Sunday, 25 May 2014

Oi Frog

I've been LOUSY about reviewing picture books recently. Well I've been lousy about reviewing anything much- but picture books in particular. In truth we're not consuming them at home in the same quantities we once did. This is a sadness and something I should work harder to rectify perhaps- filling my pull along shopping trolley at the library again more often. A pile of picture books always went down better than the back of the cornflakes box at breakfast for instance.
However there's Bill at breakfast with his nose in a Charlie Higson, Derek Landy or an Anthony Horowitz ("Bill-are you sure you should be reading that- it says '11+ Contains Zombies, Death, Gore and Graphic Violence' on the back?" "Yes. It's SUPER cool") and Eddie reading impenetrable non-fiction about transport systems, Human biology ("These are my testicles- see Mum?" "Yes I do, thanks for that"), wii games and superheroes and the picture books get neglected. Children will keep growing despite one's best efforts to slow them down and family rituals can be replaced or forgotten with terrifying speed.

I do have an occasional excuse to browse and buy though- and that's searching out new, at least semi-decodable but irresistible material for the kids I read with each week through Beanstalk. And so begins the first of a few (I hope) posts about some of the recent books that have hit the mark. Books that they choose repeatedly with a grin. Books that leave us both bouncy at the end of a session.

'Oi Frog' by Kes Gray, illustrated by Jim Field has been one such. It's a book with one central joke running through but it's a good joke and there's a great pay off, so what else do you need?
A frog has grown tired of sitting on a log and seeks a new seat. This is not going to be allowed by a didactic cat (smug on her comfortable mat) who explains the rules of animal seating to him. Rhyme is everything. Of course it is; and as we meet gorillas perched on pillars and gibbons on ribbons we could feel that the frog has a reasonably good deal. 
There may be a final catch though.
There are really joyous combinations of nouns in this book, a pleasure in the silliness of phonetic rhyme that gets close to Seuss-like. The perfect antidote to the dry work of 'sounding out' in a literacy hour constricted classroom. Plus the opportunity to practice one's supercilious cat voice- always a pleasure.
Jim Field's witty illustrations in the most cheering, happy making sunny palette of colours (I do like a proper rich egg yolk YELLOW book) repay joy-filled poring over details: Fleas! On peas!
A book that makes me and one particular Yr 1 reader who often picks it giggle like giggling sticks.

We also like to discuss what the cat would make us sit on. I am all for avoiding hollies, caulis, brollies or follies please. Yes. Pollys' sit on lollies I think. Not ice ones obviously- that would induce piles; I'm thinking a very large traffic light one? Like a sticky red bar stool. 
How about you?
'Oi Frog' written by Kes Gray, illustrated by Jim Field, Published by Hodder, isbn 978-1444910858