Favorite Children's Books from Abroad

We haven't acquired much in our travels, but one thing we've loved picking up in each country we visit is a new book (or two) for Blythe.  A few of our new favorites are from a particular country, a few are about countries we've visited, and some are from the US or elsewhere but are new to us.  I spent an hour perusing the shelves of Maruken in Japan for English-language children's books and I was so curious to see what they stocked from the US (Pete the Cat, Frances, Toot & Puddle, and Blueberries for Sal were available, but none of the Olivia or Bear books, for example).  Speaking of Olivia, did you know that Ian Falconer just published a new book, Olivia the Spy?  Has anyone read it?  Blythe adores Olivia and I'm excited to read this to her when we return to the States.  I'd love to hear what your favorite children's books are as I'm always looking for new books to read Blythe so I don't have to read Madeline for the 100th time.

New Zealand - By far and away, Hairy Maclary is our new favorite series of books.  Hairy is a scruffy dog who lives at Donaldson's Dairy and gets up to all sorts of mischief with his buddies Bitzer Maloney, Schnitzel von Krumm, Muffin McLay, Hercules Morse, and Bottomley Potts.  There are quite a few books in the series featuring the same characters and all with clever rhymes.  Blythe is obsessed with these books and can recite most of them at this point.  I highly recommend this series, particularly to dog lovers, and our favorites are Scattercat, Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack, and Sit.  Herbert: The True Story of a Brave Sea Dog will tug at your heartstrings and is a true story of a beloved dog who falls overboard in a journey through the Marlborough Sounds (thanks to K for telling me about this one).

Australia - We picked up Bogtrotter in Sydney, which is a funny book about a Bogtrotter (what else?) who learns to get out of his comfort zone a bit with the help of an inquisitive frog.  It's clever with cute illustrations and a nice lesson/message.

Japan -  I really wanted to find a traditional Japanese children's book, but everything in the English-language section of the bookstores were books from abroad.  I found I Live in Tokyo, which is written by a Japanese-born author who now resides in Brooklyn.  It's full of interesting tidbits about life in Japan (customs, food, holidays) and is told in an engaging way.  I'm surprised how much Blythe enjoys this book and think it would be perfect if you were planning to take a trip to Japan. I learned a few things from reading this book as well.  The other discovery I made in Japan was Library Lion.  This book was published in the US, but I'd never seen it before and I LOVE it.  The story is wonderful - a lion starts visiting a library, comes to story hour, and becomes a beloved patron.  This one is not to be missed.

The Netherlands - Miffy is everywhere in the Netherlands and I checked with my Dutch friend who assured me that is what she read a lot of growing up here.  Miffy has all sorts of adventures - we have Miffy at the Playground and Miffy at the Gallery (I'm preparing Blythe to visit art museums in Amsterdam).  Jip and Janneke is another Holland classic and provides a nice introduction to life during each season, and Amsterdam by Georgien Overwater gives a geographical overview of the city in a fun way (and hits all of the major destinations), but is probably better for older kids.

United States / Elsewhere - We fell in love with Room on the Broom and The Snail and Whale in Hawaii (thanks to J for the recommendation).  The illustrations are fun and the stories (the author, Julia Donaldson, also wrote The Gruffalo books) are engaging and clever.  Blythe is currently obsessed with the Room on the Broom movie, too.  I've written before about my love for Toot & Puddle, but there is an off-shoot of the main books published by National Geographic in which Toot and Puddle take a trip in each book.  We love Get with the Beat (about a trip to Congo), The Great Cheese Chase (Paris), and How Does Your Garden Grow? (Mexico).  The books are based on a National Geographic TV series, which includes episodes about Amsterdam, India, and Hawaii.  In Kauai, the Angelina books caught Blythe's eye and she's been enamored ever since.  Angelina's Birthday and Angelina's Christmas are my favorites.   Finally, I have to share a book I never tire of reading, Such a Little Mouse. It's the sweetest story about a tiny mouse and his adventures throughout the year as he prepares for winter.  The author, Alice Schertle, also wrote The Little Blue Truck Books, which we love but are quite different.