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!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 146: Leonardo the Terrible Monster

My son has officially entered the "afraid of monsters" phase of childhood.  Every night before bed, we do a thorough monster check in his room, looking under the bed, in the closet, behind the curtains, and anywhere one might be hiding.  We reassure him, of course, that there is no such thing as monsters (and that even if there was, we would certainly never let them in the house), but still recognize that his fear is real and shouldn't be dismissed with this response alone.  He finds some comfort in the fact that we used to be afraid of monsters when we were little, too, but he still has his doubts.  (I don't tell him that to this day, I won't sleep with an arm hanging off of the bed.)  Fortunately, W now has a new friend to help keep the monsters away at night:  Leonardo the Terrible Monster!  We received this book along with a plush Leonardo the other day from the oh-so-generous Uncle Jeff.  A big thanks also needs to go out to friend of the blog Sharon Cerasoli, who recommended this book to us in the first place when she heard about our monster-fearing phase.   Leonardo is a TERRIBLE monster... terrible at being a monster, that is.  Try as he might, he simply cannot scare anyone.  He doesn't have 1,642 teeth like Tony, and isn't just plain weird like Hector.  Then one day, Leonardo gets an idea.  "He would find the most scaredy-cat kind in the whole world... and scare the tuna salad out of him!"  When he sneaks up on the unsuspecting Sam and the boy begins to cry, Leonardo is ecstatic.  He has finally scared the tuna salad out of someone!  Or did he?  When Sam launches into the list of things he is sad about, Leonardo makes a big decision and decides that perhaps being a wonderful friend is more important than being a terrible monster.  This story is cute, silly, and kind of heart-warming all at the same time, and we just love it!

Leonardo the Terrible Monster is classic Mo Willems, with simple, expressive illustrations and enough silliness to keep little readers giggling out loud even after the book has ended.  I love the way Willems uses empty space, font styles, and image scale on each page to help create the emotion of the story, and the subtle message about understanding in this book is wonderful, too.  It's the humor in his stories that we love most, though.  My son thinks scaring the tuna salad out of someone is one of the most hilarious things he has ever heard, and his fits of laughter that accompany each reading of this book make my heart happy.  He's been reciting the silliest parts of the story aloud to himself a lot while playing lately, too, which is always a sign that a book is hit.  My little girl adores this story, as well, and just loves to say, "Boo!... Aaahhh!!" over and over when she plays with the plush Leonardo. We still have to do our nightly monster checks, but I think we've managed to convince W that Leonardo will keep any other monsters away while he sleeps.  Whether your little reader is afraid of monsters or simply loves a silly story, this is one you will want to look for on your next trip to the library.


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