Monday, January 18, 2021

Read-at-Home Kids Report: Candlewick Picture Books (November 2020)

I fell behind on reviewing picture books at the end of 2020, but even though these have been out for a few months now, I think it's still worth sharing my three oldest girls' thoughts (and mine) about these titles.

Ellie's Dragon by Bob Graham

When she is very small, Ellie, the daughter of a single mom, finds a newly hatched dragon whom she names Scratch. Though none of the adults in her life can see him, Scratch goes everywhere with Ellie - even to preschool. As Ellie approaches the teen years, however, her need for Scratch diminishes until one day he leaves Ellie to find a new friend.

All three girls liked this one. Little Bo Peep (5 years, 3 months), said her favorite parts were when Ellie named the dragon and when the dragon found a new friend. For Little Jumping Joan (3 years, 2 months) ., the best part of the book was the illustration where Scratch first flew. Little Miss Muffet (7 years, 1 month) said her favorite part was when Ellie found Scratch. I thought the story was really similar to "Puff the Magic Dragon" and I went back and forth between thinking the song and story would make a good pairing and feeling like the book was unnecessary since we already have the song.

Mr. Brown's Bad Day by Lou Peacock, illustrated by Alison Friend

Mr. Brown, a tiger who is a very important businessman, has a bad day when a baby elephant snatches his briefcase, sending it on a path that leads Mr. Brown all over town. The briefcase has very important items inside, and Mr. Brown just can't rest until he has them back.

Little Bo Peep enjoyed the fact that different animals kept ending up in the briefcase. She especially liked the baby elephant. Little Jumping Joan liked that the baby elephant hung the briefcase from the ice cream vendor's cart. Miss Muffet said her favorite part was the ending, which got a big "Awww" from all three girls. The ending didn't work as well for me, but I think it got the intended reaction out of the girls.

Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus, illustrated by Polly Dunbar

Little Bear doesn't know whether bears can ski, and he is tired of being asked, until he and his dad visit an audiologist who helps him realize people are asking, "Can you hear me?" After he is fitted for hearing aides, the answer to that question becomes a resounding yes.

The girls did not get this one. They could not understand that, to someone reading lips "Can bears ski?" and "Can you hear me?" might look alike. The ending was also too subtle for them to grasp and trying to make sense of the last page distracted them from talking about anything else in the book. I tried multiple ways of explaining it, but while they could appreciate that Little Bear could not hear, the story focused their questions on the meaning of the text rather than the implications of Little Bear's discovery.

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