Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Day 82 (Week 12, Day 5) - Thursday 23rd March 2017

Day 82 (Week 12, Day 5) - Thursday 23rd March 2017

We've had a good streak going lately, managing to books read each night for the last few days to keep heading towards our target of 1,000 picture books read in 2017. Xander unfortunately fell asleep early tonight, so it was just Josh and I on reading duty!

ANY day that you get to read with your children should be cause for celebration, but there have been far too many days as far as I'm concerned that we've had where for one reason or another we just haven't been able to settle down and get those stories read. Usually it's because of sickness or the children just being too tired, but it's added up to far more days than I thought it would, and so we're aiming now to either read six books in the evening after one where we haven't read any, or read the three intended for the previous night in the morning before school if we can. 

However we do it, we're determined that we'll reach that 1,000 book goal!

1) Happy Harry's Cafe - Michael Rosen (Author) & Richard Holland (Illustrator)

Michael Rosen is an author and poet that I admire greatly for all his work advocating reading and the importance of libraries, so it's surprising that we haven't yet read any of his work for the Picture Book Challenge. With Happy Harry's Cafe, it's easy to see why he's such a highly respected wordsmith with the beautifully poetic way this story is told, using alliteration and rhymes without a standard rhythm throughout, and making the kids giggle along as the story is told. We laughed as Matt the Cat realises he doesn't like the soup Harry has served because he has no spoon to eat it with, at the silly song they make up about it, and particularly at the bit where Robin the Robin comes bobbing along, bringing back memories of a song that many of you probably sung many years ago (as I did in a school play).

The illustrations by Richard Holland are great as well, featuring mainly one character per page and allowing the focus to fall solely on them, which is a contrast to how most picture books seem to be drawn, and a bit of variety is always welcome!

A lovely tale with a poetical feel that can't fail to raise a smile!

Chris says: I like when a particularly clever poet is able to tell a story in a way that doesn't have a standard rhythm to it, but makes it work perfectly anyway. It shows just how you can play around with storytelling techniques and find a different and exciting way to tell a tale.

Josh says: I liked the song at the end.

2) Watch Out! There's a Monster About! - Claire Freedman (Author) & Russell Julian (Illustrator)

I love a story that builds slowly towards it's climax, teasing a repeating theme or scenario along the way before the big event happens, and this book is a great example of that storytelling technique at work. Owl, Rabbit, and Mouse are all afraid of the Monster Of The Woods, and put a plan in place in case it comes calling. Will they be able to stick to the plan though when the time comes, or will curiosity get the better of them?

It's hard to get across without reading it yourself, but the pacing of the buildup to the appearance of the 'Monster' really is perfect, and the way the words dominate the page at the time we finally meet it is just so well done that it lends itself to being read out loud as well as anything I can remember. That's one of the key successes of this for me: it really is just glorious fun to read to your children!

It's beautifully illustrated too, of course, with the terror that the friends are going through put across in fantastic tandem with the words.

And if you like your positive morals, it's also a chance to talk about not judging something until you know it!

Chris says: Perfect pacing and such fun to read aloud - two things that help to make up a great story for me!

Josh says: I liked that the monster was very nice.

3) There's a Monster in My Fridge - Caryl Hart (Author) & Deborah Allright (Illustrator)

We see the name Caryl Hart on the front of a book and we instantly celebrate because we know we're going to have a great time reading it! There's a Monster in My Fridge in another imaginative and delightfully fun story about the monsters that live in someone's house, hiding in the fridge, the cupboard, beneath the sheets, and many other places! There are lift the flap pages to make the reveal of each monster all the more exciting, and even a mirror at the end to show the scariest monster of all!

As you'd expect with a monster book, the illustrations by Deborah Allright are an incredibly creative collective of bright colourful monsters and other ghoulish beings in a variety of locations, and they compliment Caryl Hart's teasing questions about what the reader might find hidden in this house incredibly well.

We had great fun afterwards talking about what monsters we might find hidden in our own house, until I realised that it probably wasn't the best think to be talking about just before bed!

Chris says: We just have so much fun when we read Caryl Hart's stories, and that's a fantastic thing - to know that one of your favourite authors keeps bringing out highly enjoyable tales like this gives us plenty to look forward to!

Josh says: I liked the wolf scratching his bottom.

So, to summarise Day 82...

The theme of the day isn't quite monsters (there weren't any in Happy Harry's Cafe), but you could certainly classify it as 'incredibly creative'! Whether it's the majestic wordplay in Happy Harry's Cafe, the fantastic pacing and build up of Watch Out! There's a Monster About!, or all the monsters in There's a Monster in My Fridge, we've had another evening of books that inspire our imaginations, and I'm certain that any one of these books would put a smile of the face of you and your children if you were to pick up a copy!

Books Read: 163/1000 (16.3%)

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