Saturday, April 25, 2015

Books for Kids (and Adults)

My second subject is now over. This last week was an introduction to statistics, and I am wrecked (there were tears). I have two weeks off before I start a six-week statistics intensive (there will be more tears). So, to recover/prepare, I am writing about something I feel like I actually understand:  Here is a review of our family’s favourite books for kids aged 1-4ish, just in case you need tips for gifts or have nothing better to do with your time.

AGE 1: Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

Oh man - I love this book so much (even more since reading Mem Fox’s ‘making-of’ post). Moses loved it, and Hazel now loves it, too. When I first started reading it to Hazel she was only interested in the page with the train on it, because I would point at each animal on board and make its noise (all but the snail, the pelican and the rabbits. I’ve no idea what noises they make). Now that she’s older, I’m allowed to read through the entire book, after which she says, “More!” and I go back to the beginning and read through the entire book again, after which she says, “More!” so I go back to the beginning and read through the entire book again, after which she says, “More!” and I say, “Hmmm, let’s maybe read something else for a bit instead.”

AGE 2: Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton
This book is lots of fun. It’s a great one for learning (basic) colours, and the simple words have left Mo convinced that he’s able to read it all by himself.

AGE 3: The Waterhole by Graeme Base
Moses was obsessed with this book for yonks when he was around three years old. Maybe two-and-a-half. I cant remember (arent you glad Im back?  Thank you. Thank you very much). In the end we stopped reading the words and instead spent all of our book time pointing out animals in all of their memorised hiding places. The pictures are beautiful, the animal-spotting is quite fun, and the story’s an important one (not that a younger Mo paid any attention to it).

AGE 4: The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak
This is a clever and cool idea for a book, although its lack of illustrations did mean it took a little while to convince Moses that it really was a kids’ book and I wasn’t about to scar him for life by reading him something intended for much older audiences (he doesn’t trust my judgement on these things! I find this offensive!). I’d seen a video of Novak reading the book to a group of cackling kids, and I worried that perhaps reading it to only one child wouldn’t have the same effect. It had the same effect. (Thanks, Aunty Zillah!)

The downside to this book is that it requires some performance on the part of the reader, and there are nights when neither Alan nor I have the necessary energy to pull it off. Also, like joke books, we can only read it a certain number of times before Mo’s laughter begins to sound somewhat forced – that’s when we hide it away for a while again.

Books that I’ve liked way more than Mo did:

1. Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen
Our method for choosing kids’ books from the library mostly consists of Hazel picking random books from shelves and plonking them on a pile, all of which we then borrow. It used to be Moses who’d make the pile of random books, and it was in one such pile that we discovered Good Little Wolf, which is such a gem of a book that I’ve remembered both the title and author’s name despite the fact that it must have been about a year ago that we read it. The ending was so surprising and hilarious that I couldn’t read the last page because I was laughing too hard; it was refreshingly unpredictable and non-didactic. Mo didn’t get it at all (possibly I confused him with all of the snorting). I’ll have to find it at the library again to see how Mo reacts to it now that he’s older.

2. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas

This is such a beautiful book on so many levels – two levels, actually: Julie Vivas’ illustrations are absolutely gorgeous (as always), and the story of young Partridge’s relationships with the residents of an old folks’ home is just the sweetest thing ever. At the end of the book, Mo’s always like, “Okay, whatever,” while I wipe tears from my eyes. Every. Time. I love it.

Bed time. Well chat again soon.


  1. I really like Lost & Found as well. Have you read that? Good post. I enjoyed it as someone with no kids even.

    1. I have read it. I love Oliver Jeffers' illustrations! My favourite by him is 'The Incredible Book Eating Boy'.

  2. Have you guys read Uno's Garden? It's one by Graeme Base and it's gorgeous! On the topic of Green Sheep, I stopped reading it when Hen was about two and he'd point to the skinny sheep and yell out 'Daddy' and then 'Mummy!' when we got to the fat sheep....

    1. Oh my goodness, I really shouldn't laugh! HENRY!!

      We haven't read Uno's Garden, but I've just reserved it from the library thanks to your recommendation. :) I love Graeme Base.

  3. so, we lost the green sheep in our house. for months we would wander round the house asking 'where is that green sheep?' then we bought a second. then we lost that. then they both turned up on the same day. weird. I also recommend the day the crayons quit. but not the sequel.

    1. Oooh, thanks for the reminder! I speed-read that one in a shop one day, and loved it! I'll have to check my library for it and read it more slowly next time, and to kids.