Thursday, July 19, 2012

What's Basbusa reading?

Now that Kunafa, at one-and-three-quarters, is old enough to start enjoying picture books as well as board books, I've been especially pleased when we find a book that both girls love to hear together. Basbusa just turned four, so there's not a huge amount of overlap between their tastes most of the time, but all four of these books were big hits with both girls. You'll notice that they all involve animals, which has been a favorite topic of Kunafa's practically ever since she was born.

"The Parrot Tico Tango had a round, yellow mango / But it wasn't quite as yellow as the lemon of Marcello. / And Tico Tango knew / That he had to have it too, / So he took it!" So begins the story of the greedy parrot who steals fruit after fruit from each of his friends, much to their dismay. But in the end his greed becomes his downfall, and he ends up contrite and willing to share. We liked the tango-like rhythm of the words, and we liked the rhyme (as we always do). The repetition of the ever-lengthening list of stolen fruit was fun for both of them, but especially for Kunafa, and both girls liked scolding Tico Tango for his behavior. They both liked the justice of Tico Tango's losing all his fruit ("Now the parrot Tico Tango / Didn't even have his mango!"), and of his having to make amends ("If you teach us all to tango, you can have a piece of mango.") The one criticism that Basbusa made about this book (every. single. time. we read it) was that Elena's fig, "which was purple, sweet and big" was actually more blue than purple in the illustrations.

We've had a mixed relationship with Mem Fox. Sometimes the girls love her books,and sometimes they seem to fall flat. But Two Little Monkeys has zoomed right up to our all-time favorites list. The text is simple enough that Basbusa can read it with no effort at all, which she always finds encouraging at this stage, and the plot - the tale of two little monkeys who almost get pounced on by a leopard but escape up a tree at the last moment -  is simple enough that even Kunafa can follow the action. It has just the right amount of suspense (it's not clear initially exactly what is prowling through the bushes) an exciting escape, and a happy ending. A perfect toddler story.

One of our favorite destinations in Boston is the Children's Museum, which has, in the 3-and-under-area, a car that plays a song. Basbusa has loved that song ever since we first started going there, so when I accidentally discovered the book that goes along with it, I knew she'd like it. "Daddy's taking us to the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow. Daddy's taking us to the zoo tomorrow, we can stay all day. We're Going to the Zoo, zoo, zoo, How about you, you, you, You can come too, too, too, we're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo." The text of the book is just the words of the song, and the illustrations are interesting, animal-filled, and full of a child's excitement at a trip to the zoo. I don't know if the girls would have enjoyed the book quite so much if we hadn't all been singing along with it (the music is included on the last page of the book, but there's no CD), but I think it would have been a good read in any case.

Me Baby, You Baby is another trip-to-the-zoo story. In a way, it's aimed at a younger audience, because the two children in the story are still very young toddlers. In terms of the length of the book, though, it's well-suited for older kids. The text and the delightful mama-and-baby-themed animal pictures work well for either age. (The words might have been a bit babyish for Basbusa, but she could read them herself, so she didn't mind.) The story covers one day in the life of two toddlers, from sunrise ("Stretch baby, yawn baby, Here comes the dawn, baby") to sunset ("Sleep baby, tight, baby, Turn out the light, baby"), and I thought it captured perfectly the pace and rhythm of life with a very young child. We renewed this one three or four times before finally giving it back.

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


  1. I need to do a better job of picking out books for my two year old! Whew! I'm starting all over! :-). Thanks for these recommendations. I especially like the looks of Tico Tango.

  2. As a children's librarian, I adore Mem Fox!