Broccoli, Babies, and Birthdays!

By Barbara Bietz

reading to childParents find it challenging to choose from range of picture books available. A worthy picture book should be a good balance of readable, engaging text and illustrations that add dimension to the story. Here are a few of my new favorites:

Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks, illustrated by Sue Hendra, is a delicious adventure as kid-like monsters rebel against eating broccoli in favor of such unthinkable edibles as “wheely, steely stew.” Creative word play and rhyming text will keep the rapt attention of even the wiggliest little ones. The clever ending has the monsters turn into children as they mistake giant trees for broccoli – and “are they delicious!” The accompanying illustrations are bold, colorful and fun, adding more layers of humor to the story. MONSTERS DON’T EAT BROCCOLI is a terrific way to introduce nutrition, or simply create a fun-filled story time.


Before You Were Here, Mi Amor by Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Santiago Cohen, is a gentle story welcoming a new baby into the family fold by sharing stories of the family’s preparation “before you were here.” Spanish words and phrases are skillfully woven into mostly English text. Children will easily relate the story to their own families. As Mami rocks in a chair, she wonders,

“Would you smile and laugh? Would you look like Mami o Papi, o Abuela o Abuelo?

The Spanish vocabulary is presented in context, allowing the reader to decipher the meaning of words through the combination of well-crafted sentences and perfectly paired vibrant illustrations. For those words that might prove challenging, a simple glossary is provided. The real gems of Before You Were Here, Mi Amor are the cultural elements tenderly shared with the reader, including references to the baby dancing the flamenco and Papi playing guitar and reciting poesia cantada. BEFORE YOU WERE HERE, MI AMOR is a colorful celebration of family.


Birthday Zoo by Deborah Lee Rose, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger is a fun-filled birthday celebration put on by a fantastic group of animal party planners! From the first page the witty rhyming text creates anticipation as the party unfolds.

“Hey, what’s the big deal?” noticed the seal. “Birthday today!” reported the ray.
“Who is it for?” inquired the boar. “Kid with presents,” answered the pheasants.

Kids will adore the whimsical illustrations of the birthday boy interacting with all the animals. This delightful book is a perfect birthday gift for a young child. For schools that have a tradition of contributing books on student’s birthdays, BIRTHDAY ZOO is a perfect choice.

Barbara Bietz

Barbara Bietz

Barbara Bietz, -Childrens' Books and Movie Section, is a children's author, magazine writer, children's book reviewer, and past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. She loves talking about the creative process, books and the craft of writing. Her middle-grade chapter book, LIKE a MACCABEE,(Yotzeret Publishing) is a PJ Library selection. Barbara reviews books and movies and has contributed to numerous print and online publications. She also teaches writing classes for adults. Learn more about Barbara at www.BarbaraBietz.com
Barbara Bietz

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Barbara BietzChildren's Books & MoviesChildren's Book ReviewBroccoli, Babies, and Birthdays! By Barbara Bietz Parents find it challenging to choose from range of picture books available. A worthy picture book should be a good balance of readable, engaging text and illustrations that add dimension to the story. Here are a few of my new favorites: Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids