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Monday, November 19, 2007

Orange Pear Apple Bear

[this post written for Saffron Tree]

Orange Pear Apple Bear
by Emily Gravett

Suggested age: 1-4 years

As I held this book in my hands at the bookstore, slowly turning the pages with slight skepticism, I tried to read it with Ana's eyes and senses. By the time I read through to the end I was speechless, reverting to adult experience. I was blown away by the simplicity and the elegant art work.

It is a very simple book, with just 4 (+1) words, as found in the title, telling the whole story through combination of the four words and accompanying illustrations, with just an additional word to end the story.

Most of initial reading so far by my toddler is just memory and repetition - even if she turns the page at the right spot and reads it with the right intonation, it is just imitation, not real reading. After all, she is only 2½ and still toddling... her gait hasn't even straightened out yet...

Reading, some might suggest, initially at least, relies a lot on pattern-recognition - only, this time, it is patterns of letters that are being recognized to be strung together to form the associated sounds. In that sense, this book is both delightful and educational. By repeating the four words in various combination, it makes it easy to teach Ana to read the words along.

I ran this book by a friend of mine who shares my passion for reading to our children. I agree with her observation that it seems like the book appeals to ages 1-100, not just 1-4! This book can grow with the child from toddler hood to kindergarten, and as they grow, the book will hopefully offer more and the subtle elegance will probably become apparent to the child.

It is not easy to know which books will readily appeal to our children. Until they learn to read and develop their taste for books and specific genre, the onus is on us parents to guide our children. In that sense, many books get chosen to be read to our children because we as parents think it has some value, something to offer our children, something that will kindle their passion for book as they grow up. Sometimes we make the right choices, sometimes we don't. I believe this is one of those refreshing books that comes along every once in a while whose beauty is understated, almost leaving us wondering what is so great about it!

On an aside, it was interesting to read about the life of the author Emily Gravett, and a short interview where she relates how Macmillan offered to publish her book. Her first book Wolves won the 2005 Kate Greenaway Medal, the most prestigious award for children’s illustration.

While I love this book and want to splurge the 12$ and get it for her for Christmas, I have settled for borrowing it from my library for now.

A small nitpicky note - if I must stay balanced - is that the illustration of the bear in this book looks very much like the bear in Charmin Toilet paper commercials :)



At 4:12 AM, Blogger Rama said...

A truly noteworthy book, Sheelar. Thank you for drawing my attention to it.


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