15 April 2009

Hello Kitty Hello Playtime!: Outdoor Fun Kit Hello Kitty Hello Playtime!: Outdoor Fun Kit

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Some would say that I, at 29, am too old for Hello Kitty. They would be wrong. Dead wrong. Neville-Chamberlain-“peace-in-our-time” wrong. As a practicing khairailurophile (a term of my own coinage, meaning roughly “greeting-cat-lover”), I’ve got clothes and tchotchkes galore—in fact, I recently redecorated my bathroom with accoutrements honoring my favorite bow-wearin’ Japanese goodwill ambassador. (My brother’s gonna love it when he comes home from college this summer.)
So I’m 100% behind this adorable, practical kit, which uses Hello Kitty’s Svengali-like power for noble ends: getting kids outside and playing! It includes sidewalk chalk (Mark Bradshaw’s favorite), a yo-yo, a jump rope, an inflatable ball, and a color-in storybook about the joys of open-air frolicking. Pair it with Fancy Nancy’s latest—all about exploring nature—and you’ll have trouble keeping even the girliest girl inside this summer!

Little Oink Little Oink

by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Jen Corace are a winning combination: their previous collaborations “Little Pea” (about a wee vegetable who has to eat all his candy—yuck!—before he can have spinach for dessert) and “Little Hoot” (about a young owl who wishes he could go to bed early like all his friends, and didn’t have to stay up and play) are my go-to picture books for three- or four-year-olds, kids who are just beginning to understand the humor in topsy-turvy stories. Their latest, “Little Oink,” continues the laughs, with the tale of a piglet whose least favorite time of day is “mess up time,” when, at his parents’ behest, he has to unmake his bed, unfold his clothes, and muddy up his T-shirt. Even that’s not enough, says Papa Pig: “I still see toys in their bin, mister. Please—not another word until this room’s a total pigsty.” Only after he’s untidied to Papa & Mama’s specifications can he play his favorite game—house! Where he gets to sweep and scour and scrub as much as he wants. With whimsical, colorful illustrations (Papa Pig’s mustache is a hoot) and a sneaky message about delayed gratification, this is a great read-aloud for clutterful little ones.

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