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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Three Books We Enjoyed Recently

I know I am running out of clever titles for these cluster posts of books, but, as long as the books get shared, I guess the post titles don't matter much, right?!

Sometimes just random books we bring home from the library make an impact; sometimes, a particular author/illustrator we enjoyed earlier leads us to more of their works that end up resonating with us; sometimes we bring home a "highly recommended" book and find that kids didn't care for it as much. C'est la vie...

Chris Van Dusen's If I Built A Car came into my field of vision after Mercy Watson books (illustrated by Van Dusen) that Ana read a while back. Mo Willems and Arnold Lobel are old favorites, so no surprise that we found a few more of their books to read.

If I Built a Car
by Chris Van Dusen

James Bond's gadget man Q probably had the same idea as the little boy in this book: to build a car that has everything he likes and does whatever he wants.

Imagine a car made out of a special polymer gel that absorbs shock on impact, a car with Plexiglass dome for an all round view, a car whose floor slides open to reveal a cool pool, a car that has an Instant Snack Bar to dole out goodies at the push of a button, a car that has a robot driver who can take over when you feel drowsy, a car that emits perfumed fumes rather than noxious burnt gasoline, a car which can submerge under water at the push of a button and fly up high in the air for long distance travel...

This book sparked the imagination of the 3 yo with a lot of "What if...",  and made the 6yo rather skeptical asking A pool in the car? Well, we can only use it when the car is not moving, else it will splash around.

The rhyming text is an easy read, even if quite a few of the words were beyond the 3 yo - gave us a chance to learn them, or at least get exposed to them. (I like to read a level higher to the kids anyway).

The illustrations are bright, colorful, playful, and complement the text well. Front and Back inside covers have design drawings of cars that gave the 6yo ideas for adding features to her own drawings - drawings of non-car things, of course.

[image source:]

There is a Bird on Your Head
by Mo Willems

This is another Elephant (Gerald) and Piggie book. I see a lot of Gerald in Ana and a lot of Piggie in Og. Gerald is cautious and prone to worrying. Piggie is carefree and easy-going.

In this book, much like other Mo Willems books, the text is spare, pictures are stark and funny, and there is a surprise twist at the end, which, after a few books we come to expect and therefore may not be a surprise at all :)

A bird lands on Elephant's head; then another; then they build a nest; then lay eggs; then the eggs hatch; then the 3 chicks are out and about now on Elephant's head. What is he to do?
I don't want them on my head he says.
Where do you want them? Piggie asks.
Somewhere Else says Elephant.
Why not ask them to go somewhere else says Piggie matter-of-fact-ly.
Ask them?
Yes, ask them.

And so Elephant asks them and they willingly oblige. But where do the 2 birds, 3 chicks along with their nest go? If you guessed Piggie's head, you are on to something!

[image source: Mo Willems' Blog]

Odd Owls and Stout Pigs: A Book of Nonsense
by Arnold Lobel, Adrianne Lobel

Arnold Lobel's daughter Adrianne, an artist herself, discovered several of her father's handmade books illustrated in pen and ink, and helped bring out this volume of nonsensical poems about owls and pigs.

The illustrations are beautiful, colored in by Adrianne Lobel. Some poems are just short verses, some are longer, and some are limericks, each giving us a picture of odd little owls and stout old pigs.

Although the book did not enjoy as much repeat reads as some others, page 11 was a particular favorite as it pairs with the poem on page 10:
Explore this picture carefully, for all these owls are here to see.
And if you really use your eyes, you'll find one owl is a surprise.

I think the 6 yo enjoyed this book more than the 3 yo, but, he did find some of the pictures amusing, and liked the first two poems a lot more than others - one about the owl blowing up big balloons and the other about an owl jumping into lakes.

[Browse Inside Harper Collins: Odd Owls and Stout Pigs]

[image source:]

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