Friday, February 18, 2011

Picture That! Picture Book of the Week!

Allow me to share a big dose of fun for this week's Picture Book selection. This week has been one of those weeks when I've felt the need for some reassuring good reads. There are some books that make me remember why I got into the children's book racket, books that bring to life the magical world that we once saw as children and have to struggle to maintain as we get older, knowing the payoff is worth the effort. Here's one of those books that take me there and for that, I'm grateful.

What do you do with a Kangaroo? by Mercer Mayer
(Four Winds Press, 1975)

What do you do with a Kangaroo
who jumps in your window, sits on your bed, and says.

"I never sleep on wrinkled sheets,
so change them now and make them smooth,
and fluff up the pillows if you please."

So the young narrator asks her readers on the first page of this delightfully silly book. Then page after page, another preposterous critter after another disrupts the little girl's day with ridiculous demands.

An Opossum uses her toothbrush, a llama wears her favorite jeans, a tiger steals her tricycle and a thirsty camel drinks her bath water. What is a spirited little girl to do? You throw him out, that's what you do. This is her answer to every problem. Only at night, when she finds all of the creatures in her bed and she's much too exhausted to throw them all out, there's only one thing to do. Let them stay.

Mercer Mayer's brilliant illustrations are packed visual jokes that bring this character and story to life. I also love how it portrays a child's stubborn, imaginative spirit in a way that isn't critical or stylized. The girl just is as she is and eventually comes around on her own. Kids will delight in her attitude and the absurd situations the book presents, while also eagerly anticipating the repeated refrain. A wonderful read-aloud that is also good to read to yourself with grin that grows wider at every turn of the page.