Esme Codell's work. I was thrilled to read on her blog last week that she had a new book coming out and couldn't wait to share it with kids. I knew that it would be a hit. Well, this book, FAIRLY FAIRY TALES definitely makes it to my BOOKS I COULD READ A MILLION TIMES list.
I have been trying to figure out what it is that makes a book one that I could read to children a million times. This book helped me solidify that a bit. One thing that makes reading aloud to kids so fun is the looks on their faces as I read. There is really nothing like it. And when I read FAIRLY FAIRY TALES aloud this week, the look on every child's face was pure joy. The sound effects (mostly squealing and laughing) were also joyful as they listened. It was a happy, loud day in the library.
The book is such a great one for young children. Right away, the kids recognize so many characters they love on the front cover. Many predict that this will be a "Once Upon a Time" story (and they are right). They are excited to dig right in from the very start.
I loved Esme's story of how she came up with the idea for this book. Knowing how young children respond to books is key to writing a good one. And Esme understands children and reading so well. The story begins with a young child at bedtime....not really wanting to go to bed yet. The stories that follow are all from familiar fairy tales. Each page includes simple text describing 4 things that are part of a story. Well, actually there are 3 things that are part of the story and one that doesn't belong. (This reminded me a bit of Sesame Street's "One of These Things is Not Like The Other" song/game from long ago.) When we turn the page, we find an illustration of how that 4th item could be incorporated into the fairy tale to change it just a bit. With very simple and predictable text, Esme gives us a brilliant book that has so many layers. Really, the looks on the kids faces as they recognized the thing that didn't belong, the looks when they anticipated the surprise, and the delight at seeing the new version of the fairy tale were all quite fun.
This is a great book for so many reasons. First of all, it's pure fun. The element of surprise is wonderful for readers of all ages. The pattern of the language, the simple text and the picture support make it great for young readers. (The illustrations are a PERFECT match to the writing if I haven't mentioned that.) Kids can jump in and read the book on their own after hearing it read to them. The book also served as an invitation for some kids to play with the idea that Esme plays with--adding new elements to favorite stories. After reading this story aloud, a few kids chose to create their own set of items from a story they loved. For example, one child created a page with a leprechaun, a pot of gold, a rainbow and..... a puppy. She went on to tell me how a puppy could fit into the leprechaun finding his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Definitely a must-have book!