Wednesday, November 10, 2010

When a book is more than just a story - Part II

A few months ago I shared some of our favorite "non-story" picture books that we enjoy reading on long trips or rainy days. Since that post we have come across a couple of standout titles that I can't help but rave about.

Meanwhile by Jason Shiga

Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities.

Jason Shiga's Meanwhile is like nothing I've ever seen. We saw it on display in our local bookstore last spring and I immediately knew that it would become a birthday present for my older son. It's a narrative in the style of the classic Choose Your Own Adventure books but in graphic novel form. At key points in the story the reader is asked to choose a path (represented by maze-like pipes) to take. This determines the outcome of the story. There are many paths and many stories but only one "happy" ending. Did I mention there's a time machine? If there's one thing that is guaranteed to pique my interest, it's a time machine. The recommended age is for upper elementary school aged kids but my 7 year old and I read it together first so he could get the hang of the mechanics (and the graphic novel style) and he is now able to read it on his own. The first time we read this we spent at least an hour together on the couch, never once achieving the "correct" ending.

Around the World with Mouk by Marc Boutavant

Around the World with Mouk

Another birthday gift (this time for my 5 year old), Around the World with Mouk reminds me of the classic Richard Scarry books. Mouk, a small bear, is going on an around the world journey. In "letters" he sends to his friends back home we are able to look in on his travels. As in Scarry's books, there is much to see, with plenty to read (and learn) in the form of characters' thought bubbles. The thing that sets Mouk apart from other books, though, are the reusable static cling stickers that come with the book. Remember Colorforms? That's basically what these are. Masks, animals and objects representing the regions Mouk visits can be placed on the characters or in the scenes depicted on each page. My kids like to experiment with the unexpected: they'll put a snow hat on a character surfing on the Australian beach, or a Chinese dragon mask on a character in the Finnish winter scene.

In the Town All Year 'Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner

In the Town All Year 'Round

This mostly wordless picture book rewards those who pay close attention. The book is divided into four parts, each part representing a different season in the same town. The same scenes are present in each season but you can track the changes in the town and its citizens--and the storyline--throughout the book. There are also "hidden" objects (cats, birds, etc.) to find on each page.

I am always looking for recommendations for new and unique books like these. What are your family's favorites?

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