Monday, December 17, 2007

This week's obsession, in books

We keep a limited number of children's books downstairs at our house; most of them are upstairs, on a big blue bookshelf, in the Reading Nook. We have read through the ones downstairs approximately 200 billion times too many and I'm starting to get bored with them; furthermore, due to a system upgrade at our local library, we have been unable to check out books for a week, so there aren't many library books on hand either. This prompted me to start going through our own library to find books that I think Starbeans will like [we haven't spent much time in the Nook since Pumpkin was born, mostly because it is quite chilly (no duct work goes upstairs)].

I found several books that have become smash hits with the little tyke, one of them I didn't even remember that we had. Sheesh. I'm glad though, it was such a fun surprise to find and I've been patting myself on the back for picking it out ever since.

[I don't think I clarified this in the post on my beloved Reading Nook, but 99.99% of the books have come from thrift stores. I could probably find 2-3 books that I actually bought new. Everything else is used (or gifts). That means a lot of vintage books [which I love], and a lot of books with, "To my little Rufus on his first birthday, Love Grandma" inscripted on the front page.]

The first, Starbeans' main obsession, is Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Before we even hit the last page, he is begging to read it again. It is a delightful book and the more we go through it, the more I, myself, notice things about it.

Like how the words are laid out just so: almost poetry. It forces you to pay attention to particular words or phrases and makes her writing more meaningful. There are also various animals hidden in the forest throughout the pages, which Starbeans finds great joy in seeking out. He didn't notice them the first 5-6 times we read it; it is very interesting to watch him discover them as he becomes more familiar with the book.

The second obsession is The Hare and the Tortoise by Brian Wildsmith. This was the one I didn't even realize we had. The illustrations are charming; each page is plumb full of different animals, which Starbeans loves to point at - even a chicken with an egg below it in the crowd of animals. He found special pleasure in pointing that out.

It is fun to read and the bunny is so cute when he gets full on carrots and needs to nap - his tummy is round and he looks so sleepy. I think I've enjoyed looking at the pictures as much as he has!

Finally, and I think this is just so cute, he loves Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. Out of the three, this story is the longest, with the most text on each page. I was amazed that he was able to sit through it, and he continues to be able to sit through it every time we read it. I've wondered if it is because it is a story about a gingerbread baby, not man or boy. All toddlers love babies, so this makes sense to me. He is definitely fascinated with this baby.

The illustrations are great and the storyline is fun. The gingerbread baby is quite mischievous and naughty: he runs all over the place, taunting the people (and animals) trying to catch him, while naughtily tying girls' braids in knots and tweaking the milk and cheese man's nose. The tweaking was Starbeans' favorite part. "Tweak nose!" he said, in the middle of the day once, when we hadn't even been reading the book. I love how he talks about the books we read - it is so refreshing.

Even better, this Wednesday, we are going to Gwampa and Gwampa's house to make gingerbread babies. I think he is really going to enjoy this. I know my MIL & FIL will, and I will too. I'm going to bring the book with, so my FIL can read it to him while the cookies are baking. Maybe we can even pretend that the gingerbread baby tweaks our noses!


C. Shirk said...

We stayed with my sister's in-laws over Thanksgiving weekend and they have oodles of children's books. They have that book Owl Moon and I also loved it. The writing is awesome. The poor child having to stay so perfectly quiet during that trilling experience. It's interesting and calming and delightful. It made me remember that my parents took me to this place in Stl called Rockwood Reservation and we went owling one night. We didn't ever see one, but I remember the experience fondly.

a. borealis said...

You got to go owling?? LUCKY!!! I can see how that would really stick with you, being outside, looking for something mysterious.

It really is a great book.