In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Guest blog: Dynamite Duo

Dear Aunt Debbie,

Holly's post made me realize the same thing -- how can we have gone for so long only mentioning My Father's Dragon?  It's been a favorite with Eleanor as well, so quirky and at the same time serious about Elmer's adventures.

I'm still deep in grading mode, so here's our next guest blogger: my wonderful cousin-in-law, Fabienne.  Fabienne lives in London (she grew up in England and France) with her husband (Jeff's awesome cousin Jason) and their lovely 18 month old son Sebastien.  Seb is clearly gearing up to be quite a reader as well.  Here's Fabs:

I love a good bargain. Who doesn’t? So when I popped into a local discount book shop and saw a cute looking pocket library for £2, I couldn’t resist. It was only when I got home that I realised I’d bought a set of books by the illustrator of one of Sebastien’s favourites - Axel Scheffler. The set  is comprised of four books: Freddy the Frog, Pip the Puppy, Lizzy the Lamb and Katie the Kitten. Perfect for little hands, I must have read through these short, funny, rhyming stories hundreds of times. Sebastien never tired of them! 

I think Freddy the Frog is my favourite...

“He leaps and jumps and has a good time,
squelching about in the muddy, green slime.”

But until these little gems came on the scene, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and the same Axel Scheffler ruled the roost. Jason and I enjoy this book as much as Seb, fine tuning the different voices with each read. Why is it the fox always get a posh English accent?!
“Where are you going to little brown mouse?
Come and have lunch in my underground house.”

But this great writing/illustrating partnership has much more to offer than the famous Gruffalo.

Lesser known but as wonderful is The Snail and the Whale. An unlikely and charming tail of a sea snail wanting to see the world, and ends up hitching a lift on the tail of a whale, only to  save the life of his mighty ride when he gets beached in a bay.
“The sea snail slithered all over the rock, and gazed at the sea and the ships in the dock, and as she gazed she sniffed and sighed. “The sea is deep and the world is wide! How I long to sail!” Said the tiny snail.”

Julia Donaldson's writing is full of great melodic rhyme, alliteration and onomatopoeia running through quirky and charming stories usually about brains versus brawn. Axel Scheffler's illustrations are colourful and detailed - there's always more to find in the picture than what first jumps out at you. In fact it seems that whatever this dynamite duo touches, turns to gold!

Sebastien is now also the proud owner of several other books born of the same collaboration: The Gruffalo's Child, Room on the Broom, Monkey Puzzle, A Squash and a Squeeze, The Smartest Giant in Town, Fox's Socks and Hide-and-Seek Pig.

You might find it odd that we have so many books by the same author/illustrator, but Seb loves both the style of writing and illustration - and as he grows and learns there is always something else for him to find and enjoy in them, and we as parents never tire from them either, despite having to read and re-read them a multitude of times a day. Why not pick one up and see for yourself!


We have, and are fans as well.

Love, Annie 

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