Happy Pig Day (on video!)

I had this great idea but Max and Calvin had their own plans.

One way I get them to practice reading is “suggest” they each take on a character in a book.  This works with Mo Willem’s delightful  Elephant & Piggie books.

They love this so much,  I thought it would be cool if I could record them reading  Happy Pig Day! for this blog.

But when we would read, they would get really wound up, make funny voices and laugh hysterically. I would try to get them to “be serious.”

What was I thinking?

I realized I had to let go and quit trying to stage manage them. The end result is so much better when they are being themselves.

So here it is – scroll ahead to 1:03 if you want to see Calvin joyfully cracking up.

And do yourself a favor – adults and kids – go get an Elephant & Piggie book.

Two goofballs read Happy Pig Day from julia mace on Vimeo.

Before you do your holiday shopping..

One of the best Christmas presents I ever received was the Little House on the Prairie set. It was a gift I enjoyed for years and still do since I recently pulled them out with my own kids.

Before you head out with your holiday shopping list, I asked Max and Calvin for their input:

Max’s holiday picks:

  • Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski
    “It shows what people eat and what animals they love. It shows what sports they play.” A
    ll ages.

Calvin and Max check out Maps.

Calvin’s holiday picks:

  • Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson “People might like it because they might like the roller derby.” 7 and up.
  • Happy Pig Day! by Mo Willems
    “I love it because it is very funny and I love doing the voices.” (Look out for a future blog post on this one.) All ages.

Calvin loved Roller Girl and I did too!

The three of us agreed on:

  • I am Helen Keller by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
    It’s amazing to read the story of Helen Keller and the book has braille in it. All of Meltzer’s books are winners. All ages.

My suggestions, Max and Calvin approved:

  • The Night Gardner by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
    This book is beautiful! One of our favorites this year. All ages.
  • The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
    A lovely tale about a girl and her grandfather. We adore this book, illustrated by the author of Mr. Frank. All ages.

The Imaginary Garden is a sweet story about Theo and her Poppa.

For ages 1 month to 100:

Anything by Todd Parr or Mo Willems.

Do you have any memories of books you received? What are your ideas for the holiday gifts?

Stuffed animals are a kids best friend

Me and Duck in our salad days - the 70s. My brother and Henry were close too.

Me and Duck in our salad days – the 70s. My brother and his dog Henry were close too.

My best friend growing up was a duck. A stuffed duck named………Duck. My Duck appears in all our family Christmas photos, traveled on trips, and earned me a nickname from a friend’s family…you guessed it, Duck. And yes, I still have him; he has a place of honor in my bedroom. But I no longer sleep with him, I gave that up in my 20s.

I’m proud to say my boys are followed my lead. Max’s best friend is a stuff lion named Lion. He’s often tells me, “I love you mama, but Lion is my best friend.” Calvin’s favorite stuffed creature is Little Orange Lion.

The Lions go everywhere, are well loved, and look a little gross. And yes, they have met my Duck. Sometimes they have secret meetings when we are all asleep.

Max’s Lion was a gift when I was pregnant. Max wraps him presents at Christmas (toys that we already own) and recently made him a birthday card. Word is that he’s 45. Sometimes Max makes him take a nap. Recently, he ended up at the swimming pool where he was forced to sit on the side.

Lion hangs at the pool.

Lion hangs at the pool.

Little Orange Lion was picked out by Calvin when he was gifted some birthday money last year. He already had the identical toy who became Little Orange Lion’s Mama. She does not live the life that Little Orange does. Calvin makes her stay home and wait for her offspring.

Little Orange Lion is naughty. He hides when he needs to take a bath. He also takes clandestine trips; he once went on a school field trip secretly stuffed in Calvin’s jacket.

When we discovered Mo Willems’ book Knuffle Bunny Too, A Case of Mistaken Identity, we hit the stuffed animal jackpot. (We were already Willems fans – if you don’t know about Elephant and Piggy or the Pigeon series, do yourself a favor and read them. Adults too.)

Trixie has a favorite bunny Knuffle, that she brings to school for show and tell. She gets to school and Sonja has the same bunny! A fight ensues. The teacher takes the bunnies until the end of the day and then they are returned. Willems’ illustrations are cleverly placed in real life settings: a school, a home, and New York City!

Trixie and Sonja lose their bunnies.

Trixie and Sonja lose their bunnies.

In the middle of the night, both girls realize they have the WRONG bunnies. Their bleary-eyed fathers trapse across town for the switch. The next day, the girls and the bunnies begin a beautiful friendship.

This book is funny and perfect for all of us who have had that favorite stuffed animal.

At this very the moment, Little Orange Lion is under the care of the U.S. Postal Service. He decided to stay in New Jersey for a few more days of vacation. Imagine my relief when he was found.

What was your favorite stuffed animal?

Calvin and Little Orange Lion get real in Florida.

Calvin and Little Orange Lion get real in Florida.

Where to find the book and other info

Powell’s sells Knuffle Bunny Too.  You can also buy Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. (We need to read this one.)

Check out all things Mo Willems.