I'm very proud to report that we've just finished the first book in the Tales from Moominvalley series by Tove Jansson! Moominvalley is one of my absolutely most favorite books and fortunately I have a Russian version of it. Still, I'm very surprised that Mr. M liked it - the story is pretty complicated (more of a 8-10 year old set) and there are only a few black-and-white sketches in the book.
We've been on a book-reading spree since summer. By now I know exactly what Mr. M will and will not enjoy. But the problem is, I also have to find books that are easy to sight-translate into Russian (remember, we're doing the whole bilingual one-parent one-language thing and for some reason finding a good Russian language preschool-level book is so very hard).
So here's our joint checklist for choosing books (whether at a bookstore or at a library):
- Must have trains or musical instruments (drums or brass) or food (think pies, cakes, doughnuts) or ALL of the above.
- Must be in prose (sight-translating poems is a bit much for me)
- Must not be about alphabet or use alphabet as the basis for a story (again, has to do with translations)
- Must be short
- Must have high illustrations-to-text ratio.
Now, this last one is actually for me, not for Mr. M. Of course, he loves lots of great pictures. But he will listen to a very good story even if it has almost no pictures or just a few black-and-white ones.
But if I have to translate, having lots of images really helps me tell the story the same way each time we read it. Plus it gives me a bit of a break before we move to the next page. Plus this way Mr. M can flip through the book and "read" the story on his own.
With all this in mind, I'm now looking through the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2009. And I have my Amazon account open and Mr. M's wishlist ready to be updated.