The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow!

12 08 2012

Apparently there’s an award called the Monarch Award.  Who knew?

Named after the butterfly to symbolize the growth, change, and freedom that becoming a reader brings to kids, the Monarch is an annual award given to kindergarten through third grade level books.  As a sixth grade teacher, I was well aware of the Rebecca Caudill Award, but the Monarch and the Bluestem (named after some type of grass and given to 3rd through 5th grade books) were new to me when I stumbled across a really cool section of the library in my new town.

I decided to read a few of the Bluestem list, because some of my students read at a slightly lower level and might enjoy them.  I also grabbed a few of the Monarch Award nominees, because they caught my eye and I thought they’d be fun to read with my 1st grade son.

I was right.

Rather, the Monarch folks were right.  They pick some good books.

The first one I read, along with Andy, was The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow!, which is a collection of ten illustrated poem stories that remind me a lot of Dr. Seuss, but only if Dr. Seuss was Australian, had a fetish for exploding bovines, and seemed to have been kicked in the head by a manatee (and yes, I’m aware that manatees don’t have legs and are unlikely to kick someone).

That’s a good review in case you were wondering.  Author Andy Griffiths and illustrator Tony Denton seem to be my kind of crazy, because every part of this book perfectly matched my ridiculous sense of humor.

I thoroughly enjoyed all ten of the poems, especially “Big Fat Cows,” “Somewhere Less Spikey,” and “Lumpy-Head Fred,” and will definitely be recommending this one to any kid that thinks they don’t like poetry because it’s all about smooshy-mushy things like love and flowers and cartoon hearts.

Sometimes poetry can also be about a cow that just happens to be exploding.

Poetry is fun like that.

The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow! was the 72nd book I read this summer during my quest to finish 90 books in 90 days.  

Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie

9 08 2012

Mo Willems’ is one of the most successful, popular, and respected picture book authors out there today.  He’s probably best known for his pigeon books, like Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, and Knuffle Bunny.   Now he’s working on a series of early reader books (that my oldest son loves) about Elephant and Piggie.  So far, just for the Elephant and Piggie books, he’s won two Geisel Awards and one Geisel honor – that’s the award (for early reader books) that’s so cool they named it after Dr. Seuss.

Elephant and Pigge are best friends.  Of course they are, what else would you expect from cartoon pigs and elephants?  What makes these books fun is that the two characters are just like any best friends – they love each other, they fight, the play, they laugh…

The first one we read, I Love My New Toy!, is all about how Piggie gets a new toy.  Elephant gets his chance to play with it and breaks it.  What happens afterward is what every set of best friends have ever gone through in that situation, and it’s a great lesson for those early reader kids who are making friends outside the house for the first time in pre-school and kindergarten.

We are in a Book! is even better.  The two pals realize they’re in a book and that we’re watching them.  They realize that they have control over us and can make us say whatever they want, just because we’re reading their speech bubbles.  The guys have a great time with this new found power, but realize, as the book is coming to an end, that power is fleeting.  

Both of these books made my boys laugh and laugh and laugh.  Andy, my oldest, has read both books 10 times to his little brothers.  That’s the sure sign of a good book.  Of course the next time we go to the library, we’ll be getting more Elephant and Piggie books.  These are the kind of books that are loads of fun for early readers, but still hilarious to those of us who’ve been reading for years.

I’m on a quest to read 90 books in 90 days this summer.  I Love My New Toy! was #53 and a few weeks later I read We are in a Book! – that one was #71.  Even though they were weeks apart, I decided to do one post about both books.