SAN DIEGO, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- It's too hot to play outside and the children are not ready for their nap? No problem, just pick up a book and entertain as well as enlighten them.
For the very young, 2 to 5 years old, "The Cow That Went Oink" is a fun illustration of persistence. Written and illustrated by Bernard Most, it is the story of a cow that oinks and a pig that moos. The other barnyard animals make fun of them until the cow teaches the pig to oink, and the pig teaches the cow to moo. Their efforts are fun to emulate, "Moink?" "Oimoo?" "Mook?" until they get it right, and the pig goes oink and the cow goes moo. Now they both know two different sounds and they get the last laugh. "Moo-ha" and "Oink-ha"!
Little children learn that it is not nice to laugh at others just because they're different, they learn the virtue of perseverance, and they have fun mooing and oinking along the way. I might even read the book to my (recalcitrant) college students of French, to illustrate the value of learning a foreign language.
(Voyager Books, $6.00, 40 pages)
"Tails" by Matthew Van Fleet is an activity book for children 2 to 5. They learn the names of various animals, some unusual ones - pangolin and tamarins, as well as the familiar panda and monkey. Each one has a different tail, long or short, scaly or furry, waggly or swishy. Children get to feel the different textures, lift the flap and even at the end scratch and sniff! I'll let you guess what animal that might be. And there's a counting game at the end to teach them how to count till ten.
(Red Wagon Books, $12.95, 20 pages)
"Hey, Pancakes!" was inspired by author Tamson Weston's childhood pancake breakfasts. This is her picture book debut and her story -- in rhyme -- is illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner Stephen Gammell. The kitchen is taken over by the children and their dog, and after a very messy cooking session, they enjoy a stack of yummy pancakes. The goofy illustrations show the children making a real mess in the kitchen with pancake batter and syrup everywhere, including on the dog. But don't worry, Weston includes cleanup time and the recipe for Grandma's Pancakes, as well as a reminder to wash your hands and leave the cooking to the older kids.
(Silver Whistle Books, $16.00, 32 pages)
"Little Pierre" by Robert San Souci is a Louisiana variation of the Tom Thumb stories with TiPierre outsmarting his four dumb and lazy brothers, the Swamp Ogre and the Mud Catfish, to save Marie-Louise. When the Swamp Ogre kidnaps her, the foolish brothers decide to go in search of the damsel in distress to save her. TiPierre follows them, saves them all, and leads everyone safely out of the woods, in the process winning Marie-Louise's love and her hand in marriage, as well as the reward offered by her papa. The excellent illustrations are by David Catrow, an award-winning political cartoonist and illustrator of several children's books, including San Souci's Cinderella Skeleton.
(Silver Whistle Books, $16.00, 32 pages)
It's never too early to prepare for the first day of school, and the next two books do just that. "First Day" by Dandi Daley Mackall tells - in rhyme - the story of a little girl who is apprehensive but learns to enjoy her first day at school. After considering digging her way to China with a spoon or riding a rocket to the moon, she soon learns to enjoy the various activities, including lunch, recess and storytime, and ends by saying, "How much better can it get on my second day? School...cool!" The naïf style illustrations by Tiphanie Beeke are cool. too.
(Silver Whistle, $16.00, 32 pages)
Will Hillenbrand uses a variation on the familiar nursery rhyme "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" to show what fun school can be. The little pig is scared on his first day of school and hides in the mulberry bush, but soon is having so much fun, he can't believe it's already time to go home.
"Now it's time to say good-bye,
say good-bye, say good-bye.
my first day has made me one happy guy.
I'll see you tomorrow at school."
(Gulliver Books, $15.00, 32 pages)