Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where I Gave Ellen Stoll Walsh Another Chance

This is one of the reasons that I love blogging.  When I posted a slightly lackluster review of the counting book "Mouse Hunt" a week or two ago (it's quite a good book; I was just a little icked out by the whole snake attempting to eat the mice theme), Christy from Superheroes and Princesses commented that her family loves Ellen Stoll Walsh's books.  Those are my favorite type of recommendations.  So, this week we checked out two of her other books:

For Pete's Sake (Hardcover), by Ellen Stoll Walsh. Pete is an alligator, but doesn't seem to realize it. He's hanging out with flamingoes, and all he can see are the many differences between himself and the birds. He wants to be pink, has two many feet, and not enough feathers. Although the flamingoes are very nice about it (about his four leggedness: "'You're lucky, Pete,' said the others. 'Two, and two extra. C'mon. Let's go wading."), it takes him running into some other alligators for him to realize his lesson. "'I'm different but the same,' he told the others. 'Well for Pete's sake, Pete,' they said. 'You always have been.'" A lovely tale about wanting to belong, the beauty of friendships with people different than yourself, and coming to accept your own uniqueness. The text per page is short; perfect for toddler attention spans.


"'I'm green,' said Pete. 'I want to be pink. Everyone else is.'"

Bookworm's interest at 22 months: Honestly, he's not really into it. I can't get him to sit still for it. I'm a little surprised, because he enjoys seeing flamingoes at the aviary. I'm going to keep trying. As always, I figure he might just be a little young for it. The illustrations (a cut paper collage style) don't vary all that much from page to page - the flamingoes and alligator partake in a few activities, but there isn't much in the way of background. I think this minimal amount of extras suits the simplicity of the story, but it also means that after he's seen the flamingo and alligator once, he's kind of ready to move on. I really do think he'll like this one when the text means more to him.

Hop Jump (Paperback), by Ellen Stoll Walsh. Betsy is a little bit different than the frogs around her. The other frogs go "Hop jump, hop jump. It's always the same." Betsy, on the other hand, takes her cue from some floating, twisting leaves, and decides to cut a rug (lilypad?) with some lovely movements of her own. "'It's called dancing,' she said." The other frogs are a bit taken aback, and tell Betsy that there is no room for dancing. Betsy goes and finds her own place to dance. The curious frogs follow her, and "before too long their feet began to move." Another wonderful tale about being unique, refusing to conform, and acceptance of others. My favorite part is the conclusion (see excerpt); no sour grapes for Betsy.


"Soon all the frogs were dancing. All but one. 'Hey, no room for hopping,' said the frogs. 'Oh yes, there's room,' said Betsy. 'For dancing and for hopping."

Bookworm's interest at 22 months: Again, I'm a bit perplexed at his lack of interest, because he loves frogs. If he starts to show an interest, I'll consider this one for our permanent collection. It's that cute.

So which Ellen Stoll Walsh titles should we track down next? Have any of you had a similar experience with not liking a book but giving the author another chance and being happily surprised?


Raising a Happy Child said...

When my daughter was a bit younger (more like your son), she judged a book by its illustrations and not so much a story. She preferred bright images that are more cartoonish. These books appear to be illustrated in pastels, so maybe that's why he is not so interested. Anna liked Mouse Paint a lot, but also not from the first try.

Infant Bibliophile said...

Raising a Happy Child - yes, that's what I'm thinking, that the illustrations are really key at this age. (They aren't really pastels. They're quite bright and what I'd deem very kid-friendly. They seem like his style. But, I guess not quite!).

Girlie | Online Poster Printing said...

"A lovely tale about wanting to belong, the beauty of friendships with people different than yourself, and coming to accept your own uniqueness."

-Kids can definitely learn good life lessons from this book. It's wonderful to know that there are authors who take their time and effort to come up with such good books.

maryanne said...

These both sound fun. I think I vaguely remember reading "For Pete's Sake" at some point, but not to my own kids...