The Snail and the Whale – Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
The Gruffalo dream team do it again! A great book to read aloud with soaring descriptions in bouncy rhyming couplets and illustrations both detailed and cartoonlike. The snail wants to get away from the flock on the rock and decides to hitch a ride with a friendly whale, but when the whale gets frightened by some speedboats and is beached, the snail cannot fail to save his friend.
Pirate Gran - Geraldine Durrant and Rose Forshall
This is the inspiration for this week’s theme. Pirate Gran is published by the National Maritime Museum in the UK, but it’s available in America too. She’s a salty old sea dog who makes ice cream bombes with real gunpowder but thinks it’s more ladylike to drink sherry than rum. One of those great books which will grow with your child’s understanding of the world and consequently it’s fun for grown ups to read too.
Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken – Kate Dicamillo and Harry Bliss
Kate Dicamillo is causing quite a stir in children’s literature at the moment, she won a Newberry medal a few years ago for her young reader’s book “The Tale of Despereux” which has recently been turned into a movie and her newest book in that genre is receiving rave reviews everywhere. Louise is her offering for younger children and does not disappoint. The book is split into three chapters in which Louise goes to sea, joins a circus and leads a mass breakout from a Turkish prison. Yes, I really did just type that (the prison is actually a factory farm and it is this adventure which she feels she must share with her free range friends, back in the henhouse). I will only be reading the first chapter, but all three could be read together if your toddler has good concentration. It’s beautifully written and comically dark in a way that children often really appreciate.
Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
A classic tale of Max who sails “in and out of weeks and almost over a year, to where the wild things are”. As the mother of a toddler deep in the terrible twos I know that there’s a little bit of Max in all of us. It’s nice to know that the same fierceness that makes you chase a dog with a fork also guarantees not being scared of monsters.
Harold and the Purple Crayon – Crockett Johnson
Another classic story about how far you can go with your imagination and a crayon. The deserving porcupine is probably one of the best character concepts in children’s literature. Of course Harold travels by many means but he does sail in a boat and “made land without much trouble”.