We picked up so many great books at the library last week. I immediately knew which book I wanted to share with you. As I mentioned last week in our post about storytime, I pretty much let Squishy pick out books that appeal to him. Granted, he usually picks a book based on the cover’s picture. The covers of picture books give you some big clues on the content inside, generally, so I just go with it. I try extremely hard not to put to much “adult think” into my examination of a book. What I think Squishy will get out of a book and his actual connection are often times worlds apart.
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After we brought our haul into the house, Squishy spread them out on the floor surveying his loot. We were immediately drawn to “Me, All Alone, at the End of the World” Written by: M.T. Anderson and Illustrated by: Kevin Hawkes. It is a beautifully illustrated tale about a boy living a quiet, content life away from the city. He finds joy in simple pastimes like listening to the wind. When I looked up the reviews on Good Reads, there were a lot of adults discussing the different themes of the book and the heavy message. They also suggest this book for children over 9 years old. Well, Squish is not nine, and he really didn’t pick up on the heavy messages. He was drawn to the boy who becomes overwhelmed by the loud and noisy carnival resort, that takes over his once quiet woods. He could relate to wanting to be a part of the party, but also being so affected that he needs to get away. It was a very powerful book for us, and I wanted to tell you all about it…But Squishy picked a different book to be his favorite as the week wore on.
We have read Beware of the Frog by William Bee so many times this week, Squishy and I now have it memorized. I need to preface this review by saying something important; It is a very strange book. I am not attracted to it at all, but squishy loves it. If you look at the cover, you think “Oh! A cute book about a frog.” insert sweet happy face. We love frogs, right? -Nope! Again, I put my “adult think” away, and search for what Squishy is getting out of this book.
The illustrations are whimsical and fun. They kind of give off a 1970’s Holly Hobby vibe, but with a slightly weird twist. The little old Lady “Mrs. Collywobbles” looks as sweet as spun sugar, and her pet frog looks conspicuously simple and ordinary.
You can not tell by the cover, but when you open the book up, it’s full of Goblins, Trolls, and a Scary Ogre. It actually turned out to be a pretty good story for Halloween. It’s creepy in a Monte Python kind of way. Squishy giggles at every page. Mrs. Collywobbles lives on the edge of a “Big, Dark, Scary wood” with only her pet guard frog to protect her. First a Greedy Goblin comes to steal from her, and ignores the “Beware of Frog” sign. Then a Smelly Troll, and a Hungry Ogre come to bother the poor old lady. All ignoring the sign, and the Frog is not too pleased about that. Each scary monster is drawn masterfully. You understand that they are the villains, but they are so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh. Who would ever think to put a backpack on a Troll?
The repetitive nature of the story, and hilarious rhyming tag lines held Squishy’s interest over and over and over again. Each of the dastardly characters has a rhyming verse they declare, explaining their evil doings. Squishy has them all memorized now, and repeats them all.day.long. The writing is deceptively simple. The rich language ebbs and flows over you, drawing you in and setting up several big surprises. Seriously, I was not expecting the ending AT ALL! I love hearing Squishy repeat the words as I read, and laugh hysterically at what happens to the monsters…(no spoilers)
This is not a book I would have picked out initially, but it engaged us and brought on some great conversations. When I took my thoughts out of it, I was able to see what attracted Squishy so much. The repeating text, much like Three Little Pigs or Green Eggs and Ham, help develop an understanding of a stories sequence. It’s the building blocks for reading comprehension before kids are even readers themselves. He was able to participate in the story much more because he could follow along. When those plot twists came, he was both surprised and delighted, because he was involved with the characters. Sadly for kids everywhere this book is out of print, but there are still plenty of copies out there.
Does your child have a book that they absolutely love, and you just don’t get? I would love to hear about it.