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, February 9, 2013

Day 189: King Jack and the Dragon

One evening last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the library alone.  Yes, alone!  Granted, it was 7:30pm and I was simply stopping by to return some books that were due that day, but even so, my brief visit was lovely.  Don't get me wrong, I love taking my kids to the library, but that night, I reveled in my opportunity to browse the shelves in uninterrupted silence.  Of course, I still spent my whole 15 minutes of solitude in the children's section.  Where else would I be?  I knew my kids would be excited to read some new books that night at bedtime, and with a big storm on the way, I knew I would be eager to have some new stories to snuggle up and read with them by the fire.  As I passed by the first shelf, this book instantly caught my eye.  Dragons?  I'll take it!  (We're in a huge dragon phase in my house right now.)  As I often do, I judged this book solely by its cover and title, though as soon as I saw that it was illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (of We're Going on a Bear Hunt fame), I felt confident that I wouldn't be disappointed. To the librarian who re-shelved this book right at the end of the row so that it happened to be in plain sight, thank you!!!  Both my children and I instantly fell in love with this adorable story, and my daughter (2.5) has asked to read it every night and naptime since.  (Ever the admiring little sister, she follows her brother's lead and loves knights and dragons, too.)

King Jack and the Dragon is a delightful story that is bound to remind you of your own childhood adventures.  The playful text rhymes wonderfully, and Helen Oxenbury's illustrations are beautifully charming, as always.  There is a certain Where the Wild Things Are quality about this book, too, which I just love.  "Jack, Zack, and Caspar were making a den -- a mighty great fort for King Jack and his men.  A big cardboard box, an old sheet and some sticks, a couple of trash bags, a few broken bricks, a fine royal throne from a ragged old quilt, a drawbridge, a flag -- and the castle was built."  The three valiant knights spend their day fighting dragons and protecting their stronghold, until, alas, giants (of the mommy and daddy variety) come to take the wee young knights home to bed.  I love the way this story captures the pure beauty of childhood creativity and imagination, and hope it inspires both children and their parents to get back to the basics and just play.  (Never underestimate the entertainment value of a cardboard box!)  We find it particularly perfect for bedtime, but it's a wonderful read at any time of day.  The next time you're at the library, take a look on the "B" shelf for King Jack and the Dragon.  It's one great story that you won't want to miss.


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