L is for Llama Llama Red Pajama


The only trouble with reading a bedtime rhyming story is that it works. I am sleepy! But I’ll type out what I can before my lids clamp shut.


There are a LOT of go-to-sleep picture books out there. While Llama Llama doesn’t break the mold, it asserts its uniqueness by giving us a tale of llama drama when Baby’s busy mama can’t get upstairs fast enough.  I’m sure many parents can relate to the hyperbole and appreciate the reassuring conclusion.

And on that note, goodnight everybody!


K is for Kittens (Three Little)


We’re going way back in history for today’s children’s rhyme. According to Wikipedia, “Three Little Kittens” first appeared in a collection of poems written by Eliza Lee Cabot Follen called Little Songs for Little Boys and Girls in 1833. It was later absorbed into the Mother Goose collection.

Notably, Follen’s poem is “considered a cornerstone in the shift from moral literature for children to romantic literature intended to amuse and entertain.” Follen achieved this by emphasizing “fantasy involving anthropomorphic characters, verbal play, and satirical nonsense.”

There have been many, but the picture book version of “Three Little Kittens” that I grew up with was richly illustrated by Lillian Obligado.


Mmmm, pie!

I love how expressive Obligado’s kittens are each time they deliver a report (good or bad) to their mother on the state of their mittens. There’s even an implied spanking. :-O

Where did you first encounter the “Three Little Kittens”?

I is for I’m a T. Rex!


You can’t walk two feet in the children’s section of a book store before spotting not one, but several picture books about that fearsome carnivore with the itty bitty arms: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

I found one where he roars and romps and growls and stomps, flaunting his special brand of dino stuff in Dennis R. Shealy’s rhyming picture book, I’m a T. Rex!


I like that this take on the most famous “king of the Cretaceous” (good gracious!) is both unapologetic (“I sometimes bully, but I like to fill my stomach fully”) and informative. Readers learn that this legendary lizard was hatched from an egg, hunted and ate his fellow dinosaurs, and was thought to spar with the Triceratops and others tricky-named giants. Try reading “Carcharodontosaurus” aloud to your kids, parents.

These facts are a nice bonus, but the focus remains that T. Rex bad boy charm—making this one a winner in my book.

E is for Eight Winter Nights


While it’s a bit late for the holidays, today I read Laura Krauss Melmed’s cozy Hanukkah rhyming picture book, Eight Winter Nights.


The story moves through the events characterizing each night of Hanukkah, emphasizing family togetherness and participation in symbolic traditions that include games, gifts, food, and charity. Melmed even playfully integrates Hanukkah songs into her verse.

Illustrator Ilisabeth Schlossberg bathes each evening scene in the muted glow of the menorah.

The story defers explanations and instead lets the reader bear witness to the activities as they unfold. Those (like myself) who are curious can explore the afterward in which a history of the holiday and meaning behind the traditions are explained.

This is an inviting read for Hanukkah observers as well as those curious about holiday customs they might not have grown up with.

D is for Dots (Lots of)


Okay, I’m cheating on the title a little, but am working with what I could find on short notice. The author named his children Daniel and Drew, so I think I get extra credit for extending the theme to the dedication page.

However, if you happen to know rhyming picture books that do, in fact, begin with the letter D, please shout them out!


Now we move from spots to dots in Craig Frazier’s Lots of Dots.  I love this book’s bright and simple graphics. It’s a fun introduction to shape recognition, and circles reign supreme.

I’d run out of ideas on good examples of circles in the wild, but Frazier finds them in surprising places. Drums, balloons, traffic lights, food, stars, and more are never called out by name but reduced to what they have in common (they’re all dots!) and compared to one another.

“Some dots are heavy, some dots are light, some dots are colorful, and some dots are bright.”

It would be easy to imagine snuggling with a little one and inviting him or her to identify all of the different “dots” depicted in this attractive primer.

B is for A Bear and His Boy


Animals make for amusing headwear in Sean Bryan’s popular A Boy and His Bunny and A Girl and Her Gator picture books. But in Bear and His Boy, it’s the child’s turn to play hat.


Mack the bear wakes up one day to find a boy on his back. The boy’s name is Zach. Without missing a metered beat, Mack gives Zack the skinny on his crazy schedule. (I can relate Mack. I can relate.)

Rhyming stanzas throughout end exclusively in “ack” sounds, but the story is never burdened by this device. Mack’s nutty antics, though disparate, are fun to follow.

Boy and bear dash about town, ticking off to-dos until Zach begs Mack to pause and reassess.

“The bear was taken aback. ‘Let’s stop for a second and smell the lilacs.’”

Good advice for readers big and small.