Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Day 148: Where's Walrus?

When I first started delving into the wonderful world of children's literature with my first child, I lacked a proper appreciation for wordless picture books.  I don't know why, exactly, other than that perhaps my adult brain had simply grown accustomed to pictureless books and I was used to relying on words as they appeared on the page to tell the story.  I didn't take long, however, for me to realize that to young children, the story is told in the pictures, not in the words above or below them.  Sure, text is important and usually essential to a story, but I have come to learn that wonderful stories can also be told without any written words at all.

Where's Walrus? is one such story.  It's playful, fun, clever, and a recent favorite of my two children (ages 4 and 20 months).  They both love flipping through the pages on their own, and I love that we can not only read this together, but that my son can read this to my daughter all by himself.  (He loves that, too.)  The cover page of the book features a headshot of the soon-to-be-elusive walrus, giving us a sly little wink.  We know from the get-go, then, that this walrus has a definite plan in mind for what he is going to do today.  We then turn to see an overhead view of the zoo, where the other animals are lazing about and the zookeeper is caught taking a snooze at his post.   When the walrus decides to make a break for the exit, he leads the zookeeper on a chase throughout the city.  With each turn of the page, we see the walrus hiding in a new place or disguise -- in a fountain, helping construction workers, dancing the can-can -- but the puzzled zookeeper does not.  My kids delight in the simple fact that they can always spot the walrus but the zookeeper can't, and it naturally leads to an excited chorus of "Where's Walrus?" on each page.

The ending is quite clever (I won't give it away), and the illustrations throughout contain wonderful little subtleties that bring the story to life even more.  (My son noticed, for example, that at the beginning of the story when we first meet the walrus, the peacock's feathers are down, the other animals are sleeping, and there are no visitors at the zoo.  On the last page, though, the peacock's plumage is on full display, the other animals are awake, and the zoo is full of happy visitors.  I had noticed the addition of visitors, but I'm not sure I ever would have picked up on the change in the peacock's tail feathers.  I just love seeing what little details kids notice in books, don't you?)  The choice of bold colors on neutral backgrounds coupled with simple lines and shapes makes the book very visually appealing, too, especially for younger readers.  I'm not quite sure under what genre I should categorize the artistic style -- art deco, maybe? -- but whatever it is, I love its funky, retro feel.  (I also think the zookeeper looks just like the Monopoly guy.)  If you have a preschooler or younger child and are looking for a great wordless picture book, this is one you won't want to miss.   


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