October 15, 2016
Shh!: We Have a Plan by Chris Laughton
To my mind (Ruth here), this is the perfect picture book to share with little ones. It has all the elements to make it great: a winsome story; clear, bright illustrations with lots of clues and inferences; and plenty of wry humor to entice both the audience and the reader. The story is set at night, as you can tell from the delicious deep blues and purples, and four stark figures march along, with the littlest one at the end of the line. The bigger characters all hold nets in their hands, and stop when a bright pink bird comes into view. “Hello, Birdie,” greets the little guy. “Shh! We have plan,” the others tell him. pointing to their nets and a bird cage. They tiptoe toward the bird–with absolutely hysterical expressions on their faces–and the bird easily evades them as they grab for it. This is repeated in different situations–paddling, climbing–but it is the little one who makes friends with the bird and its whole flock. A surprising twist–and a circular ending. I can vouch for this book’s appeal. I just gave a copy to my littlest nephew Boden (3 years old), who delighted in the reading, and picked it right up to pore over the book alone afterward. We have a copy on our coffee table, and readers of all ages have picked it up and enjoyed it as well. Highly recommended!
October 5, 2019
Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton
The first time I encountered Chris Haughton’s delightful toddler books and brilliant artwork was his award-winning board book, Shh! We Have a Plan. This became a book beloved by my little nephews and a big hit with other family and friends who visit. I discovered the text and artwork were not only captivating for the toddler and nursery school set, but also fun for early readers. The sly wit, simple text, and intriguing illustrations made even grownups chuckle with delight as they turned the pages. My admiration has only grown as I’ve come to know Chris Haughton’s other books.
This week, I was choosing a book to send to my youngest great-nephew Elias. At two years old, he is a charming loving little boy who also adores books. (He also loves his Great-Uncle Jim, and has named numerous toys and stuffed animals “Jim.” ) So I definitely wanted to choose a winning book for the little guy. I knew I had found the right book when I reread Goodnight Everyone. I imagine it as the perfect bedtime read for Elias–and other two -year-old children who just want to stay a wake a little bit longer. Even though everyone in the forest is getting sleepy, Little Bear isn’t quite ready. The images of the different forest animals snuggling up with their families and getting cozy in their beds for the night are sweet and comforting. In a simple pattern, ideal for storytelling, Haughton sets the tone for how each animal gets ready for bed. Readers then say good night to each animal family in its home, starting with the mice. A dandelion appears, and a mouse’s gentle snores blow seeds into the air. Dandelion seeds rise slowly into the sky on each subsequent page until the final page, where the moon is high and all are asleep. Small dots trail across the endpapers, too, like a continuation of the seeds and the animals’ dreams. Magical!
Really, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.