Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Four Comforting Family Books

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The Runaway Bunny
By Margaret Wise Brown
Picture by Clement Hurd
HarperCollins Publishers
Ages 3-6

When I picked this one up at the book fair, I didn't foresee that it would be read and re-read so many times. The mix of adventure and reassurance seemed to appeal to the little one, satisfying both his mind and heart.

Little bunny wants to run away and says he will become a fish. His mother, undeterred, responds saying she will become a fisherman and fish for him. Bunny retorts that he will become a rock on a mountain. We then see the mountain climber mother trudging up icy slopes in search of her little one.

The visuals alternate between black and white line drawings and full-color illustrations. The double page spread with bunny setting off to hide himself is in B&W, while the one in which the mother goes on a bunny hunt is in lovely bright hues. My son is amused by the rabbit shaped tree waiting for the little bunny-bird to come home to it, and the bunny-sailboat’s ears shaped like oversized sails.

No matter what the little bunny transforms into and where he goes, his mother says she will be there for him, even if it means becoming the wind itself, which will blow the sailboat where she wants him to go. In the end, Bunny decides he might as well stay where he is.

We may seek thrill and excitement, but eventually long for the comfort and familiarity of home and loved ones.

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Pirate Boy
By Eve Bunting
Illustrated by Julie Fortenberry
Holiday House
Ages 3-6

Full of fantastic adventures, but ultimately reassuring, this is another book about a mother’s love and the lengths she will go for her child.

The story opens with Danny and his mom reading a book called Pirate Boy.

“What if I want to be a pirate and sail away on a pirate ship?” Danny asks his mom. She will be sad; but if Danny doesn’t like it and wants to go home, she will come to the rescue, even if she has to ride on a dolphin, battle sea monsters, and wield a bottle of pirate-shrinking magic spray to do it!

Unlike with some of Bunting’s work where she deals with topics like divorce or death, this one my son did not discard as “sad”. In fact, the author seems to go out of the way to make it pleasant. Before the book ends, Danny’s mom promises to leave the magic spray so the pirates (who mind you, are not really bad) can spray themselves big again. Mom and son are also going to play on the beach before going home. Dad’s going to be there too, and they’re all going to have cookies and milk. Danny’s going to give his mom the biggest cookie for being the bravest mom in the whole world.

Danny also gets an assurance from his Mom that if he goes to the moon and doesn’t like it there, she will come and get him. Now, if Eve Bunting does write a book with an adventure like that, we’re going to be sure to read it!

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Guess How Much I Love You
Sam McBratney
Illustrated by Anita Jeram
Candlewick Press
Ages 3-6

Little ones will relate to the one-upmanship in this book about a dad's love.

I love you “this much” says Little Nutbrown Hare to Big Nutbrown Hare. The hares stretch, tumble, swing, bounce, and hop in their attempts to outdo one another in demonstrating their love, providing ample scope to the illustrator and Anita Jeram seizes the opportunity with both hands. The expressive pen and watercolor illustrations bring Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare to life. A stroke here, a tilt there, and baby hare is asleep. Amazing, don't you think?

When LNH says he loves his dad all the way to the moon, BNH lets him think he’s won, as only a parent can. As BNH puts his darling to bed, there is a calming, soothing effect. And then BNH whispers something – truly touching.
Tender and heartwarming, this is a book that’s perfect for bedtime reading or father-son bonding.

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Chimp and Zee and the Big Storm
Catherine and Laurence Anholt
Phyllis Fogelman Books
Ages 3-6

Skimming through the book, I saw it had all the right ingredients – monkeys, mischief, rhythm and a mushy end.

Stuck up in their house on the coconut tree on a stormy day, the monkey twins, Chimp and Zee drive Mumkey and Papakey bananas with their ‘squibbling and squabbling’. The siblings are allowed to go out with Papakey to fetch the wash, but the imps don’t follow Mumkey’s instructions and get blown away near the sea and dangerous cliffs.

“Quick as lightning, Mumkey does an amazing thing” to rescue them.

We are left with this parting thought -

“Families can be stormy sometimes
But whatever the weather
We’ll always be together”


Choxbox said...

Nice picks A. Chimp and Zee used to be great favourites in our house once upon a time, possibly also because we got finger puppets with one particular book.

Saw Eve Bunting and thought 'Flyaway Home' and that they are rather unusual, so am intrigued re this one.

Choxbox said...

Nice picks A. Chimp and Zee used to be great favourites in our house once upon a time, possibly also because we got finger puppets with one particular book.

Saw Eve Bunting and thought 'Flyaway Home' and that they are rather unusual, so am intrigued re this one.

Arundhati said...

Thanks Chox. I'd glanced through 'Chimp and Zee...' of course, but the repeated use of "squibbling and squabbling" and the pointing of finger to said book made me take notice!

Choxbox said...

Came across another awwesome Eve Bunting today - Dandelions.

sandhya said...

We have loved 'Runaway Bunny' and 'Guess How Much I Love You'. We still go back to Guess... whenever the kid feels like a little bit of babying. When she was just a year and a half, I would read it to her in our language, as she did not know any English then- this, along with P.D.Eastman's 'Are You My Mother?' was our staple bed-time reading then.:)

Arundhati said...

Sandhya, that makes me go awww...

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