Row Row Row Your Boat

Songs like Row, Row, Row Your Boat, the ABC song, and The Itsy Bitsy Spider are among the first songs that young children learn.  When my son was turning two, he loved all forms of music and rhythms.  This was one of his favorite books – perhaps because he could sing along with it.

Row Row Row Your Boat as told and illustrated by Iza Trapani follows a bear family as they spend a day on a river.  It starts with a peaceful scene of mother, father, and two cubs – all wearing life vests – in a rowboat on a river with trees, fields, and wildlife nearby.  The book starts with the traditional first verse to the song, and adds many new verses as it follows the bear family’s progress down the river and through the day.  The bear family has a few mini adventures – dropping oars, rapids in the river, and a beaver dam that necessitates portaging the boat through the woods.

When a storm comes, with wind that blows heavy rain at an angle and lightening that flashes in the distance, the bear family finds a cozy cave-like place to wait out the storm:

Row row row your boat

Find a place that’s dry

Scurry, scuttle, hide and huddle

Til the storm blows by.

Trapani’s cheery watercolor illustrations convey the situations and mood well – sometimes adding humor to the story.  One of my son’s favorite pages shows the family with a picnic snack.  One of the cubs is feeding cookies to a large, friendly moose.  That always sent my son into fits of giggles and “uh ohs!”  Beavers, mice, a rabbit, ducks, and even a fawn are enjoying the food as the surprised parent bears walk toward the picnic spot from the boat.

The story ends on a happy note with the bear family rowing back home as the sun sets and the woodland animals look on.  Trapani includes the musical score and the nine verses at the end – very handy for those with musical talents.  This is a fun book to share and sing with young children.

Kiss Good Night

Kiss-Good-NightBedtime often is hard for young children.  Maybe it has something to do with being alone and away from their trusted grownup.  Saying goodnight, and actually staying in bed to fall asleep, was difficult for my children when they were preschooolers.

Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest (illustrated by Anita Jeram) was a bedtime favorite.  Hest’s fun text pairs beautifully with Jeram’s illustrations, giving readers a playful, cozy feel for the story and characters.

The story begins with Sam, a young bear, going to bed on a “dark and stormy night.”  His mother, Mrs. Bear, reads to him and tucks him in.  Sam is safe inside his house and his room while the wind blows and the rain comes down outside.  Mrs. Bear and Sam have a bedtime routine that involves reading, snuggling, arranging stuffed animals, and drinking warm milk.  After each step in the bedtime routine, Mrs. Bear asks Sam if he is ready now.  Sam shakes his head and says, “I’m waiting.”

After they have done all the usual things in their routine, Mrs. Bear smiles a nice bear smile and says:

“…let me think.  We’ve read

a book and made a nest,

arranged your friends,

and had warm milk.

Sam…what did I forget?”

Mrs. Bear pretends to think about it, then remembers that it is a special good night kiss.

“And she bent way down,

kissing Sam once

and twice

and then twice more.”

The story ends with Mrs. Bear saying good night and leaving the room while Sam falls asleep on that dark and stormy night.

This is a sweet book – excellent for sharing with young children at bedtime.  I confess to borrowing that special good night kiss idea a few times as well, when my not-quite-sleepy ones needed extra reassurance at bedtime.