Tag Archives: red balloon

Celebrating a Storybook Year – September

Goodbye summer and hello autumn! September started out being all about balloons – and why not? Frankly, as popular as balloons are in this house, it’s surprising it took us this long to get around to them. It made for some colorful – and inspirational – reading. We chased a Red Balloon, read about dealing with loss in “my Yellow Balloon”, tried to track down a Monkey Balloon, and learned how to balloon-proof a hedgehog from Percy the Park Keeper. We went on fantastical adventures with Sebastian and his balloon, took a high-altitude joy ride with a load of barnyard animals in “Hot Air” (the “mostly true” story of the first hot air balloon ride), and discovered one possible answer to the timeless question “Where do Balloons Go?”. We were also reminded that we can find happiness in the little things (like colorful balloons) with “Pass it On.”

Balloons weren’t the only things soaring this month, though. We soared with inspiration in “The Darkest Dark” about Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, and “Fearless Flyer” which introduced us to daring pilot Ruth Law, whose exploits preceded Amelia Earhart by a generation. Then we soared with laughter along with Piggie and Elephant (twice!), Skippyjohn Jones (a long-time read-aloud favorite), the Gruffalo and his child, Elwood Bigfoot, and Ada Twist, Scientist (whose brother really needs to wash his socks).

As usual, we also discovered a number of beautifully illustrated, sweet and touching books to fill out the month – including discovering the joy of friendship in “The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles”, and finding comfort and reassurance in “You Belong Here” and “The Moon Inside”.

 

 


Day 90 – A Sick Day for Angus McGee

“A Sick Day for Angus McGee” by the husband-and-wife team of Phillip C. Stead (author) and Erin E. Stead (illustrator) is a true treasure. The story is sweet, funny and comforting, and the charming pencil and woodblock illustrations, which won the Caldecott Medal for 2011, make me grin every time I look at them.

AmosAmos McGee is a sweet old man living in a tiny wood-panel house nestled in between taller downtown apartment buildings. Every morning he wakes early, packs a lunch, and rides the bus to work at the zoo, where he spends the day with his animal friends. He plays chess with the elephant (who thinks carefully about each move), races the tortoise (who always wins), sits quietly with the penguin (who is very shy), lends a handkerchief to the rhino (who always has a runny nose), and at sunset he reads to the owl (who is afraid of the dark). One day, however, Amos wakes up with a bad cold and can’t go to work. His animal friends miss him and make the trip to his house by bus to spend the day catering to Amos’ needs as he always caters to theirs.

I just adore this book. The idea of spending your days in such a simple but fulfilling way is so compelling – it’s a little escape just to read the story. I also love the way in which Amos is so considerate of each friend’s unique needs, and how his thoughtfulness and selflessness are repaid in kind. Then there are the illustrations, which augment the humor and heart of the story with their little details. Amos himself has such a friendly face, and his clothes and accommodations lend to the comforting old-fashioned feel of the book. The expressions and posture of the animals give insight to their personalities: the look of satisfaction on the face of the tortoise as he wins his race with Amos for the nth time, the crossed feet and sideways glance of the shy penguin, or the elephant’s contemplative pose as he carefully arranges chess pieces in a row while waiting on his friend. In fact, my favorite part of the book was actually wordless, as we saw the animals walking to the bus, waiting on the bus, and riding the bus to Amos’ apartment…I could almost hear the “intermission” muzak playing in my head as I flipped from one page to the next, waiting along with the animals for their story to “start up” again when they reach Amos.

I think we will need to track down some more of Ms. Stead’s books. We thoroughly enjoyed her work on “and then it’s spring” as well. Our oldest actually liked the illustrations in that book even better than those in Amos McGee, but I think that’s splitting hairs. Oh, and one more thing: we couldn’t help but appreciate the fact that Amos’ friends come in a group of five (a key foundational math concept for little ones), and that the grouping is underscored by the number “5” on the side of the bus as the friends all ride to see Amos. We have confessed to our dorkiness previously – as you will see here.