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Uncle Alonzo's Beard and other strange bedfellows

Posted Dec 23 2008 9:34pm
One of my great mothering joys is the reading of bedtime books to DB and FB. I would read to the boys six night out of seven - MIC claims one. Usually four to six books.

As a child I had a god awful time learning to spell. At the age of ten I distinctly recall getting zero for a school spelling test.... You know the kind of in class test where you have to swap with your neighbour to mark each others papers.

As the words were spelt out I knew I'd got one after another wrong ... as we were down to the last three I remember chanting in my head " please get one right, please get one right".

As the last word was spelt out by the resident smarty pants I realised I'd got zero. ZERO, nil, nothing, none, zip, zilch ...

A thought flashed through my mind ... zero is better than one, as one just looks stupid while zero looks like I don't give a toss - so is the rationale of childhood angst.

As fast as this thought entered my mind - as we began to swap back papers - I whipped up my hand and requested leave to go to the bathroom.

Better to be crying in the toilet than to have to read out my zero mark for the teacher to record in front of a whole classroom of sniggering, unsympathetic peers.

Soon after I discovered THE BOOK ... no not that book, not the bible (although I have read it and do admire certain aspects of it as a mighty good read), but the world of books. I spent six weeks in hospital, nearly dying and in the process I leant to read books.

What a world opened up to me ...

Suddenly was a dancer at the Wells in London, attending ponyclub in Northumberland, sailing the Devon coast with my four best buddies ... and the by-product of these in my head adventures ... I could spell.

Not, you know 100% goody two shoes spell, but for the first time I got how to sound out words, got the syllable thing going on. And I never got zero again in a spelling test ...

So for our boys we will read. FB got his first book at three months. We have read together daily from then on. We graduated from the pointing glitter style picture books of babyhood to picture with word books of toddlerhood. And now we do library books. In fact Nanny and DB do the library story time each Wednesday and borrow a dozen new books each week for our reading pleasure.

Which brings me to Uncle Alonzo's Beard.Written by Emma King-Farlow and illustrated by Anna Laura Cantone this is one of those rare books that parents love as much as, if not more than the kids. The text is funny on two levels, the pics are whimsical and divine .. do yourself a favour and borrow it from your library soon.

In the same vein another gem is Down the Back of the Chair by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by Polly Dunbar. This one is laugh out loud material as dad tries to find the car keys from down the back of the chair. Instead he finds "A packet of pins, and one of the twins, down the back of the chair ..." (been there - done that - not a twin but close to it).

Both books rhyme pyme (as DB would say), both take the ordinary and make it the extraordinary, both are fab reads.
As one smart cookie said .... 'You must write for children just as you do for adults, only better.'
Maxim Gorky (1868-1936).

Watch this space for more recommended, child and parent friendly books from the critics own couch ... read well and be happy xoxoxoxo
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