Day 10 (Week 2, Day 3)
Xander has been asleep early for the last couple of evenings, but he was awake tonight and so able to sit down with us to read together, which was excellent! I'm always impressed that, no matter how tired they are or what else they've been doing, they always get excited about the thought of reading some more stories, so I've not got any fears about them turning into reluctant readers when they're older - not until they're teenagers, anyway, when I know it can become a lot harder for a lot of people (though hopefully not for Josh and Xander!). I know that reading as much as possible with them as early as possible gives them the best chance of becoming readers for life, so hopefully the Picture Book Challenge is continuing to contribute to that!
1) Old MacDonald Had A Farm - Kate Toms (Author & Illustrator)
If you want a book that children can really join in with, a re-telling of a classic nursery rhyme can't be a bad choice! What's great about this one is that the illustrations are very bright and fun, and that all the verses have different lyrics (beyond just the choice of different animal), so it's bringing something a bit alternative, which is what a good re-telling should do.
Chris says: We actually had to read/sing this one twice because we had so much fund, getting faster and going up a semi-tone with each different verse - I really wish I'd started on a lower note because it wasn't that easy towards the end!
Josh says: I liked being able to sing along with the story, and it was fun to get faster and faster.
Xander: We sing it again? (N.B. We did!)
2) I'll Wait, Mr Panda - Steve Antony (Author & Illustrator)
I laugh whenever I think of Steve Antony's Panda series, because I completely failed to understand the moral message that was the crux of the story of Please, Mr Panda (the first book in the series). I confessed this to the author when I met him once, and he reassured me that I'm not the only one (though he may have been trying to spare my blushes!), but I still feel that I owe a duty to try and promote his books that little bit harder!
It's not hard to get excited about Steve Antony's work though, because they tickle both the children and I completely pink. Mr Panda's rather grumpy demeanour at constantly being interrupted here is fantastic, as is the reward that the penguin gets for his patience. It's a great bit of advice to show to children as well, that being patient can reap rewards, and I do so love a story that I can use to put across a moral message - well, as long as I understand it, of course...
Chris says: I'm one of these people that hate to read books out of sequence, so it took a lot to give in to Xander and agree to read this rather than Please, Mr Panda, which technically comes before. We will go back to that one, but I'm not exactly disappointed because this one is so fantastic too. As I'm sure most parents will agree, I can empathise very heavily indeed with Mr Panda, and there's been so many times I've asked the children to wait when they want something that isn't ready that this could basically be the story of parenthood. Hopefully the kids agree that the wait is usually worth it like Mr Penguin!
Josh says: I like the huge doughnut, and the fact that he got it for being patient (N.B. Obviously my message about patience is wearing off!)
Xander says: Hmm...(huge pause)...doughnut!
3) There Is A Tribe Of Kids - Lane Smith (Author & Illustrator)
One of Lane Smith's other stories, It's A Book, is probably the cleverest picture book I've ever read (and we'll read it again for this challenge, for sure), and so I'm always pleased to find more of his work. What is so great about this is that it's almost more of a non-fiction book than a story, teaching children the name for a group of a particular set of animals or object, but done in such a beautifully illustrated manner that it feels like you've been on the same reading journey as a story. There are little details, such as the way that part of the next group of animals etc. appear in the previous illustration, which show the care and thought that go into Smith's work. All picture books are works of art in their own right, but this is a particularly stunning example.
Chris says: Learning something factual in a story-based environment? Sign me up! I've heard a lot of library colleagues wonder what a group of librarians would be (I like a 'shelf of librarians') so perhaps the sequel to this could confirm it once and for all?! The care and time that goes into illustrations like this must be incredible - they're absolutely beautiful!
Josh says: I liked learning what the different groups of animals were called.
Xander says: Again?
So, to summarise Day 10
A lovely evening of reading! Some great singalong time, a lot of laughter with a panda, and a bit of education to throw into the mix too - what could be better just before bedtime?
I'd just like to say a huge thank you to Steve Antony who was lovely when I met him at a picture book party in London in November - he was really supportive with advice when I talked to him about writing my own picture books, and signed a copy of his book The Queen's Present for the children which they were delighted with. I really wanted to thank him (and every author that we read for this challenge) for being such a huge influence on getting my children excited about reading for life - picture book authors and illustrators are entertaining them every day with their words and pictures, and I don't think they get the wider recognition and acclaim that authors of other age groups do.
Thank you wonderful picture book authors and illustrators - you're a bigger influence than you could ever know!