Saturday, October 8, 2011

What's Basbusa Reading?

Snip Snap! What's That? was a huge favorite, and Basbusa is already requesting that we get it out of the library again. The basic plot is that an alligator, who has emerged from the sewer, comes closer and closer to three children who are home alone in their apartment. The alligator is only suggested at first, with footprints... and then with the end of his tail... and then with a tail plus some feet... while the text mirrors the progression: at each stage, it repeats the question and answer, "Were the children scared? You bet they were!" in ever-larger font. I'll never forget the first time we read this one, because by the time we got to the climax - a two-page spread with nothing but a huge, open alligator mouth on them - Basbusa was holding her breath! But then "the children decided they'd had enough/ of all this scary alligator stuff" and shout at it to go away, which the alligator, tremendously taken-aback by this turn of events, does. Whew! :) This summary makes it sound scarier than it really was - trust me, Basbusa is not the bravest of tots, and this would never have made it past the first reading if it were truly frightening. I also liked that the text wasn't completely in rhyme, but had enough rhyme and rhythm to build up the suspense. Plus, the recurring question and answer made it easy for Basbusa to "read" this one to herself.

Penguin is about a boy who gets a toy penguin for his birthday, and tries everything he can think of to make the penguin talk to him. The penguin, unsurprisingly, doesn't. So the boy, completely frustrated, tries to feed the penguin to a passing lion. After the surprising climax of the story, the penguin, in a language all of his own, suddenly starts talking. We liked this one because the story is simple but has an unexpected twist, and a happy ending. Also, Basbusa could relate to the tantrum that the little boy throws when he's completely frustrated! I also liked that the text had only one, quite simple, sentence per page, making it easy for Basbusa to "read" it to herself.

The Perfect Nest was such a fun read. It's about a cat called Jack who builds a nest to attract a chicken, in the hopes of making himself some omelets. But it's such a good nest that it attracts not only a chicken (with a Spanish accent), but also a duck (with a French accent) AND a goose (with a silly American accent). The three birds squabble over the nest and all three refuse to leave it, despite Jack's best efforts to coax them away. In the end, well, Jack doesn't get his omelets, but he gets something else instead. Three somethings else :) The story itself is funny, and it's a great read-aloud because you can do lots of silly accents. Plus, the illustrations have lots of extra details to look at, elaborating on what's in the text.

One Night in the Zoo is technically a counting book, but the progression of numbers fades into the background of a story about what the animals in the zoo get up to during the night, while nobody is there to see. I liked that the numbers part was so understated, because Basbusa is never very interested in books which are really just thinly-disguised math lessons (or any kind of lessons, really). This rhyming story has a recurring line, "...but nobody knew," which generated a sweet moment the first time we read it. The very last page, after the animals have all made it back to their cages just in time, shows a chimp repeating the same refrain, but pointing at the reader, and adding, "except YOU!" Basbusa was surprised and very flattered. "Except me? Does he really mean me...?" :)

The Black Book of Colors is another book which Basbusa picked out for herself at the library, but which I would never have thought of looking for in a million years. But we got a lot out of it! The whole book is black, and the text - in both English and Braille - gives one-sentence descriptions of what each color "looks" like (for example, "yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick's feathers"). Each facing page has embossed pictures (still black-on-black) illustrating the things described in the text. Basbusa enjoyed the book for its own sake, and liked trying to feel the pictures. She had never learned about blindness before, so we also watched some videos on youtube showing kids reading and writing Braille, which she found very interesting.
Linking up with Read-Aloud Thursday and What My Child is Reading.


  1. Oh! We haven't read any of those and they all sound fantastic!
    Almost Unschoolers

  2. We read a couple on your list including the Black Book of Colors - it's really special. Good book to read while talking about 5 senses! Thanks for joining WMCIR!