Archive for May 2012

Owly – Just a Little Blue, by Andy Runton

Owly & Wormy – Friends all Aflutter, by Andy Runton

Ahhh, it’s spring time and everything seems so new again!

We got our bikes out, so Sophie and I have added some days of work and daycare commuting using our conjoined bike. So far it has been great! We have a low stress, downhill route in the morning and a bit more tricky (left hand turns and more traffic) ride uphill at the end of the day. Since this is still pretty new for us we are getting use to each other’s rythm and ways. The bike ride home seems to be Sophie’s preferred time to be a Star. There has never been a doubt that in our small family she is the born performer! During the bike riding she belts out every song she can think of including a good mix of Christmas favourites and songs I assumed she would have forgotten from mom and baby drop-in centre days (which seem so long ago now). She also includes some I’m sure are her own creation. It is this last batch that made me think she was ready for the type of children’s book without words – make up your own story. We had tried some of these  books before, with mixed success. However a recent library blog on kid’s comics plus her creative bike expressions suggested it was time to try that kind of book again. I think we are both glad they are in our current library borrowed pile!

Our usual morning breakfast routine was changed a bit this week. Sophie wanted to use a bar stool to eat at the little window/ledge that connects our kitchen and dining area. I find it so difficult to get her to focus on eating in the morning that I’m happy to accommodate most requests. This morning Sophie decided to entertain herself with Owly – Just a Little Blue while she sat there with her cereal. Her story evolved around an apple and I may have broken her interpretation when I told her the name of the owl. She only made it through a few pages, but as a natural story teller, I have a feeling she will be revisiting this one.

We also borrowed a copy of the picture book interpretation of this character Owly & Wormy – Friends all Aflutter, which we will have a look at this week.

I love to encourage my daughters to use their imaginations. As I’ve suggested in the past, this skill is often overlooked, but can be one of the best sources of satisfaction throughout life. While the timing with the wordless books didn’t work some months ago, now it seems to have found a receptive audience. I find it hard to know what kind of reading material will be appropriate when. I guess the trick is just to keep track of these possible tools and keep trying different ones until we find the ones that work to help our children develop in the way and at the pace that is right for them!

Happy story telling!


A Kiss for Little Bear, by Else Holmelund Minarik and pictures by Maurice Sendak

I have often admired those with the skills to execute both the writing and the illustration that make a children’s book. Many times, however, it is someone else’s unique interpretation of a story that gives it some added depth.

This was reinforced this past week with Maurice Sendak‘s death. Where the Wild Things Are, the book he authored and illustrated, obviously made a huge contribution to children’s literature (and our thinking about the kind of information and thinking of children), but, to me, it is his illustrations of the Little Bear series that show his talent and his love of humour.

The Little Bear books depict the world from a young bear’s perspective including his understanding of himself and his interactions with others (family and other animal/human friends). His mother’s frank explanation of what will happen to him when he tries to fly like a bird to the moon is a classic in parental humour and honesty –
“And maybe ,” says Mother Bear, “you are a little fat bear club with no wings and no feathers. Maybe if you jump up you will come down very fast , with a big plop.” (Little Bear, by Else Holmelund Minarik and pictures by Maurice Sendak)

The story that I find most lovely is A Kiss for Little Bear. This book is the final one in this series and the only one published after Where the Wild Things Are (there are hints that maybe Little Bear shares Sendak’s love of drawing wild things). It is the illustration on page 22 with Little Bear laughing as the little joke he has started with a kiss being passed along from friend to friend that shows Sendak’s skills as an artist. The mischievousness and fun of this illustration makes the words and characters in this story come alive. When you get a copy of the book, let us know if you agree!

Merci Monsier Sendak!

On Parr

Posted on: 5 May 2012

Just a few books by author and illustrator Todd Parr:

The Earth Book

It’s OK To Be Different

Reading Makes You Feel Good

We found a kindred spirit in the library this week. I’m not sure how Todd Parr‘s name or the significant list of kid’s titles he’s created came across our radar, but these are fun books to check out.

In a very straightforward style he provides information on the topics that are important to our family: the environment, being individuals, self esteem. Looking at his whole list of books, it appears that he has also created books on every kind of family members and types. We borrowed the three titles listed above. The illustrations are done in very colourful cartoons. The stories and writing style are simple, and make a great starting-place for asking questions and having further discussion. Along with this kid-friendly style, the books seem to share a few references; for example: the advice to put your underwear in the freezer when it is hot (as an environmentally-friendly way to stay cool) appeared  in two of the books we read.

These are fun, easy-to-read books. If you haven’t already, add Tood Parr to your emerging reader list. If you have a favourite among his books, let us know which one it is!