Posts tagged ‘boy’

January 13, 2012

The fourth robot-pig: getting creative with “Watch Out for Wolfgang”

Recently while at the library to pick up a few hold items for myself, I gave my three-year-old about 30 seconds to pick up a couple of picture books (I know, top-notch mothering right there), and he was really excited to pick out this one. I was too, even after we read it once, twice, a hundred times.

And even after we discussed the implications THOROUGHLY of what it means to be a robot and be taken apart. (He does NOT like reading about machines that break. It freaks him out in a profound way. This anxiety is increased when the machines have eyes and ears and are friendly characters in a book.) His anxiety about the book translated to an obsession with it and he read it over and over until he loved it. He was excited to show it to his dad, and even more excited to say “and now is the scary part!” (It’s not actually that scary, unless you have a thing about machines being taken apart. Which we do.)

This re-writing of the three little pigs, with three little robots and a robot recycler named Wolfgang, is a great book with awesomely gorgeous illustrations. And the activity I’m going to share with you below was not my idea at all. My son made the whole thing up.

Title: Watch out for Wolfgang
Author/Illustrator: Paul Carrick
Genre: Picture Book, Fairy Tale Retelling
Ages: 3 – 7

Summary and activities to do with the kids:

This is a great book to share with your kids for so many reasons. First, the fact that it’s a retelling of the Three Little Pigs makes it a great way to discuss how the same story can be told in different ways. Even older kids would benefit from making comparisons to the swinier version. The second reason it’s totally awesome is that the third pig (robot) is not a savior because he’s hard-working, he’s a savior because he’s “different”. In a totally great way.

But here’s a fun activity that my son made up: we added a fourth robot.

He first took a flip coloring book with lots of robots in it. He chose the perfect robot for the story. He said that he wanted his robot (Glabby, a boy name in case you weren’t sure) to be like Rod, the first of the three robots in the story. He also said that Glabby’s factory (they build factories instead of houses) was a baking factory, which I secretly thought was brilliant.

Then we read the story and at each page we held up Glabby’s picture next to the illustrations and I made up and read aloud a paragraph about what Glabby was doing. It was so much fun! Glabby, since he was like the first brother, did get recycled by Wolfgang. But since they are all saved in the end by the third robot, Glabby did okay.

But it was so much fun! I would love to hear if any of you try this with your own kids! It doesn’t have to be this book, and it doesn’t have to be a robot, but maybe pick a story your child knows well and see if they can invent a character to add to the story. Have your child invent certain important facts about the character, and then when you read the book, read in their character. My son was so excited and proud of the new story with his inventions in it.

And then let me know. Do you think you will try it? With what book? And if you did try it, how did it turn out?

January 3, 2011

As a mom, I think I’m more the dirt than the backhoe

But still, this is a great book. Most books from Tricycle Press are, in fact. I love their Eco Babies, Foodie Babies series and their ethnic food series. So I wasn’t surprised to love this one, too.

Title: I Am A Backhoe
Author
: Anna Grossnickle Hines
Genre
: Picture Book
Age
:0 – 7

Summary and Review:

So, I knew only two things about this book before buying it: the title and the fact that it was on the Kirkus Book Review 2010 list.  But in reality, I only needed to know the title.  I gave it to my son approximately four hours ago, and despite the fact that we’ve been out of the house for two of those hours, we’ve still managed to read it over six times.  The seventh reading is currently in progress upstairs as Dad does bedtime.  He LOVES this book.  And so do I.  The text is simple yet elegant–perfectly written and edited.  The illustrations are also great.  They are simple, but with brightly brilliant backgrounds that rainbow throughout the book.  The book, as you would imagine by the title, focuses on a boy who pretends to be various construction vehicles.  It emphasizes, with its pictures and words, the actions he takes–digging with his hands to be a backhoe or rolling on the floor to be a roller.

I also like it because the parent character is a dad.  Some would say that it’s sexist to have a truck book with just a son and a dad, but so many picture books are all about the moms, and it’s nice to see a good role model dad in there.  And as for being sexist, well, I just don’t know.  I tagged this book in the category “mostly boys”.  It’s not that I don’t think girls would like it, or that you shouldn’t buy it for a girl.  But I do think there is some kind of magical bond between small boys and construction vehicles that isn’t necessarily there for girls.  And that’s just my way of saying that this is a very typically boy book.  It’s up to you if you want to buy typically boy books for your boys or your girls.

Follow-up with the kids:

Books, TV shows, and anything else that encourages physical movement is really in right now, for obvious reasons if you’ve read any of the studies on childhood obesity.  I’m not sure if that was part of the author’s intentions, but it’s there.  This book encourages physical movement, creativity, imagination, play, and family interaction.  All good things.  Get down and dirty!

December 30, 2010

Moms, get down on your knees and let your inner BOY out!

When I saw the UPS truck pull up in front of my house today, I knew it was here.  The book I had been waiting for!  The book I saw on the Kirkus Book list for 2010 and decided to wait until after the holidays to order.  You can see I waited a long time.  I tore the box open immediately and have already read it, although at this point it’s probably apt to say that it’s a picture book, I’m an adult, and technically, this is a present for my son.  Well, he can have it later.  I’m busy now.

Title: Shark Vs. Train
Author: Chris Barton and Tom Lichtenheld
Genre
: Picture Book
Age: 2 – 6

Summary and Review:

Here’s the plot: it’s a shark versus a train.  I know, I know, the title says it all!  That’s why I had to get the book.  But who will win?  Well, that depends, which is the storyline.  Are they in an ocean? (Shark.) A train track? (Train.)  Roasting marshmallows? (Train: it has a smoke stack, after all.)  Are they giving rides at a carnival?  (Train: are you really going to ride a shark?)  The answers are not in the text, only the illustrations.  The battles get progressively silly until the two toys are sword-fighting on a tight-rope, a situation neither is happy with, and you can almost see the imaginations of the two boys getting stressed, even though they aren’t pictured except in the beginning and ending few pages.  But luckily, mom calls for lunchtime (it could be dad or grandma–the character is off-book), and the toys are put away (thank you, illustrator, for that great example!) for next time, although they are still talking the talk in the toy box.

I mean, I was an obvious candidate for this book, as evident from the fact that I eagerly awaited it knowing little more than the title.  And really, the title was all I needed—it surpassed the expectations of a book with that title.  But this is a really fun book.  It’s clearly aimed at the boy, testosterone-powered crowd, with its fierce characters and epic battles.  Plus, the two kids in the story who play with the toys (although they only make brief appearances) are both boys.  But I think girls would love it, too.

Follow-up with the kids:

Okay, this one is both obvious and fun.  Let’s encourage some creativity and strike those imaginations.  Get a toy shark and a toy train.  Or a stuffed elephant and a toy car.  Or a … well, ANY two objects really.  And play Shark Versus Train!  Invent situations and talk about who would win.  Make sure your toy talks it up, saying why he would win, and encourage your young son to do the same with his toy.  When possible, act out the situation for real.  Get physical.  Make sure the game isn’t too quiet–I don’t think Shark Versus Train should be a quiet game.  There should probably be some non-violent aggression going on.

Moms, get down on your knees and let your BOY out!  (And the actual boy whose been cooped up in the house with you all winter.)