Monday, August 2, 2010

Hooray for Fish by Lucy Cousins

Lucy Cousins is the award-winning creator and author of the Maisy the Mouse books.  She employs her colourful and bold style underwater in this 2005 book, a winner of Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2005.

Little Fish takes the reader on a tour through the sea and introduces all his "fishy friends".  There's Spotty Fish and Stripey Fish, Happy Fish and Grumpy Fish, a fish that is upside down and fishes that go round and round, and loads more. The illustrations are big and bold and the text is rhyming and catchy.

We have been reading this book to Ryan ever since he was an infant.  At first he just listened and watched as we read the simple text and flipped through the colourful illustrations. Now he makes comments and lets out different expressions when he see the different fishes. He notices similarities, differences, temperaments, movements, colours, numbers, shapes and sizes.

The story ends when Little Fish introduces "the one I love the best, even more than all the rest" - "Hello, Mom! Kiss Kiss Kiss!" Who wouldn't love an ending like that?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ten in the Bed by Penny Dale


“Ten in the bed” is a very well known and popular song which combines numbers and the amusing idea of falling. There are many books based on the song. In this 2007 version illustrated by Penny Dale, the ten characters are a boy and his nine stuffed animals. Everytime they shout "Roll over, roll over!", one of the toy animals will fall out of bed with a "Thud!" or a "Boink!" or a "Plop!". When all nine toys have fallen out of bed, the lonely boy calls for them and they climb back in and cuddle together and fall peacefully asleep.

Richard reads this book to Ryan with a lot of gusto and Ryan chuckles at every thud, boink and plop.

This is a very good book for all ages and you can use it as a base for teaching concepts like numbers, counting, animals, etc. Here are some ideas from TEFL.net.

We were surprised to see that Ryan recently invented a game where he stands up and then falls down, gets up and falls down again, usually with some sound effects. He usually does this on our big bed but, the other day, we were in Borders and he pretended to fall down on the carpeted floor - he "fell" on his side and stuck one leg up and there was even an "Ah!" to top up the performance! He did it a few times and everyone around him was so amused. I think he got the idea from this book!

Another firm favourite of Ryan's. Almost every child in Singapore would know this song/rhyme about the wheels on the bus that go round and round, the wipers that go swish swish swish and the windows that slide up and down.

This book was published in 1990 and was illustrated and engineered by Paul O. Zelinsky. Zelinsky is a Caldecott medallist and The Wheels on the Bus is his most well-known work.

The illustrations are fantastic. They are realistic in that the various commuters on the bus are depicted doing all sorts of different things and there are little sub-stories going on - there is the boy with a box of playful kittens, there is the young man with a guitar, a motorcyclist and her runaway puppy, etc.

Of course, the greatest thing about this book is that it is a "movable book" - there are tabs to pull, wheels to spin and flaps to lift. Ryan goes all through the "activities" and he never misses a flap/tab. I sing the song everytime we read this book and he just loves it, he never rushes through.

We introduced this book to Ryan when he was a few months old and lots of flaps are torn up now, which I just love to see! Watching Ryan examine the book with such interest and seeing him investigate how the flaps work brings a smile to my face and I'm happy that the book manages to thoroughly engage him. I'll gladly patch it up over and over again and I'll happily buy another one if I have to. This book is definitely a keeper.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Where's Spot? by Eric Hill


This lift-the-flap book is a firm favourite of Ryan's. We introduced it when he was a few months old and he loved it from the start. He learned very quickly where the flaps were on each page and how to lift the flaps himself. He's torn off some of the flaps a few times (and I've patched them back each time).


The story is about a search for Spot who has hidden himself somewhere. The flaps hide the various hiding places that he could be in and the reader lifts the flaps to see if Spot is hiding there. The reader encounters various animals who are in these hiding places and the story ends when Spot is finally found, which is a nice way to "reward" the reader for going through the search.

Ryan enjoys it when I read this book with different voices for each animal and he always has a good time. First published in 1980, this is the first of many adventures of Spot and you can now find a whole library of Spot books. This particular book is a good way to introduce concepts like "under", "inside" and "behind". The flaps provide good finger-training too.


First published in 1947, Goodnight Moon is a poem describing a bunny's bedtime ritual of saying "goodnight" to various objects in the bunny's bedroom: the telephone, the bunny's dollhouse, the bears, etc. The illustrations are full of little details which would keep an older child intrigued. The details also change as the story progresses.

As a baby, Ryan had completely no interest in this book. He found it neither soothing nor interesting. We don't have a ritual of saying "goodnight" at our house so perhaps that made a difference. It was only after Ryan turned one that he let his father read through the whole book with him. Now Ryan does pick up the book and flip through the pages on his own. I think it will get more affection as Ryan grows older.


This book is a good way to look at counting (up to five), the days of the week, different types of food and even to teach our little one where butterflies come from. It comes highly recommended both for the storyline as well as the colourful illustrations. First published in 1969, a copy of the book is reportedly sold every 30 seconds somewhere in the world. It has been described as "one of the greatest childhood classics of all time" and has won multiple awards.

However, I have never really been impressed with the illustrations or the little holes in the pages that children apparently love (the book was apparently inspired by a hole puncher). The first few times I introduced this book to Ryan, he was not impressed either so I actually put this book away. When I re-introduced it a few months later, Ryan was much more receptive although I still had to speedread through it otherwise he'd turn to the last page and close the book before I get to finish the story. I continue to rotate this book in and out of Ryan's active library every few months and everytime it is re-introduced, Ryan seems to take a little more interest in it. At the moment however, he still doesn't care about what the hungry caterpillar ate on Saturday.


I actually bought this book by chance - I was buying a load of books at Borders and I needed one more to qualify for a discount so I just grabbed this book which was left on the floor. As it turned out, Chick is one of Ryan's favourite books and one of the first that he loved. He was only a few months old when we introduced Chick to him but everytime we brought Chick out, Ryan would have a big smile on his face.

This colourful pop-up book published in 2009 is about a chick's first day of life, from the time it pecks it way out of its egg till it is tucked to sleep under its mummy's wing. It mirrors the daily routine of a baby, even including a page showing the chick doing a poo (the poop page is a hit with Ryan who loves turning the wheel). I subsequently found out that this book is the Winner of the Baby Book Award, Early Year Awards 2009.

I have had to patch up the book a couple of times as it has suffered from Ryan's enthusiastic fingers. Ryan continues to love this book very much - we were in Borders the weekend he turned 18 months and he read this book eight times. Looks like it will remain a staple of his library for some time to come.

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