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#1 2010-09-09 13:12:41

RDGardner
Moderator
From: West Lindsey
Registered: 2007-04-10

Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

I'm doing a separate thread for this, because this is what Little Troubleblossom actually likes, as opposed to what Mummy and Daddy think she ought to have! Her absolute favourite story book at the moment (I should specify, she is 17 months old) is the Ladybird First Favourite Tales version of 'The Gingerbread Man, illustrations by Anja Rieger; it doesn't say who adapted the text, though an educated guess would finger Carol Ann Duffy, as it's got that same effect of rhymes and bits of rhythm turning up in odd places (above and beyond 'Run, run as fast as you can: you can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!' of course). Little Troubleblossom brings this book to be read to her every time you sit down (and she has several dozen to choose from), and it is, at the moment, the only book that she'll always sit and have read to her from cover to cover, in the proper order of pages, rather than dodging randomly from page to page or losing interest half way through, saying firmly "No!" and sliding off your knee to fetch another book.

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#2 2010-09-09 18:59:23

Kay Green
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From: Hastings, UK
Registered: 2007-04-03
Website

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

There must be something catchy in that story. I can remember being quite fascinated by it when I was a titch.

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#3 2010-09-10 09:32:23

RDGardner
Moderator
From: West Lindsey
Registered: 2007-04-10

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

Eeek, I've wronged the author: had I looked inside the book, instead of only at the cover, I would have found out that the text was in fact adapted by Alan MacDonald.

I ran out in my lunch-break yesterday to buy whatever else I could find in this series - note that there are several different series of folk and fairy tales in Ladybird Books, and these are the ones that don't look the way you expect Ladybird Books to look, being square with shiny covers - and came back with 'The Magic Porridge Pot' and 'The Little Red Hen', though we haven't had time for Pickleblossom to form an informed opinion of these. I have to say that I was very disappointed with their version of 'Red Riding Hood', and certainly shan't be buying that one: while the Gingerbread Man suffers his right and proper fate of getting scoffed by the fox, this is the most bowdlerised Red Riding Hood I have ever come across. NOBODY GETS ET AT ALL! No, not even Grandma, and not even temporarily: she and Red Riding Hood both hide under the bed until Father comes to kill the wolf and rescue them. So, on the whole, a great series, but read carefully before buying!

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#4 2010-09-10 18:59:52

Kay Green
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From: Hastings, UK
Registered: 2007-04-03
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Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

off to investigate in the bookshop tomorrow....

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#5 2010-09-22 09:16:43

RDGardner
Moderator
From: West Lindsey
Registered: 2007-04-10

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

Little Troubleblossom insisted on taking 'The Gingerbread Man' to bed with her last night! She cuddled it determinedly through her last feed and bedtime story (I was actually reading 'The King of the Copper Mountains' to her) and wouldn't let go either to clean her teeth or to be put in her cot; every time I tried to extract it she began to wail. When I went in later to retrieve it once she was asleep, I found her snuggled up with her head on it!

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#6 2010-09-23 16:27:32

Kay Green
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From: Hastings, UK
Registered: 2007-04-03
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Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

Aw, now that's really a book-lover in the making!

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#7 2010-11-04 07:36:55

RDGardner
Moderator
From: West Lindsey
Registered: 2007-04-10

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

Little Troubleblossom's new great joy: 'The House that Jack Built', Diana Mayo, 2001, Barefoot Books. All right, all right, I know 'The House that Jack Built' has been around since the reign of Ethelred the Ill-Advised, but this is a lovely new edition. There's a mission statement for Barefoot Books on the back page which seems worth repeating:

'At Barefoot Books, we celebrate art and story with books that open the hearts and minds of children from all walks of life, inspiring them to read deeper, search further and explore their own creative gifts. Taking our inspiration from many different cultures, we focus on themes that encourage independence of spirit, enthusiasm for learning and acceptance of other traditions. Thoughtfully prepared by writers, artists and storytellers from all over the world, our products combine the best of the present with the best of the past to educate our children as the caretakers of tomorrow.'

It's hard to go far wrong with 'The House that Jack Built', which is, after all, the great-granddaddy of 'The Train to Glasgow' and all the other add-and-repeat rhymes, but I do think this is a particularly fine edition. The pictures are all double-page spreads with a line from the rhyme on each side, starting with the tousle-haired Jack in his paint-splashed denims (cue comment of "Messy!" from Little Troubleblossom), tool belt and blue braces outside his house, and the sacks of malt stacked in an outhouse. Each spread then includes all the people and creatures previously mentioned, and if you look closely, you can see the next character to come, either small in the distance or mostly hidden behind the scenery. The dog has a particularly bad time, as he's flying through the air upside-down in most of the pictures after his first appearance, much to Little Troubleblossom's delight. The only complaint I have is that, in this post-blood-sports time, the illustrator doesn't seem to know what the dog is supposed to be doing to the cat, and illustrates 'This is the dog that worried the cat...' with a picture of the cat looking alarmed and concerned.

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#8 2010-11-04 08:21:06

Catherine Edmunds
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From: North East England
Registered: 2007-04-04
Website

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

Good heavens.

That is to say, I would have mis-illustrated the cat myself. The blood-sports interpretation has never occurred to me, but I'm sure you're right; that must be the intended original meaning.

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#9 2010-11-04 12:46:00

RDGardner
Moderator
From: West Lindsey
Registered: 2007-04-10

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

I've an idea that the concept was already dropping out of use when I was a little girl at the turn of the 1960s/70s, because I'm sure I remember the rhyme going 'This is the dog that chased the cat, that killed the rat, that ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built', but this text and a couple of books of classic nursery rhymes copied from nineteenth- or early twentieth-century originals all have 'This is the dog that worried the cat, that chased the rat, that ate the malt...' I'm going on using my version, though, because apart from not having to stop and explain that in this context 'worry' means 'grab with the teeth and shake violently', I think the verse swings better that way. It's folk verse, I'm allowed.

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#10 2010-11-04 13:01:16

Kay Green
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From: Hastings, UK
Registered: 2007-04-03
Website

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

I learned 'chased the cat' - but having been around farms a bit, I would have understood 'worried' as 'picked up and shook'.

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#11 2011-03-06 23:33:25

RDGardner
Moderator
From: West Lindsey
Registered: 2007-04-10

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

The favourite of the moment (she'll be two in a couple of weeks) is 'Giraffes Can't Dance' by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees (Orchard Books, 2009). This is clearly a highly successful franchise already, as we got it in a gift box with a Gerald the Giraffe cuddly toy and height chart. It tells the story, in rhyming text, of how Gerald the clumsy giraffe, with the help of a philosophical cricket, finds his rhythm and wows all the other animals at the Jungle Dance. I have to admit that Daddy and I find the illustrations a bit slapdash - it's embarrassing when the small person to whom you're reading it points to an animal and asks "Dat?" and you have to admit that you can't tell - and the text rather saccharine, but Pickleblossom is completely addicted to this story, and finds sections of the text inexplicably hilarious: she only has to set eyes on the height chart on the bedroom door to remark "Excuse me! coughed a cricket..." and giggle like a leaky tap. In fact, it's getting out of hand: any time you're standing in her way, you don't just get told "Excuse me!" but "Excuse me, coughed a cricket!", and you have to work out for yourself that she's actually asking you to move rather than to read "Gerald Giraffe book!" to her.

Last edited by RDGardner (2011-03-07 13:10:34)

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#12 2011-07-10 16:26:09

RDGardner
Moderator
From: West Lindsey
Registered: 2007-04-10

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

This month's great literary love is 'The Smartest Giant in Town' by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children's Books). Little Troubleblossom asks for "Giant book! Giant trousers fall down!" EVERY SINGLE NIGHT before going to bed, and usually at nap time too.

Giants have an almost uniformly bad press in children's literature and folk tales, from 'Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!' all the way up to Oscar Wilde's Selfish Giant and those nasty pieces of work in 'The Silver Chair'. On the side of the good guys is, of course, Roald Dahl's Big Friendly Giant, and now there's George, the scruffiest giant in town. George doesn't like being the scruffiest giant in town, and as soon as he spots a gentlemen's outfitters offering giant sizes, he buys himself a full new set of togs and strides proudly homewards as the smartest giant in town. However, on the way he meets one animal after another in some sort of distress, which can be relieved by the gift of some part of George's new outfit, until he finally gives away his belt and his trousers fall down revealing his red and white spotted underpants, to Troubleblossom's great joy. Most of you have already spotted the standard folk-tale story format, and yes, of course there's a happy ending in which George gets his reward.

The story is plain text, apart from George's song, to which he adds a line on every page as he gives another garment away. Troubleblossom is already word-perfect as far as 'My tie is a scarf for a cold giraffe, my shirt's on a boat as a sail for a goat, my shoe is a house for a little white mouse...' Axel Scheffler's illustrations add an extra dimension to the whole thing, depicting a town whose streets are strolled by humans, animals, giants and recognisable fairy-tale characters, with something else always going on in the background, as well as subtle details such as the way that George's hair, neatly slicked down when he first steps out in his smart suit, becomes more and more dishevelled as he moves through the book, until it's back to its original condition, somewhere between ill-made haystack and dandelion clock at about half past two.

Last edited by RDGardner (2011-07-11 05:59:35)

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#13 2011-07-11 15:08:20

RDGardner
Moderator
From: West Lindsey
Registered: 2007-04-10

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

Well, we've hit a new personal best with 'The Smartest Giant in Town' - Troubleblossom woke up this morning and insisted on having "Giant book!" read to her before she'd consent to be changed and dressed.

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#14 2011-07-12 08:32:49

Kay Green
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From: Hastings, UK
Registered: 2007-04-03
Website

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

Oh - I didn't know you were allowed to have stories at waking up time as well as going to sleep time!

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#15 2011-07-20 10:30:32

RDGardner
Moderator
From: West Lindsey
Registered: 2007-04-10

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

Sigh... our record so far is once while having the morning nappy changed, a second time while eating lunch, a third time, having wiped the baked beans off, as a prelude to the post-lunch nap, and once more, with feeling, at bedtime!

Moreover, all due and proper praise to Axel Scheffler, but the reading process takes twice as long because of the illustrations. Every time we turn the page, we get a line or two into the text and Troubleblossom interrupts to point at some minor character, looking up at the giraffe or covering their ears as George hops along the road behind them singing, and asks "What dey doing? What dey doing?"

Last edited by RDGardner (2011-07-20 10:35:13)

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#16 2011-09-30 16:11:32

RDGardner
Moderator
From: West Lindsey
Registered: 2007-04-10

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

Speaking of Axel Scheffler's illustrations, I found out at a 'story time' session in that bookshop we don't refer to that he has a liking for in-jokes, and tries to work a previous character, preferably the Gruffalo, into his illustrations for all his later books. I'd already spotted the Gruffalo in 'Tabby McTat', and I've had him pointed out to me in 'Zog': now I've started looking, I've also spotted him in 'Charlie Cook's Favourite Book'. Not sure about 'The Smartest Giant in Town', though, unless the hidden character there is the witch from 'Room on the Broom'.

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#17 2012-01-14 07:17:12

RDGardner
Moderator
From: West Lindsey
Registered: 2007-04-10

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

This month's Greatest Hit is 'Cinderella's Bum' by Nicholas Allan (Hutchinson, 2002). Little Troubleblossom is in a scatological phase at the moment, and all things to do with bums are of unending interest and mirth. This one is narrated by a little girl whose big sister worries about the size of her bottom, and consists of the little girl's inventive attempts, with lavishly illustrated examples, to convince her that bottoms can and should come in all shapes and sizes, and that you should appreciate your bum whatever it looks like. Queen Victoria, for instance, needed her big bum to sit on the throne of England for sixty years (and yes, I've seen a pair of Queen Victoria's knickers, and you could have stored your spuds for the winter in them) while Houdini needed his small bum to be able to escape from a milk churn. Troubleblossom particularly likes the double page on which Father Christmas' large bum is cushioning a crash landing on a snowy roof and absorbing the damage when he has foolishly forgotten to check that the fire is out before descending the chimney. Then we move on to fairytale characters: 'Cinderella had small feet but a big bum. The ugly sisters had big feet but small bums. So it's lucky Cinderella lost her shoe at the ball and not her knickers. If the prince had loved Snow White for her bottom... it would've been difficult for the wicked queen to talk to her mirror [picture of the wicked queen peering backwards between her legs, appealing "Mirror, mirror, don't be rotten, say I have the nicest bottom!"] This part is a bit advanced for Troubleblossom, who isn't really on to fairy tales yet and doesn't know who any of these people are, but she enjoys it anyway. However, the big sister fails to be convinced by the little sister's eloquence and still won't come swimming, until Little Sister makes the decisive discovery that Big Sister's concerns about her bum were illusory all along...

I'm posting this here because the book is Troubleblossom's favourite of the month, but it gets the Mummy and Daddy vote of approval as well, for a right-on message, a well-written text and appealing illustrations (check out the endpapers, which the author/illustrator has ornamented with a washing line of fantastical knickers for the people mentioned in the text (e.g. Father Christmas' knickers are fur-trimmed with a pattern of Christmas trees), and included his own, accessorised with a handy notepad, a pencil and a set of brushes.

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#18 2012-01-14 08:57:55

Catherine Edmunds
Admin
From: North East England
Registered: 2007-04-04
Website

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

I want those knickers! (The ones with the notepad, pencil and set of brushes.) Or maybe not. Wouldn't really work under my customary jeans. Still like the idea.

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#19 2012-06-09 16:32:06

RDGardner
Moderator
From: West Lindsey
Registered: 2007-04-10

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

And there's now a sequel out, 'The Queen's Knickers', which is getting heavily promoted because of potential jubilee associations, and which Little Troubleblossom has just received as a reward for completing her potty-training sticker chart (sigh... HOW long is it since I started recommending potty-training books on this forum?). Daddy and I don't think it's quite as good as 'Cinderella's Bum', but it's lively and amusing and has lots of knickers in it, and you will learn strange facts such as why the Queen always keeps her Christmas messages very short (though you will not learn what the Queen's Very Important Pair for opening Parliament looks like, because the author isn't allowed to show them).

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#20 2012-07-20 10:50:33

RDGardner
Moderator
From: West Lindsey
Registered: 2007-04-10

Re: Little Troubleblossom Recommends Story Books

This month's library favourite is 'Night Ride to Nanna's' by Jenny Koralek, illustrated Mandy Sutcliffe (Walker Books, 2000). It's quite a short story about a family beginning a holiday with the grandparents by driving to their house on a winter evening, with Amy and her baby brother put into the car in their pyjamas, and put straight to bed when they arrive. Amy looks out of the car window along the journey, noticing the things they pass, like a market under strung lights and a lit-up bridge over a wide river, and then starting to recognise the landmarks that mean they're near Nanna's house. (At this point, we have some reading-aloud problems, because when we get to 'Then they come to the park, and Amy sees the path all white in the night going up to the hill...' Mummy remembers another park with a string of lights running across it, and another nana, and starts to snivel.) The text has a lovely, gentle rock-a-bye swing, and the illustrations are perfect, dark and soft-edged, detailed and full of small areas of light (the bridge in particular looks as though someone who's been there would recognise it, and is exquisitely fairy-lit above that special sort of darkness that you only get over water).

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