Day 52 (Week 8, Day 3) - Tuesday 21st February 2017I'm always happiest doing the Picture Book Challenge when both Josh and Xander sit down to listen to the stories that we've chosen for that day. Tonight, however, I couldn't get Xander to settle down with us, so it was mainly Josh who got read too (though Xander was in the room playing while we read!).
As long as we're reading together in some form, that's good enough for me and for the Picture Book Challenge!
Onward with the reviews...
1) Super Stan - Matt Robertson (Author & Illustrator)
Poor Jack. Constantly unnoticed as he sits in the shadow of his literally-a-superhero-with-powers little brother Stan, he can't help but feel resentful at his sibling. It's a problem that I'm sure countless siblings have to deal with growing up, feeling second best if one sibling does better academically or sportingly etc., and trying not to let it ruin their friendship. In the end things work out fine for Jack and Stan, as Jack finds a way to help rescue something precious to his little brother and be a real hero himself, and I was so pleased to see both Josh and Xander's reactions being that they loved being brothers too. I hope they don't have to deal with feelings like this at any point, but it's great to know that there are useful stories we can turn to should problems like this ever occur.
The illustrations are lovely and in a big, bright, colourful style that the kids always enjoy, and they're also very emotive as you see poor Jack's downcast expression in his relegated position next to his brother.
A great story with a great message of hope for any siblings feeling like they're stuck in another's shadow!
Chris says: I really hope that we help to mitigate any feelings of resentment from the kids to each other if one does better in some areas than the other, but knowing there are stories like this to help is very welcome!
Josh says: I liked that the big brother saved the day. Like me.
Xander says: Joshua is my brother!
2) The Lion Inside - Rachel Bright (Author) & Jim Field (Illustrator)
Throw me a book written by Rachel Bright and I'm a happy man. Throw me a book illustrated by Jim Field and I'm also a happy man. Throw me a book that combines the two? Colour me extremely happy!
Mouse might be small, but he's determined to make himself heard. If he can just get the most fearsome beast of all, the lion, to teach him how to roar, maybe he won't go unnoticed anymore. It's a classic story about the smallest personal still being able to make a difference, as the mouse discovers that the only thing which can scare a lion is a mouse! Josh loved it as these two made for an unlikely friendship, and a lowly mouse found a way to prove he was as fearsome as anyone else. Utterly charming, and hope for anyone who feels in this position themselves.
It's filled with the usual warmth and gentle morality of Rachel Bright (author of the wonderful Love Monster series, and Mine! amongst many others), and the outlandish cartoon-wonder of Jim Field (illustrator of Oi Frog and Oi Dog, two of the most recognisably-memorable books of the last decade). It's a dream combination creating a wonderfully warm story that is impossible not to enjoy. Excellent stuff!
Chris says: A great story from two of my favourite picture book creators. I always enjoy a story where I can give the kids a positive message at the end of it, and this is perfect for showing them that they are never too small to be noticed.
Josh says: I liked when the lion and the mouse made friends.
N.B. Xander has disappeared by this point to go and find some food, so he missed this and the next story!
3) The Bear Who Stared - Duncan Beedie (Author & Illustrator)
This is a story about a bear who stares. A lot. But like a lot of misunderstood heroes, there might be a reason for it that's different then the one you first think...
Poor Bear. Turns out he's just shy and curious, and by the time he's figured out something to say to the other animals he's met, they've got all grouchy with him and he's had to move on. As with many stories that we've read for the Picture Book Challenge, this presents an excellent chance to discuss with your children about children and others who might be quite shy and therefore appear a little odd, but that could be good friends if you give them a chance. On the other hand, it can also be good to show shy children that they can make new friends if they can pluck up the courage.
Also, the illustrations are wonderful! Those bear eyes that stare so nervously! Especially when we zoom in on them near the start of the book. The other animals that Bear stares at are delightfully grumpy before he makes friends with them, and all of them have particularly expressive eyebrows!
An excellent story about overcoming shyness, and understanding those who suffer from it.
Chris says: Another story with an excellent message behind it! I've never been shy enough to literally just stare, and I don't think Josh or Xander have either, but none of us are totally un-shy all the time, and so we took the chance here to discuss the fact that it's alright to be shy, but that we should try to pluck up the courage to be braver in social situations when we feel shyness overcoming us. Great to have books that help prompt useful conversations! Also, I love those eyes!
Josh says: I liked when he made new friends and when the badger bit him on the nose.
So, to summarise day 52...
I felt very disappointed for Xander that he missed both The Lion Inside and The Bear Who Stared as I'm sure he would have loved to see the mouse scaring the lion in the former, and those incredible staring eyes of the bear in the latter, but alas that's how it goes sometimes! As it happened, Josh and I enjoyed them immensely as we saw two characters conquer there own personal problems, as the three of us did with Super Stan as older brother Jack found his rightful place alongside superhero-brother Stan.
An evening then of characters overcoming problems in very positive ways - what better theme to send the kids to sleep thinking about?!