We had a busy reading week. Smarty read a number of Halloween books, some long chapter books, and we have completed our read-aloud for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We both loved the book, and I was surprised to discover how far a creepy Johnny Depp character in the movie departed from Willy Wonka of the book. But I digress – back to the books.
This week Smarty had another Leo Lionni book as her reading assignment – Frederick. I am surprised that we missed this book before – it’s awesome (it also happens to be a Caldecott book). Interestingly, my husband and I had a bit of debate about the message – he felt that Frederick was lazy in the beginning of the book, but I liked the dreamy quality of illustrations and a little delightful poem in the end of the book. Smarty rated the book as “very good” – she is quite a critic and rarely gives her books “great” rating. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, however, was rated “great” by her.
Matthew’s Dream was my favorite from Leo Lionni’s mouse books, and it worked pretty well with our artist of the month who happens to be Pablo Picasso. There is a great transition in the book from the dreary poor world in the beginning to a colorful rich world of imagination. No conflict, and a happy ending – just what my daughter likes. She declared this book “great”, but was a bit confused with abstract drawings – clearly she could use more exposure to these styles.
Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse is probably the first one in the series and also a Caldecott Winner. It’s a sadder tale of two friends each of them having difficulties of their own. Smarty was relieved in the end when she learned that these two friends will not be separated. I really like the simple but expressive way of Leo Lionni’s mice drawings – something that I want to try and replicate with daughter when the time allows.
When Smarty looked at the cover of this book, she predicted that it will be about the fish that wanted to fly. It was pretty close – this fish wanted to see life on land. In the end he learns to appreciate the beauty of his own home, but I personally think that it’s sort of sad that his heroic efforts didn’t yield results. The illustration style is different from mouse books, the pictures are more detailed. We liked it less than the other three, but it’s still a very nice read for young children.