So, that's the first week of the Picture Book Challenge completed! I'll do a round up of it in a separate article (along with our first Book of the Week), but for now here are the mini-reviews of the three books that we've read today.
Just a quick note - Xander absolutely loves reading and being read to, but tonight he did NOT want to stop playing with his toys, so some of his answers to the question of 'What were you favourite bits of the story?' are not exactly to do with the book!
1) Scaredy Squirrel - Melanie Watt (Author & Illustrator)
Oh, it's nice to find books that are really original in their premise and execution! This isn't just the story of Scaredy Squirrel and how he conquers his fears of leaving his tree for the first time; it's also a look into the thought processes that go through the mind of someone afraid of what might be out there in the unknown, which is something we've all experienced before. It's also got a fantastic bright cartoon style to it, which makes it all the more fun!
Chris says: Sometimes when I'm reading to the kids, I like to just go through a story and talk about how much we enjoyed it afterwards; othertimes, I like there to be loads of things to talk about as we're going through (making it a reading 'experience', if you will), and Scaredy Squirrel must be one of the best examples of this that I've seen. All the diagrams of escape routes from the tree, scheduled times for what Scaredy Squirrel does during his day, lists of his fears etc. are wonderfully different than most things you'll read, and it's lovely to let the children have something different to get their minds into!
Josh says: I laughed at the end when the emergency kit is trapped in the poison ivy - silly squirrel!
Xander says: I'm digging (N.B. He was certainly looking at the book as we finished, but he appeared to have very important digging business to get back to!)
2) The Gruffalo - Julia Donaldson (Author) & Axel Scheffler (Illustrator)
A rather unknown story from a new author, about a-
Oh, who am I kidding, you all know the plot back to front already!
Chris says: We have the version with sounds to press at certain parts of the story, so it's always a noisy time when we read The Gruffalo. It's a classic for a reason, and it's such a creative tale that it's no wonder it's one of the best known picture books of all time. The artwork of Axel Scheffler is just as iconic as the story, and it's a sure bet that there's barely a parent in the land who can't picture what a gruffalo looks like.
Josh says: I liked all of it!
Xander says: Hmm...yes. (N.B. I presume that means he too liked all of it!)
3) Fred - Mick and Chloe Inkpen
Seriously, I challenge you to look at the front cover of Fred and not fall completely in love with Fred the dog immediately, with his big round eyes and slightly surprised-looking ears (honestly, that's a thing). I'm not even a dog person and I adore Fred! It's actually got a fascinating question behind it, too, namely that of at what point does someone understand that their name is actually their name? That's what Fred needs to discover over the course of this story, as he wonders why he understands every other command he is given except for that one.
Chris says: Ah, Fred...if you want a character to show to children to get them to want to open a book then show them Fred! Actually, most adults too come to think about it. It's a lovely lyrical tale of a dog learning about his own name, which is actually an interesting thing to think about in its own right (if, you know, you like to think about the deeper meanings behind children's books...). Most of all though, it's just a lovely story about a cute little dog that children will be instantly drawn to!
Josh says: I like the pictures, especially Fred's big eyes.
Xander: I haven't finished digging. (N.B. Apparently one shouldn't interrupt one's child when they're digging...)
So, to summarise Day 7...
Some wonderfully inventive stories with some fantastic illustrations, and characters that will stay lodged in your mind for a long, long time. A great set of stories to end the first week of the Picture Book Challenge!