Thursday, November 3, 2011

What's Basbusa reading?

There's no real theme to this week's selections - just a bunch of picture books Basbusa has enjoyed recently.

Pouch! is the story of a baby kangaroo's first few trips outside his mother's pouch. The plot is short and simple, but funny: on his first few tries, the joey is astonished and highly alarmed by his first encounters with ordinary things like a bee or a rabbit, and with a yelp of "Pouch!!" he flees back to safety. But on his fifth trip out, he meets another baby kangaroo. They both yell "Pouch!!" and start to run away, but then realize how similar they are and start giggling. When their mothers come up and ask, "Pouch?", they happily reply, "No, thanks!" The illustrations are charming, and Basbusa can identify with the joey's hesitant reaction to new experiences! But she likes to point out to him that bees and rabbits aren't scary really, and I think she is interested by his new self-confidence by the end of the book.

There are several books in this series by Yoriko Tsutsui, all of them translated from the Japanese. Basbusa's favorite was Anna's Secret Friend, but I couldn't find a picture of it anywhere online, and we also really liked Anna in Charge, pictured here. In Anna's Secret Friend, Anna has just moved to a new town and is a bit lonely, since she doesn't know any other children and her parents are busy unpacking. But then a shy little girl from across the street starts leaving her little gifts in the mailbox - a little bunch of flowers, a folded paper doll - and a note saying she hoped they'd be friends. When they finally meet each other and find the courage to say hello, they really do make friends, and the last scene is of the two of them riding off together on their bikes to flower-filled fields. It's a sweet story, and the mystery of who was leaving the gifts caught Basbusa's interest right from the start. Also, since Basbusa herself tends to need a few moments to gather her courage before joining in a game with new kids, I think she enjoyed seeing other children who felt the same way. And I was glad that she would see an example showing that her approach works out just fine too, in the end!

The Bog Baby is the story of how two little girls find a magical creature - a Bog Baby - in a pond in the woods. They take it home and keep it in a bucket in the garage, but despite all their love and attention, it pines away for home. In the end they ask their mother for advice, and she explains that if they truly love their soft blue pet, they have to let him go. Basbusa likes stories involving adventures in the woods, and stories about little baby animals, and anything with a hint of magic about it, so this book was a big hit (and the cover art doesn't do it justice; the illustrations inside are much prettier). It's aimed at a slightly older audience, so there were one or two details she didn't quite get, but we still renewed this one from the library for about two months straight.

Next up, two Berenstain Bears books. The Spooky Old Tree and Bears in the Night are quite similar in plot,  and Basbusa loved them both. In The Spooky Old Tree, the bears are off on a night-time expedition to explore the scary world inside the gnarled old tree on the cover of the book. First one, then another, and then all three lose their nerve, and end up running home to their mother as fast as they can. Bears in the Night is even simpler in terms of plot: the bears hear an owl-hoot and sneak out of bed to find what's making the noise. When they find the owl and it hoots again, it gives them such a fright that they run straight back home to bed. This book is really an exercise in prepositions: the text simply reads, "In bed... Out of bed... to the window.../ To the window... at the window... out the window...," and so forth, around the lake, under the bridge, and up Spook Hill. But the repetition actually worked quite well to increase the suspense, and this is just the right level of scary for Basbusa. We spent weeks re-enacting the adventure, and one particular bed in our house is now permanently known as Spook Hill :)

A Splendid Friend Indeed is a book which, in my opinion, needs very active story-telling to bring it to life. The basic story is that the bear, who is quite happily reading his book or writing in his diary, keeps being interrupted by his over-enthusiastic friend, the duck, whose incessant chatter drives the bear batty. He puts up with it with great patience, however - the duck is oblivious to the increasingly grumpy look on the bear's face - and in the end is rewarded when the duck's final interruption is to read him a letter he has written, telling him what a wonderful friend he is. Awwww. The story ends with hugs and a picnic. I found that I had to make a big deal of acting this one out, though, before Basbusa started to enjoy it. The text is very limited: it only includes the duck's chatter, and the rest of the story is told by the illustrations. But the illustrations are relatively subtle (if you're a three-year-old), and Basbusa didn't pick up on the bear's grumpiness until I started mimicking his posture and body-language. Then she got the point and thought it was funny. She has also started using the words "splendid" and "indeed" in her everyday conversation :)

Linking up with What My Child is Reading and Read-Aloud Thursday.

1 comment:

  1. I love the books with my daughter's name in them, so I'll see if we can find these Anna series in our library. Thanks for joining WMCIR!