The problems I’m having with this blog aren’t about lack of things to say, or even books to talk about, but time. So many good books out lately and I’m really excited about a few that will be released this summer. In the mean time, these past few weeks have been filled with BEA, post-BEA, trying to write the store newsletter (late), moving, and any number of other things that all just sound like excuses. I don’t know if these are signs of summer or if things will calm down a bit in a few days. So today’s post is about stopping, going outside, and enjoying the slow.
In Bug Patrol, by Denise Dowling Mortensen and illustrated by Cece Bell (Clarion Books, $16.99), Captain Bob, is a police officer:
Behind the wheel
my Bug Mobile.
I’m Captain Bob,
The story is narrated in these short rhyming verses, making this book a great read-aloud for younger children. They’ll also enjoy the repetition of the phrase “Wee-o! Wee-o! Wee-o! Woo! Bug Mobile coming through!” It won’t take long for them to pick up on this phrase and say it with you. Captain Bob responds to speeding spiders, picket lines at the roach hotel, and crickets that are partying too late. He keeps the peace, offers wise solutions, and heads home at the end of the day to the bugs he loves best. This book is recommended for kids who like vehicles, admirers of the insect world, and anyone who appreciates a good siren sound. You can read this story together and then head out to the back yard to make up silly stories about the insect communities that live next to you.
The Seven Silly Eaters, by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Caldecott winner Marla Frazee, is one of my all-time favorite read alouds (HMH, $7.00). This book shouldn’t be read in any way but aloud.
Not so long ago, they say,
A mother lived—just like today.
Mrs. Peters was her name;
Her little boy was named the same.
Now Peter was a perfect son.
In every way—except for one.
Sure, sure. You get it. It rhymes. But, assuming you’re not going to make a tool of yourself in public, go back and read it out loud. Do you hear it? Can you feel the words tumbling off your tongue? The entire story is written in this alternating trochaic trimeter (reminiscent of Blake’s “The Tiger”) alternating with iambic tetrameter. The meter loops back and forth driving the narrative forward.
So what is Peter’s problem? He’s a picky eater. As are his subsequent siblings. Peter likes warm milk; his sister Lucy prefers pink lemonade, hand-squeezed. By the time Mrs. Peters makes applesauce for Jack, oatmeal for Mac, bread for Mary Lou, and eggs (poached and fried) for the twins Flo and Fran, she is exhausted. For her birthday, the group of persnickety foodies decide to make their own individual dishes of choice for their lovely mother. The results are a catastrophe. Until, they discover something very peculiar about their collective eating habits.
In keeping with the early reader/read aloud concept that has developed this week, I must say that authors and publishers have gotten smart about this niche. Mary Ann Hoberman has written a number of books using the “You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You” refrain (Little, Brown, $6.99). These books, illustrated by Michael Emberly, contain two columns of text perfect for two-part dramatization. The text columns — in different colors — are meant for reading aloud and have a nursery rhyme quality (rhythmic and rhyming), entertaining for both the tongue and the ear. The number and level of words is the same for both readers, so there is not a hierarchy and it doesn’t matter which part each person reads. While these books certainly do lend themselves to adults and children, they could also be read by two emerging readers.
In addition to You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You Very Short Stories to Read Together, there are also Fairy Tales, Fables, Scary Stories, Mother Goose tales, and 20th Century Stories to read together.