It’s a Little Book by Lane Smith (review)

‘It’s a Little Book’ (‘It’s a Book’ now in nappies!)

smith_littlebook

I was drawn to this book because it has the exact kind of illustrations that I love – a little bit drawn, pretty freaking cute. I bought it first as a gift and then one for my own little person.

So I take it home and present it to my partner, who is in charge of the bedtime routine – dinner, bath, books.

He looks through it and looks at me. ‘What are you thinking?? It’s a book that encourages him to say no! We want him to say yes!’
itsalittlebook2._V153418456_It’s a fair question. I start panicking. What have I done? I envisage years of ‘No’ to questions like ‘will you eat your dinner/get dressed/go to bed/stop smearing that mashed up half eaten animal cracker into the carpet?’ I’ve obviously failed at parenting. And I have this book to thank! What cruel monster would write such a thing??

My worst fears are realised when two night later my partner comes out of the bedroom (beaming I should add), to tell me quite proudly that our son has added a word to his repertoire. And in context no less!

‘Watch’ he says.

‘Is it for chewing?’ he asks, looking at Tiny. I see the emotions cross his face. He knows this one. His mouth goes round. He’s thinking.

‘No!’ he responds. It’s beautiful. He can say it to ‘Is it for emailing?’ and ‘Is it for wearing?’ as well!

‘No’. It’s a tiny round, but sure sound, proudly answering each page of the book. Suddenly they’re reading together. He’s no longer just having a book read at him, he’s taking part. He’s watching the pages, waiting for his turn. It’s the most simple word, the negative, the one that makes us shiver with fear that we’ll never be rewarded with yes, but it’s got him enthralled by the story. All I have to do is ask ‘is it for chewing?’ in the car, to be rewarded with his delighted ‘no’ in response.

So you know, kudos, I think begrudgingly to the author of this book, for making a book that is entertaining and simple, with the perfect repetition to engage readers just coming out with their first words. Kudos for your clever plan to get them all saying ‘no’!

Oh, but there’s actually an up side to all of this naysaying. It’s that, while ‘It’s a Little Book’ might indeed be teaching our children the word ‘no’, it’s also teaching them that when we say ‘no, don’t do that’, we mean it’s because everything has a purpose. Some things are for chewing, some things are for emailing, and other things, like this beautifully simple little book, are for reading.

It also has a pretty cute book trailer which you can view here if you like that kind of thing.

 

Feeling our way

tails

Nearly four months has passed since I became a ‘mum’ to someone! There is so much packed into this tiny word – so much weight in the six kilos that I now carry around daily. It has been amazing to see this tiny person – so like all the other babies at first – become so different, so mine.

There’s the tiny expressions and noises that mean nothing to anyone but me, and the excitement that comes with each First. All mum’s will know what I mean.

We’ve been reading since day one (much more religiously I should add than remembering to take our daily dose of Vitamin D – oops!), and while we’re still reading everything from chapter books (storytime), rhymes (and silly songs made out of desperation) to picture story board books, our favourites of all at the moment are by far the touch and feel, and the interactive cloth books. Why? Because two months ago when I started reading Tails (pictured above) to my little boy I would lift his hands and put his fingers on the fluffy or the scratchy bits to show him how they felt. A month later he amazed me by reaching out to touch a scratchy tigers nose. Four short/long weeks after that and he’s trying to turn pages, reaching out for his favourite bits (still the scratchy tigers nose in this, but also some shiny peacock feathers, some crinkly curtains in a That’s Not My Kitten cloth book, and some colourful tags on a flag in a Spot cloth book). It’s extraordinary.

Matthew Van Fleet (author of Tails, Five Fuzzy Ducklings, Sniff, Lick, Dogs and Cats) is by far my favourite of the touch and feel authors out there. For tiny fingers they’re all good provided the touchy bits are different and obvious (colourful, fluffy, big enough patches and so on), but as the reader, it’s nice to have at least something of a story to be able to read along to. Plus as they get older these ones are great for introducing shapes, numbers and names of animals. AND there are some tabs/pully sections, which are made extra thick – so I’m hoping that they’ll make it through the avalanche of dribble that is sure to come their way.

Regardless of which books you pick though, I can’t recommend these interactive pages for those tiny hands and brains. As a parent, it’s so special to really be able to see those minute changes as fingers reach out to scratch favourite pages and as a child it’s a way of engaging with the idea of books nice and early – getting into the habit of turning those pages, of loving them, of wanting to look at them, of knowing that there’s something magical in them. Start early enough and it’s a feeling that will never go away.