Posts tagged ‘imagination’

October 9, 2014

remember when you played TELEPHONE?

by Wendy Lawrence

It starts with a mother bird who says “Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner.” But the youngest only remembers “Tell Peter: Hit pop flies and homers.” That changes to “Tell Peter: Prop planes are for fliers.”

telephoneTitle: Telephone
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jen Corace
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 0 – 7

The game of telephone, played by birds on a telephone wire, appropriately enough, gets out of hand at one point:

Tell Peter: There’s a giant monster lobster named Homer! He smells like socks and he breathes red fire! His eyes blaze like stars and he rides a crocodile that flies and he’s coming to this wire! Tell Peter to fly! Fly far far away! He’s too young to be somebody’s dinner!

Then there is one of those beautifully brilliant pages with no words. Where an older owl gives this latest message the kind of look that parents sometimes give the younger set. And he turns and says “Hey, Peter.” Which is another of my favorite pages. I love that it slows down a little. Then he straightens his glasses and says “You mom says fly home for dinner.”

🙂 Which made me love the book. Because really, as parents, doesn’t that just sum up the whole job? Yes, it’s nice to have fun with the kids, but sometimes, when dinner is on the table and the craziness is out of hand, it’s up to us to cut out the monsters and the crocodiles and boil everything down to the main point.

That and the illustrations. Which are gorgeous.

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.)

September 13, 2010

Is there anything as exciting as a cardboard box? This kid wouldn’t think so.

Title: The Birthday Box
Author: Leslie Patricelli
Genre
: Picture book
Age: 0 – 6

Summary and Review:

I love this book.  It’s quite possibly my favorite picture book.  (I know, I know, I’ve said that about other books.  But this one, well, just take a look at it for yourself.)  The pictures are wonderfully cute and spare.  The writing is just as spare, eloquent in just a few words, which takes great talent.  But the best part is simply the kid himself–a kid who unwraps his birthday present to find a cardboard box–and he’s so excited!  It’s a airplane!  A boat!  A robot costume!  A great place to take a nap–which he takes (and I love this part) with the stuffed dog he later finds inside the box.  Not even considering for a moment that the dog was the actual present, the boy simply gives the dog a name and excitedly shows him the box.  Brilliant.  Genius.  I could read it over and over again.  (And I do.)

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

No, no, no.  Don’t have a conversation.  Just get out a cardboard box and have fun.  Decorate it, cut it, get inside of it.  Copy the activities of the boy in the book or come up with your own.  My guess is that your child will teach you as much about what the box is as you will.  Just have fun!

And while the whole point is to use a plain box and your imagination, for another time, I encourage you to check out one of my favorite kid websites (Green Party Goods), which has recycled (and recyclable) play structures made out of cardboard.  No giant plastic thing in your living room.  And when they are down with it, it goes in the recycling…. http://bit.ly/ahMXJJ.