The Wolf, The Duck and The Mouse

Have you ever wondered what happened to that poor duck –swallowed whole– in Peter and the Wolf?  It is time to put your worries aside, for the answer lies in The Wolf, The Duck and The Mouse, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen.  If you are not yet familiar with the comedic synergy of this New York Times best-selling duo, you may want to also check out Square  (or any of their shape books), caldecott winning Extra Yarn, or one of my students’ favorites, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.  Admittedly, I’m a fan of Barnett and Klassen, but my favorite of their partnerings is The Wolf, The Duck, and The Mouse. 

wolfduckandmouse

In this tale, a wolf wanders the woods, in search of, like all carnivores, a fleshy meal.  Nothing messy, just a simple gulp takes a mouse into a world of darkness. To the mouse’ surprise, it is accompanied by a duck who was also swallowed whole.  In the wolf’s belly, the duck teaches the mouse how to live the good life, free of fear and full of dancing and dinner parties. One day, however, a belly ache and a hunter threaten the mere existence of the three animals.  Teamwork, courage and a hilariously unexpected plan save the day!

This book is perfect for 3-5 year olds and delightful for 2 year olds and older (I have a good friend who reads it multiple times a day –not because her baby loves it– but she does).  It carries with it the traditional Barnett-Klassen dry humor and whit, thoughtfulness and a Native American myth-like ending that explains a natural phenomenon in the animal kingdom.

Check it out from your local library or bookstore for a delightful read and leave a comment about what you thought of it!

 

  

 

Book of the month: Escargot

I love to share what brings me great joy and delight.  As an avid reader of picture books (it comes with the parenting territory), I occasionally find a great one I want to shout about from the rooftops.  So this year, I’m going to bring you a picture book review each month of something that I (as a parent, former Montessori preschool teacher and aspiring picture book author) truly recommend.  So here is my first review/recommendation for 2020.

As winter blues, cold and flu kick into high gear, a little way to combat these downers is a natural pick-me-up: laughter.  It is an antidote to stress and discomfort. Tastes in humor vary widely, so I can’t guarantee my recommendations will align with yours, but I have recently encountered what I consider to be an absolute gem in the picture book world.  

escargotEscargot (2017), written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by Sydney Hanson, makes adults laugh as much if not more than children.  And even if it doesn’t entice laughter, it will leave you speaking a little French  “Ooh la la”  and probably craving salad.

Written in the speak-to-the-audience style popularized by the Pigeon books by Mo Willems, Escargot is the story of a self-loving, carrot-loathing snail en route to enjoying a salad.  The audience/reader is invited to interact, from making fierce faces to answering Escargot’s handful of questions (is your favorite animal the earwig or wildebeest?).  This androgynous main character is engaging for girls and boys. Modeling healthy social skills such as good sportsmanship, self-confidence, interest in others and even some vulnerability, the reasons to love this book are vast.   For as masterfully as Slater’s writing is, Hanson’s illustrations are equally delightful. Her colorful renderings take the reader on a mouth-watering tour across a picnic table filled with olives, cheeses, and of course, salad. Making a snail lovable in text and picture is no small feat.

This book begs to be read with a French accent, the worse the accent, the more you will laugh at yourself or whoever is reading, so don’t be shy, give it your best effort.  Targeted for the 4-8 year old audience, my 2 year old daughter and 44 year old husband love this book; it truly speaks to all ages. It engages the older reader with its francophilial flare and absurdity, the young audience with opportunities to interact with the “beautiful’’ and charming Escargot.

Next time you are looking for a good bedtime story, need a gift for a young child, or just want a light-hearted escape from a dreary day, you need look no further than Escargot.