(or, rather, what we read to her) Molly is used to having many, many books a day read to her. We knew that we'd need to take quite a few with us when we recently went away for five weeks. We knew that they'd need to be paperbacks. We knew we'd need a mix of old favorites and new things to keep it interesting. I'm going to do a few posts about some of the books that she requested over and over again. MR. PUTTER AND TABBY FEED THE FISH by Cynthia Rylant with illustrations by Arthur Howard. I often forget, while selling picture books, that many early readers make excellent read-alouds for the toddler set. I've been selling Mr. Putter and Tabby books forever, but it had honestly been quite awhile since I read one and I had forgotten just how darn charming they are. In this adventure, Mr. Putter and Tabby decide to bring home some fish. However, Tabby becomes obsessed with the fish, going BAT. BAT. BAT. on the bowl and staying up all night to do so. Eventually Mr. Putter gives the fish to a neighbor, and he and Tabby are able to relax once more. Tabby has such personality, and her quirks are so well offset by Mr. Putter's steadfastness. Howard's art is the perfect lively compliment to Rylant's usual lovely, fun writing. I'll be bringing many more books in this series home soon and will be selling them with renewed joy. BEAR FEELS SCARED by Karma Wilson with illustrations by Jane Chapman. We are BIG fans of Bear; I think at this point we have the whole series. We've been reading these for well over a year and Molly still loves them. In this installment, Bear gets lost on a walk and becomes frightened. His worried friends form a search party and track him down, take him back to his cave, and snuggle up close..."and the bear feels safe." These books have a lovely rhythm to them which makes them a delight to read aloud; the friendship between the animals is one of my favorite in picture books, ever; and Chapman's art is always note-perfect. This is one series where I find it almost impossible to pick a favorite - you can't go wrong with any of the Bear books. I AM TOO ABSOLUTELY SMALL FOR SCHOOL by Lauren Child. I am not exaggerating when I say that Molly is completely obsessed with Charlie and Lola. The whole phenomenon began with this book and two others and ballooned into a TV show with accompanying merchandise. I was careful to hook her on the 3 originals (this one plus I WILL NEVER NOT EVER EAT A TOMATO and I AM NOT SLEEPY AND I WILL NOT GO TO BED) before ever letting her learn about the show. We now own the whole series on DVD (and it is actually wonderful), but the other books (all based on TV episodes) are for library checkout only in our house. Anyway. In this book, Lola is about to begin school and she is quite nervous about it. She comes up with all sorts of charming reasons why she doesn't need to learn to count above ten ("I never eat more than ten cookies at one time") or write letters to her friends ("I like to talk on the telephone. It's more friendly and straightaway"). Eventually her long-suffering older brother Charlie convinces her to go so she can keep her imaginary friend, Soren Lorenson, company on HIS first day of school. Of course everything is fine - amusingly, charmingly, Britishly fine. (Thanks to the TV show, Molly frequently talks in a British accent now. It is hilarious.) If you have missed Charlie and Lola in your household, try one of the fabulous original three books. I'd skip the others in favor of actually watching the show, because it is absolutely delightful. I'll do another installment soon!