Saturday, July 19, 2008

Puppies and Piggies

Rylant, Cynthia. 2008. Puppies and Piggies. Illustrated by Ivan Bates. Harcourt.

Puppies and Piggies had me at hello. It's a fun, playful, rhythmic book featuring a variety of farm animals. This is how it begins:

Puppy loves the farmyard,
Puppy loves the rain.
Puppy loves to press his nose
Against the window pane.

Another one of my favorites is about a goose:

Goosey loves his honking,
Goosey loves his walk.
Goosey loves to find a friend
and talk and talk and talk.

The illustrations are nice. (Watercolor by the way) They offer plenty of details, but not in an overwhelming way. The reader can choose, however, to seek out and discover the little things that add to the story as a whole. (For example, on the opening spread, all the animals that play a role in the book can be seen though the natural focus is on the puppy. There is the mouse hiding near the chicken feed, the goose hiding in the wheel barrow, the bunny and pig resting by the picket fence, the pony and cat beside the corner of the house, the hen and baby chicks playing in the puddle, etc.) It is interesting to see which animals appear on which pages.

Rhythm and rhymes are elements that can play an important role in books for young children. Especially if they're done right. It's not easy as you might think to get it right. It has to feel natural. It has to be natural.

This is the kind of book that just feels right. It's hard to define why it works so well. It just does. (Rylant is a genius after all.) Barn animals. Babies. Rhythmic rhyming. It's just a joy to read. And I should also mention that it's the kind of book I'd want to read again and again and again.


  1. Fab review - thanks very much! I'm always on the hunt for great children's books and have recently discovered Bayard and their series of StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks and DiscoveryBoxBooks (which is a special Olympic edition) They have work by acclaimed children's books illustrator Helen Oxenbury appearing in the Storybox series for September. In addition to this, they also have some great activities for rainy days:,, Enjoy!