Friday, April 6, 2012

What's Basbusa reading?

Another long-ish blog-silence, for the same reason as before - Basbusa is so enthusiastic about chapter books these days that we're not reading anywhere near as many picture books, so our book-per-day count has gone down considerably. Although I'm glad she's excited, of course, I can't help feeling that it's a bit soon to be leaving the picture-book universe. She's only three and a half! To me it feels like watching a toddler wearing shoes with heels - ok, I can see she's delighted to be so fancy, but surely she can't play properly in them...?  I guess it depends what she's playing, though... And in any case, it's probably only a phase, and not something I need worry about unless she's still ignoring picture books a few months from now.

So, here are our favorite chapter-book read-alouds from the past two weeks. We read another five or six which I'm not mentioning, either because they were clearly above Basbusa's comprehension level (not that she was willing to stop reading them), or because I found myself skipping or editing frequently to tone down mean-child behavior in the stories.

By far my favorite, and Basbusa's too, was More Milly Molly Mandy Stories. Oh, how I wish this author had written more books! They're just perfect for Basbusa in terms of length, characters, and plots, and I love the values and lifestyle it illustrates. Yes, ok, I doubt any childhood was ever so idyllic, but it doesn't come across as saccharine or artificial. Milly-Molly-Mandy, Billy Blunt and Little-Friend-Susan are just the kinds of friends I want for my daughter :)

Basbusa was also crazy about The Little Red Fox by Allison Uttley. She actually read this one, unbeknownst to me, with Grandma, because I had found it in a box of my own childhood books, pre-read it, and found it too boring to want to sit through again. But Basbusa sat through the whole thing in two sittings with Grandma, absolutely enthralled, and has been mentioning the characters in her pretend-play ever since. It's about an orphan fox who is adopted by a family of badgers, and occasionally pursued by an evil and sneaky old uncle.

We both enjoyed Emmaline and the Bunny, although I think Basbusa was just going for the plot, and didn't necessarily pick up on the theme of wildness, joy and individuality vs. order, silence and conformity. The plot is simple and easy to sympathize with - basically, a lonely little girl who passionately, desperately wants a bunny - but the beautiful illustrations and the author's use of language are two more reasons to read this one. Katherine Hannigan uses words for their sound as well as purely for their meaning, but without becoming so unorthodox as to make it confusing for a young listener. For example, shortly after a narrow escape from a hawk: "Soon, the bunny's eyes were not so big-black. Soon, its heart was not so heavy THUNK-ing. The bunny lay on its stomach. It put its ears flat on its head and closed its eyes. Emmaline lay on her side nearby. She raised her hand. Slowly, she rested it on the bunny, like a blanket. The bunny's body shivered once, then stilled. Emmaline felt the bunny's fur. It was soft and warm like summer clouds. She could feel the bunny's heartbeat in her hand, thunka thunka thunka." (In the text, these sentences were divided into several different paragraphs, so they didn't sound so disjointed - the paragraphs made for more natural pauses.)

Two Times the Fun has four short stories about the everyday adventures of four-year-old twins called Jimmie and Janet. Basbusa could completely identify with their excitements and disappointments, savoring Jimmie's tremendous satisfaction in having dug a big, real hole in the backyard with a big, real shovel, and fully understanding his dismay when he woke up from his nap to find Janet curled up inside his hole, pretending it was a nest. It didn't take us long to finish the whole book and leave me searching - yet again! - for more age-appropriate chapter books, but that's my only criticism!

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


  1. The only one of these I'm familiar with is Milly-Molly-Mandy. Can you believe that? :-) I'm particularly surprised that I've never heard of that Judy Blume title.

    I started reading chapter books to my girls when my eldest was about that old, I guess. We still haven't abandoned picture books (of course), but I don't think it hurts a bit to read to them whatever holds their attention. It will make it all the easier to read longer works to them when they're older. But abandon picture books? No way! :-)

    I'm so glad you linked up!

  2. Good suggestions! I also wrote about Chapter Books this week.

  3. I have to check out these books, since they are all not familiar to me. In our house we are trying to balance picture books and chapter books, since picture books usually have more interesting language. Thanks for joining WMCIR!