Monday, April 4, 2011

Children's Book Review, Yummy

Children's Book Review
Children's Book, Yummy
Children's Book Review written by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com

Recently, I wrote two articles here at The Book Chook - Introducing Kids to Fairy Tales Online and Fairy Tales Online and a Fairy Tale Party. I confessed to not much liking the "supermarket" books of fairy tale retellings, and asked readers for recommendations of such books suitable for children, and well-written. Both Rebecca Newman, editor of Alphabet Soup magazine, and Babette Reeves of The Passionate Librarian recommended Yummy. I jumped at the chance to review it.

Yummy was written and illustrated by Lucy Cousins (perhaps best know for her Maisy books), and published by Walker Books (2009). It's one of those more-bang-for-your-buck books that thrifty souls rejoice in. Yummy works superbly as a read-aloud, with engaging text and colourful illustrations. But it also works as a book for young readers - the print is large and kids who have listened to multiple readings will be able to predict words they might not otherwise have been able to decode.

There are eight stories within its bright yellow covers: Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Enormous Turnip, Henny Penny, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Little Red Hen, The Three Little Pigs and The Musicians of Bremen. Not all are fairy tales - the book's subtitle describes them as "favourite nursery stories". The important thing is, these are stories kids through the ages have known and loved, and Cousin's retelling is superb. She sustains the same lively "storyteller" voice in each tale.

I like the way many pages have phrases or words crucial to the story in extra large font, perfect to draw beginning readers into print identification. And I love that the tales we knew as kids are not dumbed down in Yummy. I believe Cousins has the balance exactly right - yes, the wolf gobbles Grandma and Red, but then a hunter chops the wolf open and out they pop, perfectly okay. I don't recall being traumatised by this fantasy as a child, and I believe today's kids can cope too.

If you're looking for some fun literacy activities to use as a follow-up to reading Yummy with your kids, consider:
  • Writing a letter together - to Grandma from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Wolves, or to Goldilocks' mother, from Mama Bear.
  • Designing a board game centred around one of the Yummy stories. A simple journey around the board is easiest, and you can create cards for good fortune and bad fortune. Writing out the rules and how to play is a great way to introduce kids to a simple procedural text, and you can use rules from other games as a guideline.
  • Creating a Reader's Theatre based on a Yummy tale. I have explanation and suggestions for Reader's Theatre you can link to from Reader's Theatre 4.
  • Drawing and labelling your favourite characters from some of the stories.
You'll find a Yummy Colouring sheet and four recipes (beginning with Goldilocks' Perfect Porridge) available as pdfs at the Walker website.

Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook via the Table of Contents.
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