Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Valentines Day Gift Ideas -- A Wonderful Selection of Children's Books from Candlewick Press Especially for Valentine's Day (Review)

In addition to giving our daughters a few gifts, including a new plush bear and an outfit for Valentine's Day, I also make a point to pick up and share books about love with them.  Below are just a handful of books that I had the opportunity to review recently from one of my favorite children's publishers, Candlewick Press, that are great to share with your little ones leading up to and on Valentine's Day -- or anytime you want to show them how much you love them :-)


Published: Jan. 2013
Age range: from 1 mon to 1 year
14 pages
ISBN: 0763664766
ISBN13: 9780763664763
$4.99 US; $5.50 Canadian
Hardcover 8 X 10; 7 1/2" x 7 1/2"


"Guess How Much I Love You?
Is there a color that Little Nutbrown Hare doesn’t like? Here’s a beautiful red flower to sniff, a blue-winged bird to make friends with, yellow daisies to pick, and a leaping green frog to chase. But when it comes to brown, that’s a color to love, not just like -- especially if it’s related to Big Nutbrown Hare!

What a concept! The beloved Nutbrown Hares hop into a new board book, enticing the youngest of readers to explore colors."

My Thoughts:

I remember my husband picking out the "Guess How Much I Love You" board book when we were pregnant with Savannah.  We began reading to both girls while they were in the womb, so that they would be used to our voices when they finally arrived.  After stumbling across this popular children's book in the bookstore, it became an instant favorite of my husband's and one that he would read to the each of the girls on a nightly basis.  And, once they both arrived in 2010 and 2011, it became a stable in the girls' bedtime reading routine.  Each night, I start the bedtime reading with 1-2 books, and then my husband usually takes over and reads one more book with the girls before lights out.  So, when I saw that there was a colors book in the popular book series, I had to get my hands on a copy to share with them.  Right now, Savannah is learning her colors and loves books that showcase the different colors.  Because of this, I knew she would like the book.  

On the first night I brought the book in to read to the girls, Savannah thought it was the same book Daddy always reads to her.  I told her it was different and that she would have to see why.  As I began flipping through the board book, she saw the different colors, and got excited.  She immediately would call out the colors and tell me about the things she saw in the illustrations that have that particular featured color in it.  This went on for each of the remaining pages.  And, by the time we reached the end of the book, she asked for it to be read again.  When it came time for Daddy to come in and read his book, Savannah couldn't wait to tell him about this new book and have him read it to her.

If you and your child are fans of the original "Guess How Much I Love You" book, then you will love this one that centers around colors.

Published: Jan. 2013
Age range: from 1 yr to 3 year
24 pages
ISBN: 0763632465
ISBN13:  9780763632465
$6.99 US; $8.00 Canadian
Hardcover: 7" x 7"


"When you’re an adorable bald baby, your family finds lots of ways to show you how much they love you: Mommy lifts you uppy, Daddy kisses you on the tummy, and everyone wants to snuggle. What’s not to love? With comedy and warmth, Leslie Patricelli offers a universal tribute to love and affection in a board book full of instant appeal for little valentines everywhere.
Oh, baby! Leslie Patricelli’s one-haired wonder returns to share the love."

My Thoughts:

I have shared a few reviews of this author, Leslie Patricelli's previous board book releases in the past.  All of her book are about love and cute illustrations of babies.  So, when I saw she had another book out, which we hadn't read yet, I had to pick up a copy and share with the girls.  Once I received this book and read it to myself, I instantly fell in love with it and knew the girls would love it too.  The story is simple -- a family shows how much they love the baby and all the ways they show it -- playful squeezes to kisses on baby's toes and belly, the cute little baby in the book is shown just how much his family (including grandparents and the family pet) love him.  

Little ones will not only love this cute and easy to understand story, but they will especially enjoy looking at the playful and oh so colorful illustrations of the baby and his family interacting and showering each other with love.  When I read these books, I try to imitate the actions with the girls -- like kissing their toes, snuggling up close, hugging them tight - as it not only gets smiles and giggles out of them, but also shows them just how special and loved they are, just like the baby in the book.

If you haven't had a chance to share a book from this popular children's author with your little one, this would be a great book to start with.  And, in time, you will find yourself building a nice little Leslie Patricelli collection to read and enjoy with your children.

Published: Sept. 2011;
Age range: from 1 yr and Up
12 pages
ISBN: 0763632465
ISBN13:  9780763632465
$8.99 US; $10.00 Canadian
Hardcover: 6 5/16" x 6 5/16"


"With Touch and Feels for little paws!

Say hi to Noodle, a brand-new character for babies and toddlers! Busy, inquisitive, and cute as a button, Noodle just loves to have fun. This series of bright, robust touch-and-feel board books with simple rhyming texts provides plenty of details for parent and child to talk about and explore. There are lots of things that Noodle loves to play with, including a fluffy duck,a cozy blanket, and a bumpy ball. Of course, Noodle’s favorite thing of all is a cuddle with Mommy!

Introducing Noodle from Nosy Crow, an imprint of Candlewick Press!"

My Thoughts:

Does your little one love touch and feel books?  If so, they will love this and other Noodle books from Candlewick Press.  We have a few of these books, and both Arabella and Savannah love having me read them the story, as they touch and feel the pages.  While I find these touch and feel books to keep Arabella, who is 1, engaged in the story, I now use these book with Savannah as a way for her to touch and feel, and then identify objects for me.  She loves being able to spot the touch and feel items and then tells me what they are, including their colors and sizes. From a furry, yellow duckie to a shiny, bumpy purple ball, your little one will have a blast flipping through the pages with you and by themselves, as they touch and feel each featured item on the page.  

Like other Candlewick Press Noodle books, this story is easy to understand and shares things that Noodle the Panda bear loves -- especially his Mommy!  I can't wait to pick up future releases in the Noodle series, and know the girls will love them just as much as this and the other Noodle books we have in the bookcase.

Published: Dec. 2012
Age range: from 3 yrs - 7 Yrs
32 pages
ISBN:0763662240 / 9780763662240$8.99 US; $10.00 Canadian
Hardcover: 6 3/8 x 7 1/4"


"Foil stamping throughout makes the love waves shine!

Love Waves are what we send to our loved ones until we can be together again. Invisible and strong, they can fly across town or around the world, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that neither time nor space can keep love from finding its target. Combining a wonderfully concrete concept with her cozy pastel illustrations, Rosemary Wells offers an ingenious way to ease the separation anxiety many children feel when parents go to work, or live in separate homes; when close friends or relatives move, or live far away; or whenever a loved one’s absence calls for an extra dose of reassurance.

How to comfort a young child who misses a special person when he or she is away? A treasured picture book creator has the perfect solution."

My Thoughts:

I shared a review of this book last year, when it was available in a full-size hard cover format.  Now, you can pick up Love Waves in a mini-book format, which is great for diaper bags, backpacks -- or even, little hands.  The story, which tells how a family's love for one another remains strong, even if you can't be together all the time.  From Mommy and Daddy Bunny having to go to work and leave their son behind, to the little bunny sleeping in his room down the hall from his parents, love waves are being sent all the time to keep everyone connected. 

I have found myself reading this book to Savannah more often lately as she is being to have separation anxiety when I leave to run to the market, or drop her off to spend the afternoon with my parents.  She wonders if I will be coming back for her, and what I am doing when we are not together. This cute little story helps ease her fears and lets her know that even though we are separated for a short time, our love for one another remains strong, and in time, we will be back in each other arms again.  

Even thought this book is snot really a touch and feel book, Savannah loves running her fingers over the foil stamping, which makes up the beautiful blue loves waves that fill the pages of this treasured book.  If you are looking to add at least one new book to your child's book collection this year, Loves Waves is a must have book to share with them. :-)

Children Book Love and Kisses by Sarah Wilson

Published: Dec. 2005
Age range: from 3 yrs and Up
32 pages
ISBN: 0763620114
ISBN13: 9780763620110
$3.99 US; $4.50 Canadian
Hardcover: 8” x 8"


“This little love story proves that a kiss is not just a kiss. It is a bountiful fount of surprises, spreading love far and wide and growing sweeter as it goes! What better message to give someone you love than one of such joy and happy affection?”

My Thoughts:

Does your child ever wonder what happens after they plant a kiss on you?  What really happens to that lip smacking kiss?  Well, this cute book will try to explain just that.  When a little girl plants a kiss on her kitten, the kiss doesn't end there.  Instead, it travels on from animal to animal, until the kitten eventually returns to kiss the little girl back.  Little ones will  have a hard time not giggling along as you read this cute story to them.  The illustrations are bright and eye catching, and really play up the imaginative story of what happens to a kiss.

With all the hugging and kissing you plan to do with your child on Valentine's Day, why not share this book with them, and ask them what they think happens to a kiss.  It will be cute to hear their take on it. :-) Smooch and smack!!! 

Children book Otter and Odder by James Howe

Published: Oct. 2010
Age range: from 6 yrs – 10 yrs
40 pages
ISBN: 076364174X
ISBN13: 9780763641740
$4.00 US; $7.00 Canadian
Hardcover: 7 7/8” x 8 11/16"


The day Otter found love, he wasn’t looking for it. He was looking for dinner. But then he gazed into the round, sweet, glistening eyes of Myrtle the fish, and he knew. "Impossible," he said. "I am in love with my food source." As for Myrtle, her first desire was: Please don’t eat me. But soon her heart awakened to a future she could never have imagined. The inseparable duo played hide-and-seek and told each other stories, but everyone said that was not the way of the otter. Could their love (and Myrtle) possibly survive? Aided by Chris Raschka’s illustrations in a fresh faux-naïf style, James Howe tells a warm, witty tale about finding kindred spirits in the oddest of places-and having the good sense to keep them.

When an otter falls in love with a fish, can he dare to follow his heart? A delicious ode to nonconformity from a stellar picture-book pair.”

My Thoughts:

This is truly a love story that will be enjoyed by children of all ages and adults alike.  Even though young children will not grasp the idea that you can't help who you fall in love with and that you have to work at love, they will enjoy looking at the crayon-like illustrations that fill the pages of this sweet story.  Older children may question why these two different animals can't be happy together (as others keep telling them that they are not meant for one another), but the story's ending will have everyone smiling -- as it does have a happy ending. :-)  

Out of all the books I received in this batch of review books from Candlewick Press for this feature, I have to say this is my favorite book by far.  It is different from other books you would expect to find for children, and really does an amazing job at telling a time old tale about love and following your heart.  I have found myself flipping through this book on occasion just to read the sweet story and admire the doodles.  And, I know that once you read this book, it will become a favorite of yours, too.

Children Book A kiss Like This by Mary Murphy

Published: Dec. 2012
Age range: from 2 yrs – 4 yrs
32 pages
ISBN: 0763661821
ISBN13: 9780763661823
$12.99 US; $14.00 Canadian
Hardcover: 9 1/16" x 9 13/16"


A giraffe kiss is very tall -- just turn the page and see! Elephant kisses are long, of course, while tiny mice and bubbly fish have kisses all their own. Using a clever split-page format that makes for charming surprises, author-illustrator Mary Murphy shares a series of animal kisses that are sure to have babies and toddlers gurgling, giggling, smiling, and leaning over for their kisses, too.

What better gift for a new baby? The creator of I KISSED THE BABY! celebrates animal moms and babies in an irresistible novelty book.”

My Thoughts: 

This was another book that was not meant to be a touch and feel book, but that caught Savannah's eye and made her want to feel the sparkly red heart on the cover of the book.  But, she was happy to find that this book had lift the flap pages, which when flipped showed how different animals kissed.  As you and your child read through the book, and they will help you flip the pages, you will see how Mommy and baby giraffes, fish, elephants, bees and so many other animals kiss.  And, by the time you reach the last page, wet your lips and get ready to give your little one a great, big wet kiss. :-)

Children book Bear in Love by Daniel Pinkwater

Published: August 2012
Age range: from 2 yrs – 6 yrs
40 pages
ISBN: 0763645699
ISBN13: 9780763645694
$15.99 US; $19.00 Canadian
Hardcover: 10 1/4" x 9 1/16"


One morning, the bear finds something just outside his cave. It is orange and long and pointy and has bushy green leaves at one end. And it’s sweet and crunchy! Where did it come from? Did someone leave it for him? Then there are two more of the sweet crunchy things the next morning! The bear knows that someone nice is leaving him these treats. If only he could discover who it is! Should he leave something tasty in return? With the help of Will Hillenbrand’s endearing illustrations, the inimitable Daniel Pinkwater spins a charming little mystery about unexpected kindnesses and finding that extra-special someone.

Could the bear have a secret friend? Who is leaving him surprises? The ever-lovable Daniel Pinkwater spins a funny and sweetly offbeat story.”

My Thoughts:

This is a cute story about having a secret admirer, and how two totally different animals can form a loving friendship.  Even if your little one finds the word "love" icky right now, they will enjoy this cute tale about a bear who fins an unexpected love right under his nose.  Day in and day out, bear wakes to find a special treat left for him.  He begins to leave special treats for this secret admirer in hopes of finding out who it could be.  It is not until the end that bears comes face to face with this unlikely admirer.  Don't worry, I will not tell you who it is?  You will have to pick up this cute book and share it with your little one(s) to find out. :-)

In addition to the cute story, you will also find the illustrations to be detailed and appealing to the eyes.  My daughters and I found ourselves on a few occasions caught up in the illustrations and forgetting to turn the page to see what Bear would find when we awoke.  This is yet another book not to be missed!

Children Book Olive and the Big Secret by Tor Freeman

Published: August 2012
Age range: from 4 yrs – 7 yrs
32 pages
ISBN: 076366149X
ISBN13: 9780763661496
$15.99 US; $19.00 Canadian
Hardcover: 10 13/16" x 8 7/16"


When Molly shares a secret with Olive, the urge to tell is just too great! Olive tells Joe who tells Matt who tells Lola. But Lola is best friends with Molly. Uh-oh, the secret is out, and Olive is in for it!

Olive learns the hard way that keeping secrets is tough, and telling them can make for a whole lot of trouble!”

My Thoughts:

Can your child keep a secret?  How about you?  If you and/or your child find it hard to not share a heavily guarded secret with someone else, then you are not alone, as so many other people feel the need to spill the beans and tell at least one person, just like Olive found herself doing in this cute story.  What is the big secret you ask, and why does Molly not want Olive to tell a soul.  I am not going to tell -- you will just have to pick up a copy of this book to find out for yourself. :-)  I will just say it is big. :-)

When you are not itching to find out the secret and see what happens when the secret is shared with more than one person, you will enjoy looking at the illustrations of the different animals in this book.  Relying heavily on orange and other earthy tones, each character pops off the page with the colorful palette used, and really adds to the story.


So, if you are looking for some great books to share with your children this Valentine's Day, why not consider the above books from Candlewick Press.  Reading with your children is a great way to bond and connect. And, these books, which deal with love, friendship and family, will make reading and sharing quality time with your child(ren) even that much more special. :-)

Disclosure: I was sent copies of the above books from the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

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