Saturday, April 21, 2012

What's Basbusa reading?

The illustrations in Spring Story are so delightful that I would have been in love with this series without a single word of text. This book is the first of four stories about mice living together in a hedge in the countryside, and just look at all the charming details in their world (sorry about the blue-ish colors; they're phone pics!):

Basbusa did like this book, but her interest-level corresponded more to the plot rather than to the illustrations.The story-line in Spring Story tells of the surprise birthday picnic that the other mice organize for little Wilfred, and it's a sweet and pleasant tale, although it wouldn't have been particularly memorable on its own. We tried the sequel, Summer Story, but the plot focused on the wedding plans and eventual wedding day of two of the mice, and Basbusa couldn't really relate. Equally breathtaking illustrations, though.

This next book is one I really didn't enjoy much. In fact, the first time we got it out of the library (and renewed it twice), I refrained from blogging about it. But now that Basbusa has requested it again, and has hung on to it for yet another renewal, I guess I can no longer avoid mentioning that The Book That Eats People was a big hit in our house. The title pretty much sums up the plot: this is one mean book. Make sure you don't have any traces of peanut butter on your fingers if you're going to read it, because this books is always hungry! The story gives this book's dark history of child-gobbling and book-ripping, and warns the reader to beware its voracious appetite. That's pretty much it. I don't get what exactly Basbusa found so appealing, but for the record, it definitely appealed :)

Next up, a fantastic non-fiction picture book. Alice of Supratentorial mentioned Yucky Worms in a post a few weeks back, and said that she and her toddler had both enjoyed it after exploring some worms in real life. Well, as it happened, my two girls and I had found a giant worm ourselves that very morning. Basbusa reacted with much alarm, and Kunafa with tremendous enthusiasm (oops! I'm so sorry, worm!). So clearly, this book was for us. The story has a basic plot - a little boy helping his grandmother in the garden - which was enough to catch Basbusa's interest (particularly the fact that the boy, like Basbusa herself, first responded to the worm with hesitation). The facts about worms which the grandmother shared with the boy, to change his mind about disliking them, were truly fascinating: did you know that worms have five pairs of hearts? Or that they breathe through their skins? I also liked that some of the facts were mentioned as part of the text, whereas other fascinating little snippets were mentioned in different font as part of the illustrations, written along worm-tunnels, for example. This meant that we could skip some detail on the first few reads without interrupting the flow of the text, and explore the extra factoids later after Basbusa was more familiar with the book. It was a clever way of including lots and lots of information without overwhelming a three-year-old reader. Plus, pretty illustrations with cats, birds and butterflies, which were the only part that really interested Kunafa. Clearly, worms in a book are nowhere near as fascinating as worms in real life, to a one-and-a-half-year-old :)

Oh, and if you and your kids are interested in worms, you must go see this set of worm experiments for preschoolers that Maureen just posted about at Spell Outloud! (part two here)

I also want to mention a series of easy-readers we recently discovered. These books are about the size of chapter-books, but really they're more like picture-books in content - there are lots and lots of illustrations on every page, with very little text. They're silly, genuinely funny stories about unusual families and their usual-but-unusual occupations, and Basbusa is loving them. The text is relatively complicated by easy-reader standards - for example, "The next day Mrs. Wobble wobbled with a jellied dessert. The jellied dessert landed on the manager's head!" But there is so little text per page, and the pictures are so helpful in showing what's going on, that Basbusa can get through them by herself after a read or two with me. She enjoys these books just for the sake of the silliness in the stories, and I don't think she has actually noticed how much her confidence and fluency has improved in the week or two since we found them. So far we've read Mrs. Wobble the WaitressMaster Salt the Sailor's SonMiss Brick, the Builders' Baby, and Mrs. Lather's Laundry, and there are plenty more in the series to choose from! (It's a British series, and many of the books don't seem to be in print any more in the US, but try your local library - ours has the whole lot of them.)

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


  1. Oh, I love your posts! Isn't it so. .. so. . .frustrating the way the kiddos hang onto books we don't like? ;-) We read and enjoyed Yucky Worms, too. And that early reader series looks fabulous!

    Thanks so much for linking up!

  2. These all look great...well, the "book that eats people" doesn't sound pleasant, but I bet my boys would really get into it! Thanks for sharing!

  3. What a great list. You made me want to check them all out!