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Sunday, April 01, 2012

Four books the 4 yo enjoyed

As I was typing the list of titles here, I realized that these four books have at least one thing in common: they are each written and illustrated by the same person. Something about author-illustrated books (or illustrator-authored books) appeal to me a lot. No doubt, some brilliant collaborations have produced some amazing books but the fascination for "written and illustrated by" is rather compulsive for me.

There Are Cats in This Book 
by Viviane Schwarz

This had both the 4 and the 6 year old amused by the clever way in which it pulled in the reader to interact. The little flap-like pages with cat-shaped cutouts and such novelties had Oggie reaching for it to read by himself.

 Tiny, Moonpie and Andre are three cats who love to play, and nap. The book starts with them purring under a blanket which is just a flap-page, which when turned reveals the cats as if the blanket were pulled off of them. The cats egg the reader on to turn the page and join in their play.

Oggie's favorite? The page with a tidal wave full of fish with the cats struggling to stay afloat urging us to turn the page so they can get out of the water.

 This book turned out to be a lot of fun for the new reader in the family, with just a few words and entertaining visuals.

For some reason, the books designed for Beginner Reader like the I Can Read! books haven't really appealed to Oggie (and incidentally, they didn't appeal to Ana at that age either, a few years ago).

[image source:]

by Oliver Jeffers

We read How To Catch A Star by Jeffers and Oggie found it odd that the little boy was trying to find a star at daytime "when the stars don't come out", and was shaking his head when the boy does befriend a star just as he set out to, telling me emphatically that that is not the star he was looking for. (The little boy ends up with a Sea Star, not the Sky Star.)

Anyway, since we liked Oliver Jeffers' illustrations in that first book, we read Stuck. A boy's kite gets stuck in a tree and he tries various ways to dislodge it, all of which involve him throwing things up into the tree which in turn gets stuck until finally the kite gets loose and falls back to him.

Why does he throw things in the tree, Mama? Why can he throw the animals on the tree? And many such questions indicated how literally Oggie was taking this book.

And in the last page, the tree is shown stuck with the various things the boy threw up there to dislodge his kite, except it has something like a rocket-ship stuck in the tree whereas none of the pages earlier showed him throw that rocket up there. Baffling for a detail-oriented recently-turned-four year old, but, it did not deter him from enjoying repeat-reads anyway.

[image source:]

I Want My Hat Back 
by Jon Klassen 

The bear has lost his hat. He looks for his hat. He finds his hat. The end. So what's all the fuss about this book? Well, one has to read it to understand all the buzz.

It took a couple of reads for Og to catch on, with me lingering longer on  relevant pages at subsequent reads without explaining.

The poker-faced expressions of the animals despite all that is going on, and the comical way in which the bear races back when he knows where he has seen his hat is priceless.

The last page is hilarious.The resident 6 yo breezed through the book and at the end couldn't help asking, "Did the bear really eat the rabbit?"

It appears so, little girl, it indeed appears so.

I loved the illustrations and the whole presentation. It is clever, comical and subtle.

[watch a video clip here]

[image source:]

That's How!
 by Christoph Niemann

How does the digger work, Mama? How does the airplane fly in the sky, Papa?

For kids who wonder about how things work but are too little to pay attention to the factual explanation, this fanciful book lets them imagine how things might work.

Presented in the form of a Q&A between two kids, one asking the Q and the other saying, "Hmm... let me think" and then attempting rather far-fetched answer like Airplanes held together and operated by Chickens, Whale and Octopus propelling a Freighter, this book is by no means a serious one meant to help kids understand machines.

Of course, on every page, Oggie laughed aloud before he emphatically stated, "No, that's not really how it works, I know, Mama..." even though he doesn't quite know how they really work.

[image source:]

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