Friday, November 9, 2012

Children's Picture Books

It is picture book Friday!  Wow the week flew by.  This week I am highlighting some great books that cross the divide between the author and the reader.  In a classic picture book, the author is an unknown.  In these books our authors come out from behind the pages and talk to the reader, the illustrator and even some of the main characters.

Of course the original book, a favorite of mine, that was the first to cross this divide was The Monster at the End of this Book - you remember the lovable Grover who didn't want the reader to turn the pages too fast because he had heard there was a monster at the end of the book.  Another author that tackled this genre so successfully is Mo Williams and his Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus series!  In these books our pigeon implores the reader to let him just try to get behind the wheel!

This week I have some fabulous stories that remind the reader that they are a part of the reading experience too.  Well that ..... and they are just plain fun!

Title:       An Undone Fairy Tale

Author:   Ian Lendler

Target:    Preschool - Grade 2

What this book is about:
Once upon a time there was a pie making princess that was held hostage by her stepfather, the king.  Because he loved her pies so much, her refused to let her leave.  Sounds like the beginning of a good fairy tale, the only problem is that the reader is turning the pages so fast, that our illustrator, Ned, can’t keep up.  When Sir Wilbur the Brave arrives to rescue the princess, there hasn’t been time for Ned to get the horses and amour done, only fish and tutus are available, so that is what Wilbur must use to storm the castle!  Never mind the monkeys who must stand in for the knights, the snail the princess must ride or the fierce shark dog (in a snorkel) patrolling the moat!  As the narrator begs the reader to slow down, he is reduced to finishing the pictures, with disastrous results.  

Why I love this book:
I love books that make kids feel like they are apart of the story.  It is such a fun technique to get kids thoroughly engaged.  As the narrator begs the reader to slow down, the only course of action is to, of course, speed up!  And kids can’t wait to see what ridiculous things happen as a result.  My kids love sitting with this book and reading it over and over again on their own, especially now that they are older.

Who this book is for:
Any kids who love ridiculous fun.

Final thoughts:
Great slapstick comedy and the story is seamless!

To purchase this book, click here to connect to Amazon: An Undone Fairy Tale  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:       Chloe and the Lion

Author:   Mac Barnett

Target:    Kindergarten - Grade 2

What this book is about:
This book is about many things, but the main story surrounds Chloe and her surprise encounter with a lion.  Or is it a lion - because the illustrator, decides in his infinite wisdom that a dragon might be a better, so that’s what he draws.  What ensues is a battle between the author and the illustrator over what should happen in the book.  The illustrator is eaten by the lion, the author tries unsuccessfully to draw his way out of this bind, and finally Chloe steps in to set things right and get the story moving again!

Why I love this book:
First off the story and the writing are extremely clever.  So many of the details in the book are not to be missed and they make the book fun to read over and over with all new discoveries! The book also takes place on a stage, so it is like the reader is watching a play unfold, which I thought was very cool. 

I also love it when a book really engages the reader, and I think that kids will be drawn right into this story because it crosses over the imaginary line where the author and illustrator are no longer unknowns to the child.  Kids will love to see the bickering between the writer and the illustrator as they hash out their problems, which border on the extremely comical! 

Who this book is for:
While a picture book, I have targeted this for kindergarten and up because of the length and the humor.  The jokes do have some sophistication so while a think a preschooler can certainly enjoy the story, it will not be until kindergarten that they start to “get” some of the jokes.  I think that even third and fourth graders could really get into this book.

Final thoughts:
So the question this book asks is whether the author or the illustrator is more important.  A fun topic to broach with kids as they realize that both people are integral to a great story, oh and an author dressed up as a gorilla doesn’t hurt either!

To purchase this book, click here to connect to Amazon: Chloe and the Lion  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:        Chester

Author:    Melanie Watt

Target:     Preschool - Grade 2

Series:     Yes

What this book is about:
This is more than a story, this is a duel between the author and the main character, a cat named Chester, to see who will really be writing this story.  The author innocently begins her story, in black type, about a mouse, when suddenly a red market invades the story and Chester comes barreling in.  He has some definite ideas on how he wants his story to go, and the author, in an effort to regain control, causes chaos for Chester wherever she can!  Of course, Chester can dish it out as well, and what ensues is a funny back and forth between the two where no one really wins but the reader!

Why I love this book:
Funny, funny, funny!  Chester is a spoiled child as he tries everything to get the upper hand, and this had both my daughter and me giggling the whole way through the book.  However, the best part was when the author does the unthinkable to Chester .... puts him in a pink tutu!  The look on that cat’s face still makes me smile, days later!

Who this book is for:
Now here is the difficult part of this book.  I found it a bit hard to read out loud because the voice is changing so often between the author and Chester.  One on one my daughter and I talked about the book and laughed our way through it, but the most fun we had was when I took the part of the author and she took the part of Chester!  Of course my daughter can read, so that helped!  If you are going it alone, you really have to get animated to appreciate all the fabulous parts to this book!

Final thoughts:
I love how the author has carried the theme of the book (the duel between Chester) all the way through the jacket cover and inside flaps.  It’s great when an author pays that much attention to detail!

To purchase this book, click here to connect to Amazon: Chester  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

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