Thursday, 26 April 2012

Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton

In our house all of E's favorite books are assigned nicknames. It's no surprise that Chris Haughton's second picture book was renamed almost immediately and is now affectionately known as Oh No, Cake! These days any mention of cake gets a shout out along these lines.  I brought this book home several weeks ago and E took one look and said 'owl book' (his nickname for Haughton's first book).  It was clear to me that we were on to a winner when E made the connection.

Oh No, George! is about a dog - a hound I suspect - and the mishaps and messes that he gets into while his owner, Harris, is out.  George tries to do the right thing but despite all his best efforts he just can't help himself.  George's issues begin when he sees a cake on the table and can't resist chomping into the whole thing.  E thinks this is just fantastic and sometimes it's hard for us to move past the cake incident and onto the rest of George's adventures.

By the time Harris comes home George has managed to dig up all the potted plans and chase the cat away.  George is contrite and offers Harris his favorite toy duck to make amends.  Lucky for George his owner is kind and takes him out on a walk instead. George encounters more temptations but manages to resist them this time around.  That is until he smells the rubbish.

This book is just plain fun and there's a lesson to be learned about owning up to the things that you do and trusting adults with the truth. It looks marvelous as well with Haughton's unique illustrations and vibrant colors.

I'm still struck by the similarities between my son and George.  They'd both eat a whole cake if you left them to it, they both dig up the flowers and they both chase the cat.  E even has a thing for the rubbish.  Should I be worried? No wonder he loves this book.

If you've not read this one yet then treat yourself to a little time in the company of Chris Haughton's irresistible cast of characters.  And if you're new to his work then see my archived post for a review of his first book, A Bit Lost.  Chris Haughton is published by Walker Books and his website is:

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

How Little Lori Visited Times Square

I received this beautiful little gem of a hardback in the post last week. Originally published in 1963, the author is Amos Vogel and the pictures are by Maurice Sendak of Where the Wild Things Are fame. E knows that this one is 'mommy's book' and it requires sitting down with an adult in order to read it. We'll see how long that lasts.

Little Lori is a young boy in New York City who decides he wants to visit Times Square.  He goes uptown and downtown on subways and trains but never gets to the right stop. He rides a helicopter, jumps on a boat and even tries to take a taxi in hope of reaching Times Square.  All of his adventures are in vain, however, and after his final attempt via an elevator at Macy's he collapses in a heap of tears.  It's a turtle who comes to his rescue.  A turtle who talks very slowly (one word per page at this point), a turtle who for some reason makes me think of Shel Silverstein's The Missing Piece.  The turtle kindly offers to take Lori, at last, to Times Square.  Lori hops on his back and they start making their way to Times Square ... v e r y  s l o w l y.

There is a fair amount of text on some pages and potentially more details than a toddler will fully understand.  However, E seems to grasp that there's a journey and a series of adventures and basically he loves looking at the boats, trains and the general wonderfulness of Sendak's illustrations of New York City scenes.  Thankfully he's happy to sit still while I read this book cover to cover (with a little pace admittedly).  And maybe that's why he seems to really hone in when we meet the turtle.  Up until that point there's a flurry of text and illustrations and time moving quickly and Lori covering lots of blocks and miles and suddenly it all comes to a dramatic halt and the turtle speaks.

E seems to be as fond of this book as I am and I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I should just let him get his hands on it.  One more read for me and I'll consider it.

You may have to hunt around for this one or ask your local bookshop to order it.  It's published by HarperCollins and my copy has a renewed copyright date of 1991. Amos Vogler is much written about for his role as a film historian and especially for founding Cinema 16, a film society in the USA. Enjoy!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

To the Beach by Thomas Docherty

This is known as the 'beach book' in our house and it's our collective introduction to the magical world of Thomas Docherty.  

The story begins with a little boy staring out his window at a rainy day. From there our little friend takes you on a series of wild imaginary rides by air, sea and land to finally reach a wondrous beach with a camel as a playmate.  And when it's time to come home there's an equally exciting return journey and a promise of more adventure to come.  E happily settles in to read this book with me, turning the pages in a bit of a frenzy while shouting joyously as he encounters so many of his favorite things: airplanes, tractors, boats, monkeys, helicopters, bicycles... it can get rowdy by the final page. 
The text is simple and the action is in the illustrations.  I think this is what makes it exceptionally popular for the two year old in my life.  I particularly like Docherty's technique for allowing each adventure to dovetail into the next by interweaving the illustrations. While you're in the air riding the helicopter you see a bicycle on the road below ... turn the page and suddenly you're zooming down the hill on the bike and there's a tractor in the distance. It's a pattern that's followed throughout the book and it encourages E to look closely at the illustrations and pick out the details.  

Visit the author's website to see more of his magical offerings:

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Country Bunny by DuBose Heyward

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is the full title of this Easter classic. This was one of my all time favorite books as a child but a straw poll of friends and peers reveals that it's a little known title, especially in the UK. I think it's time we change that! 

Originally published in 1939, this little book tells the story of a very brave mother bunny who just happens to be a fine feminist heroine. Despite her age, gender and circumstances, Mother Cottontail earns the noble and prestigious honor to take up a place as one of THE five Easter bunnies.  And she does this while still maintaining a happy home with twenty one young bunnies.  It's no wonder that I keep finding new things to like about this book!

'Wise, and kind, and swift' are the traits that every chosen Easter bunny must exhibit and Mother Cottontail does so in spades. These are important life living qualities to talk about with your little reader and I hope to do so with E one day.  I say one day because at this stage The Country Bunny is not part of our daily or nightly reading ritual ... and this is despite my best efforts to talk up the bunnies, the eggs and anything remotely related to commercial ideas about Easter. 

It's a meaningful story with gloriously nostalgic illustrations and it's found a permanent place in our home.  Hopefully it will soon move from my bedside table to E's shelf but I'll try to be wise and let him move at his own pace.  Have a read of this title even if it's just for your own pleasure.  I think you'll find it time well spent.