Monday, January 17, 2011

Top 5 car-trip distractions for little kids

List by Danielle

"I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them."
~Mark Twain

I was recently the back-seat passenger on a long-ish car journey (5 hours or so), wedged between two car seats with two occasionally-fractious pre-school kids. The trip went much more smoothly when I hauled the stack of books I'd packed for the trip out of the boot, and kept them handy for whenever distraction was needed. Amongst them were some of our favourite author/illustrators of late.

I's also like to give big ups to Jack Prelutsky, the American poet who gave us the classic audiobook, 'It's raining pigs and noodles'. Admittedly, the funny, silly, wonderfully rhythmic poems (set to bluegrassy music!) left my other half muttering "Shoot me now..." but the kids and I like the bouncy rhymes and sing along enthusiastically with poems such as 'The gummies', 'My parents have the flu today' and 'Percy's Perfect Pies'.


Charlie and Lola's animals / Lauren Child
Charlie and Lola show you through the world of animals.

A small but perfectly-formed board book - there's not much to it, but for some reason, it makes my 2 year old animal-lover laugh, and there are plenty of actions and sounds you can make up to go with it. Anything 'Charlie and Lola' is good by us.


Monkey puzzle / Julia Donaldson; illustrated by Axel Scheffler
Can butterfly help little monkey find his mum? Yes, finally, but only after a lot of trial and error as butterfly misunderstands monkey's descriptions and leads him to all sorts of unsuitable animals.

From the award-winning team who brought us 'The gruffalo'. Thanks to the scenic riverside Warkworth Library for this gem, borrowed on the way north. A cute story with a satisfying ending, I particularly love Scheffler's idiosyncratic animals, with their bulbous noses and friendly smiles.

Splat the cat: Love, Splat and Scaredy-cat, Splat! / Rob Scotton
Splat the cat is desperate to become friends with one of the girls at school! But he's much too shy to talk to her. (Love, Splat)
It's Halloween and Splat is determined to be the scariest cat in the class. Unfortunately he's just too much of a scaredy-cat. (Scaredy-cat, Splat!)

Older kids will appreciate the stories here, featuring the loveable but unconfident and bumbling cat Splat, and there are also plenty of cute, funny details in the artwork for little kids to enjoy. A great series overall.

Don't let the pigeon drive the bus!, Don't let the pigeon stay up late! and Cat the Cat, who is that? / Mo Willems
When the bus driver decides to take a break from driving, a wild and wacky pigeon pleads and begs to take his place, capturing the antics of a preschooler's temper tantrum. (Don't let the pigeon drive the bus!)
Needing to brush his teeth, a bus driver asks the reader to make sure that the pigeon goes to bed on time--but the bird has many excuses about why it should stay awake. (Don't let the pigeon stay up late!)
An exuberant cat introduces readers to her friends. (Cat the Cat, who is that?)

I adore Mo Willems' dryly funny stories and the great, spare, cartoonish illustrations. Great simple humour that little kids respond to, as well. These are the kinds of books you go on quoting at each other at odd moments, and the kids have even made a kind of game out of one of the phrases in 'Cat the Cat.'

Mixed up fairy tales and Elephant Wellyphant / Nick Sharratt
What would happen if Goldilocks had two horrid stepsisters and fell asleep for 100 years? Would she be woken by a hungry wolf or Little Red Riding Hood's Granny? This fantastic split page book allows the reader to mix and match different combinations of fairy tales with hilarious results. (Mixed up fairy tales)
Yum! A Fruit Jellyphant! Pooh! A Rude Smelliphant! Wow! A Magic Spellaphant! Who'll be your favourite elephant?Pull the tabs and lift the flaps on this elephantastic parade. (Elephant Wellyphant)

After thoroughly enjoying Nick Sharratt's illustrations in 'Pants and more pants' and 'Shark in the park', we hunted up a few more of his books and these two were big hits - interactive, fun and beautifully brightly coloured. We've had a lot of laughs with these.

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