a list of…five stories about small-fry and their special loveys

Bubba and Beau, Best Friends, by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Arthur Howard

Bubba is the chubby-cheeked, busy, baby son of Big Bubba and Mama Pearl. 
Beau is the flappy ear, tail-wagging, puppy son of Maurice and Evelyn.
The two of them are best buds.

They like chewing, howling, mud, and Bubba’s soft, pink, toasty-warm blankie.  Bubba likes that it smells like Beau.  Beau likes that it smells like Bubba.

Mama Pearl likes that blankie to smell like soap.

One day, that blankie goes in the wash, and Bubba goes in the tub, and Beau gets a bath, and the blankie dries out in the sun and breezes.  These audacious actions on Mama Pearl’s part are loudly protested by Bubba and Beau, but…in the end…everyone is sweet-smelling and reunited and happy once more.

A charming little story, just right for the youngest lap-snugglers.  You will recognize Arthur Howard as the illustrator of the Mr. Putter and Tabby series. His sunny, bright watercolors exude happiness.  This is a keeper!

Tom and Pippo and the Bicycle, written and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Tom is a handsome, sturdy fellow in denim coveralls; his constant companion is a little stuffed monkey named Pippo.  There are quite a number of Tom and Pippo stories by the one-and-only Helen Oxenbury, and your toddler will surely grow up more happily by making their acquaintance!

In this short-and-sweet adventure, Tom is enjoying riding his tricycle (which he calls a bicycle…I guess we all like to dream!), and decides to try to give Pippo a ride.  But, Pippo falls off!  Oh, dear!  Luckily, Tom’s older friend, Stephanie, stops by.  She’s got a sweet new bike with a carrier for her teddy, and the ingenuity to set up a fantastic rig for Pippo as well. Ahhhh….

Simple joys.  Simple story.  Brilliant illustrations.  Perfect plot for the 2-year-old crowd.  I am in love with Tom.

Miss Mouse’s Day, story and illustrations by Jan Ormerod

Prolific illustrations and just a sprinkling of words as captions make up this story.  It’s actually Miss Mouse who is narrating her day.  Miss Mouse, the perky, pink-eared, rambunctious,  long-suffering companion of a blonde preschool whirlwind. 

The two of them traipse through a busy, imaginative, playful day, jam-packed with all the non-electronic fun that my own children engaged in and which is lovingly presented in these vivid, cheery pictures.  Hoorah!  Breakfast and washing up, art work and dress up.  Then outdoors we go for a picnic lunch, slides and grass and wheelbarrows and sand piles and mud…cavorting in the fresh air right up until twilight has settled in and it’s time for a bath and some winding down with a story before bed.  Jolly good.

I love Jan Ormerod’s attention to the ordinary, exquisite details of children’s lives,  her love of simple pleasures, and her ability to express through her paintings the warmth and sweet affection between family members.

“Bonting,” from The Big Alfie Out of Doors Storybook, written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes

This is truly one of our family’s favorite stories.  It’s one of a collection of gems in this fabulous storybook.

One day, Alfie finds a stone in his back yard.  It’s a just-right stone — smooth; gray; the perfect size for his hand.  After examining it, and pocketing it, and carrying it about all day, in fact, this little rock has become a dear friend, deserving of a name.  Alfie names him:  Bonting.

Soon Alfie decides Bonting needs some clothes.  Bonting is a difficult shape to fit, Mom remarks, but she does her best and soon Bonting has a smart green-and-black striped bathing suit.  And hat. 

When Alfie and his family go to the seaside,  however, Bonting turns up missing at day’s end, precipitating an all-out search for that Very Special Rock…on the seashore…among thousands of other stones, and rock pools, and sand.  Oof.  As the sun is setting and Dad finally says they’ve got to go home without Bonting, the tears begin to flow in earnest.   How will Mom and Dad manage this very sad loss?  And what surprising role does Annie Rose play in the end?

What can I say?  It’s Shirley Hughes.  Perfect plot.  Perfect illustrations.  We have definitely had Bontings in our household, complete with clothing accessories, as well as frantic searches for other Bonting-esque essentials.  Haven’t you?!  This book contains several other magical stories and a handful of Hughes’ poems, all featuring Alfie and Annie Rose.  Gobble them up!

Ira Sleeps Over, written and illustrated by Bernard Waber

Ira is ecstatic.  He’s been invited for a sleep-over at his friend Reggie’s house!  His first sleep-over! 

His happiness comes to an abrupt halt, however, when his Unhelpful Big Sister asks him, “Are you taking your teddy bear along?”  Ira immediately scoffs at the very idea.  Bring his teddy bear?  Hah!  Of course not!  But when his pesky sister reminds him that he’s never slept without teddy before, Ira begins to worry very much about how this whole sleep-over thing is going to go.

Back and forth, back and forth, Ira changes his mind about What To Do.  As soon as he resolves to take the teddy, his sister brings up more potential problems, such as the fact that his teddy’s name is Tah Tah…a silly, baby name…and what will Reggie think about that?!

This is a hilarious, but honest story that has tickled many a funny bone since it was written in the very hip year of 1972.  The black line and wash illustrations evoke chic urban 1970s style.  The pacing of the story is augmented by the text lay-out.  This one is a bit longer, and the characters are a bit older.  Great for early elementary children.  Our copy is very well worn!

Here are Amazon links for these five titles:
Bubba and Beau, Best Friends
Tom and Pippo and the Bicycle
Miss Mouse’s Day
The Big Alfie Out of Doors Storybook
Ira Sleeps Over Book & CD (Read Along Book & CD)