„The quiet book“ by Deborah Underwood

I have to be honest: We got the German editions of „The quiet book“ and “The loud book“ first – a recommendation from my favorite German book blog, „Kinderbibliothek“ (you can find Wenke Bönisch review of the German version here). The fun thing about living with (and in) two languages is that you are able to compare books. Sometimes rhyme and rhythm makes a big difference – and sometimes it doesn’t.

the_quiet_bookFinja loves “Room on the broom” – and we didn’t like the German edition at all. Somehow it just didn’t sound right… “The quiet book” and it’s companion, “The loud book” are just two of the books I like the same in both languages. Maybe it’s because of it’s relatively short, poetic and peaceful lyrics?

The book captures many quiet moments during the day, from a shy “pretending you are invisible quiet” over a strict “sleeping sister quiet” to the content “lollipop quiet”. Because “There are many kinds of quiet:
Quiet can be delicate.
Quiet can be thundering!
Quiet can be sweet, and cozy,and can most definitely help you fall asleep.”

“The quiet book” won lots of prices, for it’s content and the soft pencil illustrations of bears, rabbits, fish, birds, and iguanas. The illustrations are stunning – especially when you look at the development from a pencil sketch to a digital coloring.

I liked the idea of “The quiet book” and as I’m always searching for books to calm down our active preschool kid in the evening it seemed like the perfect book for us. “The quiet book” is different. Unfortunately, Finja just couldn’t connect to it. It seems some of the described situations just exceeded her experiences – she just never had a surprise party and never dropped her lunch tray at school. The illustrations are sweet and funny, but not engaging and probably just not lively enough for her personal taste… Even “The loud book” couldn’t persuade her. That’s why we give the book four crowns for it’s creative content and four crowns for it’s illustrations. The idea is great, the realization is as well – but somehow something is missing.

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More information:
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0547215673
ISBN-13: 978-0547215679

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Welcome to the Reading Castle!

We are a family of readers. Of bilingual readers. My husband and me both grew up in Germany and moved to the United States in 2010 – our daughter Finja is one of the lucky kids to grow up with two languages.

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My bookworm career started with “Tao Tao, the little panda bear” and continued with countless teenager horse books, young adult and finally novels. Even my career always brought me back to reading – and writing. I wrote short stories for a local newspaper during high school – yes, they were mainly about horses… Studying chemistry and biology in Munich it was clear, that my future wouldn’t be in a lab – I started working for an online science magazine and later started my own publication. “Pfotenhieb” is an independent magazine for cat owners and one of the first e-magazines in Germany. A personal dream came true when a publishing house in Germany gave me the opportunity to write a textbook for cat owners. By now I published five books. As day job I coordinate social media activities for a charity brand.

But this blog isn’t about me or cats. It’s about children books – and for me that comes connected to our daughter Finja. It started right after she was born, as reading books to her in the middle of the night was the only way to keep me awake for a feeding – and was a good way to practice my English. By now Finja’s bookshelf is clearly dominating her room. So are the piles of book in and in front of her bed… This girl loves reading – or looking at pictures and let me read, that is. After all she’s just three (and a half). But that’s how long it took me to realize that spending hours browsing for children’ books is a symptom of serious children’ book addiction in me…

We read everything. German or English, fiction or non-fiction, fairytale or practical learning…

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Anyway, I realized that not every book could keep up to it’s cover text. Not every great illustration means an extraordinary content. And sometimes I just purchased a book to realize that it had to sit on the shelf for another two years. That’s fine with me, you can often find me curled up with another story book for elementary school kids at night – but maybe you are not as crazy and just want to find the right book for your child. That is what this blog is for: To help you selecting great, extraordinary books for your child.

Enter the reading castle and enjoy our countless rooms, shelves and books!

Oh, and if you took the wrong way and are searching for a German book blog I can recommend „Kinderbibliothek“.

„Sleep like a tiger“ by Mary Logue

Do you know these books that capture you from the first page? That have just the right amount of being fantastical and realistic? “Sleep like a tiger” is one of these books – maybe it is because Finja is a lot like the little girl in this beautiful illustrated hardcover. Because the protagonist, a little girl, doesn’t want to go to sleep. She’s just not tired and not sleepy at all.

13429619The parents of this little girl are clever. She doesn’t need to go to sleep – she just has to put her pajamas on. And because it feels so nice to be clean she chooses to brush her teeth – and then slips under the cover of her bed, although she is wide awake. “Does everything go to sleep”, she asks… The little girl is positive she wants to stay awake all night long. But the dog curled up on the couch, the cat in front of the fireplace, cuddling bats, circling whales, curled up snails, cozy bears and last, but not least, the strong tiger convince her to curl up just like them – and she “fells fast – asleep”.

“Sleep like a tiger” is a Caldecott honor book. The Caldecott medal is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. It’s not surprising that the illustrations by Pamela Zagarenski were honored with the 2013 Randolph Caldecott Honor Award. The colorful pictures invite you to dream, as does Mary Logue’s story…

It’s one of the books that calm down our active daughter. She doesn’t fall asleep during reading loud, but then again – who does? I’m not, no matter how tired I am… 😉 But she loves to browse through the pages on her own. And I enjoy the simple, but compelling story and the artistic illustrations. Because now matter how much you read – there are only a handful of books that are really special. This is one of them.

That’s why we honor “Sleep like a tiger” as well – with five crowns for illustrations and storyline.

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More information:
Written by: Mary Logue
Illustrated by: Pamela Zagarenski
Series: Caldecott Medal – Honors Winning Title(s)
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Children
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0547641028
ISBN-13: 978-0547641027

“The Tear Thief” by Carol Ann Duffy

I have to admit: I love barefoot books. The only reason I didn’t start an ambassador business until now (Update March 13 2016: I’m finally an ambassador, information coming soon!) for this great publisher is that I’m really really really bad at selling – and that even goes for books. But I love their stories, their illustrations, that their books are more than a standard fairytale, that they bring the mystic and fascination back to books and let kids and parents step into a story.

1322594One of our newer acquisitions, “The tear thief”, is a modern fairytale, dreamy and poetic in the same way – and: a great goodnight story! Because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t know the tears around bedtime? If it’s the wailing during washing hair, the tantrum when the little one want’s chocolate as bedtime sweet, fighting between siblings or little boo-boos: The tear thief catches children’s tears. They turn into jewels, when she puts them in her little sack. But the most precious are the tears of pure sadness…

The tear thief lives “in every place where children cry”, is “old as joy and sorrow” – and is a wonderful, magical and modern fairytale for every child. And their parents!

The story is a little sad, but brings a smile to my face every time we read it. Finja reacts in a similar way, no matter how big of a tantrum she’s throwing and how “not sleepy” she feels before bedtime.

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Illustrations: Five crowns
Story: Five crowns

More information:
Written by: Carol Ann Duffy
Illustrated by: Nicoletta Ceccoli
Publisher: Barefoot Books; Pap/Com edition (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1846866227
ISBN-13: 978-1846866227

“Bear on a bike” by Stella Blackstone

One of Finja’s first books will make the beginning: When we got “Bear on a bike” by Stelle Blackstone in the mail, we didn’t even have a book shelf for children books. For almost two years, this Barefoot book belonged to Finja’s bedtime routine like brushing teeth and was a go-to for sleepless nights.

"Bear on a bike" by Barefoot books - Finja's favorite!
“Bear on a bike” by Barefoot books – Finja’s favorite!

Bear on a bike” is one of numerous “Bear”-books by the British publisher “Barefoot books”. What convinced me of this book were the colorful, playful and friendly illustrations by Debbie Harter: Easy to look at for a baby they turned were great for “look-and-find” when Finja entered preschool age. Rhymes and repetitions makes reading fun for parents and easy to understand for children of any age.

The content: The bear tries out different forms of transportations and stumbles into new adventures. A bike brings him to the market, a train to the seaside, a raft promises an adventure in the jungle, a carriage carries him to a nightly party in a castle – always bringing his friend, a little boy, and his dog (“where are you going bear – please wait for me!”). Children can hop onto the back of the bike and will be comforted by the bear just like this little boy – and say “goodbye and goodnight” when bear blasts off on a rocket, just before bedtime.

A great read and a great present for every new parent – and just the beginning of our love for Barefoot books. Enjoy!

Storyline: Five crowns
Illustrations: Five crowns

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More information:
Bear on a Bike (A Barefoot Board Book)
Written by: Stella Blackstone
Illustrated by: Debbie Harter
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1841483753
ISBN-13: 978-1841483757