We read picture books to decide whether they were geared towards children, or not quite. My group had three very different books.
I’ll start with the book I read to my group: Guess what? by Mem Fox. It was kind of musical, simple book. The book was kinda asking about traits of witches (Does she have a broomstick? Guess. YES!) and ending with she’s a witch. The illustrations were really cool. However, you look a little closer at the illustrations and they’re slightly inappropriate. There’s a picture of her taking a bath, a few of owls having mice in their mouths, but one in particular was interesting to me and my group mates. I was pretty naive, but one of the pictures has the witch looking a lot like Alice Cooper, she has punk pins on her dress, but more intriguing was the fact she had a coke nail on both hands. I didn’t know what it was, but our prof pointed it out, whose sons pointed it out to her. She said Mem Fox is an excellent writer, but we all agreed this particular book may not be geared towards young children. (Grades: maybe middle grades– remember, I’m in kiddie lit, so a lot of times we are discussing young elementary. No, wouldn’t want this in 2nd grade…)
The book the drama major (secondary friend) read was called Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine. It’s all about the importance of choice. Her parents tried hard to get Ella Sarah to change her mind on her crazy outfit, but she wouldn’t budge. It was a joyful book that I may buy for one of my 3 year olds in my Sunday School class for her birthday– she ALWAYS dresses herself, and she’s so confident from it. My friend really related to the character Ella Sarah, as she was that kid. (Grades: Pre-K- 2? I’m not so good at judging the younger readers. Definitely an enjoyable book.)
Our last book that was read by a hilarious elementary teacher was It’s not a box! by Annette Portis. If you know kids, you know that cardboard box they’re playing with is NOT a box. It was absolutely adorable. (Grades: Pre-K -younger elementary)
An author my prof has read a couple times who should be commented on, Mo Willems. He’s got some awesome picture books. She read I Love My New Toy which was an absolute delight, and City Dog, Country Frog, which made me tear up slightly.
A children’s book must be hopeful, not cynical. It needs to reflect the nature of children. If it doesn’t do that, it may not be a good children’s book– even if it has pictures. Another group read The Day you were Born. Um, as much as I’d love to tell a kid about gravity doing its work, the book is a nice gift for a mom– not a good children’s read. It was a really cool class today.