Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Orange Pear Apple Bear

Orange Pear Apple Bear
by Emily Gravett

Suggested age: 1-4 years

As I held this book in my hands at the bookstore, slowly turning the pages with slight skepticism, I tried to read it with my toddler's eyes and senses. By the time I read through to the end I was speechless, reverting to adult experience. I was blown away by the simplicity and the elegant art work.

It is a very simple book, with just 4 (+1) words, as found in the title, telling the whole story through combination of the four words and accompanying illustrations, with just an additional word to end the story.

Reading, some might suggest, initially at least, relies a lot on pattern-recognition - only, this time, it is patterns of letters that are being recognized to be strung together to form the associated sounds. In that sense, this book is both delightful and educational. By repeating the four words in various combination, it makes it easy for Ana to read the words along.

I agree with a friend's observation that it seems like this book appeals to ages 1-100, not just 1-4! This book can grow with the child from toddlerhood to kindergarten, and as they grow, the book will hopefully offer more, and the subtle elegance will probably become apparent to the child.

It is not easy to know which books will readily appeal to our children. Until they learn to read and develop their taste for books and specific genre, the onus is on us parents to guide our children. In that sense, many books get chosen to be read to our children because we as parents think it has some value, something to offer our children, something that will kindle their passion for book as they grow up. Sometimes we make the right choices, sometimes we don't. I believe this is one of those refreshing books that comes along every once in a while whose beauty is understated, almost leaving us wondering what is so great about it!

On an aside, it was interesting to read about the life of the author Emily Gravett, and a short interview where she relates how Macmillan offered to publish her book. Her first book Wolves won the 2005 Kate Greenaway Medal, the most prestigious award for children’s illustration.

A small nitpicky note - if I must stay balanced - is that the illustration of the bear in this book looks very much like the bear in Charmin Toilet paper commercials :)


sathish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sathish said...

Story of the author - emily gravett is interesting..
Very interesting pick. I kind of seem to like the books in which the story and the illustrator is the same person - probably a too generic statement.. but,they seem to get the balance of story and illustration pretty well..

Praba Ram said...

Minimalist and simplistic pick - and a well-balanced review ties very well with the picture! Thanks, Sheels!

ranjani.sathish said...

Sheela that seems a lovely book which you have picked up. My one year old daughter has just started showing interest in colourful books with pictures ! I think she will enjoy looking at this book :-)

Sheela said...

Now that Ana is putting together the letter sounds phonetically, (darn those tricky vowels), we borrowed this book again from the library and it is nice to see how Ana associates the rhyming sounds with the matching letters...

Choxbox said...

Lovely review Sheels.

LOL @ last line!

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