"Good morning, Earl," said Jill.
It was the when "said Jill" came out of Oscar's mouth that my jaw truly dropped. My Oscar is almost two. Gone (thankfully) are the days of the oh-so-boring one word per page board books. We are now into stories, stories that he remembers. This is not to say that we have left board books behind, they are certainly a part of our daily lives, and it is true that Oscar still refuses to sit through Stellaluna; but the entry into the land of story-time is certainly a marker that shall be marked, or at least it will be marked in my memory. My little baby is now a little boy.
And here are my little almost-two-year-old's favorite stories.
by Eric Rohmann
My Friend Rabbit won the Caldecott in 2003, and it was well deserved. The highly defined pictures of colorful animals trying to get a plane out of a tree tell a story that is a pleasure to flip through, with or without words. I bought this book long before I was pregnant, I bought the book before I was married, before I was even engaged, and in truth I've been trying to read it to Oscar since he was about six months old. But at six-months-old, he just wasn't into it. Now however, it is his FAVORITE.
"Mommy rabbit? Rabbit friend? Mommy rabbit?"
And then when the story is over:
And If I refuse:
"Daddy rabbit? Rabbit Daddy? Rabbit friend?"
The fun thing about this is that Tom (the aforementioned "Daddy") and I actually read the book differently. I read the words. I know it is a wonderful to read the pictures, to change the story every time, to extend and involve the listener...but I have accepted my weaknesses, one of which is that I really just want to read the words. Tom however, will read the pictures with Oscar. In some books it seems to me they'll stay on the same page for ten minutes! I can't do that. In truth My Friend Rabbit is a picture book that doesn't really need words, but me, being me, I do appreciate that they're there. And Oscar seems to like it, no matter what.
By Don Freeman
Earl the Squirrel is similar to My Friend Rabbit in that the pictures tell the story, but it is different not only in the style of illustration but in that Earl has A LOT more words. Unlike My Friend Rabbit, Earl is a story that doesn't even NEED pictures. I can see myself repeating the story to Oscar on car rides and in other situations where a distraction will be needed. This is not to say the illustrations aren't appreciated, I for one love them. I especially love the fact that the only item of color, in the whole book, is the red scarf, around which the whole story revolves. The author, Don Freeman, is famous for Corduroy, which is a book we don't actually have. My husband doesn't believe it, but we DON'T own every book ever written. However, I am thankful we own Earl the Squirrel.
By Jon Denver
Illustrated By Christopher Canyon
I am not a fan of Sunshine on My Shoulders, but Oscar loves it. I didn't buy this book, but we have it and one day I pulled it off the shelf to read to Oscar; I have not been able to hide it since. It is not that the book is bad, it is the lyrics to Jon Denver's song with very nice water color illustrations of a little girl on a lake with her dad. I don't like it because I have a personal distaste for what I see as overly sentimental blah.... but my tastes do not define the rest of the world, and they certainly don't define my son. Oscar LOVES Sunshine on My Shoulders. I do sing him the words, and I sing to a tune that is similar (though not exactly the same) to the recorded John Denver versions I have since seen on You Tube. I am including this book, because this is about Oscar's favorite books, not mine. I brought the book into the store because I knew I was going to write this blog post. It is shelved with the other paperback picture books on one side of our children's section. We currently have about thirty paperback picture books in the store. Oscar came into the store yesterday, and of course he spotted the book and immediately demanded I read it to him. He really likes Sunshine on My Shoulders.
By Susan Middleton Elya
Illustrated by Lee Chapman
Unlike the other books in the blog post, Eight Animals on the Town has been one of Oscar's favorite books for a while. He started enjoying the book at about 12-months-old. Perhaps it is the bright colors, or the funny, humanistic shapes of the animals, but my suspicion is that the books bilingual nature is what really captures Oscar's attention. The book is primarily in English, with Spanish words thrown in.
"Frog hops along hungry for Flies. Moscas says Rana, economy size."
Eight Animals on the Town. We do have other books, in Spanish, but in truth I don't know the language, and when I try to read them Oscar's eye's glaze over. I guess it is not enough for a book to be in another language, or to introduce another language, I guess it actually has to be a good book. Eight Animals on the Town definitely fits that the bill.