Thursday, 20 April 2017

Day 73 (Week 11, Day 3) - Tuesday 14th March 2017

Day 73 (Week 11, Day 3) - Tuesday 14th March 2017

The intention for the Picture Book Challenge has always been to read every day with the kids, knowing that occasionally we'll have to miss a night for whatever reason, but that we'll still easily make our 1,000 book target by the end of 2017. At the moment, however, we're leaving away from home while we have work done on the house, and coupling that with illnesses, late working, tired children etc. means that we've had far more days without reading anything towards the Challenge than I'd like.

It's good then to get two days running of reading! Hoping it'll be the start of many in a row, but I'll take two days on the trot at the moment!

Here are the books we read today:

1) 15 Things NOT to do with a Grandma - Margaret McAllister (Author) & Holly Sterling (Illustrator)

N.B. The only entry on lists this as Grandma, not Granny. However, the book on Amazon and the copy I have both list it as Granny, so presumably the title was changed somewhere along the line. 

My mum is a big fan of this book for obvious reasons! It's a delightful tale about lots of outrageously silly things that you shouldn't do to your grandmas (or anyone for that matter!), like swapping them for a giraffe, or leaving an elephant in their bed, as well as some more sensible suggestions at the end. Josh and Xander love this because it's so daft, but also because they have such love for all three of their grandmas that it makes it that bit more of a special story for them.

The illustrations are really bright and colourful, full of joy and warmth, and most wonderfully of all they feature something that is all too lacking in so many stories today (and of which you can find plenty of discussion on the internet about the importance of changing) - diversity amongst the characters. The two children come from a mixed-race background, having grandmas of different ethnicities, and the fact that there's no reference to this in the story is the best way of showcasing that this is how our society really is, full of people of different backgrounds and cultures that join together and love one another. It's so important with the horrible prejudices and racial tensions that have sadly become more apparent over the last year or so that we see more stories like this where diversity is the norm, so that our kids don't grow up to see it as something unusual.

A lovely book to make grandmas, grandchildren, and anyone else who reads it smile and want to read it over and over again!

(N.B. Having published this post a ridiculous six-weeks or so after the actual date, I can confirm that they've read this a ridiculous number of times - seriously, it's like 30+ times now having lived with my mum while we had work done on the house and insisting on it most days!)

Chris says: Seriously, I've seen them read this more with their Gran more than any other book ever! A book that is about one particular family member is a great way of encouraging that person and your children to read together, and makes the story that little bit more personal and special. I've talked about diversity above and I really did love to see it here, particularly how it was so naturally done that I almost missed the fact that the characters were of different ethnicities.

Josh says: Can we read it again because I want to read some of the things myself to Gran.

Xander says: Hugs for Gran!

2) Two Can - Smriti Prasadam-Halls (Author) & Ben Javens (Illustrator)

Do you know what? I nearly cried at the end of this story. It's not a story that tries to make you cry at all (I don't think), but the whole scenario reminded me so much of Josh & Xander, and ended on such a happy note, that there was definitely a tear in my eye.

The story itself is about an older sister and younger brother, where the younger just wants to play with the elder, but she doesn't want to play with him. When she sees how upset he is, how other children play nicely together, and how some games can only be played with someone else. She takes the olive branch that her brother offers, and they have a lovely afternoon playing together.

It's visually delightful, with a lovely blue and orangey-red theme throughout, and what I thought was so cleverly done was the mirroring of the words throughout as the sister realises that everything she previously said comes back to haunt her. There's so few words that I'd spoil it by quoting any of it here, but that's what makes it so special. Please, check it out as soon as you can, to see just how fantastic this story about playing together is!

Chris says: My wife and I are lucky, because generally speaking the kids are good at playing together. There's the odd occasion, obviously, where one demands to play on their own, and so this is a great book to cover those bases!

Josh says: I like to play with my brother.

Xander says: I play with Joshua?

3) They All Saw A Cat - Brendan Wenzel (Author & Illustrator)

Oh, now this is brilliant! A book about a cat and the different ways that humans, dogs, foxes, fleas worms etc. would see it, all beautifully illustrated to showcase every one! How marvellously educational as well as entertaining!

The illustrations, and every individual depiction of the cat as seen by each animal, really are fantastic. I couldn't comment on the exact scientific accuracy of each (though my delighted mind sees no reason to doubt their authenticity particularly), but the main point is that it's perfect for getting kids to consider how things can appear differently to different people, and that perspective can make an enormous difference in every part of our lives. It was great for a lead in to talk about not just visual perspective but moral too (very heavy just before bedtime!).

A lovely and imaginative end to this evening's reading!

Chris says: This hit home because I've come across articles or documentaries about the different ways that non-humans see things, and it's always fascinated me (as has colour blindness). Great to see something like this in a picture book!

Josh says: I like that they all know the cat and the knows all of them.

Xander says: Meowwww!

So, to summarise Day 73...

A really good showcase for great imagination in picture books today. Plenty of silly things NOT to do with a granny, fantastic use of repeated words to show why playing together is rewards, and the perspectives of different animals to get our brains thinking about how different species must view the world. A great evening of reading and two happy children off to sleep!

Books Read: 145/1000 (14.5%)

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