13 Easter Books We Love

Friday, March 17, 2017


Growing up, Easter was always my favorite holiday. Probably because I spent it with my big family (cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents) in Southern Utah. We celebrated with a weekend of hiking and dutch oven cooking and topped it all off with an outdoor Easter egg hunt.

Every spring those memories resurface and I feel immense joy for the traditions of my formative years. For me, Easter signals a season of renewal and feels like the start of a new year, more than any frozen January day. As with other holidays, we celebrate with books. So if you are looking for a few books to tuck into little Easter baskets these are some of our favorites.
  1. The Bunny Who Found Easter by Charlotte Zolotow - A lonely little fellow is in search of Easter. He trudges through the seasons and at last finds a companion. Together, along with their abundant offspring, they herald the arrival of the previously elusive holiday. A sweet story about how family makes life more enjoyable. 
  2. Bunny Bus by Ammi-Joan Paquette -  Full disclosure: this book ranks lowest of this list. However, the bright endpapers (vibrant eggs) and energetic illustrations are a lot of fun. Maybe don't rush out to buy this, but rather track it down at your local library. 
  3. Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood - You knew this was going to be on the list. Our affable narrator is back and full of inquisitive questions for our favorite cat. This time in an effort to convince Cat that the Easter Bunny has a really tough job and maybe Cat should help out. However, it seems a no-nap gig isn't what Cat really wants after all. 
  4. A Tale for Easter by Tasha Tudor - The sweetest cherubic children grace Tasha Tudor books and this one is no exception. Plus I like that the story starts off with a cheeky acknowledgement that we never really know when Easter rolls around, but hot cross buns the Friday before and a new dress generally signal its imminent arrival. 
  5. God Gave us Easter by Lisa Tawn Bergren - We have a couple of the other God Gave us books and while this one is on the longish side it's a nice way to explain some of the religious aspects of Easter to younger children.
  6. Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco - Of all the books on this list this one is my absolute favorite! When a group of young children decide to buy an Easter hat for their gramma, the one she's had her eye on, they must overcome having their good intentions misunderstood. Basically anything by Patricia Polacco and the stories she weaves from her own childhood, ranks high on my most beloved list.  
  7. The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward - Generations of children have loved this book, although I only read it for the first time a couple years ago. Essentially the gruff male bunnies all laugh when a lady bunny says she will grow up to be the Easter Bunny. Not only does she grow up to have a large family, she prevails and becomes the kindest Easter Bunny there ever was. Apart from any lesson or moral the book offers, it's a highly imaginative story that children both young and old can appreciate. Be aware that it is on the longish side for a picture book. 
  8. The Easter Bunny that Overslept by Priscilla & Otto Friedrich - This might be a little hard to locate, but it's worth the hunt. As the title suggests, the Easter Bunny is alarmed when he wakes up to discover that it's Mother's Day, not Easter. Undeterred, he tries to give away his eggs at the 4th of July Parade and then appears again at Halloween. With humor and endearing images this is also a personal favorite. 
  9. The Story of the Easter Bunny by Katherine Tegen - An old couple works together to dye eggs, make baskets, and create chocolate bunnies. All while their pet rabbit watches on. Soon the couple becomes too old to spread Easter happiness to the neighborhood children and the young bunny takes over the holiday duties. A fresh take on how the Easter Bunny came to be. 
  10. We're Going on an Egg Hunt by Laura Hughes - This lift-the-flap book is based on the old American folk tune and is beloved by the 2-4 year-old crowd. Count the eggs as you go and watch out for that sneaky wolf at the end. This is also a fun book to read before a child's first egg hunt. 
  11. Who Hid the Easter Eggs by Pirkko Vainio - After grandma has hidden the eggs for the annual Easter hunt an inquisitive bird is charmed by the colorful eggs and decides to relocate them to a new hiding spot. Luckily Harry, the squirrel, is able to set things right just in time. 
  12. The Easter Egg Artists by Adrienne Adams - Orson and his family are the artists tasked with decorating the beloved holiday eggs. However, sometimes it's difficult to contribute when everyone thinks you are too young or haven't developed your talent yet. Have you encountered Adrienne Adams books? They have a distinct 1970s style that still feels relevant today.
  13. Easter Eggs for Anya by Virginia Kroll - This religious account introduces children to the history of coloring eggs through the nineteenth-century Ukrainian tradition. With bright pastels and a sensitive protagonist, this book speaks of the new beginnings a risen Christ offers.

What I Read: February

Monday, March 6, 2017

Two months into 2017 and I feel pretty good about my reading goal. It's been nice to split my reading between audio and physical books. And since I don't own a tablet, I appreciate finding audiobooks both on Audible and Hoopla, which I can listen to while doing house hold tasks like dishes and laundry. Have you tried audiobooks recently? I've listened on and off for about a decade and generally know within 10 minutes if I'll be able to keep listening to a book based solely on the narrator. Narrators absolutely make or break an audiobook. In addition, my threshold for audiobooks is about 5-10 hours. Longer than that and I tend to disconnect from the story. That said, one of my fondest memories of listening to an audiobook (actually it was a book on CD) was when I listened to Diane Rehm's memoir while I drove across the country several years ago.
  1. Present Over Perfect - Some books come into your life at exactly the right moment. This is one of those for me. In fact I'm on my second read through right now. Less hustle, less proving, more resting, and more peace. This book struck an undeniable chord in my soul. 
  2. The Course of Love - A novel that reads a bit like a case study. Thoughtful asides tackle the idea that love is a skill and commitment is a reoccurring choice within a marriage. The philosophical asides on romantic attachment were a pleasing alternative to a purely fictional piece. 
  3. The Book that Made Me - Australian authors and writers sharing insights about the books they read that formed their opinions and insights, mostly during their formative years. Quotable passages and an extensive appendix featuring the books mentioned in these 32 essays made this an enjoyable book about books. 
  4. Seinfeldia - For the bona fide Seinfeld fan. I listened to this one and it was on the longish side for me. Considerable attention is given to the writers and the cultural phenomena the sitcom created. Bits of trivia and attention to the fact vs. fiction aspect of the show was interesting without being overdone. 
  5. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - My first time reading this classic and I found Dorothy's companions to be even more endearing than the movie. Plus this illustrated design centric version is simply stunning. Now I want to read more from the classics reimagined series. 





Cybils & Beginning Chapter Books

Tuesday, February 14, 2017



This post is the second part of the 2016 Cybils nominees. To read the first post click here.

Beginning chapter books can be a little bit more difficult to identify. Though many books have chapters (including a lot of middle grade novels), only those books designed for beginning readers belong in this category. As compared with easy readers, chapter books are a bit longer (up to 160 pages or so), and they have fewer illustrations. Instead of full-color pictures on every page, they may have just a few black and white line drawings sprinkled throughout the text. Unlike novels, however, beginning chapter books use large print, short chapters, and simple plots, and they rely heavily on dialogue. Popular beginning chapter books include the following series: Ivy & Bean, Marty McGuire, and Magic Tree House.

*Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? by Kate DiCamillo - Third in the Tales from Deckawoo Drive series, this book is a spin-off from the popular Mercy Watson series by the same author/illustrator. Fortunately it works as a stand-alone volume, which is helpful for the uninitiated. Baby Lincoln, whose real name is Lucille Abigail Eleanor Lincoln, dreams of being on a journey and is startled to be jolted back to a reality of mouse-traps, to-do lists, and an overbearing older sister. In a moment of clarity, Baby Lincoln decides to take a necessary solo journey and finds herself at the train station, purchasing a ticket to Fluxom. Older readers might recognize elements of The Phantom Tollbooth and The Little Prince, while it provides beginning readers with a strong plot, interesting characters, and a smattering of black and white images to propel the story forward. I liked it. Both for its simplicity and satisfying strength that its daring protagonist seems to gather while on her journey. Definitely worth a read.

*Weekends With Max and His Dad by Linda Urban - A refreshing mostly-male book. Three weekends, told as three stories, each with five chapters a piece. A manageable format for new readers. This was probably the most text heavy of all the early chapter books. But the narrative of a young boy, Max, figuring out what his weekends with his Dad look like, was a subtle take on divorced families, and what that scenario might look like. In fact, I especially appreciated that the book focused only on the Dad and son relationship, bringing in neighbors and a best friend as supporting characters. With more complex syntax, the book even alludes to this through one of its characters, Ms. Tibbets. Who uses words like retribution, fully expecting that her audience knows what she means. This book was touching without being sentimental. With likable characters and a spy thread, it made for an entertaining and age-appropriate read. Recommended ages 6-9.

The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Hoarde by Shannon Hale - The third book in a series, this works as a stand-alone story, although I think previous books must have expanded character development of Princess Magnolia and her unicorn, Frimplepants, who can alter their identity to The Princess in Black and her pony, Blacky, simply by riding through a secret cave. Which is necessary whenever they duo must dash to the rescue. In this case during an infestation of rabid rabbits. Short chapters, large text, dialog intermingled with plot development, and vibrant color images make this a strong chapter book. In truth, I have seen it touted as a fantastic series by many bookstagramers. To me, however, the plot never really developed beyond the fact that the Princess found the bunnies charming and wasn't the least bit worried about getting rid of them, that is until Blacky realizes that they actually want to eat the Princess and convinces them to leave of their own accord. After that the book seemed to end rather abruptly. In truth, I think the story could have been a little longer, with more conflict.

Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina - A chapter book that reads a bit like a graphic novel and travel guide combined. Each chapter features an aside with a particular character or place that is Good or Not-So-Good and Here's Why. Juana is much like any other third-graders and just wants to have fun with her friends/dog, enjoy her pastimes (reading and playing soccer), and avoid things she dislikes (itchy uniforms, math problems, and learning English). The trouble is all the faraway places that are important to her Abue (grandfather) require her to learn English. This semi-autobiographical take on childhood in Bogota, Columbia and learning English is peppered with Spanish words throughout. Which makes knowing a bit of Spanish useful when reading this book—a possible difficulty for younger readers. Whimsical color illustrations create an upbeat atmosphere, while variations in text size play to the strength of this chapter book. A couple places seem to struggle with phrasing, but overall I found this a refreshing newcomer to the early chapter book genre.

Dory Fantasmagory: Dory Dory Black Sheep by Abby Hanlon - Another third book in a series, this comes from a previous Cybils winner. Beginning readers will certainly relate to Dory living in two worlds: one real and one imaginary. One of the longest books in the early chapter books category, this story is about Dory struggling with learning to read, another relatable bit of information young readers will connect with. Black and white illustrations capture a great deal of emotion, perfectly depicting young Dory's spunk and dramatic flair, most notable in the text, which seems to have a great deal of yelling (illustrated both with exclamation points and all caps). Something that parents might want to take note of. The intermingled worlds might resonate with young readers, but I found some of the imaginary scenarios pretty outlandish and was a bit disappointed by the non sequiter ending.

*Mango & Bambang: The Not-a-Pig by Polly Faber - Mango Allsorts is the sort of girl who is good at a lot of things. We meet her as she is returning from a karate lesson, waiting to cross the street. However, traffic has obstructed her route. Or, rather, a tapir laying in the middle of the street has created a bit of a traffic muddle. Summoning her knack for smoothing over muddles, Mango gently coaxes the nervous animal to safety and invites him home with her for a breakfast of banana pancakes. Follow these two through a series of four mini-adventures, which involve swimming, hats, a rather prickly upstairs neighbor, and a clarinet concert. Young readers will appreciate the tri-colored illustrations and the way words move in a playful way across the page, while simultaneously enjoying the engaging dialog and plot. Readers may encounter some unfamiliar words, however that should not deter anyone from this dynamic duo. The first book in a series of three.

*Indicates my favorite books in the beginning chapter books category. Read this post for more about Cybils and the Easy Reader nominees. 

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