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Saturday, 31 October 2015

Five books about animals

There are probably lots of reasons why children are fascinated by animals. We don't have any pets (yet) but we do have a black and white cat that likes to come over and skulk around our garden. Whenever he chooses to visit, it sends the two little ones into a state of excitement.  For days after he's visited, our daughter looks for him calling out, "cat? cat?" A recent trip to the zoo was incredibly exciting for them both and one of the most played with toys in our house is a collection of small animal figurines. The favourite part of our trips to our local museum is seeing the wildlife and marine life displays and basically, to sum up, our two love animals.  Today, I thought I would share with you five books that the two little ones really enjoy.

1. Two by Two by Two... by Jonathan Allen

A few weeks ago my mother in law generously gave the two little ones a copy of a delightful book called, 'Two by two by two...' by Jonathan Allen.  It's an interpretation of what happened on Noah's Ark and the kinds of antics the various animals got up to whilst on board.  The illustrations are very detailed and the book has a sense of humour that both children and adults can appreciate. Our son's favourite page is the one where a frog and rabbit get up to mischief: turning on the lights in the nocturnal room (a room Noah has set up for the nocturnal creatures such as owls and possums), tying the ringtailed lemurs tails together, jumping on a sleepy buffalo and pulling faces at a puma.  He has memorised this part of the book, and it is very cute listening to him 'read' it. One thing my husband and I really like about the book is that every image of the animals is labelled with their name, so when we are asked what the animal is we can answer knowledgeably without resorting to google.  Our daughter's favourite page is the one pictured below and she also really enjoys looking at the inside of the cover, which comprises of images of lots of the different animals (all labelled of course).

2.  Little Mouse by Alison Murray

This book is the current favourite at the moment, and is being read at least four times a day.  Like, 'Two by Two by Two...' the illustrations and text work together to compliment each other and the illustrations by themselves add another layer to the book.  It is of a little girl whose Mummy (or Mommy in the story) calls her a 'little mouse' when she's feeling, 'quiet and cosy, cuddly and dozy'. However, she thinks this is 'funny' because she doesn't think she's like a little mouse at all. She lists of all of her other attributes such as being tall, strong, brave, scary etc and the illustrations are of animals we typically associate with those attributes.  I think it is quite an empowering book for children and a good reminder for us adults reading the story to them, that how we see children is not always how they see themselves. Alison Murray trained as a textile designer, and I certainly feel like I can see the influence in her vibrant and playful illustrations.  

3. My First Animal Picture Dictionary

This was a Christmas present for our son when he was around 19 months old.  He still enjoys looking at it now, as does his sister.  It is a great book for very young children- and it also comes in board book form.  It consists of alphabetised pages filled with different pictures of animals/ parts of animals like a beak or hoof and a brief descriptions.  It is a good one for little ones to flick through by themselves if they are that way inclined and is very visually stimulating.  

4. Mad about Mini Beasts by Giles Andreae and David Wojtowcyz

We have been mad about all the books by Giles Andreae and David Wojtowcyz we can get our hands on in this house.  The two little ones absolutely love them.  Other favourites are 'Commotion in the Ocean', 'Mad about Mega Beasts', 'Farmyard Hullabaloo' and 'Rumble in the Jungle'.  The books consist of rhymed verses for each animal within the theme of the book, for example 'Mega Beasts'. The rhymed verses are very fun and very appealing to young children.  The illustrations are bold and  a fitting accompaniment to the text. Each book generally ends with the reader saying goodnight to the animals and the animals settling down for the night.

5.  Hairy MacLary from Donaldson's Dairy by Lynley Dodd

The perennial favourite in the homes of many kiwis, this book is a firm favourite here as well.  The rhyme, repetition and the delightful names of the dogs (Hairy MacLary, Hercules Morse, Muffin McLay...) adds to the impact of the hilarious climax of the book where the dogs all get scared away by a tom cat.  The rhyme, repetition and clever use of onomatopoeia make this book one where it is easy for the kids to join in with the reading of it.

Another favourite here this year is another author called Sharon Rentta, who I will writing a whole post on in a week or so.  If you haven't come across any of the above mentioned books, I do hope you will be able to seek them out and enjoy x

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