Monday, June 21, 2010

Top 5 picture book series titles

List by my 3 year-old daughter

My kids love repetition and they love their favourite characters, and being able to come up with a new title in a much-loved series, waiting for them on the hold shelf, is the occasion for shiny-eyed excitement and car detours to the local library.

Poppy and Max / by Sally Grindley; artist, Lindsey Gardiner
A series about Poppy, a young, enthusiastic and adventurous girl, and her grumpy dog Max. Max is pleasantly cranky and resistant to all forms of fun (apart from excessive muffin eating, of course), but Poppy's free spirit and persistance tend to win him over - somewhat. These are a recent find and would suit little kids who are starting to have enough attention to follow a few more words on the page. The pictures are sketchy and simple with the look of coloured pencil drawings, but fun and colourful.

Winnie the Witch / by Valerie Thomas; artist, Korky Paul
Winnie is a cheerful witch who, together with her cat Wilbur, loves to improvise magical solutions for whatever life throws at her. This is another recent find and, again, probably more suitable for kids who are starting to like wordier stories. That said, the fairly simple plots take a back seat to the magnificent illustrations in this series; plenty of tiny witchy details that give you plenty to find and discuss about the daily home life of Winnie and her assorted creatures and relatives. The cartoonish drawings remind me a bit of satirical cartoonist Ronald Searle's art.

Charlie and Lola / Lauren Child
Charlie has this little sister Lola, who is small and very funny... so goes the start of many a Charlie and Lola adventure. If you haven't tried it, I'd also recommend our Charlie and Lola audiobook, which was great fun on boring car trips; unlike some junior audiobooks, which have a single, slow-paced narrator, We honestly can look after your dog uses multiple voices with great British accents that are funny and entertaining even without Lauren Child's quirky dialogue and likeably loony characters. We also have Charlie and Lola animated DVDs (sounds like the same voice actors as the audiobook). The artwork is artsy and collage-cool.

The Berenstain Bears / Stan and Jan Berenstain
The short version: Ma will look patiently sceptical as Pa Bear details his grand schemes. Pa Bear is an idiot who will end up with bandages and bruises, after Junior bails him out. Hijinks! Spookiness! Bad behaviour and know-it-allism! Please note: I adore the earlier Berenstain Bears books - particularly Bears in the night, The big honey hunt and the like - but the series got taken over by a weirdly pushy morality later on, and started tackling issues such as bullying, laziness and sharing. These, I'm not so in love with. The art in the 1970s titles is simple but so vivid I still remember some pages from my own childhood!

Arthur / Marc Tolon Brown
It's quite cool, that moment when you realise that your little one has grown up enough that they have their own taste in books... and it is *totally* different from your own. And that the books they keep asking for, again and again, are not your own favourites. My daughter has been mad for Arthur ever since we found 'Arthur's underwear' in the withdrawn pile at the library. I would never have picked 'phobia of losing your trousers in public' as such a hot topic for a (then) two-year old! Arthur is a young, slightly neurotic aardvark who lives in an animal-populated American town with his irritating little sister DW and various friends. While most of the jokes and wordplay must go right over her head, my daughter just loves these stories, and the artwork - as with Winnie - is lovingly detailed with all sorts of domestic odds and ends.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

Postscript to this list: I just realised I completely forgot Lynley Dodd's 'Hairy Maclary' series!!! Total oversight. My 3 year-old loved them, particularly once she was given the animated DVD, and my 1 year-old is just starting to bring me the books so he can chatter on about dogs and cats.