Weekly Low Down on Kids Books – Memorial Day Weekend

May 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , )

We’ve been in a bit of a funk here at the Klemm household this weekend.  According to the online dictionary: Funk = A state of depression:  “I sat absorbed in my own blue funk”.  But I’d never say ‘blue funk’ because I’m more of a Holly Golightly girl –  when I’m really depressed, it’s the mean reds.  I didn’t have the mean reds, just a funk, which means I sat around watching awful television that I justified by what my baby might get out of it.  Dance Academy = lame teen show that I’m hopelessly addicted to.  What my baby might get out of it = an Australian accent and the desire to join a ballet class?

I didn’t read anything all weekend.  This is an appropriate end of the month weekend to a month when I skipped out on all my Agatha Christie’s.  Les Miserables may be one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read, but it definitely has put me in a funk.  I started reading Chalice by Robin McKinley and I couldn’t be drawn out of it.  I started reading Native Son by Richard Wright, still could be drawn out.  I sat down with Ayla last night before bed (while my husband and his best friend repaired the air conditioning that had been out all day – reminder: I live in Houston, TX and its the end of May) and guess what finally drew me out of my funk?  Ant and Grasshopper by Luli Gray.

Ant and Grasshopper is a sweet tale about an unexpected friendship between two very different bugs.  I like bugs – illustrated bugs like the ones Guiliano Ferri portrays.  Real bugs are interesting, but I don’t want them lurking about my house, so yes, despite my romantic take on all things living, I kill bugs (and eat cows and pigs).  If a bug is exceptionally fascinating and harmless I might carry it out to the yard and give it a stern scolding about never coming back.  But its citronella window washings once a month, my wonderfully diligent pest control guy, and egg shells and lady bugs in my kitchen garden for me.  Little pests are not welcome – in real life.  In books, I invite them often.

Ferri’s illustrations are wonderful, I love Grasshopper’s little hat and Ant’s old-fashioned glasses.  The story is a good one, a nice little life lesson to be kind to all.  My only issue with the book is when things have been deliberately mis-spelled.  Delicious is Dee-lishus.  Most likely for little eyes reading the words for the first time and to exaggerate Ant’s phrases, but I still don’t like it.  I would prefer Ayla to struggle with the word and be taught through guidance the proper spelling and pronunciation than get used to seeing it spelled wrong.  I went through my second grade year with a teacher who taught “inventive spelling,” where we only had to spell words how we thought they sounded rather than looking them up and discovering their true spelling.  I found this activity detrimental to my education, and contradictory considering how rigorous our spelling tests were.  (I distinctly remember being allowed to spell laugh as “laf” but had to memorize the word meteorologist for a weather themed spelling test the same year.)

Ant and Grasshopper is a wonderful book with a wonderful story, but due to my particular life experiences I will not be buying a copy of this one.  But I wont be opposed to Ayla discovering it in the library on her own in the future.

Another one we enjoyed is called Spells. Emily Gravett’s art is so gorgeous.  I picked the book up solely for the stars surrounding the whimsical frog.  Its a flip book where you match the bottom part of the page to the appropriate top part of the page, but all the pages make for a fun picture.  Each completed page represents a “spell” with old Victorian style art that reminds me of something out of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.  Ayla loved flipping through the book, but its not really a good one for such little hands, as it could easily tear.  I’ll definitely try to reunite our family with this title in the future when Ayla is older.  It would make a great coffee table book.

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