Losing the plot, a journey through baby books

Ah reading, my old friend, the thing I used to do before my spare time was taken up with blogging, and singing “Ali Baba had a big farm” (to myself, sans child, before cursing myself for singing the bloody thing again). I was one of those children who literally devoured books – under the covers with a torch after bedtime, hiding them in school books to finish a chapter, even my go-to place in a toy shop, if lost, was the book section. I saw myself as a bit of a Matilda, minus the dysfunctional family and the magical powers, though I always envied the magic powers. Though life is now taken up more with watching things, and writing things, and saying I’ll get around to reading things, there is no denying that there is no better relaxation than curling up with a hot cup of tea, a duvet and a book you’re looking forward to reading.

The same can’t quite be said for the type of literature I’ve been dipping into lately. I admit, I’m a slight bit rusty on whats declared normal; my final year project compared children’s literature with Fenian tales, and so my vision of whats suitable in kids stories has been suitably marred since (heads up, Peter Pan, cold blooded murderer, not suitable for kids). I do believe though that instilling a love of reading and stories at a young age can only be a good thing, and so lately I’ve been picking up baby books for Eliott, in bookshops and charity shops, on a variety of topics.

First, there was “That’s not my Fox” (Osborne Press). I’d heard a lot of great things about these books and how they’re fantastic for young babies because they’re full of colours and things to touch, and I was excited that this might be something extra to draw him into it, seeing as at 7 months old I highly doubt he’s going to be doing the literary analysis of themes and characters just yet. Great, only its only eight pages long, extremely repetitive and not one I feel like picking up very often, for fear the child can sense the boredom. What’s so wrong with a bit of tactile for the babies and a bit of plot for the adults? Not a total winner in this house.

Next, we encountered “Moo!’, by Igloo Books. This one definitely had a bit more of a plot to it, with the day to day goings on in the life of a cow on the farm, and came with the added bonus of a noisy toy attached to it, which (surprise, surprise) moo-ed, on top of some wonderfully onomatopoeic words (see, found a use for the literary analysis part of my degree after all). Though this one was in no way as touchy-feely (no fluffy cows here), Eliott quite liked touching the pages of the book, and the sound effects I had to make to read it, as well as the Moo noise, which made him giggle. Score one to the cow tale!

Our final trek into Baby Lit lately was a rather interesting little story called “Marvin Wanted More”, by Joseph Theobald. This one seemed to hit the nail on the head from the start – cute animals, fluffy sheep on the cover (with lovely tactile fluff for him to reach out and rub), and a plot for Mammy and Daddy! Marvin, in a search for becoming bigger and stronger and over-all a better sheep, decides eating everything around him is the best plan of action. Oh Marvin, I could have told you that wasn’t a great idea. The tale reads like a road to ruin (or a Road to Weight Watchers at the very least) for poor Marvin as he loses the plot a little bit and takes his mission a little too far. There’s comfort eating, animals, cannibalism and a fluffy cover, it really does hit all the targets. All joking aside, we really liked this one as it had a plot, and plenty of lovely pictures, and the story was even semi-interesting for the whole lot for the 7 month old.

I’m now looking at Kiddie versions of the Celtic tales – horribly sanitised, nothing like the real thing – and thinking I’m going to have to rewrite them myself for when the time comes. If this lot is anything to go by, I’m thinking cow hide cover, a sound clip of “Na Fianna” running through the forest, and that we can keep in the gorey details. Now to get cracking on that…

What baby books do you recommend, or have you similar experiences with lack of plot causing you to lose the plot?

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4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. You need to get yourselves some Sandra Boynton! They’re cute as all get out and fun to read for adult and baby. But Not the Hippopotamus has some great rhyming, Moo Baa La La La is great for animal noises (and it has a plot twist!), Horns to Toes (and in Between) is fun for pointing at body parts, Red Hat Green Hat, the Bedtime Book… all great and I never got bored of reading them over and over and over. (Ok, fine, never might be a bit of a stretch.)

    The Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown is an oldie but a goodie with interesting pictures and a nice rhythm to it when you’re reading. My kids wanted it again and again and I didn’t die. (Also, I knew it by heart so I could close my eyes.)

    Have fun!

  2. Ah yes. We used to be bright and intelligent women and now we just want something that doesn’t grate on the nerves when we read it for the 700th time!!
    I’d recommend Peepo, Dear Zoo (hard back as the soft back is pop up and will be eaten in no time!), The Very Hungry Catterpillar and Guess How Much I Love You. Our collection is currently taking a third round of being eaten, thrown, having stuff spilt on them and are still tolerble to us and a great read for them!

    1. Exactly! Thank you for the suggestions, I’m already a fan of “Guess How Much I love you”, so thats definitely on our list, but the new additions will be great 🙂 Thanks for the tip on the hardback!

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