25 September 2009

Up, Down and All Around

Isaac and I visited our local library branch Sunday afternoon to pick up some books and take a walk. The library is situated in a park, with nature trails connected to its grounds. After choosing our books, and finally getting Isaac a library card, we took a walk around the park. Isaac led the way, like a little explorer, protecting me from bears, stopping to listen occasionally to make sure we were safe, and searching the ground for animals. It was one of the best hours I have spent in a long time.

We checked out a bag of books that afternoon and have been reading a few each night. One that has caught Isaac's interest is Up Above & Down Below by Sue Redding. Each spread pictures a scene which is split horizontally on the page and the text contrasts what is happening above to what is happening below. Some of the pages picture nature scenes, such as the rain forest where "furry and feathered friends play up in the leaves, creepy crawlies rule the ground under the trees." Other pages feature absurd scenes, such as the one where golfers play up top while rodents down below rig an elaborate machine out of golf balls and tees which they have taken from the unsuspecting golfers.

Isaac will sit and "read" this book to himself, which is unusual for a book that he likes. Typically, when he likes a book he wants it read to him over and over. This shift is in part, I think, due to his increasing independence. But I also believe that this book lends itself to being perused by children. The pictures are detailed and there is a lot for him to look at. The text is simple and after one or two readings he knows the story well enough to narrate it himself.

The other morning, after I had left for work, Matt awoke to find Isaac in bed with him, with my booklight on, quietly looking through this book. How cute is that? I think the best recommendation a children's book can have is that kids go back to it over and over. I have a feeling we will read this one a few more times before it goes back to the library.

24 September 2009

Look Out!

Isaac received some books in the mail from his Gammy a few weeks ago (actually more like months -- I'm a little behind in my blogging) that make him laugh out loud. Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame (which I refuse to read despite the popularity with my students) has also written and illustrated a few other books that have nothing to do with a character's undergarments.

Kat Kong and Dogzilla are Pilkey's interpretation of the classic "horror" flicks King Kong and Godzilla. They feature his own animals in the title roles and mice as the frantic citizens trying to save their towns. They also contain groan inducing puns and wordplay.

The illustrations are collages which use manipulated photographs and painting. The cat and the dog loom threateningly over the mice in both stories, but the mice prevail in the end. The wordplay is mostly well beyond Isaac's understanding, but he finds the pictures of the animals hilarious, and he does get some of the jokes.

We have fun reading these books to him. He giggles merrily as we read, and though we cringe at some of the silly puns, we smile at his sheer enjoyment of the story.

Dav Pilkey knows what boys like, whether it is a super-hero in underpants or a dog terrorizing a city full of mice. And as his website warns, "some material may be too goofy for grown-ups."