Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dads and Picture Books, again

Damon Syson of the Times asks, "Where are all the nice, normal dads in children's books?"
Not only did I find precious few role-model dads, I found hardly any dads at all. In all the picture books piled up around our house — more than 100 of them, in unsightly towers — mothers appeared in just under half and were invariably portrayed in a positive light. Fathers cropped up in nine, of which only five took a positive role in parenting.
He does admit that his sample is both small and skewed towards older books. Well, Damon, I'm going to point you at Book Dads to start finding great books with great daddies. But it's a fair complaint, as any librarian who's ever tried to put together a half-decent Fathers' Day storytime knows.

Quite aside from the "I Love My Daddy, He's the Best in the Universe!" genre, it's hard to find a book where Dad is a part of the child's everyday world. I cogitated for a time and only came up with a few: Mo Willems's Knuffle Bunny, Bob Graham's How to Heal a Broken Wing, and Britta Teckentrup's How Big is the World?

Of course, that's off the top of my admittedly muddled head. So I'll put it to you. What's your favorite picture book where Dad is a positive presence?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's Wrong with This Picture?

Via the FailBlog: Sign that you may not have purchased a quality boardbook.

fail owned pwned pictures

Link possibly not entirely SFW. Just sayin'.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And the Number 1 Picture Book of All Time is . . .

Where the Wild Things Are.

Like it could be any other book.

Betsy's Top 100 has been grand readin' for me over this past month or so. Not content with merely posting a list, she went hunting for tidbits and factoids and literary commentary (not just bloggers making comments, but actual published resources!) on a genre of books that are oftenest dismissed as "kiddie books." Although I knew many of them already, I also added a lot of books to my Blue Journal--books I'd heard of, maybe seen around the library, but never picked up and read. I also learned new things about old favorites, and spent a lot of time going, "Awwww, I remember reading that!"

Betsy, now that you're a published author and all, how about putting this most excellent list in book form? Teachers, librarians, and parents would love you for it. Even if you don't, though, congratulations on a huge accomplishment.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Child Prodigy (or maybe just a great memory)

I got this video from Fuse #8's Top 100 Picture Books countdown. It was attached to the Knuffle Bunny post (#10, as if you aren't following it rabidly yourself).

Just in case you ever thought your two (and-almost-a-half!) year old wasn't listening the 56,923 times you've read their favorite book. Watch how he occasionally begins to recite, then pauses and carefully turns to the correct page. And how he pronounces "school."

I joke, but this is part of print awareness, a pre-reading skill--associating a particular piece of narration with a particular page. The book/narrative, while it can be viewed as a whole, has specific portions that correspond to specific events. But the book is still a whole. Whoa. The mind, she is blown.

Plus, the video is so dang cute. Awww, I just gotta go watch it again.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Tempest in the Night Kitchen

How's that for a mangled metaphor?

Number 18 on Fuse #8's Top 100 picture books is the Maurice Sendak classic, In the Night Kitchen. She talks about the trippy story, but she also discusses the controversy this wacky little book has stirred up over the years.

Not, as she notes, because a little boy is being baked into a cake, but because that selfsame little boy is bare-bottom nekkid. Egad.
As a result the book has been banned, people have painted little shorts on Mickey, and some have even gone so far as to cut out and paste in little pants on him. Librarians love that. Really. Makes our day (oog).
Apparently, this is not a new phenomenon--it's been going on since the book's publication in 1970. Luckily, there have been supporters of Sendak's artwork since the beginning, too. Go have a look at the whole post.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Play With Books

One thing some parents are surprised to learn is that children's librarians advocate playing with books. They're not meant to be held captive on the shelf, primly aloof until it's time for the mandated twenty minutes, and then put hastily away in favor of the toy bucket. So what if that board book is gummed to pieces, or that copy of Dr. Seuss starts to shed pages like a collie in springtime? Regardless of what your elementary school librarian may have taught you, books are not sacred objects to be preserved for future generations. They're meant to be shared and loved now.

Infants, toddlers, and even older kids learn by playing, and everything is a possible toy. (Any mom who's pried a spatula and a pot out of their noisy four-year-old's hands before Mommy's head explodes can attest to that.) Making books part of playtime is a way of making them familiar and beloved objects.

Chronicles of an Infant Bibliophile recently posted a great list of some of the ways to play with books, arranged by age order. Have a look, and maybe try it with your own budding bibliophile.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Book Review: Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt

Book: Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach
Author: Melanie Watt
Illustrator: Melanie Watt
Published: 2008

Scaredy Squirrel would never, ever go to the beach. Are you crazy? There could be sea monsters! Pirates! Falling coconuts! No, no, no. Far safer to build his very own beach in the shade of his very own tree. But he's missing something, and to get it, he has to go to the real beach. Oh, boy. But if he makes the most careful of plans, he just might live through it . . .

Everyone's favorite omniphobe is back in the third volume of his travails. While this would be a fun read-aloud to a group, it also offers rewards to the one-on-one reader who can pore over the pages and find the sly treats scattered throughout the illustrations. (For instance--on the box Scaredy Squirrel uses to ship himself to the beach? "May contain traces of nuts." Hehehe!) Your own cautious worrywarts will find much delight in this tale.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Reading Roundup April 2009

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 24
Early Readers: 2

Writing: Garmann's Summer by Stian Hole
Illustration: How Big is the World by Britta Teckuntrup
Overall: The Doghouse by Jan Thomas

Because I Want To Awards
Most Warped: The Happy Hocky Family by Lane Smith
Made Me Hungry!: I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother by Selina Alko
Sweetest: I Love My Pirate Papa by Laura Leuck