Monday, August 11, 2008

An alphabet book that rolls off the tongue

Little Bitty Mousie
By Jim Aylesworth
Illustrations by Michael Hague

2007, Walker Books for Young Readers

Thanks to a low display at the library, Rosie chose this book herself this weekend.

What made her stop and covet? She declined to elaborate, merely repeated, increasingly insistent, "I wanna read this book, Mommy. I wanna read this one. This one." (Alright already, kid. No need to get whiny.)

My own guess: 1. She liked the colorful cover, which practically screams "Yo, little one! Check me out!" 2. She noticed the book was unusually shiny, thanks to the plastic overwrap that marks it as a new addition to the branch's collection. And/or 3. She could reach it.

Luckily, Rosie's impulse grab turned out to be highly enjoyable. Unlike most ABC books, "Little Bitty Mousie" puts plot first, as its title character, clad in a polka-dot pinafore, explores a sleeping household. She discovers shiny Apples, a stick of Butter, a plate of Carrot, and... you get the idea.

Predictable? A little, but neither yak nor zebra make appearance in the final pages.

Hague's whimsical, color-saturated drawings would be enough to sustain any bedtime reader. But Aylesworth, a long-time first-grade teacher, also has a gift for crafting rhythmic stanzas that are a joy to read. And before long, the playful refrain inspired my little one to gleefully chime in:

She ate the "H" from "Happy"
On a chocolate birthday cake.

Her fur got full of Icing

And it wasn't by mistake.

Tip-tip tippy tippy

Went her little mousie toes.

Sniff-sniff sniffy sniffy

Went her little mousie nose...

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