The cover of The Sound of the Bell by Penny Anderson didn’t attract the children right off, but once chosen, the story enthralled most of the five and overs. I told it, reading some of the dialogue. As I think back to the fascinated and concerned looks on the children’s faces as Mai and her little brother search for their mother in the crowd of refugees, I wonder–has my experience teaching English as a Second Language come into play here? For as I told the story, I remembered my beautiful Cambodian student who had walked to the Vietnamese border with her sister. The girls hid from the soldiers at night, and my student walked barefoot because somebody had stolen her shoes. Could this be part of the fascination of the children? Is it just the story, gripping as it is, or am I also telling it with the force of some powerful memories?
Both the three/four group and the five and overs finally chose Rosie and Tortoise by Margaret Wise. There’s a story within a story here. A little rabbit is too afraid to hold her baby brother until her dad tells her an unusual rendition of the tortoise and the hare. I can almost guarantee you’ve never heard–or imagined–this version unless you’ve read Rosie and Tortoise. Brilliant and beautiful.
Fiddler by Stephen Cosgrove is unique, in my experience. I don’t think I’ve ever seen selfishness addressed quite the way it is in this allegory. A rhyming, fiddle-playing bear saunters into the land of Barely There. He politely requests food from the three bears who live in this scenic locale–suspicious, selfish, and each barricaded in their own cabin. Fiddler finds a problem with each of their foods which can only be solved by sharing with the others. I was glad both the older groups chose it.
I had to tell this story rather than read it, but I did read Fiddler’s rhyming words.
Miss Mopp’s Lucky Day by Lesie McGuire went over really well, too. The text is simple enough that I could read it to both groups, and the illustrations by Jody Silver are so clear and so funny. (Do you suppose the writer and the artist collaborated??)
Ah, the toddlers! I’d been given fair warning–they were wild. Perhaps it was because the weather was cool and windy, and they couldn’t play outside. Even so, BRIGHT, clear pictures engaged them for sufficient nanoseconds for me to feel I’d read to them.