Friday, June 20, 2008

The Coolest Kids Books Ever: Never Shooped Out new blog section!

The bestest and most comprehensive online shopping directory EVER is NeverShoppedOut - and they've just added a new Kids Corner, written by yours truly.....

Style-conscious Mums the world over both rejoice and despair at the thought of shopping for their precious little tots. Imagine my shock when I discovered that the “Kids Licenced” section of Target was not actually a play-area that served the odd martini, but instead a congested nightmare of Disney branding. On the other hand, labels as we previously knew them have become impractical: Mummy can justify a Burberry trench on a cost-per-wear basis, but a little one would outgrow it in a matter of months (at $325 a pop, Daddy might not quite understand…). How then, do we spoil Bub with a bit of good old-fashioned glamour? In the most educational and beautiful way there is: with books!

The crème de la crème of fashionable books is This Little Piggy Went to Prada, by Amy Allen ($29.95). This hot pink collection of nursery rhymes “for the Blahnik Brigade” contains such gems as “I had a little shoe tree”; “There was a young woman who lived in her Choos”; “Pussycat Pussycat, where have you been?/I’ve been to London to visit McQueen”; and my personal favourite, “Twinkle Twinkle, Diamond Ring/In a blue box tied with string”…..the illustrations are beautiful watercolours by Eun-Kyung Kan and for every copy sold a donation is made to the Save The Children Fund. It’s fashion with a conscience, dahling!

If your tot knows that C is for Chanel (and not for such pedestrian things as Cat) then Different Like Coco, by Elizabeth Matthews ($27.95), is a sure-fire hit. The basic message of the book is a positive message about being yourself, with underlying themes of feminism and self-respect, as it outlines the life of one of the most iconic women of the 20th century. Little girls will love the simple and appealing illustrations, also by the author, and be inspired by the classic rags-to-riches Cinderella-story. Except with better tailoring than the original.

That’s all well and good, I hear you shout, but what if we have a cool little dude who thinks the Blahnik Brigade is a group of outer-space superheroes? How about THE most rockin’ A B C book in existence, M is for Metal, by Paul McNeil and Barry Divola ($27.95)? In the School of Rock, this is what they teach. Learn all about the long-haired guitar geniuses that influenced, shaped and inspired your mum and dad (and possibly grandma and grandpa too). The illustrations are hilarious (and a bit rude, so don’t show it to your Idol-loving sister), and the verses are simple and catchy: “S is for Stones, that just keep on rolling/Most of their fans have now switched to lawn bowling”. Parents might want to wait until the kids are experimental teens before trying to explain Q: “Q is for Queen, who were fruity as mangoes/Scaramouche, Scaramouche, can you do the fandango?”

Little hipsters and their ultra-cool parental units will also love the simple and highly amusing board book, Urban Babies Wear Black by Michelle Sinclair Colman (from $6.95).
Infantus urbanus (defn.): Young mammal raised in city environment. Infantus urbanus love nights at the opera, modern architecture, and fine cuisine. Difficult to spot at night due to their penchant for black clothing. See also URBAN BABIES.
Tots will love the bright illustrations and easy-to-handle size, and city dwelling parents will appreciate the tongue-in-cheek tone. It also comes in Country Babies Wear Plaid, Eco Babies Wear Green and Beach Babies Wear Shades. A great book to have on hand while sipping babycinos at the local coffee haunt.

Cultured babes should also take a peek at M. Sasek’s classic This Is… series (about $35 each), which captures the essence of enchanting cities around the globe. If you have ever had the travel bug and want a way to pass it on to your tot without enduring a 20-hour flight, these books are a great place to start. Whimsical illustrations and simple, informative text make reading a joy for both parents and kids. I found out about them through my daughter’s Travelling Uncle Scott, who sent back This is San Fransisco for her first Christmas (from Canada. In April. He’s pretty casual). I also know of New York, Paris and Rome, but a quick Google reveals everywhere from Edinburgh to Israel. In today’s global village, an appreciation of other places is so important. You’ll have a heart attack in 18 years time when they slug a backpack over their shoulder, pierce their nose and trot off OS, but at least you can send them prepared.

Arty folk will love the retro-styled (naturally) Petit Connoisseur: Art board books by Karen Salmansohn (from $6.95). Aimed to foster an appreciation of colour, shape, and eventually, art (ah! The title wasn’t a cryptic clue, after all), this book provides your prodigy with “the basics they need—MOMA, Dada, Dali—that will help them leap successfully from play date to gallery gala.” Top quality printing and the bold colour of illustrator Brian Stauffer work perfectly to distract hungry little artisans from gnawing at the corners. Fashionistas will also be delighted with the second book in the series, Petit Connoisseur: Fashion . Promoting “first fashion words” such as catwalk and choo-shoe train, this adorable board book should be bundled together with This Little Piggy to make sure your little princess never wants to see the inside of Kmart.

Touchy-feely books are fantastic learning devices for little ones. I stumbled upon this brilliant version that has not a fluffy duck, soft cat, or woolly lamb in sight – Pop Warhol’s Top by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo (from $9.95). Educate them about art and the principles of colour as they touch and feel their way through modern masterpieces: (from the publisher) “What could be better than pulling on the lettuce in Claes Oldenburg's "Two Burgers with Everything"? Or stroking the fluffy eyelashes on Warhol's pink-toned Marilyn? It's an experience kids will never forget.”

Bananas in Pyjamas Do Some Washing, Dora Patronises the Spanish, and Bob the Builder’s Compensation Claim can all be pushed to the bargain bin. There are so many truly wonderful stories and learning devices out there that parents can enjoy with their children – seek (or Google) and thou shalt find…..

International (ship to Aus): Amazon, BookDepository, BetterWorld Books

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