Computer problems meant that I couldn’t post for a couple of weeks, so here’s two for the price of one…
A Board Book Every Week: 18 and 19
Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood (Macmillan Children’s Books 2012)
I know parents who are very very tired of reading the line ‘Wow! said the owl’, but come on, guys, it only turns up seven times in the book, not on every page.
This book isn’t perfect for under-ones: it’s another example of a large-format picture book (published 2009) turned into a board book, and Booktrust give it an interest age of 2+ . The text is not that gripping for real tinies, with some long complex sentences and a lot of words way beyond their comprehension. There’s no rhyme or rhythm to help, either. But I’ve chosen it because…
‘Wow!’ was just about what I said when I first saw it on the bookshop table. It has real eye-appeal.
It is gorgeous! Illustrations and colours to make your mouth water – a beautiful mix of line and wash and collage. The night-time pages are exquisite. I love the idea of exposing tiny children to a wide and wonderful world of images and styles.
The curious little owl is a female lead character – hurrah!
She looks like an owl, not a ‘girl owl’. She has a really appealing face, with big owl eyes, but not a girly eyelash in sight!
There are lots of colours – and a rainbow – and a colour palette at the end to recap the colours seen.
The owl’s there to spot and point to on every double-page spread except for one, where you’ll have to settle for butterflies instead.
Any you do get to chant ‘Wow! said the owl’ over and over. We might not like the repetition but babies love it and learn best from it.
Can You Say It Too? Arf! Arf! by Sebastien Braun (Nosy Crow 2015)
Now this is age-appropriate. Billed as ‘With BIG flaps to lift’, it’s simple, tough and fun, and the latest in a range of animal noise books from Nosy Crow. It has just five spreads, beautifully bright and sturdy, where different animals are hiding behind rocks, sandcastles and beach-balls.
I’m lucky enough to live at the seaside and I love seaside books. Seagulls, jellyfish and crabs are commonplace – sand not so much, on this stony bit of the south coast! And we would be very lucky if we were to spot seals, puffins or dolphins, though I live in eternal hope. But I like books that reflect some of a child’s own experience; they usually find this much more thrilling than even an exciting but unfamiliar setting. If this goes down a treat, we’ll be getting more ‘Can you say it too?’ books.
On that point, the nice thing about this book is that inside it doesn’t prompt the adult to demand, ‘Can you say it?’ Yes, lots of children love coming up with the right sound if they know it, but equally the pressure can be a real turn-off to any child who’s not there yet. There’s just the surprise picture and the noise to join in with.
Anyone up for a dolphin impression? Eeek! Eeek!