Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Picture Books

I am, unfortunately (though many people tell me otherwise), not yet a mother (I added that yet for my parents’ benefit). But I am very fortunate to have five nieces and a nephew.

Every so often, I have the chance to read children’s books with my nieces. Today was such a lucky day. We read five books:

  • Firefighter: This is a “first reader” book with only one word per page: Helmets, Run, Smoke, Siren. I discovered I am not a good first reader reader. First, I wasn’t necessarily fond of the words Michael Rex chose. Fire House—I prefer Fire Station; Engine—I like Fire Truck better. I also had little patience with the single words. I wanted a story, so I made up a tale about the firefighters to match the illustrations. In retrospect, I probably set my nieces’ reading curve back several years. Oops.
  • A Day in the Life of a Baby Deer: Firefighter has too few words, but A Day in the Life of a Baby Deer has way too many. It’s one of those books you open up and have to stifle a groan over; you hope you can edit the story without the child catching on. Not only is this story too long, it is rather brutal. There is a scene where two older bucks lock horns and fight. The baby deer longs for the day when he will fight, too. Hmm. Fighting may be true to nature, but it is not necessarily an attribute I want to teach my nieces.
  • Amelia Bedelia 4 Mayor: I love Amelia Bedelia. But when I saw the book was written by Herman Parish—Peggy’s nephew—I was ready to hate it: and I did. Okay, hate is a strong word, but any book that uses "4" for "for" cannot be good. I love the original Amelia Bedelia because even though she tends to misunderstand things, she is always a success. The Amelia Bedelia in this book, however, is nothing more than a buffoon. Plus, the premise of the book is that the current mayor is raising taxes. Do children know what taxes are? I think, and hope, not.
  • Whistle for Willie: Somehow, I’ve never read this Ezra Jack Keats book before. I am a huge fan of Peter’s Chair and The Snowy Day, so I was happy to catch up with Peter again. The book reminds me a bit of Sesame Street. Based on the illustrations, Peter clearly lives in a big city. Yet he and his dog, Willie, seem to trot up and down the streets on their own. What a glorious—and long dead—idea.

The best part about reading children’s books is you can read many in a short time. Perhaps, I will start reading picture books exclusively.


Wanna-Be Lit said...

Sounds like we need to go to the library again already.

notaconnoisseur said...

Probably it is great to have children pick out stories that attract them, but I found as a mom reading books, that I really preferred to have a story that I personally liked. If I enjoyed it, it was much easier to read it again and again and again...