After railing on Eric Carle and Winnie the Pooh, I figured it would be nice to tell you about the children's books I actually like. This being my love-themed week and all. These books aren't as popular as Knuffle Bunny , Olivia or The Gruffalo but they are all beautifully designed, incredibly fun to read and adored by both Mazzy and myself.

NOTE: I do not take my book recommendations lightly. I made sure to read each book a few thousand times before giving them the official "thumbs up".

1. Iggy Peck, Architect , by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts


Iggy is a boy who loves to build with anything he can get his hands on (chalk, pancakes, diapers, etc.) much to the chagrin of his uptight second grade teacher who has a fear of heights. 

If there is one book you should buy out of all the books I'm about to mention, it's this one. The illustrations, the story and the ridiculously advanced rhymes (Young Iggy Peck is an architect and has been since he was two, when he built a great tower in only an hour, with nothing but diapers and glue) are just as impressive as any important piece of literature. I say this with all seriousness and also as a person who hasn't read an important piece of literature since college.

2. Up and Down , By Oliver Jeffers


This is a classic story about a boy and his chess-playing penguin friend who dreams of flying. The deceptively simple illustrations and dry humor make for the perfect bedtime book. And any book featuring a poster that reads "Ever dream of flying? Are you short and fat? The traveling show is looking for a new living cannonball!" scores high honors with me.

3. For Just One Day , By Laura Leuck and Marc Boutavant


We've been reading this book for awhile and Mazzy has the whole thing memorized. It's about imagining yourself as different animals (If I could have a spiky spine, I'd get to be a porcupine!) but ultimately wanting to be that special someone that is "me". It has gorgeously whimsical illustrations and the rhymes roll off the tongue in a way that makes it super easy for your child to rhyme along.

4. Foxy and Egg , By Alex T. Smith


Foxy Dubois is thrilled when a mouthwatering egg shows up on her doorstep. She takes it in, entertains it all night with hopes of scrambling it for breakfast in the morning. ("You simply must stay over," said Foxy. "I have something even more wonderful planned for breakfast!") I don't want to spoil the ending for you but let's just say— things don't work out for Foxy as planned.

The story is fun, if you like things slightly macabre, and the illustrations are amazing with fun details like poultry themed knick-knacks strewn about Foxy's fabulously decorated mansion.

5. Itsy Mitsy Runs Away , By Elanna Allen


Mazzy was obsessed with this book from the second it entered our home. It was a gift and I was a bit nervous about it at first because it's about a little girl who runs away because she doesn't like bedtime. Why give a kid any ideas? So far, I don't think the true meaning of the story has sank in. But I suppose it's only a matter of time before Mazzy's packing her belongings in a hankerchief and hanging it on the end of a stick, ready to take on the world. Wish me luck!

6. Art, by Patrick McDonnell 


Art loves art. That's pretty much the story. As an art lover myself, I love the ode to creativity juxtaposed against the simple childlike illustrations. Every phrase rhymes so it's fun to let your child easily fill in the last word of each sentence.

My favorite part though is at the end. After successfully reciting each rhyme throughout the book, Mazzy always get the last word wrong. It ends:

And when he awakes
(a little bit later)
Art sees his art
on the refrigerator 
held there by magnets
(stars and a heart)
Put there by mother
'Cause mother loves Art.

Mazzy always mistakenly subs the last "Art" with "me". Rhyme or no rhyme, she just can't fathom mother loving anyone or anything but herself. 

That cocky little shit.

(She's almost right.)

What is your favorite lesser-known children's book?


In continuation of my "love-themed" week, I posted "10 Opportunities for Dads to Demonstrate a Little Romance" on Babble today. It all starts with some folded laundry. Check it out here.