One way to fill that gnawing void is to write more about kids' books, which I've said I wanted to do more often several times now. So I'll resurrect the "Bedtime Reading" title, and try to write about four or so kids books about once a week. (I did Bedtime Reading at least once before.)
For parallax: I have two sons (Thing 1 and Thing 2). Thing 1 will be nine in just over a month (on St. Patrick's Day, actually), and Thing 2 turned six two days after Christmas. At bedtime, Thing 1 sometimes joins us, but usually reads by himself in his room (mostly comics of one kind or another, usually manga). Thing 2 and I read on his bed; I read somewhere between one and four books (depending on how long they are), and then, at least part of the time, he reads to me from his cut-out-and-folded books from school.
So I have two very boyish boys, and the books they like tend to reflect that. (Although they're both big ol' softies, as well.)
I remember "Bedtime Reading" because today was the Scholastic Book Fair at their school, and we got back from that just before bedtime with six books (two for Thing 1, four cheaper ones for Thing 2). I might list those tomorrow, but I couldn't get them away from the boys tonight.
Anyway, for this edition, I have four books:
- Cowboy Small by Lois Lenski
I wrote about the "Mr. Small" books in one of my earlier posts, but I'll mention them again. Lenski wrote these books over a nearly thirty-year period, starting in the early '30s, so they're a little outdated -- though, my boys have never noticed or said anything about that, and they've liked them all. This one is probably my favorite: it's so post-war cowboy boom that it's not funny, which I find entertaining, and the mix of words and pictures is just about perfect. Boys don't generally think about wanting to grow up and be cowboys, these days, but my guys liked this book. (They're getting a bit old for this series now; I think it's best for pre-schoolers.)
- Wacky Wednesday by "Theo. LeSieg" (Dr. Seuss) and illustrated by George Booth
Yes, the New Yorker cartoonist Booth; there are several of his inimitable dogs in here. Thing 2 loves this book: we got it from the library several times, and he bought his own copy last weekend when we went to a B&N to spend one of their Christmas presents (a gift card each). In this book, our young hero notices weird things happening, and they increase and increase as the book goes on -- the reader has to find and count them all. As I said, my younger son loves this: it combines counting, Where's Waldo, and young kids' sense of humor very well.
- This is a large-size book about fire-fighters in the Western scrub country (where fighting wildfires is as much about digging as it is about spraying water), which is probably designed for pre-schoolers. Demarest has done several books in this vein -- Smokejumpers One To Ten is a counting book, and Firefighters A-Z is an alphabet book, and there's another one about rescue swimmers that I forget the title of -- but this one was the boys' favorite. Demarest's art is interestingly textural -- it looks like colored crayons on textured paper -- and shades a bit into impressionism at times. (I tend to prefer kids' book art that isn't purely photo-realistic; I want art that looks like art, where you can see some life in it.)
Thing 2 had me read this collection of poems about science to him every night last week, and found it hilarious nearly every time. Since I think most people reading this have an interest in science (though SF, at least), I expect this is a book those of you with kids would really want to have. It covers, humorously, a whole lot of science topics, but you the adult reader should know at least a sketch of the real science behind the jokes (and the precursors of the poetry, preferably). I can't recommend this highly enough: it's incredibly funny and entertaining, with wonderfully quirky, expressive art, and actually teaches kids as it goes. Science Verse was the follow-up to Math Curse, and was followed in its turn by Seen Art?, both of which my boys also love. (They keep asking when there's going to be another one...)