Monday, December 10, 2012

What's Kunafa Reading?

Yet another much-too-long silence! But during these first few months of "real" homeschooling, I've been focusing more on doing it than on writing about it.

I have a million books to write about, but just to start off with, here are some books that my younger daughter, who just turned two, has loved lately. She's truly moved beyond board books now; these are all picture books that I think are perfect for kids who just at the stage when they can follow and enjoy a simple plot.

I Can Help! was a hit with Kunafa for about two months of daily readings. The story-line is simple, plausible and charming: on each two-page spread, an animal gets into trouble, and his helped by a friend. On the next page, that friend runs into problems too, and is helped by someone else. And so the pattern continues, until the chain of helpers circles back around again to the curious little duckling who started it all in the first place. Kunafa loved this one partly because the plot was so easy to grasp, and partly because the animals have difficulties that are very familiar to two-year-olds (like getting lost, getting a splinter, or falling off something). She also still loves looking at animals, so she liked this cast of characters too. I thought the illustrations were delightful; appealing without being cutesy.

Fluff & Billy is my least-favorite of the five I'm reviewing here, but Kunafa loves it. This is the story of two penguins going about their day, which entails doing and stating the obvious (twice over, for each activity: "'I am jumping up!' said Fluff. 'I am jumping up!' said Billy.") Kunafa, however, seems to delight in the predictability of Billy's echoing every dull sentence of Fluff's, and finds the climax - the one time when Billy says something slightly different from Fluff - correspondingly exciting. What Billy actually does at this moment is to throw a snowball at Fluff, and Kunafa seems to find deep meaning in the fact that he hurt his friend, but that he didn't mean to. All is happily resolved and the friends reunite, repetitively. Two thumbs up from Kunafa.

Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy, like Rhyming Dust Bunnies by the same author, never fails to have both Basbusa and Kunafa collapsing in giggles. In fact, this one is an even bigger hit with Kunafa, because its humor doesn't rely on a kid's ability to understand the concept of rhyme. The plot is simple - a scardey-cat cowboy keeps needing to be reassured by his cows that nothing is sneaking up on him while he tries to sing them to sleep - but it still manages to end up with an unexpected twist. Kunafa loves chiming in with the cows as they say, "No, Cowboy, it's just a flower!", or "No, Cowboy, it's just me!" and both girls love how the cowboy keeps interrupting his lullaby to say, "Eeeeeeeek!" instead of "Good Night."

I read Each Peach Pear Plum with Basbusa when she was three, but she wasn't wild about it. I think maybe it was a little young for her at the time? It's just perfect for Kunafa, at two, and she has this one memorized, even without the book in front of her as a prompt. Each spread has a sentence describing the main action of the illustration ("Mother Hubbard down the cellar"), followed by a hint pointing to you find another character hidden in the picture ("I spy Cinderella!"). The "hidden" characters are just visible enough to make the challenge interesting rather than frustrating for a two-year-old, and there are lots of interesting details to look at in the pictures beside the main subjects, like the frog who rescues Baby Bunting's pacifier or the sheep eating a slice of plum pie with Bo Peep. Each scene can stand alone, but all the "I spy" scenes actually link up to describe how all the characters are preparing for a picnic together.

When I read this with Basbusa, I think I felt that the subject-matter of this book was a bit awkward: I thought that children who would love the simplicity of this language and plot would be too young to have much acquaintance with the storybook characters who crop up in this story (Cinderella, Tom Thumb, Mother Hubbard). And it's certainly true that Kunafa has no clue who Mother Hubbard or Baby Bunting are, outside the context of this story (hmmm, nor do I, now that I come to think about it!). But it doesn't seem to bother her in the least, and she's just as interested in "spying" them in the pictures.

One monkey finds a Banana, a second monkey wants it, and eventually they both realize that sharing it will make both of them happy. The only word used in the text is "Banana!" (oh, and one "please"); the expressions on the monkeys' faces explain whether it's meant as a cry of jubilation, a plea, or a full-fledged tantrum. Kunafa totally got the concept of wanting to share but having to ask nicely, and she liked acting this one out as we read it, mimicking the monkeys' faces and gestures. A fun read.

If you're looking for other books for this age-group, I have reviewed four others here.

Linking up with Read-Aloud Thursday and The Children's Bookshelf.


  1. We love Jan Thomas so much, but I have yet to read this one you mention here. Thanks so much for linking up to The Children's Bookshelf.

  2. I can't believe I've never heard of or seen ANY of these! I think our resident 2 1/2 year old would like them all, but especially the banana one.
    I'm so glad you're back for RAT! You've been missed!