Day 22 (Week 4, Day 1)
And so we begin Week 4! I always feel it's a little odd starting a new week on a Sunday, but that's the way the calendar fell this year so...
We're looking forward to refreshing our shelves with a good haul from the library this week so I'll be coming home with a bumper load tomorrow! I don't head to the library with a particular set of books in mind; I just go to the picture book section, start pulling them out, and go with the flow! I might have to be a bit pickier at the end of the year when we've read so many, but at the moment they're all coming up as new (for the Picture Book Challenge anyway!).
I'm choosing to focus all these reviews on what makes us smile about each story, because I want to show that all time spent reading together is valuable, and that every story and illustration has something to bring to reading time that you can appreciate together. With that in mind, let's get on to the reviews!
1) William Heads to Hollywood - Helen Hancocks (Author & Illustrator)
It's great to come across something a bit different, and what I loved about William Heads to Hollywood is that I don't think I've ever read a picture book that involves a detective solving a crime! In this story, 'International Cat of Mystery' William heads to Hollywood to solve the mystery of the stole Golden Cuckoo Awards statues. Just like in a classic adult detective novel, we're shown a couple of clues before William solves the mystery, and I really did like how I could help Josh and Xander spot the clues to see if we could solve the crime before the thief was revealed. It's a great way of making a book that bit more interactive and fun for telling with your children! I even felt the illustrations captured a bit of a noir style. They might not be ready for Agatha Christie yet, but this was a nice introduction to crime-solving for the kids, picture book style!
Chris says: I really enjoyed helping the kids look for clues to who had stolen the statues. It's nice to just read to them and see them become enraptured in a story, but it's even better when we get to talk in more detail about what's happening in the illustrations!
Josh says: I liked the ladies funny hairstyle on the plane to Hollywood.
Xander says: Cats!
2) Rosie's Hat - Julia Donaldson (Author) & Anna Currey (Illustrator)
This is the story of Rosie's hat, which is blown off her head on a trip to the seaside, only to be found by her again when she is grown up and serving as a firefighter. It's the sort of extraordinary coincidence that makes for a lovely children's tale, and it's great fun to see the journey that the hat makes to get back to Rosie (not that it has a mind of its own or anything!). It's superbly illustrated (I'm always particularly impressed when people blend so many tones within the colours of a picture - it's an extraordinary skill that I just can't fathom how to do!), and we had a good time afterwards talking about what adventures various things we own could go on before coming back to us.
I think some of Julia Donaldson's works that aren't done in collaboration with Axel Scheffler are possibly less well known (due to the fact that it's such a fantastic and recognisable partnership), but there really are some excellent stories she has written that are equally deserving of being read.
Chris says: Sometimes extraordinary coincidences do occur in life, so perhaps this shouldn't be so unbelievable, but it makes for a magical little children's tale about how you can find something that you thought you had lost, and the memories that it can bring back with it. That little bit of magic is what children's stories should be about!
Josh says: I liked that she grew up to be a firefighter and rescued a cat.
Xander says: I'm digging! (N.B. Xander back up to his usual trick of moving away the second a story has finished to continue playing as much as possible before bed!)
3) You Must Bring A Hat - Simon Philip (Author) & Kate Hindley (Illustrator)
There are some books that help teach your child important messages. Others help you go on wild adventures before bed. And them some are just utterly silly, and absolutely wonderful for it. You Must Bring A Hat had us giggling all the way through, as a series of increasingly ludicrous criteria for securing entry to a party builds to a hilarious twist at the end (that is actually signposted early on, which is very rewarding if you re-read it!). It's bright and colourful, features someone getting extremely grumpy with the situation (something I always enjoy seeing in a picture book), and most importantly made Josh and Xander both smile at me when it had finished to show how much they enjoyed it.
I thought the illustration style looked familiar, and then I realised that it was Kate Hindley who had illustrated it, whose work we saw yesterday on Don't Call Me Choochie Pooh! Excellent treat getting to see her work again so quickly!
Chris says: When we realised that it was time to read You Must Bring A Hat, both me and Josh clapped our hands in delight because we've enjoyed it so much in the past. It's great discovering new books, but it's also great to re-visit old favourites, and this is one we've enjoyed reading many times before.
Josh says: I liked reading all the different rules.
Xander says: Ah, yes. (N.B. Nope, no idea either!)
So, to summarise Day 22...We've had a good mix today; one story to use our detective skills, one to get us thinking about the journeys that our favourite objects could make before they return to us, and one to get us laughing together as a family before we go to sleep! I'm not sure if Josh or Xander have ever told me their favourite genre of picture book - to be honest, I think they just enjoy reading anything they can at the moment!
There's a link that connects the three which might not be obvious to begin with until you've read all three books, and that's hats! Yes, 'hat' is in the title of two of them, but a hat plays a vital role in solving the mystery in William Heads to Hollywood, so be sure to pick up a copy and see just how it does that!