Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 123: Magnus Maximus, A Marvelous Measurer

I'll admit it.  I sometimes judge a book by its cover.  Or at least, I decide to pick it up based on its cover.  Such was the case the other day when I saw Magnus Maximus, A Marvelous Measurer, standing along the top of the library bookshelves in the new titles section.  There was something wonderfully intriguing about the cover illustration, and I added it to our pile of books to check out without even opening it or reading a few pages.  Another reason I picked up this book is that my son loves to measure things around our house with a tape measure -- his trucks, the couch, his arm, his sister -- so I naturally thought of my own little marvelous measurer when I saw it.  I read this book for the first time by myself later that evening after my son had gone to sleep, since he had chosen other titles to read at bedtime that night.  As soon as I finished the story, I loved it.  I couldn't wait to read it with my son the next day.  (He now loves it, too.)  I secretly hoped there would be more.  It's not that the book is incomplete or ends abruptly, but because I wanted more lovely images in my mind of Magnus Maximus appreciating the beauty of the world around him.  Magnus Maximus is indeed a marvelous measurer.  He particularly loves to measure extraordinary things: "wetness and dryness, nearness and farness, and everything else in between." He loves to count things, too, from the clouds in the sky to the petals on a geranium.  When the town makes Magnus its official measurer, he finds himself measuring even more things.  The wobbliness of a jellyfish.  The itchiness of an itch.  The stinkiest socks.  In fact, Magnus is so consumed by his daily (and nightly) measurements, that he misses much of what is going on around him.  "Whenever his friends invited him over to dinner, he was so busy counting the number of peas in the stew or cherries in the pie, that he never noticed the smiles in their eyes, or the tears in their voices."  When Magnus accidentally breaks his glasses and is unable to measure anything, he doesn't know what to do... until a young boy takes his hand and shows him there is far more to life than that which can be measured.  There are so many things I love about this story.  Most of all, I love its message that no matter how busy life can get, we must never forget to slow down and take time to appreciate the simple things in life that make the world so beautiful.   Feel the icy cold of the ocean on our feet.  Build a sandcastle.  Watch the sun set.  Gaze at the stars.  I love that it is the innocent, joyful nature of a child that first changes Magnus' perspective on the world, and that this all begins by the sea, a place which, to me, is inherently rejuvenating and peaceful.  There are some gorgeous descriptions throughout this book, such as "the butterfly that danced by on apricot wings," and "the snugness of a hand in a hand," which only add to the overall beauty of this story.   And of course, there are the amazing illustrations, which led me to pick up this book in the first place.  S.D. Schindler's artwork is masterfully detailed, and I am reminded of Erin Stead's illustrations that I love so much in A Sick Day for Amos McGee.  (This book is Caldecott-nominee-worthy, too, in my opinion.)  If you are looking for a fabulous new story to read with your child, this is one you will not want to miss.   


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