Friday, August 24, 2007

Favourite Books

It's safe to say we don't really need to visit the library anymore. It's official - after her birthday, Harriet has no more need for new books (of course having said that I went out and bought her a couple more today...BUT they were about going to the doctor and even had a photo of someone using an otoscope inside, which totally fascinated her). Anyway, back to the topic. Well she loves, loves, loves her books. These are the current faves which we read through not once, or twice, or even three times in a sitting.

Well this had the hallmarks of a favourite before we opened it this birthday. Straight from Great Grandma to Harriet, all the best bits of life are contained herein - wombats, carrots and digging holes. The illustrations are divine and Harry loves to look at all the drawings of the wombat sleeping and saying "AWAKE!" to them. Obviously the main pastime of a wombat is not to her liking.

Oh God. OH GOD!!!! This goddamn book is the bane of our lives. It's seems friendly enough doesn't it? Boy leaves his favourite teddy on a train and goes on a magical journey to find him. Well, whimsy doesn't wash too well with this Mama and Papa team. Plus the illustrations show a rather sullen and - how to put this - downright ugly boy. Harriet is obssessed with this book though and demands reading after reading - we have to tell the story in the car, when out on the street, lying in bed, out in the backyard...the list goes on. She says "Daniel's Train!" and then a plaintive "Special TEEEDDDDDDD!" which is what we say Daniel is yelling out from the train as he goes on his voyage. I really hate this book. *sigh*

Now this book, on the other hand, also has a Daniel protagonist. But this book is incredibly beautiful, all about a boy who goes to a cottage by the beach one summer and gets up in the middle of the night to see the hundreds and hundreds of horseshoe crabs come up to shore in the middle of the night to lay their eggs. The illustrations are such gentle watercolours, and Harriet loves to say softly "look like rocks but really crabs" as we turn the page to where a double spread shows the beach crowded with the unsightly 'crabs' (they are really arthropods and there is a well written point form information page at the back). I love reading her this book. It seems such an odd choice for a two year old to love because nothing much really happends but she is enchanted by it.

"Read boy star, read boy star" has become the refrain after her party on the weekend. The lovely Jay, Scott and Poe bought Harriet this beautiful book, all about a boy who wants a star for a friend. She can now say it word for word. No word of a lie, when James first read it to her she asked for it again and again without pausing to so much as scratch herself for the next EIGHT readings. My favourite part is where the boy realises he can't use his rocket to get to the star because he used up all of its petrol last Tuesday when he went to the moon. It's only a small, square book, perfect for popping into a bag to keep her entertained. Only problem is that she loves to sit there with us reading...hang on, that isn't a problem at all!

Shaun Tan lived about three streets away from us when we were living over in Perth! We loved his books so much that we bought them in anticipation of Harriet liking them when she was much older. Only thing is Harry had other ideas. She found this book and fell in love with the ilustrations (as does every single person who looks at it) and loves to shake her head sombrely and say "Nobody understands". She also loves the double page where the girl is on a large snail and the text says "Sometimes you wait and wait and wait and wait and wait but nothing ever happens" (not an exact quote mind you). Anyway, Harriet reads along with me and then does a big sigh and says "nothing ever happens". Oh it's very difficult to be a toddler. As I commiserated with her one day "I'm sure it must feel like all you do is wait some days Harry" to which I received a big nod. According to Harriet, this book is all about not having your Mama and the red tree represents Mama. Seriously, this is what she told us on more than one occasion. It is an incredible book and we can't recommend Shaun Tan's work highly enough.

*blergh* This pink vomit came from Michelle and Peter - thanks guys! (note: not too sure what percentage of the thanks is genuine though). But you can be assured that Harriet loves your present. Harriet just read through this yesterday for the first time and has asked for it to be read and re-read at least once every half an hour since. She is fixated on one of the characters, Henry, who is sitting on a swing. Harry keeps calling him Henrietta though, because this is Papa Jimbo's pet name for her. Anyway, she now 'does' ballet - this entails touching her fingertips with extended arms above her head and pirouetting. At least this is cute!

But unfortunately we can't find a photo of her absolute favourite, all-time book. It is at the cafe we go to regularly and unfortunately has morphed into being about absolutely everything. It is a short story about Mama Bunny and Boy Bunny. Harry will just start asking for "Mama Bunny Boy Bunny", which is shorthand for "Tell me the story about what we're about to do or have just done through the medium of bunny". In the original story, Mama Bunny asks Boy Bunny to go to the shops to buy some candles for a birthday cake, but there aren't any at the shop. Then on his way home he crashes his trike and gets a scrape on his knee. So while he's sitting there he has a visit from some fairies who fix his trike, kiss his knee better and bring some of their own candles to his house for the cake.

It's fairly inane to say the least, but it was this chance encounter that made us aware that she was ready for books with a longer narrative than we had previously been offering her. Perhaps this explains some of the fascination, but it has now grown into a bloated extension of our lives - Mama Bunny asks Boy Bunny to go to Marrickville Metro for some candles and he gets to go on the cars and let go of a balloon...and you can see where this is heading.

Anyway, just a short post on the favourite books for this week. No doubt there will be a complete changeover within the next fortnight, but for now you can imagine we're sitting there reading these books over and over. OH! And last night she asked for Lisa's Russell the Sheep book a few times in a we're figuring that one is moving up the list. Wonder which book will be bumped off to make way?


Anonymous said...

You (and Harriet) would love "Frog and the Birdsong" by Max Velthuijs, and maybe Wombat Stew for the Wombat lover

arun said...

Loved Diary of A Wombat too.

At that age M loved "The Green Sheep", "Ten in the Bed" and an obscure old book about a dinosaur who has a birthday which she ended up memorising.

My absolute favourite, though it is probably slightly too old for Harriet for a little while longer (though perhaps she'd love the pictures) is a great book called "Zen Shorts" by jim muth.

I also really liked "The Dot" by Peter Reynolds which has now been made into an animation. Great for the artists in everyone.