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!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 169: Hondo & Fabian

Hondo & Fabian was a gift from the ever-generous Uncle Jeff, whom we have to thank for many of the favorites that make up our home library.  He also got us the equally wonderful sequel, Fabian Escapes, at the same time, so I figured it made sense to recommend both in the same post.  I was immediately struck by the books' beautiful illustrations, and knew that both my son and daughter would love reading about these adorable, soft, portly pets.  The story in Hondo & Fabian is sweet and simple:  Hondo, the dog, goes on an adventure to the beach with his friend, while Fabian, the cat, stays home.  In Fabian Escapes, the roles are reversed and Fabian spends the day exploring his neighborhood while Hondo relaxes at home.  In both stories, we also meet the baby of the household, who loves to play dress up with the pets (much to their dismay) and feed crackers to Hondo from her high chair.
I've actually been having a hard time figuring out just how to describe these books and why we enjoy them so much, since the stories are so simple in and of themselves.  There is no fancy language or descriptive details; just a gently playful story with gorgeous illustrations.  The illustrations are really what make the book for me.  I have no idea how Peter McCarty manages to create such a soft, beautiful effect using only colored pencils on watercolor paper, but his artwork is amazing.  (Definitely Caldecott-honor-worthy, if you ask me.)

The other thing I love most about this story is the way it portrays the charming antics of those cute, carefree pets.  I had a cat and a dog growing up, and I can't help but think of them every time I read these stories.  My dog, also a retriever, loved playing in the waves and stealing butter off the counter like Hondo.  My cat loved exploring the outdoors and getting into mischief like Fabian.  I think my kids love these stories mostly because they love animals, especially dogs and cats, but also because they find the simple pleasures Hondo and Fabian enjoy throughout the book to be rather silly.  My son loves how Fabian lies on the windowsill, and how he stops to smell the flowers in the garden... and eats them.   Perhaps this is really why I love these books. Their plots are based around the little things in life -- playing in the waves, exploring the backyard, unrolling a roll of toilet paper -- in which children (and pets) find so much joy.

These books are probably best suited to toddlers and preschoolers, but emerging readers might enjoy reading them on their own, as well.  I also think these stories would be great in board book form for the littlest of readers.  We love curling up to read Hondo & Fabian and Fabian Escapes before bed, and hope that you will, too.


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