Picture Books: Anthony’s Picks

Picture Books: Anthony’s Picks


Anthony hit the jackpot this week with fun read alouds at the library. I generally let him pull two books off the shelf to check out. Sometimes they go back in the bag and stay there after a first reading. But these are so fun to read I grabbed them for his naptime today.

The first is a fun tale from Zaire. (Which I guess isn’t Zaire anymore but is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.) It’s a fun little story about a civet cat named Bowane who is going to collect his bride in the village of Tondo, but along the way is too accommodating to the friends he asks to be his attendants and thus misses the girl. She gets tired of waiting for him (they wait years and years for a log to rot so Ulu the tortoise can get across it.) and marries a different cat. The scorn with which she chases Bowane away is delicious.

The story reads like an oral tale written down with all the repetition and funny animal sounds. It’s a book that has all four of my big kids giggling as I read—and sometimes Lucia catches the mood and giggles too.

What’s really fun about it is that each of the animals make a sound:

And so they went on—
Bowane walking, ika-o ika-o, ika-o;
Embenga flapping, bwa-wa, bwa-wa, bwa-wa;
Nguma slithering, swe-o, swe-o, swe-o;
And Ulu waddling, ta-ka, ta-ka, ta-ka, ta-ka
The four of them traveling to Tondo.

(Don’t worry, there’s a pronunciation guide for all the Lonkundo words.)

It’s such a charming little tale with gorgeous pictures that really capture the personalities of the animals and it has a clever moral too. I’d definitely consider adding it to our library.

Anthony’s second pick is an illustration of a song that Bella used to be quite obsessed with. I first heard it back in my Irish pub haunting days in college when Celine and Marianne introduced me to Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers:

All God’s critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
And some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got.

Listen to the bass, it’s the one on the bottom
Where the bullfrog croaks and the hippopotamus
Moans and groans with a big to-do
The old cow just goes MOOOOO

Bella used to watch the Makem and Clancy video on You Tube over and over again. I think Dom even figured out how to download it and put it on an endless loop on my laptop. I didn’t realize what book Anthony had got till we got it home. It wouldn’t have caught my eye, being a bit too garish, but it’s just the thing that a two year old boy would grab. This book has such fun illustrations, big, bold, bright animals all hamming it up on a stage. It’s definitely a big hit with my whole crew. Now Bella and Sophie and Ben are wandering about the house singing along. And of course we’ve been watching the video again too:


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  • +JMJ+

    I love Diana Wynne Jones! But I’ve only read her four Chrestomanci books. I would have dived into her entire ouevre years ago, if it weren’t for my neurotic worry that if I gobble everything up too fast, I won’t have any left for future reading. So I’ve been dragging my feet. I want to try Howl’s Moving Castle next. =) Is this your first book by Jones, Melanie?

  • Nicole,

    Yes. The second one would most definitely suit you. I think you’d like the first too.


    Yes. This was my first Diana Wynne Jones book. I’ve been hearing about her for some time and decided to jump in. Glad I did.

  • The second has been on my to-read list for awhile, and I’ll add the first. I always love your book recommendations.

    Speaking of, a priest friend of mine recently recommended The Edge of Sadness, and I’m reading it now, and O’Connor is an amazing writer. A friend of mine reminded me the other day that you had also recommended the book.

  • Karen,

    These both came to me by way of Lissa, her recommendations are always a safe bet.

    I haven’t read The Edge of Sadness, nor heard of it actually. Though now that you bring it up it looks interesting. It must have been someone else who recommended it. I wonder who.

  • Yeah, Lissa’s recommendations are always good.
    Weird about The Edge of Sadness—I wonder who it was? I’m only halfway in, but so far I think you’d like it quite a bit.