I never meant for this week to be all about Fantasy, but I’m enjoying it so much I figured I’d finish out the week. According to J. A. Appleyard in Becoming a Reader: The Experience of Fiction from Childhood to Adult, young children experience the world through fantasy, and that “they live in a magical, numinous world, where the boundaries between the self, the factual, and the imaginary are permeable and fluid” (22). As such, picture books often depict the self, the factual, and the imaginary all mixed-up together (think Where the Wild Things Are). The trend continues into early readers, so some might argue that most early reader books are fantasy, and certainly many of the classics are: Frog and Toad and Little Bear are prime examples.
The book I recommend most often for this age group, regardless of whether customers ask for fantasy specifically, is Tashi, by Anna Fienberg (Allen & Unwin, $5.99). Tashi is an imaginary friend . . . or not? There is a certain ambiguity about whether this book is fantasy — Tashi being a supernatural being — or realism — Tashi being Jack’s imaginary friend. Jack’s parents engage with Tashi, but it is unclear whether or not they actually see him. Like Appleyard’s arguement, Tashi (book and character) blurs the lines between fact and fiction. Kim Gamble’s illustrations depict Tashi’s adventures, but the text remains uncertain. The books (there are several in this series) are perfect for kids who are not *quite* ready for chapter books, but are well-written and will even be enjoyed by kids who are already reading longer stories.