Tag: barbara jean hicks (page 1 of 1)

The Secret Life of Walter Kitty

Phoebe is cultivating a taste for literature. She refines it by marching into a room with a book in the air, calling, “I read! I read!” and waiting to see who interprets that rightly as “You read this to me” and makes space for her on the couch at their side.

With four potential readers-of-books at her disposal, her odds of finding one who isn’t chopping onions or doing schoolwork are good. And so, in the midst of the moments you’d expect in a home with three daughters (dress-up dresses flying, sudden tears over something small), I find moments like this one, where all three girls curl up on the couch together around the newest Elephant & Piggie.

The Secret Life of Walter Kitty, by Barbara Jean Hicks | Little Book, Big Story

The fun of having a toddler discover our library of books for the first time is that she brings back old favorites—books so familiar to the older girls (and to us) that they rarely make their way off the shelves unless Phoebe finds them and, drawn to anything kitty-shaped, marches into a room, waving them in the air. “I read! I read!”

That is how we rediscovered Barbara Jean Hicks’ book, The Secret Life of Walter Kitty.

The Secret Life of Walter Kitty, by Barbara Jean Hicks | Little Book, Big Story

I love everything about this book, from the hilarious storyline (narrated by Walter Kitty, whose delusions of grandeur are recognizable to anyone with a cat) to Dan Santat’s illustrations (which sent me looking for everything else he’d illustrated. Did you know he’s the author and illustrator behind last year’s Caldecott award-winning book?) to the fun of reading this book out loud, silly voices and all.

There’s no theological undercurrent to this one, no connection to Lent, just pure delight. It’s one I’m happy to sit down to again and again when summoned by the call, “I read!”

The Secret Life of Walter Kitty
Barbara Jean Hicks, Dan Santat (2010)

Sadly, The Secret Life of Walter Kitty is no longer in print, but there are some good deals on used copies online. And if you find one in a used bookstore, grab it! You won’t regret it!

Children’s Music That You’ll Want to Listen To, Too

Two weeks ago, Caspar Babypants came to town, so we gathered our two eldest daughters up and went to see him play. His show was part of a family fair hosted in our town’s sports complex, an event that boasted bouncy houses! Rock walls! Face painting! And so many other fun things for rowdy, outgoing kids!

Our girls wanted none of it. We are apparently succeeding at turning our children into pint-sized versions of me, because the bouncy houses—those bastions of fun for kids of all ages—made them turn pale and cower behind us, while the mere presence of a crowd of children—their peers, their compatriots—made them tighten their grip on our hands and tremble. They have no more love for large crowds and loud gatherings than I do, which led us to conclude, quite naturally, that we all need to get out more.

But though they declined the rock wall, the bouncy houses, and the craft table, the girls did consent to go see Barbara Jean Hicks, author of one of my favorite children’s books, The Secret Life of Walter Kitty, whom they adored and whose book, A Sister More Like Me, was one of their favorite take-aways of the whole day. And they definitely came out of their shell when Caspar Babypants—who, contrary to the belief of one of our children, is not fictional character at all but a real person—kicked off his set with “My Flea Has Dogs.”

Caspar Babypants (aka Chris Ballew) | Little Book, Big Story

That day at the sportsplex, plus my two previous music-centric posts, inspired me to put together another playlist for you, this one featuring some of our favorite children’s music. These are all artists that sound again and again (and again) in our home and in our car, fueling dance parties and sing-alongs in which we all five participate because—and this is the important part—we all enjoy their songs.

Children's Music That You'll Want to Listen to, Too | Little Book, Big Story

For sweet and lovely lullabies, there’s JJ Heller. For pure silliness, there’s Caspar Babypants. For a perfect mix of both silliness and sweetness—Charlie Hope. There’s Dana Dirksen of Songs for Saplings (but I mentioned her earlier), and the fun and bluesy tunes of Johnny Bregar. And there are a few other favorite songs on the list, just because I thought you’d like them.

(Having listened to Caspar Babypants, tell me: does his voice sound familiar? No? Okay, then, what if you imagined him singing “Peaches“? Yes. It’s Chris Ballew of The Presidents of the United States of America, doing what he was always meant to do.)

Caspar Babypants (aka Chris Ballew) | Little Book, Big Story