Day 23 (Week 4, Day 2)
I had to take the day off work today with a sore throat, bad cough, and a lost voice, so it was my wife's turn to do the bedtime reading to the children! We both like to read to the kids as much as possible, and though I've been the predominant reader so far with the Picture Book Challenge, it's more just because I like to be the one who gets to put on the silly voices in stories and be the first hand participant - so it's a selfish reason really! In truth, Cat has been there for pretty much every story that we've read, and has enjoyed hearing what the kids think about each story just as much as I have (particularly when Xander comes up with a pretty random response to what his favourite bit of the story was!).
As has often been the case, Xander and Josh wanted to tell one of the stories themselves too, so there's some lovely pics towards the end of this round up when they treated us to a reading for the final story.
Read on, dear friends...
1) Cave Baby - Julia Donaldson (Author) & Emily Gravett (Illustrator)
I love Emily Gravett's work, both her own authored works and her illustrations in general, so it's wonderful to see her teaming up with Julia Donaldson for the lovely tale of Cave Baby. Now, I have sympathy with his parents when he draws on their walls (there's a fair few scribbles from a certain pair of children on some of ours!), but it's also fantastic to see what happens when our little hero is given the chance to let his imagination run wild on the walls of the mammoth's cave. Before this there's plenty of tension as he travels to said cave with the fear of wild animals all around, but it's really the story of how you should allow children's creativity and imagination to bloom that makes me smile here - at least, that's how I interpret the story! The fact he's all snug and safe in his crib at the end, possibly having dreamt it all, just makes me smile even more at the thought of Josh and Xander safe and sound asleep at the moment, letting their dreams take them on their own adventures.
And I'd firmly request that any wall paintings they choose to do in the near future remain in Dreamland!
Chris says: I'm presuming that this is a story about letting children be creative and unleash their imaginations, though I'd accept it's just a nice story about a child going on a painting adventure with a woolly mammoth if someone told me I was wrong! The kids certainly loved the idea of getting to paint on walls, which they are certainly NOT going to be doing round here anytime soon!
Josh says: I liked when he painted on the mammoth's walls.
Xander says: No thank you! (N.B. I hope this was Xander rejecting the idea of painting on walls in the future, though the question as ever was 'What was your favourite part of the book?'!)
2) The Lighthouse Keeper's Cat - Ronda Armitage (Author) & David Armitage (Illustrator)
We used to have a cat, so we're well aware of how much they like to journey to other places to see if there's food for them there! That's the premise of this story, as Hamish the cat leaves home when it looks like he's going to be put on a diet, trying out the food in various other places, before deciding that home is the best place for him to be. If you want a nice message to give to children about how home will also be the best place for them to return to when they've finished a day of exploring, then this is obviously a great place to start! It's a lengthier picture book than you'd normally expect nowadays, having been published over 30 years ago, and it's nice to have something a bit longer to get your teeth into from time to time. It's filled with bright and colourful illustrations, and you can understand why a charming tale like this is considered a picture book classic, so many years after its initial publication.
Chris says: I like to see longer stories as picture books (and I know there are several picture book authors out there who bemoan the tendency for stories to be pushed towards lower-word counts nowadays) simply because I don't think there's any reason not to have a decent word count without forcing it into becoming a short chapter book. Nothing wrong with taking a slightly longer adventure than normal!
Josh says: I like when he found his owners again.
Xander says: (N.B. Xander had taken himself off to the potty by this stage, so I never got an answer as to his favourite part!)
I always feel lucky about the fact that I've actually served Caryl Hart many times at one of the libraries where I used to work! She's always been excellent at talking to me about my own picture book writing ambitions, and so I'm delighted that it's one of her books that we finish with today, and one of Josh and Xander's favourites at that! They love the idea of going to a library and escaping into magical fantasy lands through the power of a good book, just like Albie does here. So much so in fact, that they insisted on reading it to me and my wife when she'd finished reading it to them the first time:
Before that, they'd had a great time lying around listening to it, Xander even bringing his dinosaur to listen!
His dinosaur LOVED it :)
I've talked many times before about the fact that reading can transport you all to far off lands from the comfort of your own home, and this book exemplifies this (with a library instead of a home, but you get the idea) - Albie visits his library discovers that he can go in search of dragons while he's there, meeting knights and other creatures and letting his imagination run wild. We love this particular story as a family because it's full of excitement and adventure, and the kids want to revisit it time and time again to meet the bear and the troll, and find the dragons at the end.
It's also fantastically illustrated by Ed Eaves, with it's bright and colourful illustrations bring the excitement of the library and far off lands into vivid detail. We loved his illustrations a few days back when we read Captain McGrew Wants YOU For His Crew!, and it's confirmed for me where I recognised his style from!
I also need to share Xander's interpretation of the story, from when he read it back to us. Josh did a pretty accurate re-telling of it which was lovely to hear, but Xander's had us in stitches:
'One day, Mummy and Albie went to a castle, and met Mike the Knight!'
We tried to convince him it was actually Sir Cuthbert Clinkety-Clank, not Mike the Knight, but he was having none of it!
Chris says: Caryl Hart's books are filled with adventures and wonderful imagination, and that's why we love them! They really do take us to far off lands and bring us back again in the space of 32 pages, just in time to relax before bed and reflect on where we've travelled in our stories that evening. We've come back time and time again to How to Catch a Dragon in particular, because it's the best book of this theme that we've read together. Looking forward to many more Caryl Hart books during the Picture Book Challenge!
Josh says: I love it when they visit the library which is actually a castle.
Xander says: I'm reading the story of dragons!
So, to summarise Day 23
We've seen children letting loose their imagination a couple of times this evening, as well as a cat deciding that home is definitely the best place to come home to, and that latter part is definitely a running theme throughout this evenings books - no matter what adventures you go on, whether it's to a mammoth's cave to paint pictures, around a town to find exciting new food, or to a fantasy land to try and discover dragons, it's always great to come home at the end of it and curl up together as a family.
We love reading together because we know that, once the books are put away for the evening, we guarantee that we'll have had one last fun adventure together and gone to sleep knowing how much we love and care for each other.
Tomorrow, it's time to re-stock our picture books with a trip to the library, so I'm looking forward to bringing home a great big bundle for us to enjoy over the next week!