A recent article in the New York Times remarks on the decline in picture book sales in 2010, and posits that parents are hurrying their kindergarten and grade 1 children into "big kid" or chapter books in order to prepare them for academia. Not in our house, mister! I love picture books (what's not to love? They have PICTURES!), and I love reading them with Ewan, my book-devouring second grader. And I don't for one second subscribe to the idea that picture books will dumb him down. In fact, I believe that the use of humour in many picture books can be way more sophisticated than in chapter books, because the interplay between text and picture is so open to dramatic possibility. And don't even get me started on vocabulary--a little soporific lettuce, anyone? So, here's a roundup of some of the smart and funny picture books Ewan and I have been kicking back with this week.
1) exactly how satisfied Mr. Al Foxword's previous customers are,
2) why we should buy Al's book RIGHT NOW!, and
3) what we can do with not one, but two of Al's awesome books (or how about 742 of them...to make the Book Fort you've always wanted!)
David Bruins and Hilary Leung's Ninja Cowboy Bear Presents the Way of the Ninja is a friendship story that illustrates what can happen when one member of a group is more adventurous than the others. Ninja, cowboy and bear are friends. "When they got together it usually led to merrymaking, buffoonery and hilarity." But sometimes cowboy and bear are too sedate for rambunctious ninja. When cowboy wants to paint, ninja wants to jump on beds. When bear wants to pick flowers, ninja wants to climb trees and poke bee's nests. To ninja, a swing isn't a swing, it's a launchpad. Let's shoot for the stars! But when cowboy and bear get hurt playing with ninja, he thinks they are poor sports. How the spirited ninja learns to include his friends in his wild play makes for a story that is both funny and sweet.
Skis! Sweater. Sled! Booties. Maracas!", with correspondingly glum and lively faces on the gift recipients. Santas of the world, listen up: sleds and maracas will trump pajamas and booties every time! 'Nuff said.