This summer, we’ve started doing a weekly PJ Storytime on Wednesday nights. It’s currently our storytime with the lowest attendance, which is maybe not great for my self esteem (I kind of feel like a failure when the room isn’t PACKED), but it’s been a nice opportunity to try some new things, take my time a little more, note individual children’s reactions, and talk more with the kids about what’s happening in the stories. This past Wednesday, I tried a new book, Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan A. Shea, with illustrations by Tom Slaughter. This is a lift-the-flap book I first read about over at Fuse#8. When it came in and I read it, I realized how right Besty was about the magic of this book, and Tom Slaughter ratcheted up yet another notch in my estimation. The book asks a series of questions. Things like “If a kid grows and becomes a goat, can a sweater grow and become… a coat?” and “If an owlet grows and becomes an owl, can a washcloth grow and become… a towel?” The “…” is the moment where you lift the flap and reveal the surprise.
Everything about this book makes it right for storytime. Slaughter’s illustrations are, as ever, clear and powerful. He uses very basic shapes, but the children see immediately what he’s trying to depict. Shea’s words ask interesting questions and force the reader to look at words and the world in a new way. She doesn’t go for the obvious rhyme or word, and she favors specificity (“plow” and “rig” instead of “truck,” for instance). Reading the book aloud to a group, the children were through the rhyme scheme and logic able to predict what was going to appear when we opened the flap–a favorite storytime activity–and then, once they realized what Shea was saying, they got to shout “NO!” It is a rule that every single storytime you do for preschoolers should allow the children an opportunity to shout “NO!” (Truly, daily life should offer all of us more opportunities to shout “NO!” But that’s another entry.) And while the kids were shouting “NO,” they were laughing in that oh-my-gosh-life-is-so-zany way that they do. It’s also worth noting that many of the parents laughed and a couple made a point of coming up and asking me the title and author when storytime was over. It always makes me feel like I earned my MLS when people do that.
So there you go. Good for library collections, good for storytimes, and good for one-on-one reading. Find a copy now.