4- Perfectly paired text and illustrations. Sweet, loving and fun.
As these books are short picture books (for children aged 1-7), I'll group them together and review them as one.
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry & the Big Hungry Bear
A little mouse has a treasure- a perfectly exquisite strawberry. The narrator warns him of the nearby strawberry-eating bear, and the little mouse determines to protect his treasure. What will he do? Is the narrator as innocent as he seems, or is he merely after the strawberry himself? Children laugh with delight at the mouse's antics, empathize with the narrator's desire to enjoy the strawberry, and shiver at the thought of a hungry bear getting that luscious fruit all to himself. Quite possibly the cutest illustrations I've seen in a children's book. You just want to pick up the mouse and snuggle him! I'm amazed at the depth of expression Don Wood manages to convey in individual pictures! Audrey Wood perfectly captures a child's delight in simple things, as well as their fear of having a possession taken. In the end, sharing and enjoying instead of hoarding win the day. One of my top-10 favorites to read aloud!
- Is it better to enjoy some things now instead of saving them for later? Are there other things for which the opposite is true?
- What does Jesus say about storing up treasures on earth? (Matthew 6:19-21)
Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear!
I'm always on the lookout for this one at bookstores right after Christmas. It's one "holiday" books I'm willing to read all year 'round! Our friend the little mouse is back with another treasured berry, one he hopes to keep safe all Christmas long. But when he realizes why the Big Hungry Bear is so grumpy and mean, he decides to surprise him with freely-given gifts instead of fearfully-hidden hoards. A delightful spin on the old favorite, with the same perfect conveyance of emotion and sweetness of spirit.
- If we try to understand our enemies, does it make it easier to feel compassion and even love for them? Isn't this what Jesus did for us? (Mark 6:34 and Hebrews 4:14-16)
- What does it mean "it is more blessed to give than to receive"? (Acts 20:35)
King Bidgood's in the Bathtub
A king, being a king, is living out many a child's dream of staying in the bath tub all day long. While his poor little page is kept running for more hot water and must clean up mess after mess, the court tries without success to convince their monarch that he has duties beyond the tub. The king's solution? Bring everything into the tub! Lunch, battle plans, fishing, even a masquerade ball-- all are done in grand wet style. (I think most children are so enthralled by this book because they are wondering just how much this crazy king will get away with!) The little page finally has enough, and realizes the sure-fire way to end this too-long bath. And a little child shall lead them, ey?
I encountered this book as a student teacher in an elementary music class room. I used it to introduce the idea of a "chorus" or "refrain," as the poor page comes out every other page and cries out "oh help! King Bidgood's in the bathtub and he won't get out! Oh, who knows what to do?" (why Eowyn calls this book the "Oh no!" book) It's also got a perfectly "versed" format which could be used to present the idea of musical stanzas or variations on a theme to children.
- Do you ever wish you could stay in the bath all day long? Do you think it would work?
- Go back through the book and try to find each character in all the pictures.
- If we were to use an instrument (or a theme, for older children) to represent each character, what would we use?
The Napping House
(Currently one of Eowyn's favorites) Written in the "building song" format of adding a line on top of all the previous with each page (much like "I know an old woman who swallowed a fly" or "This is the house that Jack built"), this book takes us through a napping house "where everyone is sleeping." Rainy-day hues and a cast of sleeping characters perfectly set the tone. Halfway through the book, however, the careful observer will see the light begin to grow as the rain stops, and one by one the characters wake up! By the end, everyone is playing in the sunshine and "no one now is sleeping!" (I usually hear "again!" once I get to that page.) Our copy came with a cool musical CD with 5 fun songs- some sleepy and some wake-ful.
Point out the "building song" format, comparing it to other building songs your child knows. Try making up hand gestures, sounds or instrumental motifs (claps, snaps,dings on bells) to go with each character and perform the entire story. Illustrate the idea of "building a song" by drawing a wall with each brick containing the newly-added character. A great illustration is actually right in the middle of the book, with every character piled one atop the other on the bed.
- Can you find all the characters in each picture?
Piggies (or, as we read it in our house, Cerditos)
A fun play on the old "This little piggy" rhyme for the youngest audiences., this little book showcases the personalities of each little piggy. The illustrations are delightful and the idea charming. Enjoy!