First snow

Here where we live, today came the first snow. To celebrate Saint Andrew day and the begining of the winter season. I took out all our books about snow and winter. Dear books, that we collected for the last 6 years .

So, until we will decorate the Christmas tree, I decorated my daughter library with these precious ornaments.

Enjoy!

Baby first library: board books for children 0-3 years and more

Baby board books

As a first time parent, all around you is new, happing very fast and overwhelming. You grow as parent at the same pace as your baby grows, but you are the one responsable for him, so the pressure is really big. And you try to go with your instincts, but sometimes it is not enough. Adding the society induced guilt or the feeling you constant have that you are doing it all wrong, it’s not an easy job. The grandmas who did it their way and “look, you are fine!” don’t help much either. Or the others mums who put pressure or begin every unasked advice with “But listen, why don’t you do….?”

So, after a little sobbing, you put yourself together and start looking for solutions. And you read all it interest you and take online courses and watch youtube presentations and reviews and all the “best of the best” tops you can find.

But lots of them are a little too official or too impersonal. The lady presenting the magic diapers doesn’t have a single child. Or the parenting guru with 3 children raised by nannies or grandmas, is she the best to tell you, a fulltime mama, what is the best approch to everything? Maybe yes or maybe not.

When all of this is not helping either, you look for a more tailored solution. A experienced story from someone who actually lived it before you; or a product tried by a person you know or at least had the same journey you had. And if this won’t help, at least you have a someone to point your dissapointment at.

I will begin this series of tailored experiences with the begging: baby first books. I read to my daughter everything, since she was in my womb. They, I researched a lot and start making list and wishlist and top best books of all time. And now, at almost 6yo, she has hundreds of books, from ones of the best authors and illustrators of all times. Some are in English and some in Romanian, our mother tongue language. We still have 90% of them, because she likes to read them from time to time.

All the experts say that at first, a baby sees the world around him in black and white. At first only shadows and contours, then he is able to see the entire object or person in front of him. So, natural and adapted to their development, the first books that we should introduce to them, are in the same chromatic and form: black and white, with clear and simple contours of object, people and animals. And then we can move to sensorial books, with lift the flap options, for the little hands to explore and discover. Books with sound (but attention, not too loud or scary sound, you risk traumatizing your child!). Books with rimes and repetitive words and sounds.

Board books are a great choice because they are sturdy and the child can chew on them without the risk of choking or shallowing paper or cardboard. And the endurance factor is a key one, since they are not so easily to break or bent.

Our selection of board baby books is not the largest one, but it can be a starting point for your baby first library.

I will start with (who else could I start with?) … the one and only Eric Carle!

Eric Carle was born in 1929 in Syracuse, New York, and for the last 45 years has written and illustrated tens of books for young children. He is best known for one’s of his first books, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. It is a beautiful book about nature, transformation, friendship, counting, learning numbers and also fruits and food.

Eric Carle The very hungry caterpillar

The first renewed book he ever illustrated was “Brown bear, brown bear what do you see?” with lyrics by Bill Martin jr.

From his work we also have “The Grounchy Ladybug”, a book that teaches young children about kindness and giving and the power of friendship. Also it teaches them time and different animals.

Eric Carle The Grounchy Ladybug

Another great book that he wrote is called “Dream Snow”. Is about an old man who loves his animals very much. And in the evening before Christmas he prepares a gift for every one of them and goes out and puts ornament in the only tree he has and leaves the presents for the 5 animals under the tree.

Eric Carle The Dream Snow

“Papa, please get the moon for me” is a gentle book about a father’s love for his daughter. Who will do anything for her, even bring her the big old moon. And there are many more other great titles by Eric Carle to choose from for you to read with your baby.

The next remarcable author to choose from as a first reading to your baby it could be David A. Carter. He has a lot of funny pop-up books, “Yellow square” is the most famous. In the same tehnique is the seasons series that contains “Spring”, “Summer”, “Autumn” and “ Winter”. His books are very attractive for the young readers. And are also very interactive, quality that makes them a favourite in any little child library.

B is for Box The Happy Little Yellow Box A Pop -up book by David A. Carter

I will mention then the book by P.D.Eastman “Go, dog, go!”. I had it on the wishlist for so long, that when time came to actually buy it for my daughter, she was a little too big for it. But she can read it all by herself, so it was a win after all. And, at one page we can also see the little bird from “Are you my mother?”, another lovely book by P.D. Eastman that we still read at almost 6 yo.

P.D. Eastman Go, dog, go!

Christie Matheson has another beautiful board books series about action and effect, seasons, nature, the changes in nature as the times passes. Is the “Tap the magic tree” book and the “Touch the brightest star” we have by this author. At every page the child is encouraged to do something ( clap his hands, blow, touch an element) and on the nect page he can see the change, the effect of his action.

Christie Matheson Tap the magic tree

I think that the next author, Maurice Sendak, needs no introduction. Renewed author and prize winner, his book “Where the wild things are” is an all time bestselling book for children. “Chicken soup with rice” is a lovely calendar book in rimes for smaller babies, each month is depicted in simple and yet expressive rimes, that the little readers will love to hear over and over again. And, of course, he will learn that the chicken soup with rice is a must in every month of the year.

Maurice Sendak Chicken soup with rice

Ladybird publishing house has a lot of wonderful titles for children of all ages. We have a Ladybug with Peppa pig, that was one’s of my daughter favorite’s character for years.

At last I want to talk about Usborne publishing. Their collection of books is the most impressive: activity books, baby books, sensorial books, books with sound or wind toys, puzzle books, art books. For ages between 0 to young adult, so you have a very wide range to choose from. Which can be overwhelming, I know, for a first time parent. I bought the first book with sound from Usborne when I was pregnant with my daughter. It had 4 sturdy cardbord pages, each with a different sound from an animal or object ( monkey, duck, car, sheep). My daughter was terrified by all the noise, but loved the images. I took out the batteries and she “read” the book daily for an year or so. But she had a more bigger problem with loud sounds at that age, so I wouldn’t blame Usborne for her being scare of the sounds. Then, at 2-3 yo, she asks us to put the batteries back on so she can listen to the sounds. She also received a very nice sensory book from Usborne, but now, if she were a baby again, I wouldn’t invest much in sensory books. You can offer your baby a lot of sensory stimulation from getting in contact with different materials and textures: wool, felt, fur, wood, grass, moss, beads, rice, flour, etc. Which I totaly recommend, since I saw children age 1-3 with a lot sensory issues.

Here, my daughter is helping me presenting “Night time” a peep-inside book from Usborne.

Night time A peep-inside Usborne book

We also have in our board books collection two books for older kids. One is “The night before Christmas”, by Clement C. Moore and illustration by Roger Duvoisin, the “father” of Petunia, the lovely goose all children loves. The text is a bit too long for a toddler patience, but you can at first show them the picture and talk a little about some of the ideas in the book.

Clement C. Moore and Roger Duvoisin The night before Christmas

The second one is “Leaf Jumpers” by Carole Gerber and illustrated by Leslie Evans. Is a funny book about autumn and all the sorts and shapes of leaves. And the fun the little ones have jumping in leaves piles…

Carole Gerber and Leslie Evans Leaf Jumpers

As a conclusion to a long and comprehensive text: read to your baby anything, anytime, any book. He would love the sound of your voice and the intimacy between you two. For baby books, the board boks are more likely to resist and not to hurm the baby ( cuts in the paper, chewing on it, etc).

You don’t have to invest a lot at first. Buy a small selection at first and see his reaction. You can also buy them preowned, are easily to desinfect since the cardboard is sturdy and not affected if you weap it clean with an antibacterial napkin. When the baby is older and doesn’t show interest in the books, you can give them to other babies ( wich we did) or sell them to buy books for older children.

Enjoy!

New book release

WHAT WE’LL BUILD

Plans for our together future

Text and illustrations Oliver Jeffers

Harper Collins Children’s Book, 2020

I saw the presentation for this new Oliver Jeffers book sometime in the summer. Back then the pandemy was “slowing down” and I though that it would make a beautiful birthday present for our “dada”.

It was supposed to be a symbol of his love for our daughter, the time they spend together, reading, laughing, playing. Dreaming and building memories. To be cherrish for a lifetime.

So, I ordered it and it arrived last week, just in time to be offered to the birthday boy… and since Oliver Jeffers, one of the greatest illustrators and children’s books authors, is one of our favourite author, this new book will be a great addition to our collection.

It might seem just another classic story about a father’s love for his daughter. In fact the book is dedicated to Mary, the author’s daughter. But is not. It is tribute and a dedication for all the fathers and daughters of the world that aren’t so lucky. To get through this hard present and to be able to dream and build a better future.

The illustration is beautiful and simple, yet very expressive, as in all of Jeffers books.

It allows the reader to “see” beyond the drawing in each page and to imagine new and fantastic worlds and adventures. To dream a future, a better one.

The rimes are short and very well built, since is not so easy to compose rimes that actually have a deep meaning. And are easy to remember for the little readers.

We can try as hard as we can to build fortresses and places to hide us from all the exterior attacks ( viruses, big bad witches or pirates). But the reality is that all the “weapons” we need to protect ourselves are within us: the love, the care for our wellbeing, the memories, the great effort to get all our work done.

The author thinks that we are only free to dream a future when we are not facing a hard and frightening present. Which so many of us are facing right now.

I let you discover the book in your own pace and meaning. All I can add is that this is a book that all Oliver Jeffers fans have to read it. Especially the little girls that love to build small or big memories and things with their dads.

What we’ll build by Oliver Jeffers

Povestea a doi pui de tigru, numiti Ninigra si Alegru de Nina Cassian – recenzie de carte

Despre Nina Cassian este o mare onoare sa scriu. A fost o mare onoare sa o si citesc. Pentru ca Nina Cassian a fost si va ramane una dintre cele mai cunoscute si talentate poete din Romania. Si eseista, traducatoare si compozitoare. Si pentru ca a fost poate una dintre cele mai cunoscute si apreciate autoare romance in strainatate. Daca nu pentru operele ei, macar pentru viata ei sentimentala mult prea tumultoasa pentru unii “critici” din acele timpuri.

Povestea a doi pui de tigru, numiti Ninigra si Alegru este un poem in unsprezece capitole, aparut pentru prima oara in 1969. Cartea a fost reeditata in 2010 la Ed. Cartile Tango si apoi in 2018, la editura Frontiera, beneficiind de ilustratia semnata Karda Zenko, cunoscuta publicului roman din colaborarea cu Alec Blenche, Eniko Szabo, Ioana Chicet Macoveiciuc sau datorita ilustratiilor realizate pentru revista Fabulafia.

Povestea celor doi pui de tigru, numiti Ninigra si Aligru este un omagiu adus povestii de dragoste dintre autoare si sotul ei, Al.I. Stefanescu, poveste care a durat 36 de ani, pana la moartea acestuia.

Inainte de orice alt merit, istorisirea aceasta frumos mestesugita este compusa in versuri foarte expresive, cu rime si sensuri ascunse, dar care insa ii captiveaza pe micii ascultatori.

Am urmarit-o pe autoare, intr-o inregistrare video din arhiva TVR, recitind celor mici povestea puilor de tigru. Ce voce impunatoare si ce prezenta! M-a fascinat cu totul, atata stapanire de sine si cunoastere a propriei valori rar intalnite.

Cartea ii are ca eroi pe doi pui de tigru unul mai diferit ca celalalt, dar care totusi se intalnesc in jungla si vor ramane prieteni pe viata. Autoarea ne povesteste peripetiile prin care trec cei doi pui, ratacirea lor prin jungla, rapirea Ninigrei de catre maimute, aventurile lui Aligru prin mlastina, perioada in care Ninigra este prizoniera imparatesei Miorlau si a cetei ei de pisici, evadarea si regasirea lor la iarmaroc.

Ca orice poveste frumoasa are un final pe masura, care ni se dezvaluie abia in epilog: cei doi eroi vor ramane impreuna, vor face o nunta ca in … povesti si vor avea 10 pui mititei.

Asadar totul este bine cand se termina cu bine. Si aici se termina si recenzia mea.

Daca ati citit-o, sa va fie de folos si va spun doar atat: Mersigru!

Povestea a doi pui de tigru, numiti Ninigra di Aligru

Wedding cakes and the perfect husband

It’s almost bedtime and we read from a book about her favorite character, Paddington. Tonight we read a chapter in wich all the grown-ups go to a wedding and the little bear remains all alone at home. He doesn’t like going to weddings, maybe he would go for the wedding cake. But they promised they will bring him a slice or two.

She tells me that she likes weddings and wedding cakes and that she remembers when we went to that wedding last year and how good where the sweets on the table by the entrance in the restaurant.

I smile, with a smile that is not actually mine. I don’t remember what wedding we went last year!

⁃ The wedding with a big globe above the ring dance, mama! Where I met the little girl and we dance all three of us. And we took a photo in front of a big red heart. Remember mama?

⁃ Oh, yes! I remember now! When you didn’t let me dance alone with your daddy…

⁃ Because I was a little nervous … weddings makes me like that… But the sweets were so good!

⁃ Your wedding also will make you a little nervous and emotional. All of us will be like that. And you will have the best sweets and wedding cake in the whole world!

⁃ I don’t want to get marry mama!

⁃ Why not, baby?

⁃ Because I don’t know if I will find a perfect husband! You did! You married a perfect husband!

⁃ Well, you have at list 20 years ahead to find one, so don’t worry about that now! And dada is perfect, right?

⁃ Yes, he is! He plays with me and give me sweets and we watch movies together and we eat porcorn…

⁃ I meant perfect for me, baby…

⁃ He is perfect for you also mama, we are the most perfect love sandwich in the world! I should tell Paddington that, he loves sandwiches!

Pumpkins and turkeys and giving thanks

When your daughter likes pumkins and Hallowen and Thanksgiving dinners (even if you don’t live in the USA) what can you do?

You buy her books about it and you read them together. And you carve pumpkins and make costumes for Hallowen and you go trick or treat with her.

And then she will make the Thanksgiving menu and ask you to include some turkey in it and some gravy, of course. And corn and potatoes. But not sweet potatoes, she doesn’t like sweet potatoes. And of course, a pumpkin pie she will help making. And some edamame, she loves edamame. What if they are not traditional? Since she is making the menu, she can put anything she wants on it.

And then she will repeat the menu daily, in case you have a bad memory. I don’t have.

And then we will have a small Thanksgiving dinner, just the three of us, because we will be on a lockdown by then. But hey, it was a fun autumn, full of stories about pumpkins and turkeys and everything!

Pumkins and Thanksgiving stories

Designer … everything

It’s a sunny and beautiful Sunday, 1st of November. After a rainy and chilly Hallowen evening, now the sun and the good weather have made a lot of families go out for a walk. The park is full, in a way it was never full before the Covid-19 pandemy.

My daughter is making mud “meatballs”, there is plenty mud after the last day rains. I prefer to stay on a bench and enjoy the sun, along with her father. On the alley before the bench we stay on walks a father with two daughters, one my daughter’s age and the other one around 9-10 yo. They wear protective masks, all three of them. The oldest daughter is having a very passionate dialog with her father.

A “SHE” person thinks that Gucci is a better brand than Balenciaga, even though she had explained her that is not true! Balenciaga is a more calitative brand than Gucci, everybody knows that! But maybe the “SHE” person they are talking about doesn’t have any Balenciaga clothes and that’s why she thinks that! The father doesn’t respond anything ( what can he respond afterall?) but touch her blonde and curly long hair as they move along on the alley.

I laugh, a rude and almost nervous laugh. And then my daughter comes with her mud meatballs, that she is serving us with some “salad” from a green bush she found. She is happy, as always, with her hands all dirty from the “mud kitchen” and her hair all messed up by the wind. Her sneakers have some mud also on them. We thanks her for the treats and she goes back to her play.

I’m having a strong feeling I’m not a good mother at all! She doesn’t know who Gucci or Balenciaga is. Well, until a decade ago I didn’t knew who they were. What if she goes to school with a fashion expert like the girl that just walked by and then my precious girl will become the “SHE” person in some other girl’s story? I mean, I can be the “SHE” person, I don’t have any Balenciaga clothes. Or Gucci… I had a fantasy with a LV backpack for a while, but since you can get a “better than original” made in China copy, I let it go.

And one more thing: Gucci, Prada, Louis, why don’t you make some designer protective masks? I mean, come on now, the girl was wearing a simple blue mask. God only knows who designed it!

If you give a mouse a cookie by Laura Numeroff – book review

I had this book, in fact the whole “If you give…” series by Laura Numeroff, on the children books wishlist since my daughter was 2 or 3 years old.

The years passed, she was almost 5 and other books had priority. Until the last november at Bookfest, when I saw it as a new release from ones of the biggest publishing house here in Romania, Arthur.

And, because I coudn’t go myself to the Bookfest, I sent her godfather, who was going, a list with the books I wanted for her. Since the holiday season was approaching and then her birthday he wanted to buy her also some books from the list. One of them was this. And so we got to finally met this lovely character that soon became a favourite of my daughter.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not like mice. In our culture they are pets, in my grandparents house there were traps and poison for them all over the place. And when a field mouse would enter the summer house or the main one, it would be a very bad day for everyone!

Not even the romanian children books or folk stories don’t have them as characters. There are dogs and cats and chickens and goats and pigs. Even the big bad old wolf is. But no mice. So imagine my surprise when I started buying international children books and I found them all over.

But let’s get back to our book …

This little mouse has a lot of demands and adventures and I get why the kids may feel like they could have the same experiences. Because sometimes they do. All experiences from the book, except a haircut or moping the floor ( which will be very helpful) but the rest, oh yes!

And, at the end of a day, you will also feel exhausted, just like the little boy in the book is. But the goog news is that, if you have just a little bit of energy left in your body after you finish reading the book, you can take part at the Greatest race of cookies!

And who wins gets all the cookies in the house! And then asks for a glass of milk and then…

Then you get to play with your best friend and to eat an extra cookie before going to bed. Which we did.

And what about you? Have you ever gave a mouse a cookie?

The big race with cookies

School in time of Covid-19

We’re back in online now. And, beside all the tehnicalities that can go wrong (and sometimes they sure do) there are a lot of other aspects that can’t be ignored.

For instance, if you are a parent of 2 or more children, you must possess the following:

1. a big house, with a number of rooms, equiped with table,desk and chairs, bigger then the number of children attending online courses. And the rooms must not be too close, in order that the online classes can be held properly; the teacher and the students will talk loud.

2. a number of electronic devices on wich the lessons can be watched equal or bigger then the number of children. A spair one would be a plus, if a battery wears out or something goes wrong on one of the devices.

3. two sets of hands, heads and bodies entirely, to be fair. If the children are preschoolers or first graders, they will need some asistance on their online courses. And since the classes are generaly in the morning, if you can’t double yourself, find a helper. Or own the fact that you are serious limiting your children rights to a free mandatory education. If they attend a public preschool or school. If not, save some money for later therapy sesions, it will be needed!

4. if you are a teacher yourself, that could be a really big challenge. The biggest of all I assume. In one room of the house your kid is having his online classes, in the other you are holding yours. Top that!

5. money to pay your electricity, heating and cable bills. Imagine having online classes in a house without electricity, cable or heat. As a lot of the houses in rural Romania are.

I heard today at “radio gossip” that the Romanian Minister of Education, when asked how can the online courses can be held in a house without electricity, she replied that the children can watch the lessons on TV. I sure hope it was a misunderstanding and that the history will remember her for something else, bigger then all of that.