Saturday, September 09, 2006

Still Reading Picture Books

MotherReader has been reading new picture books. I've been reading some older ones.
I was attracted to Monster Mama by Liz Rosenberg (published in 1993) because of the title. The book is illustrated by Stephen Gammell who also illustrated an old favorite, The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant.

Monster Mama required a little thinking on my part. Patrick Edward is a very normal looking boy whose mother is a monster. Really. She lives in a cave behind his house. She's wonderful to Patrick Edward but always hides herself from others. Until he has a run-in with bullies. She saves the day by acting a lot like...a mother. I can't tell whether this is supposed to be a message book or just fun. I guess it can be whatever you want.

Stephen Gammell's illustrations for Monster Mama might be described as a little abstract, unlike those by Ruth Brown for her own book, Copycat (published in 1994). Brown's very realistic artwork helps tell a simple story about a cat who imitates other creatures. The book is laid out in an interesting manner. Between many of the two-page spreads is an illustrated half-sheet. When the half-sheet lies one way, it completes the illustration on the right. When it lies the other, it completes the illustration on the left.

So these two books offer you a choice. Do you want to have to do some thinking when you read with your kids? Or are you in the mood for some beautiful pictures about a cat whose behavior will be easy to understand? Depending on the day, I could go either way.

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