dream big little pig by kristi yamaguchi

"Dreaming" doesn't have to focus on what children want to do or be when they grow up. To me, dreaming is about everyday... and believing that there's yet even more to what we can imagine. To not stop short at what is, but to continuously create and evolve.
Dream Big Little Pig, written by Olympic gold medalist and now first time children's book author, Kristi Yamaguchi, is a book about just that. Poppy, the main character of this sparkling book, dreams of being a star one day. What that looks like or means - she has yet to discover, as she tries ballet, modeling and even a singing competition. Through the process, she experiences challenges and the judges, coaches and peers all tell her she should just try something else. But her family and best friend always cheer her on - saying the exact same thing - "You go girl! Follow your dreams! Dream big, pig!"

Even after trying so many things, Poppy feels discouraged about not fulfilling her dream of becoming a star one day. In her sadness, she hears the voices of those she loves most, remembering that her family and best friend would always love her for who she is, and be her number one fan of what ever she chooses to do. These words help Poppy feel better - and to look beyond her limits.

Doing so, enabled Poppy to open her heart and find something that truly was amazing to her. And although the ice skating teacher told her she didn't think it was possible for her to do it, she responded, "anything's possible." 

And it is in this message exactly, that I wish for every child to know and embrace - just as Yamaguchi has demonstrated in this book - which captures what she experienced on her own personal journey - that one can fulfill any dream they have by first believing in themselves.

Poppy, like all kids, dream. And it is up to us to positively encourage and cheer our little ones on... and be their biggest fans.

After reading this book*, you'll find yourself saying {or shouting} "dream big pig" in any predicament the kids encounter when they feel like they "can't" do something. Like when Noah started to get upset when he couldn't buckle his car seat by himself. Ava and I shouted, "dream big pig" - and he broke into a smile. And although he didn't get it snapped that time, he knew that we believed in him, and that in itself, is golden....

*This book was provided solely to do a review and has not been monetarily compensated and is based on the views and opinions of theartoffamily.

mr. brown can moo! can you? by dr. seuss

I'll let you in on a little secret. (ahem...) I'm not a huge fan of Dr. Seuss. Shocking I know. There are very few books from this series that are enjoyable for me to read with the kids. I actually find myself wondering what in the world is he referring to? And to be quite perfectly honest, I'm not too thrilled with the idea of kids letting a stranger into their house while their Mom's away. The Cat in the Hat's tricks convince the kids that its ok - because of all the fun things he can do! While I get the soaring imagination this may bring, I'm not too keen on the messaging - that probably didn't exist so negatively when he first wrote it more than 50 years ago.

Still, there is one book in particular that the kids have loved for a long time - Mr. Brown Can moo! Can you? - a classic if you will. I rather enjoy the rhyming alliteration of sounds and letters swimming on the page - and the faces my kids make when they hear them.

A distant runner up would be One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

What are your favorites, and why?

when dinosaurs die by laurie krasny brown and marc brown

The children had known for quite awhile that their Papa was sick, and when he passed, they didn't know exactly what that meant - because we didn't know what to tell them. A friend of mine gave us this book, and it was, under the circumstances, a helpful guide for us to begin having these types of conversations with our preschoolers. 

They both looked on intently at the graphics - scenarios showing what it means to be alive, and then examples of how we may die. I specifically didn't read some of the scenarios because I personally feel that my children are too young to understand its complex nature right now (like dying in war) but the others were suitable (such as car accidents, long illnesses) because they helped us explain and associate other conversations we've had in the past (such as seeing ambulances on the street with car accidents, and Papa long battle with cancer).

Since my children were barely understanding the idea about death, I also didn't read nor elaborate on the fact that there are dozens of religious and personal interpretations about the after life. What happens after we die? An arguable question even for adults. So instead I read a few that closely resembled  our views for now .

It reads quickly and briefly - giving children time to digest what's happening in the pictures. They liked the conversations being read in the bubbles and the emotions and feelings expressed. And for these reasons, make this an important book to own and share with young children through such a difficult time in their lives.

sloppy joe by dave keane

We first read this in the store, and a few weeks later, found it on the shelves at Half Price Books. It's one of Noah's favorites! He loves the idea of being messy - because he is most definitely not. And it is in this pretend play that he gets a kick out of seeing the mess Joe gets into at home. How his family can't keep up, and how sometimes, it's not so "great" to be messy after all.

The illustrations are just lovely - and we like to look at the pictures and find those missing crickets! Most lovely - is the message: that no matter what others may think of you, you will always be loved for just the way you are.

No More Water in The Tub by Tedd Arnold

Do you ever have trouble getting the kids out of the bathtub at bath time? Is it because they are having too much fun playing with their toys? Wanting even more water so they can dive like submarines? Tedd Arnold brings us another book about consequences, and what will happen if we let the faucet run and....

The words on the pages fly off your tongue, as you read what happens to a tub that crashes down on its neighbors down below. The alliteration and rhymes are fun, and the kids have fun trying to figure out the next versus, as well as exploring the reactions of the characters on each page.

Ah... the wonderful adventures of living in an apartment building - simply hilarious!

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

A classic! The story is simple, yet so foretelling, about a bull who doesn't want to do or be anything but himself. This is another favorite book of mine that teaches young children about self-confidence, and how sometimes having this, takes us to new places.

Picture This by Alison Jay

Picture this... is a table top book for kids - where each page is filled with objects correlating to the ones before it. Common among Jay's books, this one is no exception. It's a spectacular first word book to give as a gift to a beginner reader... And we love to look at the pictures in this book over and over again - we keep it in the family room.

Honey, Honey, Lion by Jan Brett

Not necessarily my favorite book in particular, maybe because I don't really get the punchline at the end, or that its about getting revenge - but, Ava adored it. Perhaps its the page-turner details of what happens between a greedy badger and a bird that she likes so much. Or maybe she likes the idea of justice - either way, its a hit with my little ones. And what I love about this book? Jan Brett. Her illustrations are frame worthy, and the fact that this story is an adaptation from African folktale.

Ms. Brett has some coloring sheets of the animals in this book on her website - great for those wanting to extend the learning.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

After falling in love with Kevin Henkes - we discovered his series of books about a little mouse with a very big name - Chrysanthemum. Witty, charming and funny for even parents to read out loud - its a heart warming story about a girl who goes to school loving her name, but after returning- not so much so. There are lessons learned in this book, and its a great introduction on what can happen when classmates aren't so nice or express negative opinions - something every parent thinks about of their preschoolers.

I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis + Alison Jay

Remember what I said about Alison Jay? Here she is at it again, with author Carolyn Curtis in this dreamy book of what would happen, if you walked with the moon. I don't know what it is about moons and children, but it's a mystery that is familiar to them. And this is wonderful combination of both. Aaron loves to read this to the kids - and especially point out oddities you'll find on each page!