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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Few of The Tyrant's Favorite Books

Let us call 5th dear daughter (2yo) The Tyrant. The Tyrant has no shame about demanding that I read to her, no matter the day, or time, or place, or other-activity-already-engaged-in. The Tyrant has actually begun waking up, in the middle of the night no less!, with these words on her pink lips: "Read to me, Mommy!" I thought I would share some of my thoughts about the titles she requests over and over and over and over and, well, you get the idea.

"Welcome, Little Baby" by Aliki. This book offers simple, loving text and soft, sweet illustrations. The text is written from the parents' perspective and addressed to the baby. One of my very favorite illustrations in the book is of the new mom nursing her new baby. The Tyrant gets excited about that, too. 'Baby wants nigh-nigh!' she squeals every time we get to that page (nigh-nigh being our family term for nursing).

"McDuff and the Baby" by Rosemary Wells. This book likewise offers simple text, but with more colorful illustrations. The story centers on how a loved dog reconciles himself to the new baby in the family. My favorite part of this book is how the dog is illustrated: cute and very expressive, without being anthropomorphised.

"All Together Now" by Anita Jeram. This book tells how Mommy Rabbit came to have Miss Mouse and Little Duckling for children. The author illustrated her own book, and it looks just like "Guess How Much I Love You," because she illustrated that book, too. I've long thought this book would be good for families who have adopted children, on account of the subtle and implied support for adoption, as, for instance, when Miss Mouse and Little Duckling think 'It means, even if I don't look like a bunny, Mommy Rabbit's still my mommy just the same.'

"We're Going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen. This book is written with repetitive, poetic text, interspersed with fun sounds (such as 'squelch, squerch' to represent the sound of walking in mud). A father and four children set out on a bear hunt on a beautiful day, and encounter many obstacles along the way. This book lends itself well to changing one's voice to suit the mood of the page, even though the text is almost the same on every page.

"Aunt Pitty Patty's Piggy" by Jim Aylesworth.  This book has cumulative, repetitive text, and illustrations which evoke an earlier era. Aunt Pitty Patty buys a piggy who refuses to go through the gate into her yard. Aunt Pitty Patty entrusts Little Niece Nelly with the task of getting the piggy through the gate, while Aunt Pitty Patty goes on to make supper. Little Niece Nelly seeks help from many near her, who each in turn deny her request, until at last she finds one who complies, which causes a whole chain of events to occur, concluding with the piggy going through the gate. The Tyrant loves to chime in on this line: 'No, no, no, I will not go!'

The same author and illustrator team also wrote "The Tale of Tricky Fox," which is another favorite of The Tyrant, though not requested quite as often. Tricky Fox brags that he can steal a pig, if he can only trick a human into putting one into a sack for him. He succeeds in tricking a couple people in order to lead up to his final trick. He thinks he succeeds at his final trick, and carries off a bag heavy with what he takes to be a pig. To his 'sorry surprise,' he learns it's not a pig when he gets the sack home and opens it up.

"Circle Dogs" by Kevin Henkes. This book features not so much a story as a description of the life of two 'circle' dogs (dachshunds, I believe) throughout the day. The illustrations are bright, bold, colorful, simple, almost geometric.

"The Napping House" by Don and Audrey Wood. This book, in cumulative and repetitive text, tells how it comes to be that everyone who was napping gets awakened. The illustrations display a subtle shift in color from the beginning of the book until the end, going from a gloomy, rainy day to a bright and sunshiny day.

I could go on, and perhaps will another day, as The Tyrant does like yet more books. Strange, isn't it, that a two-year-old Tyrant should favor cumulative and repetitive texts?


  1. I have to admit that a few of my children's books that I could not read even one more time (Are You My Mother at the top) inexplicably disappeared.

  2. Yes, some of our books have disappeared, too.

  3. I love Going on a Bear Hunt . . . I still quote the can't go under it, can't go over it, gotta go through it line - normally in relationship to some life event that requires "going through".

  4. That's a great quote for several situations that come up in life. I often quote 'Miserable child!' from "Tikki Tikki Tembo." Plenty of opportunity for that in my day. ;-) Or when I'm tired but need to keep going before ending the day, a line from Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" comes to mind: 'And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.'

  5. Replies
    1. Junior is now at this stage; he loves The Cat in the Hat and Bear Hunt the best. He quotes them all the time. I love hearing "hoo-woo, hoo-woo, tiptoe, tiptoe, What's That?" coming from the other room while he is playing.