Grandma and the Things that Stay the Same by Eve Aw & illustrated by Yunroo

By Maureen Tai, 18 March 2019

“… you can count on some things like love, family and tradition to stay the same.” – Mum

IMG_2598Most picture books about the Lunar New Year focus on explaining the cultural traditions and practices of the biggest celebration in the Chinese calendar – the red lai see packets, the new year’s eve family reunion dinner, the auspicious dishes, the exploding firecrackers and the deafening lion dances. Grandma and the Things that Stay the Same chooses instead to focus on what is central not only the Chinese during the Lunar New Year, but to people all over the world during their major festivals.

And that core is Family.   Continue reading

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson

By Maureen Tai, 26 November 2018

“Soon the teachers will come, and then you’ll be filled with children.” – Janitor

IMG_0487Do you remember the muddled-up feelings that you experienced on your first day of school? A concoction of fear and joy, excitement and anxiety, freedom and homesickness? I do. And so does the newly built Frederick Douglass Elementary school, the unexpected narrator in the whimsical and clever School’s First Day of School. This is the perfect picture book to read with a pre-schooler whose first day is looming. What will School’s first day be like? Continue reading

Good News Bad News by Jeff Mack

By Maureen Tai, 24 November 2018

An exuberant rabbit invites his grumpy mouse friend to an outdoor picnic.  No sooner has the picnic basket been opened, the clouds take over the skies and it begins to pour.  Using just 5 words in the entire picture book, Good News Bad News tells the humorous and charming tale of what happens next to this engaging pair. Continue reading

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara

By Maureen Tai, 22 October 2018

“But the girl wasn’t just a girl.  She was a witch!” 

IMG_8539

‘Tis the witching season and what better than to curl up under a blanket with a flashlight, a pile of spooky storybooks and a plate of chocolate chip cookies (mind the crumbs).  For the youngest of little ones with faint hearts and short attention spans, Ghosts in the House! is the perfect Halloween read.  Boldly illustrated and sparsely written (155 words in all), it is delightful.

And there are lots and lots of ghosts …

Continue reading

My wobbly tooth must not ever NEVER fall out by Lauren Child

By Anna & Maureen Tai, 30 September 2018

IMG_8297Our thin paperback copy of My wobbly tooth must not ever NEVER fall out is battered and bruised, like the banana that Ben brought home from school the other day.  Most of the pages have been cello-taped back together, the spine has rubbed off and the majority of the free stickers are on the underside of my mum’s coffee table in Malaysia.

We acquired our Charlie and Lola books over a decade ago, before we discovered the TV series, and read them to Anna on an almost daily basis – sometimes twice daily – for much of her toddler years. I wonder if Anna still remembers them … Continue reading

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

By Maureen Tai, 19 September 2018

“Each Peach Pear Plum, I spy Tom Thumb…”

If your middle grade child can still remember the first few lines of a board book that she had read to her since before she could walk, it must be a bit of a gem. That is what Each Peach Pear Plum is, the perfect rhyming “I Spy” picture book for really little ones and their sleep-deprived care-givers.

IMG_8156

The board book in my hand is over a decade old, its edges fraying, deep furrows along the spine.  The story itself is even older. Each Peach Pear Plum celebrated its 40th birthday in 2018 as the author, Allan Ahlberg celebrated his 80th.  Ahlberg is a maestro of rhyme, and a prolific children’s book writer, having written – at last count – over 150 books.  Continue reading