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October 14, 2010

New kids books we've been enjoying lately

Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy, Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. This book is longer than most that Harriet will sit still for, but I think she gets caught up in the rhythm of the language. Mahy goes to enormous stretches to create her rhymes, resulting in a splendidly absurd vocabulary, all kinds of new words, nonsense rhymes but not so nonsensical, imagine if Dr. Seuss had employed a thesaurus. The story is about a small boy who gets caught up in a bubble blown by his big sister Mabel, and floats up above the town setting his small town into crisis. Soon, the neighbours are all chasing him as he floats, devising ways to bring him down safely. The illustrations are stylish and whimsical, and I particularly delighted in the Scrabble tiles on the page where “In a garden folly, Tybal and his mother, Sybil/ sat and played a game of Scrabble, shouting shrilly as they scored.”

Good Night Canada I’ll admit it, some of these “Good Night…” books stretch the point a bit, but an entire nation is surely enough to fill up a board book, and I like the way that Canada fills up this one. A nice way for Harriet to learn about parts of our country she has never seen, those that are familiar (“Good morning, streetcars of Toronto!”), and that she even lives in a country at all, and one with symbols– maple leaves, the Parliament buildings, hockey, the Canada flag.

Doggy Slippers Written by Jorge Lujan, Illustrated by Isol. At our house we like Isol, who wrote and illustrated It’s Useful to Have a Duck. Doggy Slippers similarly plays games with perspective, providing children with a child’s-eye view upon their own world. Latin American poet Lujan solicited children for poems and stories about pets, and he turned their responses into the poems in this book. Harriet is still too little to get much out of this book, but I adore the poems– “My turtle, Coco, is happy,/ is green,/ is slow,/ except when she falls/ down the stairs.” Isol’s childlike drawings the perfect accompaniment. I look forward to finding out whether these poems make perfect sense to Harriet, filtered through a child’s eyes as they are, or if she detects anything a little “off” about them. They’ll certainly give us a lot to talk about.

Eats. Written by Marthe Jocelyn. Illustrated by Tom Slaughter. This book is perfect for Harriet’s level, as she recognizes so many of the images that she’ll begin to get the concept. That a giraffe eats leaves, and bears eat fish, and a monkey eats bananas. And then a picture of an ice cream cone, which is Harriet’s favourite food in the world. “And WHO eats ice cream?” Who indeed! Hilarity. We absolutely love this conclusion.

C is for Coco: A Little Chick’s First Book of Letters. Written by Sloane Tanen, Photographed by Stefan Hagen. We love this book! I appreciate alphabet books that include some of our favourite words, like dancer, apple, umbrella and penguin. And good new ones too, for educational purposes (ie “elbow”). The chick is cute and fun, Tanen’s dioramas are adorable, and some of the rhymes aren’t totally brilliant, I’ll forgive them. Harriet likes this book as much as I do, and we’re not sick of it yet.

No. By Claudia Rueda. The book begins with Little Bear’s mother urging him (or her?) to begin preparing for winter, and Little Bear responds with all those familiar excuses. He’s not tired, and he wants to play, and no matter that it’s getting cold– he loves the cold! And with every page, winter gets a bit closer. Soon there is no sign of anyone but Little Bear, and the snow is falling fast and mean– perhaps Little Bear has overestimated his own stamina? When he finds his mother again, he tells he he’s back because he thought she might get lonely without him. But is he telling the truth, we ask ourselves each time we reach this book’s end? It’s a gorgeously illustrated book, with drawings from interesting points of view, and Harriet likes finding Little Bear in the pictures as the snow falls harder and he becomes more difficult to see.

3 thoughts on “New kids books we've been enjoying lately”

  1. Nathalie says:

    I LOVE Sloane Tanen’s books for grown ups: _Hatched_, _Appetite for Detention_ and _Bitter with Baggage Seeks Same_. Hilariously mordant, featuring the same fluffy protagonists as the alphabet book.

  2. Frances says:

    Margaret Mahy’s “The Great Piratical Rumbustification” is my very, very favourite childrens’ book ever…( for older children: something for Harriet to look forward to).

  3. Kerry says:

    Thanks to both of you for these recommendations. Sloane Tanen for grown-ups sounds perfect to me, and I think “rambustification” might be my new favourite word.

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