Day 13 (Week 2, Day 6)
Phew, normal service resumed today! After a couple of days of not getting to read any books due to sleeping children in cars on late journeys home, we're right back on track with any three books read!
I've missed not getting to read to them before bed (though it was nice to write an article that hopefully one or two people found to be semi-interesting!), and though I'd love to read to them in the mornings I'm just rarely awake enough to keep my eyes open long enough to do it. This morning I had to have the day off work with the flu, and though I'm still not feeling 100% it was definitely a boost to get to read together. I'm typing this with a hot blackcurrant next to me to try and soothe my throat, all wrapped up warm and ready for an early bed when I'm done!
1) Shiver Me Timbers! - Oakley Graham (Author) & Nina Caniac (Illustrator)
An adventure on the high seas before bed? Yes please, says my crew and I! This is a brilliantly bright and colourful tale of pirates hunting for treasure and the monster squid that they encounter along the way. There's a pirate-themed rhyme to repeat on each page for children to join in with, and there's a page about pooping over the side of the boat which is easily the best guarantee of a laugh from your kids you'll find all year.
Chris says: It's a very colourful story, but it's the page about pooping over the side of the boat for me. Yes, that's very immature of me, but if you put a page about pooping over the side of a boat in a story then you're already guaranteeing what everyone's favourite bit will be, adult or child.
Josh says: I liked the bit about pooping over the side of the boat best!
N.B. Xander was busy building a tower out of Duplo during this read, but looked up in amusement when he heard about the pooping over the boat bit, and came over to finish the story.
2) Blast Off! - Malachy Doyle (Author) & Gill McLean (Illustrator)
We've already gone on a pirate adventure, so now it's time for a space adventure! A story of ten friendly toy animals, counting down to one of them blasting off in a space shuttle. Rocco wants to be the first bunny in space, but he'll have to prove to the other animals that he's the best toy animal for the job! Children always enjoy counting down to blast off, and each double page spread sees one animals dropping out as the countdown lowers, leading to an exciting finish to see whether Rocco will be chosen or not. It's very fun and colourful too, adding to the excitement for the kids reading.
Chris says: You can't go far wrong with stories looking at blasting off into space, and this was a fun countdown to see if Rocco the Bunny would be the chosen toy animal to blast into space. Good fun for the kids to get to join in with the countdown!
Josh says: I liked counting down to the take off at the end.
Xander says: Blast off!
3) A Child of Books - Oliver Jeffers (Author & Illustrator) & Sam Winston (Typographical Landscapes)
I'm presuming that you've read many Oliver Jeffers books already, because he's one of the greatest creative minds in literature today, and I won't hear anything otherwise. We'll be reading everything he's written by the end of the year, but we're starting with his latest book, A Child of Books. It's a story about a girl who sails her raft on a typographical landscape of words from famous stories, taking a young boy along with her on her adventure to show that you can travel anywhere with your imagination. It's one of the most imaginative ideas that I've seen for...well, ever really. Instead of drawing regular backgrounds to go with his main characters and storyline, Jeffers has teamed with Sam Winston to create the aforementioned typographical landscapes, which are basically landscapes created using written text. So, for example, we have mountains made from sloping sentences, or trees where the branches are made from very short phrases, and each of these are from stories relevant to what is happening in the scene (Hansel & Gretel for the woodland trees etc.).
I've always thought that Oliver Jeffers writes some of the cleverest stories available today (The Hueys in The New Jumper has the most hilariously intelligent ending I've think I've ever read), and this is yet another example of why he's so well regarded. I've not come across any of Sam Winston's other work, but if he's gifted with this sort of imagination too then I'll definitely we looking out for some!
I also need to talk about just how much I love Jeffers' unique drawing style; it's instantly recognisable and oh-so quirky, and though I am not someone who would ever say that they appreciate art in general, I would happily pay to come and see his work in an exhibition. It would be beyond an honour to have him illustrate one of my stories in the future, so that's a dream I intend to work very, VERY hard towards achieving!
Chris says: I cannot think of a superlative strong enough to describe what Oliver Jeffers' work means to me, but I would count him as one of the three biggest influences on my own writing style. His imagination is just ridiculously creative, and this is a particularly stunning example of how to take an original idea and do it so cleverly that it's hard to imagine anyone else making it so successful. Josh and Xander both enjoyed seeing how Sam Winston had set the text into the shapes of the landscape and key points of each scene, and this is surely going to win a whole heap of awards over the next year. If you want proof that a picture book can be more intelligent than anything written for adults, just produce a copy of this.
Josh says: I like how the words were made into pictures that the characters played on throughout the story.
Xander says: Mountains! Trees!
So, to summarise Day 13...
Three stories about going on adventures; one at sea, one in space, and then one through the unlimited power of imagination. The kids enjoyed all of them, but it really is impossible for me not to emphasise one more time just how special a book A Child of Books is. It's one of the cleverest and most imaginative books that I've read in the last decade, for children or adults, and it's the perfect way of highlighting just how much reading can inspire you to go on adventures to literally anywhere you want to. I want to tell everyone to read it, to get their children to read it, and to think about how many adventures they can go on as a family.
We're going on over 1,000 adventures as a family this year for the Picture Book Challenge, but A Child of Books will be one of the greatest.