Sunday, 13 February 2011
Oh please, not that one again...a list for bored parents everywhere (by Mrs B)
It would seem that organising bookselling at the Bath Lit Fest and bringing up a small child leaves little time for reading - at least not for reading books without rhyme, pictures or soggy-edged corners. The pitiful few pages I manage in a day mean my own reading plan is limping slowy along, awaiting the end of the festival.
In the meantime I go to bed and dream of plum pie in the sun, tigers who eat all the cakes and of lions who are too fierce and sent back to the zoo. I had hitherto been ignorant of just how intimately you get to know children's books as a parent. It doesn't matter how many books you have at home (and you can imagine, we're not short of a few), the same favourites are revisited again and again and then some more. And it's only when faced with such daily repetition that you fully realise the benefit of a great children's book.
So here are mine (and Miss B's) very personal favourites which are genuinely fantastic and which I am happy to read time and time again, and which I have not tried to hide away or pretend have gone to Grandma's house.
1. The Tiger Who Came to Tea - Judith Kerr. A true classic but one I didn't know as a child myself so am just as enamoured as Miss B with the wonderfully hungry, smiley tiger and the terribly polite Sophie and her mum and the trip out in the dark to the cafe for sausages and chips.
2. Green Eggs and Ham - Dr Seuss. Again, I wasn't read these as a child and hadn't appreciated just how fantastic they are. The fun fast rhymes are funny for an adult too and are just so different and wonderfully odd compared to most other books out there.
3. Papa Please Get the Moon for Me - Eric Carle. This lovely pop-up board book was given to us as a present when she was born and was the first book we read to her when she was just weeks old, lying wide-eyed on the bed staring up at the moon unfolding. I am sure it has fuelled her obsession with the moon ever since and we still read it as a perfect goodnight story. Gentle, sweet and beautiful words to match the pictures.
4. Bear on a Bike - Stella Blackstone. As bear goes off on his travels to the market, to an island, to the forest, to a castle on different forms of transport, this has been a hit with Miss B I think because of the bright colours with lots happening on each page and for me for the above-average rhyming sing-songy words which make it so much nicer to read than the dull-dull "that's not my..." style book.
5. Mr Magnolia by Quentin Blake. A recommendation by my friend Karen as her favourite book as a kid and we sell it by the dozen at Mr B's. Of course there are Blake's quirky illustrations but coupled with such a wonderfully simple and silly story of Mr Magnolia only having one boot throughout until someone thinks to buy him a new one at which the cast of characters all shout whooppee for Mr Magnolia's New Boot! It makes me smile every time.
6. Welcome to the Zoo by Alison Jay. A wordless book with lots of different scenes at the zoo all beautifully illustrated. Look more closely and you see each page is interconnected with the others, with stories flowing from one page to the next with lots of v funny touches clearly designed for parent readers - I am entertained by new little things every time in a remarkably sophisticated "where's wally" (but better) kind of way.
7. One Ted Fell Out of Bed by Julia Donaldson. This is a corker of a book for bed-time story to get them all sleepy and I honestly don't tire of the rhyming text, despite having read it pushing a hundred times. Ted falls out of bed and plays with all the dolls and in toy cars and trolls and floats up on balloons until he gets all sad and builds a staircase of building blocks to try to get back into bed with his sleeping owner.
8. Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion. My personal favourite as a child - or at least the one I remember the most. An American classic about a dog who doesn't want a bath and runs away playing in lots of dirt and then needing a bath to get clean for his family to recognise him. Lots of trucks and trains, tunnels and then a warming cosy coming home story with fabulous illustrations from the 60s.
9. Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg. Of course. Can't imagine this not being on every parent's top 10 list. Every inch of this is perfect - the clever, sweet rhymes all referencing other children's tales, the intricate, homely comforting illustrations with touches of humour and
of course it heavily features plum pie which surely makes everyone's belly feel warm.
10. A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. This is my favourite from the array of great books by this duo where a lady thinks her house is too small until she has to share it with various animals.