Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Book Review: Emily Waits For Her Family

The literary world of Tricky is a turbulent place, full of fast paced action and lurid colour. Here oceans are in commotion and rumbles occur in jungles. Yes Bobo gets his hug and Hannah gets taken to the zoo to see her gorilla but not before much adventure and emotional upheaval. 

If Lola is allowed to look after Marv’s dog Sizzles, it’s dollars to doughnuts that Sizzles will not only be lost he’ll be mixed up with another dog that looks exactly like Sizzles. 

It’s a crazy, green eggs and ham eating world.

 And it is here, amongst all the noise and chaos I find myself reading out loud a small mint coloured book. A quiet gentle book. That rhymes. 

Emily Waits For Her Family is the first in the Emily The Chickadee series. I’m a little behind the 8Ball here in Australia, I’m pretty sure we have no chickadees here (not in Sydney anyway) but there are any number of delicate pretty little birds all at various stages of extinction so I get the gist. 

In this book, a little girl spies a chickadee who builds a nest in a window box and there, nestled amongst the flowers, lays three eggs that eventually hatch into the ugliest boggly eyed chicks you’ve ever seen. That’s not really part of the story but it certainly made me laugh when I got to the picture. Time is a great beautician for the chickadee brood and quite soon they are just as attractive as their mother. And now all four can flap above the head of the little girl who spends her time lounging about in flower beds and gazing up at her feathered friends. End story.

 I have to admit I did not hold out high hopes for Emily et al on my first read through. Where were the lost dogs? The gorillas wearing hats? There were eggs yes but they weren’t green and no one was being exhorted to Eat Them. 

And also the rhyming. I am not a natural fan of the rhyming children’s book. I often find the rhyme overtakes the story and it happens a bit here too with a lot of enforced rhyming with “chickadee”.

 Gentle, charming, delightful. These are the words that spring to mind to describe Carol Zelya’s book with illustrations by Kristin Metcalf. The author’s note indicates her aim of “educating children about nature’s precious gifts all around us when we take the time to notice” an intention I would applaud but perhaps not necessarily feel the need to mention since it seems a tad preachy. Luckily this is in the back of the book, not the front. 

I did very excited by the bonus chickadee checklist for readers to log the movements of the chickadee in their own back yard (we scored a fat zero sadly).  

 Finally I have to put up my hand and admit, to my surprise, Tricky enjoyed this book – to the point of throwing aside Lola and her search for Sizzles the dog, and asking for “the birdy book.” 

He listened, he counted the eggs and the birds, and he asked me to read it again when I was finished. Which was a gentle reminder to this book reading mother that stories do not always have to be high concept or fast paced to be engaging for children.


Emily Waits For Her Family

By Carol Zelaya

Illustrated by Kristin Metcalf

Richlee Publishing



Anonymous said...

I'm also a book-reading mom, but I haven't noticed that Zoey has any favorites. She picks whichever book she happens to knock off the shelf. When I read Sandra Boynton's Spanish version of "Dogs" she will bark with me. When did Tricky let on that he had favorites?

Maggie May said...

Until today, I had never heard of a "chickadee" and wonder if it is a made up name or a species of bird from Australia?
Children like to have the same story told over & over again. It is the same with DVDs. Just as you think that the particular character is part of the child and that it is their very favourite, it is tossed aside for something different.

ABS said...

We have chickadees here in the U.S. (or at least the northeast portion thereof). You'd know them right away if there were any around, because their song is their name - "chick-a-dee-dee-dee". I kid you not.

Em said...

I tend to agree with you about rhyming in children's books, but I make an exception for Dr. Seuss. M likes the cadence of the rhyme and usually requests at least one Seuss book each night.

Anonymous said...

Just flying past to wish you a Happy Christmas dear ovagirl - but maybe I missed yours over there?

Betty F said...

I'm glad Tricky enjoyed the book. I use to HATE some of my kids favorite books and they knew when I skipped a page