Another set of fantastic no-category books for you here in Part 4! Well, mostly uncategorized... Sometimes I pick up a book thinking I will not like it because of the illustration style or the amount of text, or something along those lines, and I read it anyway and find a new favorite. That was definitely the case with Estelle Takes a Bath, because the illustrations didn't appeal to me and I usually dislike the cookie-cutter nature of bath books. With The Great Quillow, it was the length - too long doesn't work for preschoolers, so why should I bother? That's What Friends are For at first seemed too simplistic, and I haven't liked some of Gorbachev's other stories. But I didn't discard any of these titles out of hand, as I sometimes do, and I'm glad I didn't! They were good enough to make my favorites list, and I never would have known what I was missing.
That's What Friends are For by Valeri Gorbachev
Why I love it: Guessing books are really fun for the kids, but it's also great entertainment for me to hear their suggestions, in this case, of why Goat's friend, Pig, is seen in his window crying the morning of their dinner plans. I can't pin down exactly why I find this one so particularly endearing, but it has a charm about it that brings me back to it over and over. I certainly like the surprise ending, and the sweetness of Goat's active compassion toward his dear friend before he even knows what is saddening him.
Estelle Takes a Bath by Jill Esbaum
Why I love it: The adorable surprise ending, the colorful, rhyming text, and the serendipitous covering up of Estelle's private parts throughout her campaign to exterminate a certain small intruder who has interrupted her cozy bath. It's a fun little romp of a book. There are a good number of bath picture books, and of all the ones I've read, this is the one that stands out to me as my favorite. My second favorite would be How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth by Michelle Robinson. (But those may be the only bath stories I like very much!)
The Great Quillow by James Thurber
Why I love it: It is believably silly and imaginative, with mystery and suspense moving it toward a very satisfying ending. This one is longer than I would read to preschoolers during storytime, but the first, second, and third graders I read it to loved it. In fact, they were asking if they could check it out to take home themselves. The main character, who is pretty eccentric, is also quietly confident
in himself in the face of doubt and mockery from his fellow
townspeople as he concocts a plot to get rid of a rude and demanding giant who has taken up residence just outside the town. This story is a refreshing example of perseverance and creativity with some good humor sprinkled in. Another bonus is that the illustrations are by Steven Kellogg!
Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser
Why I love it: It makes the kids say passionately, "Hey, that's not
what's going on!!" and laugh at the silly squirrel and his friends who
keep thinking they have found winter - "cold, wet, and soft." The
illustrations are mostly pencil sketches with some
accenting color here and there, but they are very lively and add much
to the tale. What impresses me most, is that the funny overtones of
this story still allow plenty of room for the wonder and awe of experiencing
snow for the first time. I also quite enjoyed Meschenmoser's Mr. Squirrel and the Moon.