Monday, November 23, 2009

This Week's Library Haul

Here is an unintended trend this week: authors writing books about things that clearly actually happened to those authors as adults.

The Bear Upstairs
by Shirley Mozelle, illus. Doug Cushman

The writer bear downstairs is upset when a VERY LOUD BEAR moves in upstairs and interrupts her quiet life of tea and typing. Fortunately, he owns her book and wins her over her with omelets.

Destructo didn't really understand the joke here that the downstairs bear is charmed by the upstairs bear being a fan, or that she's pleased he'll be gone at work all day starting the next week. Tink got it and kind of giggled. Mainly, though, the fun is in reading out loud -- VERY LOUD -- the noises the upstairs bear makes.

The Great Gracie Chase

by Cynthia Rylant, illus. Mark Teague

Gracie (like the upstairs bear) likes a quiet life. When the painters come and make a ton of noise and put her outside, she runs away. The whole town chases her. When they collapse, tuckered out, she goes home. At the end of the book, the author bio reveals that Cynthia Rylant has a dog named Gracie.

The illustrations of Gracie in this book are so darn cute that I had to like it. Also, I love how simply it explains the quintessential dog act of taking off running and then, seemingly with no reason, turning around and coming home. Gracie had to run, Rylant tells us. People were chasing her.

Parental bragging moment: Tinkerbell pointed out that most of the book is from Gracie's point of view (though it's written in 3rd person). However, the text twice says, "Silly little dog," which bothered Tink because "Gracie would never call herself silly." She's a GENIUS, I tell you. Seriously, I wish most adults who write for kids could understand that subtle difference.

And then there's the authors writing about things that clearly happen to real children, over and over and over...

Sheila Rae, the Brave
by Kevin Henkes

Sheila Rae is not afraid of anything, but her sister Louise is a scaredy-cat. Er, scaredy-mouse. Anyway, one day Sheila Rae gets lost and Louise gets to be the brave one and rescue her.

I love me some Kevin Henkes. This despite the fact that EVERY SINGLE one of his books breaks rule #8 of Jacqui's Cardinal Rules for Picture Books: "the kid must solve his own problem." Whenever I talk about #8 in a workshop, someone says, "But what about Kevin Henkes?!" Well, what about him? The man is a picture book making genius and if you can make books like Kevin Henkes you have my permission to break nine of my rules. The rule you may not break is #6, on not talking down to kids and not moralizing to them, because this is what makes Henkes so great: he ALWAYS writes from the kid's point of view and never trivializes their concerns.

In any case, my kids loved this book.

One For Me, One For You
by C.C. Cameron, illus. Grace Lin*

This is my favorite book of the week. Two animals have a playdate. They do okay sharing four cookies, but then there are only three trucks. Tears, pulling, and time-outs ensue.

This book is in rhyme, with maybe 10-15 words on a page. The text is sparse ("If I take three, it's fine with me, but..."), yet Destructo and I knew exactly what was going on. And what was going on is near and dear to the two/three year old soul.

Richard Scarry's the Great Pie Robbery and Other Mysteries

Destructo loves mysteries. This is entirely because Tinkerbell is making her way through all my old Nancy Drew books and all the Encyclopedia Browns in the library. So when we saw a Busytown book with mysteries, it was a must have.

The first time I picked up a Richard Scarry book with my own kids, I wanted to scoff. The mom is always in the kitchen, etc. But when I opened it, my heart went "Oh. Aw. I remember that." and filled with warm. The illustration details are hilarious. The stories are fun. And the mysteries in this one are just solvable enough to be interesting for preschoolers. We have read it seven million times.

Rainbow Fairies (assorted Pet Fairies and Weather Fairies)
No author listed, which should tell you something.

Tink had these recommended to her by a friend who hates to read but loves these books. I am all for her friend, who would not read otherwise, reading them. But Tink refusing to read the genius that is Karen Hesse's Sable because she is reading about Shannon the Ocean Fairy is like, like, well, I don't know what it's like, but it makes me want to BANG MY HEAD. Hard.

* links to websites for artist and author not working


cath c said...

nice haul.

sometimes your kids are going to like something you don't like, but if they are reading anyway, it's all good, right? (just let her take that one off in a corner to read to herself)

for instance, i can seriously live without captain underpants. but s has had them memorized since before he could read because his big brother sat down and read them to him. that's right, they were doing something TOGETHER and it was READING. so i quit knocking it and left the room to make dinner.

Anna Staniszewski said...

I'd never thought about Kevin Henkes's books in that way, but you're absolutely right. He breaks the rules but gets away with it because his books are SO centered in the child (or mouse) world.

Anonymous said...

E. Brown, Nancy Drew and Richard Scarry books are some of my faves. I am systematically turning my three kids into fans, too. :)


Jacqui said...

WordWrangler, it's so good to read them again, isn't it?

Anna, I'm glad that made sense! I was worried.

cath c, as my kids get older, I am more and more realizing the value of walking away. But it's HARD!

Anonymous said...

yes, it is. Just looking at the R.Scarry books makes me feel all warm and cuddly. I love it! I have a huge book on the shelf right now with tons of his stories that I've had since I was itty-bitty. That was a LONG time ago. :)

Mary Ann Scheuer said...

Oh, I so love this group of books - the energy and enthusiasm of Gracie, the pluck and steadfastedness of Sheila Rae. Now I have to look up the others. Great library trip!