Posts tagged ‘creativity’

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.)