Chloe and Papi have long been fans of Come Along, Daisy! So when we discovered that Chloe’s Mama had found a copy of Daisy and the Egg, Papi was happy to read it. A lot. This is one sweet book. Daisy is an endearing duck. Aunt Buttercup is sitting on an egg for Daisy’s mom. But the mom’s egg doesn’t hatch at the same time as the Aunt’s. “Some eggs just don’t hatch,” said Mama Duck. “Come and play with your cousins, Daisy.” But Daisy stays and keeps the egg warm. It’s dark, she’s cold. And then Pip! Pip! Pip! Little Pip, the brother, comes out. If you think high drama can’t be contained in a book labeled baby to preschool, think again.
(We discovered at the library that there is a Daisy’s Hide and Seek: A Lift the Flap Book too, all by Jane Simmons.)
Papi and Luke are reading Sheep Out to Eat by Nancy Shaw. See this earlier entry for more about the series. Yum. (Sheep in a Jeep and Families: What They Have in Common February 24, 2011 by Words We Women Write) This Sheep series is a good example of how just the sight of the book lying half-covered under the blocks will pull the toddler over and cause him to yank it out. Luke liked to look through it and then carry it to a big person. He’d pull himself up on the couch and wiggle under the armpit of the reader. He sort of jiggled with anticipation. A winner–both Luke and the books!
Nani reads The Animal Family by Randall Jarrell to Lydia.
A lonely hunter hears the beautiful song of a mermaid. They come to love each other and she moves in to his rustic cabin that lies on both the edge of the forest and the sea. They revel in each other’s differences. Gradually the family grows: first a lynx, then a bear, and finally a little boy. What is ordinary for one member of this family becomes a source of delight and awe to another. The more they share their memories and manners, the more they are bound together with the bonds of love. This seems to be the wonder of it all, doesn’t it? Once we come to tell each other our stories, once we find someone to listen, we find more and more to love in that other person. Hurrah for stories! As the end of the book came nearer and nearer, Lydia told me to read slower and slower. It finally ended. I promised to read it again. She sighed and said, So, that’s good,Nani. (Randall Jarrell is a poet, and this book is a joy to read aloud. The words roll and lilt and curve and caress, and left me, the reader, with a sense of complete satisfaction, like a gourmet meal.)
Even when he wasn’t a one-year old, Luke would crawl, if not across the world, at least under the table for One, Two, Three by Sandra Boynton. I love reading it aloud especially lines like this one: “ten makes a celebration LOUD, LOUD, LOUD…and one is wonderful after a crowd.” He and I–and zillions of other folk–adore this author. She’s just plain entertaining. Even for kids. Authors for children’s books are very canny to make the reading fun for the adults. We know our kids need to have heard something like 5000 books before they go to school (I don’t know if it’s really 5000, but it’s a huge number and starting in utero gives you a good headstart.) So making the book enjoyable to the reader as well as the listener is vital if this is going to happen. Right on, Boynton.
I have fun at her website. http://www.sandraboynton.com/sboynton/boyntonbooks.html
Here’s one of her web asides: “In the time it would take you to read War and Peace, you could read every book Sandra Boynton has written, and still have time left over to, oh, learn Italian or something. Plus her drawings are generally cuter than Tolstoy’s.”
Papi started reading Teddy Robinson to both Lydia and Chloe. This book contains the everyday adventures of 6-year old Deborah and her teddy bear,Teddy Robinson. They have intricate little situations arise around the house or with friends. This book was made to be read aloud. The words flow gracefully; the stories are just the right combination of fantasy and innocence. Not soppy. Everyone is respectful of each other and full of humor. Generous of spirit and endearing. Jack did most of the reading, but I found myself hanging around just within earshot so as not to miss the next exciting episode. This is an oldie but goodie. I want to stress this because I think we do our kids a misservice when all their read alouds are short chapter books. These chapters are long, Winnie the Pooh long, Wind in the Willows long, Thornton W. Burgess long. And long is good. This is how we stretch attention spans. This is how we get that mind’s eye working. The author does not write down to her audience. So, settle in, all you 3 to 88 year-olds–not that I’m 88 I hasten to add. Savor the complex, compound sentences, the metaphors, the tiny bits of exposition, and just plain good stories. This is a little note by the publisher: “Joan Robinson was trained as an illustrator and began writing her own stories in 1939. Her many books for children include the Mary-Mary series, and, for older children, classic novels such as When Marnie Was There and Charley. Working closely with her husband, Joan Robinson published over thirty books before her death in 1988. Her most enduringly popular character, Teddy Robinson, first appeared in print in 1953. ‘His adventures might happen to anyone’s teddy bear,’ said his creator ‘but his way of looking at them is his own.’ This collection of stories has been selected by the author’s daughter, the original Deborah, and proud owner of the real Teddy Robinson.”
Rob reads The Poky Little Puppy to William.
William identifies with The Poky Little Puppy; we’re not sure why and we don’t know what he laughs at, but every time he sat in a lap to have it read, he chortled. Yes, a real chortle. A three-month old chortling. Amazing. This book was one of the original 12 Little Golden Books. One of my play group mothers once told me she read it to her children because they were poky. Don’t bother. That’s not the charm of this book. This is the story of a curious little puppy. It’s been around for 50 years, and is still a fun read. Look at the smile on this kid’s face.
Rob reads William I Kissed the Baby. This is a book that captures the over the top joy of anyone associated with a new baby. The adult reader identifies with the enthusiasm of the animals. The fish asks, “I saw the baby! Did you see the baby?” It’s a statement-question-answer format that allows the reader to use lots of expression. The chicken fed the baby, the butterfly sang to the baby, the ant tickled the baby. Finally the duck is asked a question about the baby. She answers,”Of course I kissed the baby, my own amazing baby.” And then we see the new arrival. There’s color only on the edges of shiny black and white until this new baby shows up and then it’s YELLOW and the text shifts to HOT PINK. I watched William and Luke while Rob and John read this book to them. It seemed perfectly suited to their little eyes and ears. I admit to feeling that I may be reading too much into it, but it thrums with love and sweetness. One reviewer even allowed that it was pithy. Hmmmm. Pithy? Even I will have to chew on that.
Chloe wandered off after a while during Papi’s multi-day reading of Teddy Robinson, but it’s going to be on Lydia and Papi’s list of favorites. We’ll read it again for Chloe next year. I’m sure Lydia will want to listen again. It’ll be like meeting an old friend, and when do you ever turn away when you see an old friend coming down the street?