Mr. Packrat Really Wants That written by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by Kayla Stark*

This book really took us by surprise. First, I somehow got the wrong impression of this book from its description and thought it was a non-fiction book about pack rats. It’s not. Rather, it’s a really cute kids story with a fun chant (always a favorite since it means lots of chiming in) and a beautifully subtle message. Every once in a while, I stumble across a book that backs up what I’m trying to teach as a parent in a way that reaches kids so much better than all the lectures in the world.

This story is focused on the fact that acquiring stuff doesn’t make you happy. In fact, eventually the stuff can get in the way of happiness. We’ve spent the last year as a family working on “stuff,” and the kids instantly identified with and loved this book. It’s not the first book I’ve read to them with this message, but it was the one that conveyed it the best. Highly recommended!

Leo’s Monster by Marcus Pfister*

This book was a bigger hit with my youngest two than I was expecting. As an adult, it’s so clear even just from the cover what the big “twist” is going to be. And the kids knew straight away too. However, for them, knowing in advance did nothing to ruin the story. They loved the way Leo describes his “monster” and loved even more the illustrations of what Zoe imagines based on Leo’s story. Again, no suspense, but a lot of laughter and fun.

If you’ve got kids with a lot of imagination, they’d probably get a kick out of this book. My eldest is too old to be interested now, but I suspect that even at this book’s target age his more black and white mind would have found this story less entertaining than his siblings did.

Anansi and the Magic Stick written by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Janet Stevens

This has been a favorite over the last month for a similar reason to the first book if this round up: it has an amazing chant. Anansi is a trickster figure in African mythology, so I can’t really say there’s a lesson to this book, but it’s so fun to read out loud and pictures are amazing. (A great cameo in the art at one point always makes the eldest two giggle.) All the kids are amused by Anansi’s antics, and I frequently hear versions of “hocus pocus magic stick” when they’re sent to clean their rooms. Definitely a fun, modern introduction to an older myth.


*I received a free arc of this story through NetGalley in return for an honest review.