First, Julius: The Baby of the World. True to form, this Henkes title is an absolute crack-up. In this story, Lilly gets a new little brother. She is not so fond of Julius (sound familiar, parents?).
"But her parents loved him. They kissed his wet pink nose. They admired his small black eyes. And they stroked his sweet white fur. Lilly thought his wet pink nose was slimy. She thought his small black eyes were beady. And she thought his sweet white fur was not so sweet. Especially when he needed his diaper changed. 'Julius is the baby of the world,' chimed Lilly's parents. 'Disgusting,' said Lilly."
And so she uses her magic wand in an attempt to make him disappear, teaches him his letters and numbers in the wrong order so he can't be as clever as she is, and tells him a story called "Julius, the Germ of the World." As you can imagine, there is a full page spread hilariously depicting Lilly's numerous sessions in the uncooperative chair. But can you guess what happens when Cousin Garland comes to the house and insults new baby Julius? Oh, just wait until you read the scolding Lilly gives Cousin Garland!
Here's why I love this story: It is real. Who can't relate to this family dilemma? But Lilly's parents continue to show love for her and praise her and remain patient with her until she realizes how much she loves Julius. Once again, I think Kevin Henkes is a genius at writing moralistic stories that aren't sappy.
Second, Lilly's Big Day.
In this fairly new title, Lilly appoints herself to be the flower girl at the wedding of her teacher, Mr. Slinger, and the school nurse, Ms. Shotwell. As she practices her slow walk and holding a bouquet, her parents try to help her understand that Mr. Slinger and Ms. Shotwell may have different plans in mind. Undaunted, Lilly writes a note to Mr. Slinger declaring herself "the world's best and most famous flower girl." Catching on, her sweet teacher asks her to be a special assistant to his niece (the actual flower girl). But, in a surprise ending, Lilly ends up saving the day. And you know Lilly. She saves it with style.