I’ve never been a huge Beatrix Potter fan although I’ve warmed up to her some in the past few years. I’m not sure why she’s not a favorite of mind. Perhaps, it’s that the books are all a little odd and sort of twee. Still, I think Peter Rabbit is a childhood classic that every child should have read before the age of say eightish.
We also read a few other Potter books this week. The one the boys like the best is Squirrel Nutkin; I think because he is so naughty. No matter what, if you read these, please don’t get any of the horrendous modern versions. Countless people have put out their own versions of these stories with their own illustrations. In my view, the best thing about these books is the artwork. The original books were also all quite small intentionally but many of the modern versions are big even if they have Potter’s original artwork. I’d advise you to find them in the original small version with the original subdued classic illustrations. The newer versions all really ruin the feel of Potter’s world.
You can’t get much better than Jim Arnosky for a picture book about the natural world. He manages to write books that are really non-fiction yet appeal even to David who told me recently after reading another non-fiction book, “I like the funny books. I don’t like the boring books.” Arnoky’s illustrations are gorgeous as usual. It’s an interesting contrast to Potter, both of whom drew from nature but with very different results. We had a conversation about which bunnies looked more “real” and why and why the different illustrators drew them differently. We also had a lot of fun finding all the other creatures hiding on the edges of the pages (ladybugs and spiders and a salamander and a hummingbird and a butterfly among others).
This is a very sweet book about a bunny family getting ready for bed at the end of the day. Wendy Watson uses minimal words to tell her story but the onomatopoetic words create a rhythm that is engaging and fun. “Chomp, munch, gobble, crunch.” ” Squirt, scrub, splutter, spit.” All three of my kids enjoyed this one, from 20 months to 7 yrs.
Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming was the boys favorite book of the week by far. It’s funny. It’s got repetition and rhyme. It’s sort of a modern take on Peter Rabbit (Mr. McGreely tries to keep three mischeivous bunnies away from his vegetable garden) but it’s a more of a clever reference to a classic than a retelling. The boys loved it and I didn’t mind reading it multiple times. And did I mention it was funny?
One of my favorites this week was this quirky book by Doreen Cronin (the author of Click, Clack, Moo). Newbie, a rescue bunny in training, has to help rescue a giraffe from a pile of muck out on the savannah. A pack of hyenas makes the rescue extra dangerous. It’s silly but it’s cute and sweet. The cartoon drawings compliment the silly storyline. As much as I liked this book, it seemed to be missing something. Maybe it was just too silly or a little too complicated in it’s silliness but the boys didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought they would. On each page, there’s a lot going on visually and the text is sprinkled with movie quotations which are fun for adults, although kids won’t get the references (“You can’t handle the truth.” “You had me at hello.”)
Be sure to stop by Hope Is the Word for more great read-aloud suggestions.