In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bobbledy Books: the gift that keeps on arriving

Dear Aunt Debbie,

I love knowing that you're helping guide people's holiday shopping,and are so open to customers' great finds. Who Made This Cake? sounds like a fabulous book, especially for kids who are mesmerized by construction vehicles.

One of the fun things that's been happening here is that both Eleanor and Isabel are working on writing and illustrating books for a contest that's part of our favorite subscription series: Bobbledy Books. It's the creation of married couple Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr, founders of Idiots'Books (full disclosure: we went to college together). Our guest blogger Faith wrote here about Matthew and Robbi's first foray into children's literature: My Henderson Robot, which is a favorite in our house as well.

I bought the girls a subscription to Bobbledy Books last Christmas, and renewed it this year, as it's been a huge hit. Every couple of months, they get a new book in the mail (stories by Matthew, pictures by Robbi). It is enormous fun to get books in the mail. Way better than pulling out my New Yorker issue every week and getting me to explain what the cover is supposed to mean.

The books themselves are pleasantly loopy: a boy refuses to get out of bed and builds robots in his room to get him food (Bobby and the Robots), a dragon is told that he's not real, and has an existential crisis before realizing his importance to the town around him (The Imaginary Dragon), a girl with an enormous head eats a lot of lollipops and grows other enormous body parts, one at a time, allowing her to develop a variety of special abilities (Henny Wampum Had a Really Big Head). 

When this last one arrived, Eleanor grabbed it, sat down on the couch, and read it straight through. Then Isabel asked me to read it to her three times in a row. I think it may be the next book she memorizes. Once a year, the subscription includes a CD of new children's music by Drew Bunting (another college classmate). The girls' favorite songs from the first album, "I Don't Wanna Brush My Teeth," include "Where Does It Go?" (an imaginative answer to the very good question about toilets) and "Mothra," which appeals particularly to Isabel, with her current penchant for monsters. 

Once a year, Matthew and Robbi send out a book with a title, text on a few pages, and a little bit of art on each page, for subscribers to finish. One kid's completed book is chosen to be published; all kids who enter get their names and one drawing from their book printed in the back of the winning book.The due date for this year's entries -- The Snowmen Below -- is Dec. 15 so the girls are working on finishing theirs this week. (Unfortunately, I seem to have passed on my tendency toward procrastination.)

A good Christmas gift, for those who are looking!

Love, Annie

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