order not to receive a spank from the master of the boat, Ping was careful each day not to be the last aboard. However, one afternoon he heard his masters call too late and to avoid penalty he hid among the weeds and watched his boat and family sail away. The next day, it took a while for him to find his home again and in his quest he almost became dinner for one family of fishermen! At last he found his boat and seeing as he learned his lesson, eagerly walked aboard even though he was last again. In this lyrical story, authors Flack and Wiese eloquently convey a very important life lesson; doing the right thing is always necessary even if it involves something unpleasant.
8. Strega Nona (1975)
Retold and Illustrated by Tomie de Paola

For Ages 4-8. Once in an old Italian village there lived an old woman who was said to have magic powers; her name was Strega Nona. One day a young man by the name of Big Anthony came to work for her. With a set of chores to do, he was hired on the spot with the explicit instructions to never touch her pasta pot. Well as we all know, we always want what we can’t have therefore not only did he touch it but he tried to use it to feed the whole town. Since the pasta pot was magic too, disaster struck! However, in the end, Strega Nona saved the town and Big Anthony learned a hard lesson. In this retelling of a classic Italian tale, Tomie de Paola, gives us yet another delightful book to treasure.
The Complete Adventures of Curious George: 70th Anniversary Edition7. Curious George (1942)
Written and Illustrated by Margret & H.A Rey.

For Ages 4-8. Who doesn’t love this naughty little monkey whose curiosity gets him into so much trouble! Our family began reading these books prior to the popular movie and TV show. While PBS does an excellent job providing an educational program, there is nothing like the original story! The series begins with George in Africa who is captured by the Man in the Yellow Hat and brought by ship to the big city where he can live in the zoo. However, there are many more adventures to read about. In fact, there are 7 original titles in all. My kids and I have enjoyed countless nights reading about how George walked along a high wire; flew over an entire town with a fist full of red balloons and caused a ruckus with the local fire department! These stories and many others are the reason this adorable monkey has stood the test of time!
6. The Giving Tree (1964)
Written and Illustrated by Shel Silverstein.

For Ages 4-8. A sensitive, yet clever, observation about the dynamic between parent and child, The Giving Tree is both sweet and thought provoking. I must say, the first time I read this book I did not like it. It’s not exactly a cheerful story. The boy takes everything the tree has except its stump, yet still the tree loved the boy. My daughter, however, cherished this book; perhaps it was due to the slight repetition of the narrative or maybe it was the remarkably alluring black and white drawings. Whatever the reason, we ended up reading it every night for almost a year. Consequently, with each reading, I came to like this book as much as my little girl. It reminds me of the fact that my time with my children is limited. Even though I give them everything I can, one day, they will grow up and leave to start their own lives.
One Morning in Maine (Picture Puffins)5. One Morning in Maine (1952)
Written and Illustrated by Robert McCloskey.

For Ages 4-8. “One morning in Maine, Sal woke up.”, the story begins. As this young girl ready’s herself for her trip to Buck’s Harbor, she notices a loose tooth. Being the first, she’s somewhat frightened and runs to her mother who happily explains that it’s all part of growing up. Unfortunately, as she’s digging for clams with her Dad later that day, the tooth falls out unexpectedly! Although very sad, a ride on their boat to Buck’s Harbor and a chocolate ice cream changes her mood. Heartwarming and delightful, McCloskey’s drawings of this 1950’s family and Maine’s seacoast are exquisite. Each picture is a masterpiece.
4. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (1972)
Written by Judith Viorst. Illustrated by Ray Cruz.

For Ages 4-8. Poor Alexander! He wakes up with gum in his hair, trips on a skateboard; his teacher reprimands him for singing too loud; his best friend finds another; his Mom forgot to pack his desert and the dentist finds a cavity! He even trips and falls into the mud! We’ve all had one of those days when everything seems to go wrong. I’ve read this book to my own son who has had plenty of his own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days! It made him feel better each time! This book does a wonderful job demonstrating to children that others go through same experiences.
Very Hungry Caterpillar3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969)
Written and Illustrated by Eric Carle.

For Pre-School to Age 4. Author and illustrator Eric Carle has published many books but this one is my favorite. I love that it is both educational and fun to read! In addition to teaching about nature, it teaches math, days of the week and promotes language development too. Kids adore this book! After hearing it a few times, the children in my class love to go through each page and recite the story by memory. And as we go through the days of the week we are always amazed by how much food this tiny caterpillar can eat!
2. Make Way for Ducklings (1941)
Written and Illustrated by Robert McCloskey.

For Ages 4-8. There’s Jack and Kack, then Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack; need I say more? The story of these 8 little ducklings and their mother crossing the busy streets of Boston to meet their Daddy in the Public Garden has been a favorite in my family for years! Robert McCloskey’s illustrations are extraordinarily beautiful and they reflect a life once past. The old cars, the shopkeepers and the clothing on the pedestrians all remind me of a time long ago when things were gentler and the world was less hectic. If you have not discovered this book yet, find it today!
Where the Wild Things Are1. Where the Wild Things Are (1963)
Written and Illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

For Ages 4-8. Max is a little boy who makes mischief of one kind or another and as a result gets sent to bed without any dinner. Here, he imagines himself sailing to a place far away, to where the wild things are. Full with wondrous repetition, this book is a delight to read and hear. Sendak has a marvelous talent for knowing just how to reach children; how to illustrate highly imaginative creatures and how to tell a story.
Michelle Berg is a Pre-School Teacher and author of children's book, Miss Mandy Manners.  Please visit her website:
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