120 read not written of course! Beth, pointed me in the direction of this awesome picture book challenge back in January. Finally my blog is active and I have officially signed up with The Read to Me Picture Book Challenge. What a great initiative by There’s a book. You have various levels you can choose from, but I have decided to attempt 120 Picture Books read AND reviewed in 2011. Books can be read alone or to a child, so mine will be a mixture for sure. My resources are our International School library and the municipal French library, so I may well be immersing myself in a number of golden oldies rather than a lot of hot-of-the-press books. I shall include a few French ones for variety. I love reading picture books, so this part won’t be hard, though the discipline of reviewing them might!
I borrowed a random selection this week, so let the reviews begin.
Book 1 – Picture Book Reading Challenge
The Three Questions Based on a Story by Leo Tolstoy by Jon J Muth
Based on a short story by Tolstoy, this book tells of the search of a small boy for the answers to three questions he believes will help him live right in the world. Muth transforms Tolstoy’s story for children by having all the friends as dreamy, appealing animals. Despite there being a clear moral in the story, the quest is gently shown by Muth’s own soft watercolor illustrations and quietly humorous text, you get no sense of any preaching of a message. It is the old turtle, Leo, who eventually helps Nikolai discover the answers to his own questions. This is clearly the sort of story that would provoke great discussion with a child in a very uncontrived way. You come away with a really good feeling after reading this book. I will definitely be looking out for other by this author/illustrator.
Book 2 – Picture Book Reading Challenge
The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingram
What a funny, clever story! A hesitant at first pencil creates a typical world of boy, dog, cat, family, park etc even drawing a paintbrush to add color to the whole scene. This happy scene quickly disintegrates as characters become discontent, and our pencil comes up with the canny solution of drawing an eraser. Which goes great until the eraser gets carried away, well you get the (disappearing) picture! I won’t spoil Pencil’s creative final solution, but kids will just love the imaginativeness of this story…. I love how everyone, having been created by Pencil, demands a name…. I reckon kids from even 3 up will enjoy the simplicity and yet whimsical nature of these drawings.
Book 3 – Picture Book reading Challenge
Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats
Keats has a gift of using simple, economical, lyrical text to convey sweet, clear messages that children can immediately identify with. What older sibling hasn’t gone through the struggle of accepting sharing parents and belongings with a new baby brother or sister? Peter’s old cradle and crib are painted pink for the baby and Peter decides a line should be dawn at his childhood chair, which he attempts to hide along with himself. When Peter realizes he is too big for his old chair he slowly accepts he is a big boy now and embraces being the big brother. It is a dear story with a relevant message and sweet ending.
P.S. For those who read my last post you will be glad to know that Julie and Emma did indeed win the Grammy. Congratulations to them both for a well deserved honor. My hope is that this award will help promote far and wide not only this beautiful anthology, but also their many other delightful children’s books.