Isn’t it strange how children often love something that we have no idea that they’ll actually like? (Actually, one would think I’d be used to that by now.) I picked up Below by Nina Crews because I thought it looked like a fun concept book. Despite my copious training and reading on gender roles, I didn’t think my girls would like it because it looks like a “boy book.” However, when I scanned Below, I immediately thought of Harold and the Purple Crayon (my thoughts here), and I couldn’t resist. Below is the story of a little boy, Jack, who engages in imaginative play on the staircase in his home. He and his little toy man, Guy, “explore” a hole in a stair, and Guy “volunteers” to go down below to explore alone. The camera follows Guy into the stair, and he finds all sorts of interesting things below–dragons, wild horses, a playground–all hand drawn, and all a part of Jack’s imagination. Jack attempts to get help in rescuing Gus, but everyone at home is otherwise occupied, so Jack has to do it alone. What makes this book really unusual is the combination of photography and hand drawn (?) illustrations, with the added bonus of what’s in Jack’s imagination being superimposed over the actual photographs (i.e. a photograph of mountains is superimposed over the staircase when Jack imagines mountains, etc.). I think it is the concept of “another world” existing down below that really interests my girls. If your children like imaginative concepts and interesting illustrations, this book should be a hit.
I chose this next book because I am a fan of Sharon Creech’s juvenile novels. I was unaware that she even writes picture books, but lo and behold, she does! Fishing in the Air is the gentle and fanciful story of a boy and his father who go on a fishing trip. They observe and discuss nature and the father’s memories of being taken fishing by his father. It’s sort of one of those “circle of life” stories because the details of the father’s story and the son’s story are very similar. In addition to being lyrically written, Caldecott-winning illustrator Chris Raschka‘s interesting illustrations really help carry the theme along. Colorful, fluid, wild, free–all of these are words that come to mind when I think of Chris Raschka’s illustrations. I think I recognized his style on the cover of the book before I even realized that Sharon Creech is the author; The Hello-Goodbye Window which Raschka illustrated is one of my girls’ favorite books (and it really deserves a post all its own!) This is one of those books that both adults and children can enjoy.
Well, folks, that’s it for this Read Aloud Thursday. We have a lot going on here at the House of Hope right now, but we are still reading. How about at your house? As the month of July winds down, are you still making time for family read-alouds? Please share with us what you’re enjoying!