Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Animals Behaving Badly

It's day three of Children's Book Week, and it's becoming clear that I'm going to have to start doubling and tripling up on my selections because it's going to be impossible to choose just seven books. Today's selections are books from TinyTuna's era and are in stark contrast to the last two days where lovely animal stories feature little critters who are deep philosophical thinkers and nature always comes and licks the cheek of those who wait. Today's selections feature penguins in loud Hawaiian print shirts.

Tacky the Penguin
by Helen Lester

Tacky is a penguin you cannot help but adore. He's always a little off, always a little too loud and always more than a little disheveled with his rumpled shirt and mismatched bow tie. Tacky lives with his siblings: Angel, Neatly, Lovely and Perfect. They are always neat and tidy and march in time and recite perfect poetry. Tacky marches 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-6-2-2 1/2-0-1 and sings songs like, "How many feet does a fish have, I wonder?" But no wonder how bizarre Tacky is, he has a big heart and at the end of every story it is agreed that although Tacky may be an odd bird, he was a nice bird to have around. These stories celebrate the Tacky in all of us and prove there is more than one way to do just about everything, and sometimes the most unusual is the very best of all.

Frog and Toad
by Arnold Lobel

There are lots of Frog and Toad books and every single one of them is a winner. The stories are all short and sweet and pack a punch at the end. They are a kind of amphibian version of Aesop's fables, with a bit of a kick.

Frog and Toad are always struggling with problems. In this story of the cookies, they are afraid they going to eat them all up. So they put them in a box, but decide that's not enough. Then they wrap the box in paper. Then they tie the box up with string. Then they put it on the tallest shelf. Finally, afraid that that it's still not enough, they get the box from the shelf, untie it, unwrap it, take the cookies out, and throw them outside for the birds to eat. Dejected, Toad says, "but now we don't have any cookies." Frog says, "Yes, but now we have LOTS of self control." Toad gloomily agrees, and then decides to go home and bake a cake.

Other classic Frog and Toad stories include a tale of not wanting to get out of bed because the looming load of chores ahead makes it to unbearable; learning that it's ok to want to be alone sometime, and my favorite story: upon learning that it never works to yell "NOW GROW!" at seeds, Toad worries that he scared the seeds, so to make amends, he plays them music and reads them stories. There is always something to learn in a 5 minute Frog and Toad story.

Minnie and Moo
by Denys Cazet

Minnie and Moo, two well-meaning but slightly daffy cows always get into trouble when Minnie asks, "Moo, have you been thinking again?" and Moo admits, "It was only a little think."

Although Minnie and Moo are fully aware that they are cows, hysterical situations always occur when they try to act human. In one story, they are horrified to discover they just ate a hamburger and they start apologizing because they're sure it was one of their friends. In another story, they decide to start the tractor. Knowing they saw the farmer do it several times, Moo explains that you start the tractor by yelling at it and calling it names ("You worthless hunk of junk! You rusty bucket of bolts!") and then giving it a swift kick. Amazingly, or maybe not so much, it works.

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type
by Doreen Cronin

I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite part of this story. The simple notion of typing cows is funny enough as it is. Add to it their list of demands (Dear Farmer Brown: The barn is quite cold. We need electric blankets), and top with a devious duck who starts off as a neutral party and then decides to get his own piece of the action.


Click, clack, quack.
Click, clack, quack.
Clickety, clack, quack.

1 comment:

Antoinette said...

Cows that Type?! Interesting. Sounds like a book I'd love. Minnie and Moo as well. Not too fond of frogs and toads though.
Reading about books makes me hungry for "food for the mind". TG the Dutch translation of Harry Potter #7 will be available at midnight (in 20 min)!