Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What's Basbusa reading?

Almost done with my giant backlog of un-blogged books! Two more posts should do it, I think. 

First up, Emily Gravett in general, and Spells in particular. The basic plot is that a lonely frog decides to transform himself into a prince so that he can marry a princess and not be lonely any more. But since he has been tearing sheets out of the spell book to make palaces and pirate-ships, he has to try to piece all the paper back together again to get the right spell. From then onwards, the book is literally split in two, horizontally. You take your pick of any page from the top half and any page from the bottom half, and you end up with an animal that is half one thing and half another, with the spell to go along with it. For example: "String thing / forked tongue / Alakazird / SNIRD!", along with a picture of an animal that is half snake and half bird. Basbusa thought these were absolutely hilarious. We read them over and over and over and over, and she never got tired of it. We tried many other Emily Gravett books as a result, and she liked many of them (Blue Chameleon and The Odd Egg, for example), but I think she was still a little young for most of the others. 

Mama's Perfect Present is the sequel to Where's Our Mama. Both books are set in Paris and show a brother and sister's explorations of the city in lovingly-illustrated detail, but Basbusa and I liked this sequel much better than the original. In Mama's Perfect Present, the boy and girl are out trying to decide what to get their mother for her birthday, and inadvertently causing mayhem along the way due to their little dog's unerring instinct for getting into trouble. The children, however, continue on their way, quite oblivious to the dismayed adults in their wake, until they hit on just the right gift. Basbusa liked the plot and the humor in this story, and also liked the Paris aspect of things, since Grandma is a huge Paris-ophile :) 

Too Many Frogs is another funny story dealing with unintentionally-caused chaos, but here the "chaos" is the disruption of an unsociable, book-loving Bunny's bedtime-story routine. A cheerful and very outgoing frog discovers this regularly-scheduled story time, and - much to the disgruntlement of the bunny - makes a habit of arriving just in time for each night's installment. When the frog arrives with his entire family reunion in tow, the bunny finally speaks up and declares that he likes his story-time alone... only to discover, when he gets his wish, that he has actually come to enjoy having such an enthusiastic listener for his stories. A very enjoyable read, even if it's not imparting any particularly profound truths!

A Grand Old Tree is more non-fiction than fiction, although it's told in picture-book fashion with a tree as the main 'character.' It simply describes the life of a tree, through the various seasons and through all kinds of weather. Eventually, the tree dies and falls down, but even on the ground it continues to 'participate' in the world of living things around it, and its descendants have spread far and wide. This book is absolutely not giving any kind of formal 'instruction' about life cycles or ecosystems, but I really liked how it introduced those ideas through the simplicity and the beauty of the rhythms it was describing. (The tree in the spring gave shelter to birds and animals, and the dead tree on the ground still gave shelter to animals and insects, for example.) This was one of Basbusa's own choices, and I was surprised both that she chose it and that she kept re-reading it. Pretty though it is, I would have glanced through it, seen the near-complete absence of a plot, and assumed that Basbusa would find it boring. 

And lastly, just a quick mention of three books that Basbusa really enjoyed: Chris van Dusen's If I Built a Car, and Mo Willems' We Are In A Book! and Should I Share My Ice Cream? I won't go into details,  because she enjoyed them for all the same reasons that she enjoyed other books by the same authors, which I have blogged about here. Definitely recommended, though! Especially We Are In A Book. She giggled her way through it a zillion times. 

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