Thursday, November 10, 2011

What's Basbusa reading?

Still working through my giant backlog of books that we loved but I never blogged about. Six of them today. We seem to add new ones faster than I can cross the old ones off! And we have ten more arriving at the library for us today... al7amdulillah for good books :)

First up, two alphabet books. The first one, Animalia, is actually one that Basbusa wasn't all that crazy about. But it's definitely unusual in the alphabet-book category, so I'm blogging it in case someone else has kids who are more interested in seek-and-find books than Basbusa is. The idea is that there's a one- or two-page spread for each letter, each featuring an animal starting with that letter as the main subject of the illustration. There's one sentence about the animal, in which every word also starts with the letter being featured (for example, "An Armored Armadillo Avoiding an Angry Alligator"). I found the sentences themselves a bit obscure, and they quite often used vocabulary that was so far over Basbusa's head that I couldn't easily explain it. But the most interesting part of the book, I thought, was that the illustrations have a huge amount of detail, and the more you look, the more things you find that all start with the letter-of-the-page. In the background of the "P" page about Peacocks, for example, we also found poppies, a parcel, a penguin beside a pond, a parade, the leaning tower of Pisa, just to name a few (there were many more, but they're too small to make out now in the picture I took with my mobile phone!). I thought this was a pretty interesting way of doing things, and the illustrations themselves are attractive enough to spark plenty of interesting discussions... but Basbusa has never been very excited about seek-and-find books, and tended to move on pretty quickly from this one. Oh well.

Next up, An Annoying ABC, which is the story of chaos erupting in a preschool classroom. You see, Adelaide annoyed Bailey. Then Bailey blamed Clyde, and Clyde cried... and so on, until Zelda zaps the whole class with the hose she was using to water the flowers. Everyone apologizes, dries off, and then has a quiet afternoon. Basbusa was fascinated by this book because of the social aspects of the plot - I don't think she ever figured out the link to the ABC part of things (oh well, again, but she already knows her letters anyway :). Basbusa recently started preschool herself, and I think the exploration of preschool social dynamics intrigues her. How badly wrong can things really go? And how do people react? And how does it get resolved in the end? The illustrations show very typical preschoolers doing very typical things, and there's a background plot to follow (of Adelaide trying to recapture the classroom's pet mouse) that also appealed to Basbusa's imagination.

And now for two books which Basbusa loved, but which I wasn't so wild about. The Duck in the Hole probably isn't a book that I'd ever have picked out for her, but she got a lot out of it. A little girl finds a duck stuck in a hole in her yard, and tries to figure out how to rescue it. A neighborhood dog and cat also begin showing unwelcome interest in the duck, but Keisha eventually figures out a solution that solves the problem. In my opinion - not Basbusa's - the story wasn't very interesting or very believable, and the illustrations were nothing special, but I did like how the girl spontaneously thought through a whole bunch of potential solutions in her imagination, weighing the pros and cons of each one, before deciding what to do. I saw Basbusa mimicking the process a few times, which is a good thing to have picked up! This book also marked a new mini-milestone for us. Each of Keisha's possible choices (and their consequences) were illustrated clearly, and until quite recently, Basbusa wouldn't have been able to grasp that those things didn't actually happen in the plot - they were just showing Keisha's thought-process. I had tried to explain similar issues many times with other books, and Basbusa only half understood me, but this time, she got it all by herself.

A Cake All for Me... oh my goodness, A Cake All for Me. One of those books that I was wishing had never been written by the time we could eventually give it back to the library, and which I keep trying to hide behind other books on the shelf when we pass by it in the library again! It's basically a counting book about a pig making a cake. ("One, two, Get out the moo. Three, four, open and pour. Five, six, sift and mix..." etc. We gave this back to the library maybe three months ago now, and I still have it memorized!) The only other plot is overtly preachy, in my opinion: the pig starts out by wanting to hog the whole cake, even when his hungry friends ask to share it, but then he relents and they all eat it together. Plus I think the animals all have scary-looking teeth. But Basbusa loved this book: we read it approximately forty-two million times, and we still never get the milk out of the fridge without her reciting, "one, two, get out the moo," so here's the recommendation, for what it's worth!

Ok, and now for two books that both of us liked. Interrupting Chicken is one of our all-time favorites, so much so that we bought our own copy and still read it regularly. There's so much to like about this one! The basic story itself is both cute and unusual: the daddy chicken is reading bedtime stories to the little chicken, who keeps interrupting him to change the endings (advising Little Red Riding Hood not to talk to the wolf, and telling Chicken Little not to panic because the sky isn't really falling, and so on). In the end, they run out of stories, so Papa suggests that his daughter tell him a story for a change. He falls asleep half way through, and she snuggles up beside him. Awww. I love the loving relationship between the daddy and his daughter (not a theme that often tends to crop up as the central relationship in children's books). I love the little chicken's enthusiasm and involvement in the stories, which is so like Basbusa. I love the little chicken's willingness to take the story-telling into her own hands, something that Basbusa also loves to do, and I love the illustrations. Basbusa thinks it's very funny how the little chicken keeps interrupting, and likes the stories-within-the story along the way. I think she feels it's four bedtime stories for the price of one :)

The Squeaky Door is about a boy sleeping over at his grandma's house. She puts him to bed, tucks him in, gives him a good-night kiss, and tiptoes out... but the squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeak of the bedroom door scares the boy awake. So, she tucks the cat in beside him.... then the dog... then the pig... Eventually, when the horse is all tucked up beside them for the night, there is not only a "squeeeeak" but a "BOOM!", because the bed has broken into smithereens. The boy sleeps with grandma and grandpa that night, and the next day, Grandma gets out her trusty oil-can and takes care of the squeaky hinge. It's a cute story, silly and funny, and for us it was the first book where Basbusa started sounding out words by herself (those lovely "squeak"s and "boom" :)

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

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