Thursday, January 15, 2009

babbling about picture books

I know I seldom do the book babbling about the picture books we sneak in. You know, it's actually kind of sad...we don't read them by the truckload anymore. We manage to fit in a few here and there, but mostly we stick to bigger kid chapter books now. I really need to make a conscious effort to include more picture books though, as I know Maxidoodle really does enjoy them. And that is one of the main reasons I joined Becky's Young Readers Challenge. (Oh okay, there's also the fact that I just love them myself.)

Anyway, since this is a challenge and all, I thought I should probably say a few words about the books we've read...

Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones by Judy Schachner. What can I say...Max absolutely adores these books! But that's hardly surprising, when our little hero is a Siamese cat who thinks himself a chihuahua. And honestly, I think I love these books as much as Max does. Funny. Adorable. Lyrical. Just plain fun to read aloud, especially with sprinkling of Spanish thrown in. Oh, and there's the fact that I get sing, something the kids groan at any other time I do it. (Don't worry, if you heard me sing, you definitely wouldn't hold their groaning against them.) But back to Skippito. In this book, we find Skippyjon raiding Darwin's, the neighborhood dog, bone stash. He's stealing the bones to build himself a dinosaur skeleton. Yes, Skippyjon now wants to be a paleontologist. And when he heads off into his closet this time for adventure, he and the Chimichangos (his chihuahua pals) find real live dancing dinosaurs. Yep, these books are a pure delight!

Have You Got My Purr? by Judy West. This is a sweet little story about a kitten who desperately wants to find her purr. She searches the barnyard, asking all the animals if they have her purr. Each animal that she asks sends her on to another, until she finally asks the wise owl. He sends her home to her mom, where she learns that her purr has been inside her all along. Max thoroughly enjoyed the story (we are talking cats here), though in actuality, it is a book aimed at a slightly younger audience. One reason I hate those age labels...had I told Max it was a book for preschoolers, he would never have let me read it to him and thus would have missed out on a story that made him smile. Oh, and I must add here, that the illustrations for this book, done by Tim Warnes, are simply charming! It's really what led me to pick up this book to start with.

Toots the Cat by Karla Kuskin. What a fun book! It's the story of Toots, but it's told in a series of poems. There's a poem for many an occasion included. We learn about how Toots showed up a stray on the doorstep, and about how Toots spends her nights, and about how Toots acts in the snow. Let me share one of my favorites:

In or Out?

When she's in
she meows to be out.
When she's out
she prefers to be in.
Whatever wherever whichever
however forever moreover
from cover to cover
from housemat to clover
she makes it quite clear
she would rather be here
if she's there.

She would like to there
if she's here.
She would rather be far
if she's near
and near
if she's anywhere far.
Her preference is whimsical,
wide and far-ranging...
well, what's a mind for
if it isn't for changing?

And I was not the only one who enjoyed this, Max was entranced! Poetry books are generally not at the top of his favorites list, but he really liked this one. Of course, there's the whole, "Well, of course, it's about a cat" thing. But I think in addition to that, he really enjoyed the variety. While the poem I shared uses rhyme very effectively, the poems contained in this book are not all just the simple rhyming poems that so many poetry books for young children contain. I feel like the author respected a child's ability to appreciate the sounds of language in many forms. Then again, maybe I'm totally off base, and that really has nothing to do with why Max enjoyed it so much. (I didn't want to ask him a bunch of questions about it, like I usually do when we read together. I'd like him to become more comfortable with poetry in general first, so I don't do anything to scare him off.) Anyway, whatever the reason, this book was a definitely hit for both of us.


Grad said...

Oh, I do miss the days when my three munchkins were little. We read to them several times every day - the best part of the day for me. Now, there are all adults and all readers; but, I have kept all their books (as well as some of mine from my long-ago childhood). Now I am inspired to look at them once more. Thanks! Good post!

Anonymous said...

Skippyjon Jones is our current favorite here! you get The Idea Book? It's a companion to documentaries on the History Channel and A & E, with great curriculum ideas in it.I was just looking at the new one and thought of you & Annie :) Here's the link to sign up to get one,if you don't already (it's free):

Grad said...

Oops. Should proof before hitting send. Meant, "they are" :>

Debi said...

I know I'll miss it enormously when my monkeys are grown, too! It truly is just a wonderful way to spend time together, isn't it? I've never quite understood how some people look at reading with their children as a chore, or worse yet, just don't do it at all.

Isn't Skippyjon just the coolest little cat?!!

And thank you! Yes, we do get it. In fact, the most recent one is sitting, open to China's First Emperor, on our kitchen table so I don't forget to mark the date on the calendar. I love that magazine (or whatever you call it). It's always so nice to have someone do some of the work for me...I'm sure you remember just what I mean. ;) Which, by the way, reminds me...I've been meaning to ask you for ages...what do the girls think of public school since they decided to give it a try? I'll bet it's a mixed bag for you, huh?

Nymeth said...

Debi! I'm about to start my first post ever on picture books and you've just provided some inspiration :D

All those sound delightful (I'm a lot like Max with the cat thing, though :P), but I especially like the sound of the last one. "In or Out?" could have been written about Pedrez, lol. He particularly enjoys doing that whenever I have a few hours to sit down with a book :P

Stephanie said...

Debi, have you ever read The Quiltmaker's Gift or The Quiltmaker's Journey by Jeff Brumbeau? These are 2 of my FAVORITE books for kids. The pictures are absolutely gorgeous, and the story is so beautiful....

My kids love those 2 books!!

Eva said...

The cover of that first one is too cute for words!!

Dawn said...

I read A LOT of picture books in my job :) There are so many that I enjoy. I swear every time I pull out a book I tell the kids it is one of my "favorites". I think they think all books are my favorite at this point in time. I hope you enjoy reading the ones you've chosen!


take care,

Chris said...

These sound fantastic!! Especially the first one. Max must have been in hog heaven this week with all of those cat books! I love picture books so much and after you and Nymeth's reviews of them I'm craving one now! I'll go read Fables...that has pictures...and it's a book :p

Debi said...

Baker's a lot like that too, despite the fact that's he's a dog.
I LOVED your picture book post! I hope you'll do more in the future!

Thanks! I've actually never heard of those books, but will definitely be on the lookout for them.

It is, and the book itself is every bit as cute!

I'll bet you've read more picture books in your lifetime than every other person I know put together. But that's really kind of a nice perk of being a kindergarten teacher, huh?

LOL!!! But hey, any excuse to read Fables is a good one! I really need to break down and buy the rest of those, since dumb old library doesn't have them.
And the Skippyjon Jones books really are fantastic! Getting to read fun picture books like those are a definitely perk of parenthood. :)

Anonymous said...

I have no kids but I have N&Ns a plenty; I was introduced to Skippyjon this xmas and I have been giving this to all my friends with wee ones. BIG HIT! fun books!

Melody said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us on these books, Debi! I need to get some picture books for my daughter and your post comes in timely! ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm signed up for that challenge too. I finally have a book for it as well. I'll post it next week!