I'm the Best written and illustrated by Lucy Cousins

I'm the Best by Lucy Cousins is another one of those books that made it onto a few year end-best of lists, prompting me to check it out.  Short and sweet, I'm the Best is definitely one of the best books out there, whether you're reading it for the story or the teachable moment.  And yes, I must pause her to confess that I frequently complain about "picture books that teach a lesson" (which are most often celebrity authored) and then go on to review a book that has a great lesson masterfully threaded through a sublime story.  I love a good picture book, but I really love a good picture book that can spawn a conversation between reader and listener and, after many years of story times and reading to my own kids, books that have a "lesson" woven into them are perfect for just that.  And, sometimes, a book like that is so good that you can just bask in it's glow after reading and not even need to discuss it. I'm the Best may well be one of these books...

I'm the Best stars Dog and his cast of friends, Ladybug, Goose, Mole and Donkey.  Actually, this book gives me the perfect chance to introduce you to a relatively new kid's book blog that is FOR KIDS!  Bigfoot Reads features books reviews by Bigfoot and his friends an alien, a sea monster, a half-invisible turtle and the other half-invisible turtle (sight gag that must be seen) and a psychic dog and some paranormal puppies.  Violet, one of the four paranormal puppies, has written her review of I'm the Best all on her own!  These reviews are very playful and always funny and really for kids to read.  Although Bigfoot's blog is new and he has only a a handful of reviews under his belt, it is worth checking out.

Bigfoot Reads

As you can guess by the title, Dog thinks pretty highly of himself and wastes no time telling and showing the reader all the things he is good at by having contests with his friends.  The contestants aren't very evenly matched (Dog has a swimming contest with Donkey) and Dog wins every match and feels pretty great about himself.  However, his friends aren't feeling so great.  They decide to have a rematch and this time Mole competes with Dog in the digging contest and wins.  He loses the swimming contest when competing with Goose.  And so on.  Now Dog is feeling pretty bad and sad realizing how his friends must have felt when he was running around being THE BEST.  Dog apologizes to all his friends and they tell him that he is "the best at being our best friend. And you are the best at having beautiful fluffy ears. And we love you"

The book could end there and be sweet, maybe a little sappy.  But, if you have read Cousins' collection of fairy tales, Yummy, you know that she is not about sappy.  The final page of the book finds Dog back to his old self, uttering this gem:  "Oh phew!  Obviously having beautiful fluffy ears is the most important thing.  So I AM the best."

Ha!  A teachable moment and a laugh!  Doesn't get much better than that...

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