Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pumpkinpie's Picks

February lends itself to wanting to curl up in a chair with a good book - which is just what Pumpkinpie and I did plenty of. Here are a few of last month's most-requested titles.

My Naughty Little Sister Stories, by Dorothy Edwards, ill. Shirley Hughes

Our first real foray into chapters, these stories are chatty, cute, short, and nicely episodic. Pumpkinpie loved them and asked for them often, revelling in stories of kids her own age, and not requiring sustained attention to a prolonged narrative. A great first start, they even boast the odd illustration by Shirley Hughes. We started with an anniversary collection drawn from several of the original novels, and she loved it. I may have to lay hands on some more to keep the momentum going.

Mariana and the Merchild, by Caroline Pitcher, ill. Jackie Morris

Pumpkinpie is in love with mermaids, unicorns, and princesses these days. But rather than succumb every time to treacly fairy tales, I throw in a few fok tales with those same themes, and she loves them just as well, while I feel less like I've given up to the girliness. This one is a twice-daily read around our house for the last week or two - she corrects me if I substitute a word, as I sometimes do. While this Chilean folktale is not in the library, as far as I can find, it is still in print and available online.

The Balloon Tree, by Phoebe Gilman

A more princessy fairy tale, this modern story by Canadian favourite Gilman features a feisty princess who saves the kingdom when her nasty uncle tries to take over in her father's absence. Still, it has those elements a young girly-girl loves - the princess is a young girl in a lovely dress, there is a wizard and magic, and there are tons of balloons. I also love the illustrations, inspired by medieval manuscript illumination. Overall, it's a hit with both of us.

Olivia Forms a Band, by Ian Falconer

I hadn't read the Olivia books to Pumpkinpie before - I often wonder if children find them as funny as adults do - but this one was an immediate hit. She loves the noises, the silliness, and the saucy little pig. Though the story seems disjointed to me, she loves its collection of moments which are perfectly captured, it must be said. Funny and sweet, it drew her right in - though in the spirit of fair warning, I should tell you that she insisted on being nosiy herself for days, stomping around with instruments and shouting, "Clang! Bwap!" at odd moments. I may have a few extra grey hairs a a result.

Bark, George, by Jules Feiffer

Dogs. Silliness. What's not to love? To be honest, this has been one of my favourite silly stories for years running, now, and the eight kindergarten classes I read it to recently quite agreed. It's just absurd enough to appeal to toddler and preschooler humour, and Jules Feiffer, being a New Yorker cartoonist, puts across the funny deftly in his simple illustrations.

poetry by Dennis Lee (The Ice Cream Store, Bubblegum Delicious, Alligator Pie), as well as still-beloved Here's A Little Poem (sel. Jane Yolen, ill. Polly Dunbar)

I am a firm believer that kids are naturals for poetry, and that they love it and are drawn to its rhythms and rhymes until we solemnly teach them about how serious it is. But it doesn't have to be serious - there is a ton of fun poetry out there for kids, and why not teach them to love it while you still have the chance? Pumpkinpie adores Dennis Lee, and the brilliantly selected verses in Little Poem and requests them with fair regularity. Makes my heart sing to a skipping song beat.

Find these and other great stories to share at your local public library!

Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.

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