Turpin’s day is altogether too gray until an imposing figure climbs into his taxicab. Turpin delivers the gentleman to his destination and shortly thereafter discovers a bright red scarf on the seat of the cab.
Turpin chases after the mysterious man but is detained by a lizard on a unicycle. Once he explains his purpose, the lizard allows him to pass. Turpin soon finds himself surrounded by a bear on roller skates, and a ravenous lion. Fortunately, the lion tamer is not far away and rescues him before the worst can happen.
Now, surrounded by amazing colour and exotic creatures, Turpin’s day grows stranger and stranger until he finds himself in the middle of a brightly lit circus tent. A parading elephant, a fire breathing juggler, a playful monkey, a tightrope and a magic trick all add to the hijinks as Turpin struggles to return the scarf.
Originally published as L’echarpe rouge, this almost wordless picture book won the 2000 Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration.
Regular readers of Storytime Standouts will know that I am a fan of wordless and almost wordless picture books. When an adult shares a wordless picture book with a child, the adult loses the “reading advantage.” In a wordless picture book, there are almost no words to read. The story is told through the illustrations so both adult and child can partner to “read” the story and decide what it is all about.
Wordless picture books are great for vocabulary development because they encourage co-readers to discuss the illustrations as they move through the story. Wordless picture books are terrific for multi-lingual families because they can be enjoyed in any language. Additionally, wordless picture books provide a non-reading child the opportunity to “read” the illustrations and retell a story. Learning to “read” illustrations and retell stories are valuable skills for pre-readers and beginning readers to develop.
Hocus Pocus - story by Sylvie Desrosiers, illustrations by Rémy Simard Wordless picture book published by Kids Can Press
When Mister Magic arrives home with his top hat, Dog and a bag full of groceries, he is ready to relax. He puts on headphones, sits in a comfortable chair and listens to music. Before long, Mister Magic and Dog are both fast asleep and Hocus Pocus, a mischievous rabbit is scrambling out of Mister Magic’s top hat. Hocus Pocus sees Mister Magic’s carrots peeking out of the grocery bag and wants one. He worries about awakening Dog and is soon plotting ways to avoid the canine and his sharp teeth.
Retro illustrations (created with Adobe Illustrator) and the messy, farcical battle between Dog and Hocus Pocus give the story a cartoon-like feel. Hocus Pocus is great fun and will be enjoyed by children aged four and up.
In 1988 the Caldecott Medal was awarded to Owl Moon. A special 20th anniversary edition is now available and provides an opportunity to discover the picture book’s wonderful, timeless magic.
It is very late at night when a father and his young daughter venture into the cold. They are seeking a glimpse of a great horned owl. The companions walk together silently and eagerly under an Owl Moon.
Beautifully illustrated, this is a remarkable book that will be enjoyed by the entire family. The depiction of the young girl’s excitement will no doubt inspire parents to bend their bedtime rules and enjoy a moonlit, late night walk.
The Blue Hippopotamus – written by Phoebe Gilman, illustrated by Joanne Fitgerald
A finalist for the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Awards, The Blue Hippopotamus is the story of a little hippo who falls in love with the Pharoah’s daughter. When he comes to the sad realization that the young girl will not love a hippo, he seeks the help of a magician and is changed into a clay toy. His love for the girl endures for many years and, when he observes her loneliness as a young woman, he unselfishly wishes for her happiness. His generosity is magically rewarded and he is once again transformed.
The Magic Rabbit – written and illustrated by Annette LeBlanc Cate
Ray and Bunny have a very special relationship: they live together, work together and are best friends. One day, while performing their magic show, Ray and Bunny are accidentally separated. The magician doesn’t see a yappy dog chase Bunny down the street and away from him. Both Ray and his friend are devastated. Tired and hungry, the lonely bunny wanders in the dark until the distinctive aroma of popcorn catches his attention.
Truly enchanting, I hope Ms. Cate will continue to conjure charming picture books for youngsters.
Dads reading to boys – making the difference between reluctant male readers and voracious readers
I’d really like to take credit for the fact that both my boys love a good book. My almost-twelve-year-old is a enthusiastic reader. He is currently reading one of the Lord of the Rings books. He is especially fond of history and knows far more about World War II than I do. Most of the information has been gained through reading; fiction, non fiction, magazines and newspapers.
My younger boy (9 years) is more of a “doer” than a “reader” but he knows a great story when he hears one and we still make time to share a book or a puzzle at bedtime.
I read books aloud to the boys from the time they were six months old. We trekked to storytime at the library and were constantly borrowing books “about trucks.” There is little doubt that I was the one who planted the reading seed and carried enough stacks of books back and forth, to and from the library, to nourish it.
Just a few years later, reading the first Harry Potter book to the boys was truly magical. We all loved the experience as a family but there was one particular moment I will always remember. My husband was headed out of town for a week and was most concerned that he might miss hearing part of the story read aloud. He cautioned us that we were not “allowed” to read ahead while he was away – he couldn’t bear the thought that he might miss even one minute of the read aloud experience.
The boys and I solved the problem by rereading four or five chapters of Harry Potter and then we all charged ahead when my husband returned.
I will always be grateful for the message my husband gave his boys; he has always been eager to enjoy a good book with them (another favorite series was Kenneth Oppel’s Silverwing). But that particular incident was evidence of just how important reading with the boys is to him.
It is not at all unusual for parents of preteens to be frustrated by their boys’ lack of interest in reading. To those parents, I would say, get Dad involved in reading aloud and find wonderful books you can enjoy together. In some families, mom always reads the bedtime stories from a very young age. It can be very beneficial to change this up and for boys to observe men reading and enjoying great books. After all, we’d like our sons to choose to sit down with a great book from time to time.
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