Sunday, May 15, 2011

Jour de pêche (2008)

It is from a French author Laurent Moreau. Do not let the language stop you because there is no text at all - instead, pictorial illustrations throughout the book.

A unnamed man started his day riding his bicycle with his fishing rod and passing through the town where there are different people, children, vehicles, unexpected incidents.

The character cast appear one after another (a lady in a hurry, a postman, a child playing paper plane, a fish truck, a circus track, a curious cat, a girl flying kite, fire engines, sailor, a park...) with highlighted colors - this makes a bit easier to continue the main story while you can weave in many sub-plots. All the characters will have continuity on its own across the pages.

It is in free form - though be prepared to answer all the questions from the kid!

Characters with highlights - the page is alive.

28 pages.

Amazon FR: here
Singapore NLB: Look for 东方娃娃绘本版

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Garden of Abdul Gasazi (1979)

One word to describe this book's story is "mystical". Perhaps that echoes with the way the young children sees and understands the world and the book draws them into it.

The illustration is filled with atmosphere! My son liked the back cover, as it reminded him his grandfather can do the same too. He warmed up to the story immediately.

The story is not very long, simple yet leaves you and the kid without clear answers in the end. What can happen with a boy, a dog, the man (a magician) who smokes, the mysterious garden (as seen from the front cover) on a fine afternoon?

The mysterious garden

The boy taking the nap, the dog too, not knowing an adventure awaits them.

This book is from Chris Van Allsburg and is his earliest work - though it sets his trademark with the highest standard.

Author: Chris Van Allsburg
Illustrator: Chris Van Allsburg
Suitable: Age 4-8 (Kindergarten, some sentences are slightly long for age 4.)
Format: Hard cover
Size: about A4
Pages: 32

Singapore: NLB (keyword: "Garden of Abdul Gasazi")
Amazon: here

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Complete Adventures of Curious George (1941~ 1966)

Just received the delivery for this book "Complete Adventures of Curious George". It is very heavy - hardcover, 422 pages and around 1.5kg.

I read the first story only to my son so far and it was captivating. I had a hard time to convince him we had to stop here and continue the next day.

"This is George. He lived in Africa. He was a good little monkey and always very curious." The opening is good representative to the style of sentences. They are just right for a kid of ~4 who starts to read (particularly if English is the second language).

"George thought is would be nice to have it on his own head. He picked it up and put it on".

This kind of curiosity will get George into all different sort of trouble - of course the kid enjoys the appealing of such troubles and the adventures to the good ending.

The book contains 7 different stories (as the name "complete") and they are
  • Original "Curious George" (1941)
  • "Curious George Takes a Job" (1947)
  • "Curious George Rides a Bike" (1952)
  • "Curious George Gets a Medal" (1957)
  • "Curious George Flies a Kite" (1958)
  • "Curious George Learns the Alphabet" (1963)
  • "Curious George Goes to the Hospital" (1966).
"Curious George Learns the Alphabet" drew some of my attention too since it is not long ago my son starts to learn the alphabet too. This (not really a story) introduces each letter by associating it with a resembling part of the animal or some other objects. It is an interesting way to meet the alphabet - particularly if the kid already started to like Curious George.

Author/Illustrator: Hans Augusto Rey
Suitable: 4-7, Kindergarten
Format: Hardcover
Size: Similar to A4, 1.5kg
Pages: 422

Singapore: NLB (keyword: "Complete Adventures of Curious George")
Kinokuniya (S$50, Hardcover)
Amazon: Here

Monday, January 10, 2011

Runaway Bunny (1942)

"I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you", said the young bunny
"If you become a fish in a trout stream, I will become a fishman and I will fish for you" said the mother bunny."If you become a fishman, I will..."

The story is a series of what-if hide and seek with lively rhythm. At the first reading (at 3+), the child will be able to grasp the rhythmic sentences, and repeat some of them. On the second reading, if you paused at "I will..." and point to the illustrations, the child will likely help complete the rest of the sentence with great sense of engagement.

There is some subtle message, not necessarily intended by the author. The love to children is so unbounded that the mother bunny embraces any imaginative changes expressed by the child, playing an acknowledging and guiding role. To the child, there is nothing more comfort than getting such support and the willingness to consider their needs - even though the playful needs of "running away".

Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrator: Clement Hurd
Suitable: 2-6, Nursery, Kindergarten
Format: Hardcover
Size: 8.8 x 10.3in, 22x26cm, like landscape A4
Pages: 48

Singapore: NLB,
Kinokuniya (S$15.45, Board Book instead of Hardcover)
Amazon: Here

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955)

This is a book that reminds all of us how we start thinking about problems and the logic of children - they can be truly enlightening even for a learned adult.

There is no moon? Draw a moon.
There is nothing to walk on? Draw a path!
The path did not seem getting anywhere. Draw the way to go! (What ingenious and simple solution.)

"One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight..." and the adventure begins!

"There wasn't any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight."

(so Harold draws a moon...)

My son liked the adventure so much and he never got bored with repeated reading.

Author/Illustrator: Crockett Johnson
Suitable: 3-7, Nursery,Kindergarten
Format: Paperback
Size: 6.9 x 6.5in, 17x17cm, sort of square
Pages: 64

Singapore: NLB,
Kinokuniya (S$11.79)
Amazon: Here

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Usage of Reading Level

Reading Level is useful to tell how readable a book is. If you are interested in learning about what "Reading Level" is, you can find a short version and a long version. In the long version, it explained also various numerical/categorical scales that exist so a leveling guide can be found here too.

Aamzon lists its "Reading Level" using age.

Note that however the "Reading Level" is based on word length, vocabulary, number of words in a sentence, complexity of sentences and other "writing" attributes. So it is really indicative of how "readable" a book is, not how suitable the content of the book is.

So with this first level of information (suggested Reading Level on a book), the parents still need assess the content of a book before reading to the child.

Sometimes a book with low suggested Reading Level may touch on content that actually requires more maturity in order to grasp - but again this is subjective so it comes back to the parents' call - by knowing their child most.

Of course, (nearly all the time) picture books are good pick for the young child. They can sometimes be written for slightly higher Reading Level (eg due to vocabulary), but they remain suitable for child of slightly lower age - they have great illustrations. This is especially true if the book is read to the child.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pat the Bunny (1940)

From the back cover - "In this beloved classic (1940), Paul and Judy play peekaboo, smell flowers, look into the mirror, feel daddy's scratchy face, and, of course, pat the bunny! All eight activities in this timeless favorite will fascinate your little one."

It is plainly colorful but it is interactive, the baby can touch and feel what is involved in the eight activities. They will adore it.

Author: Dorothy Kunhardt
Suitable: 0 ~ 3 Years (Baby, Toddler, Nursery)
Format: Paperback with Plastic Comb
Size: 14*13*2cm, 5.6*5.1*1.1 inches (square, about A6)
Page: 20

Kinokuniya, search ISBN 9780307120007, S$15.79
Amazon: here