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[Monday Reading] A Fly Went By + A Bug Went Ka-Choo = Wacky Wednesday (or Monday for that Matter)

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Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Award Winning Books Reading Challenge for 2015 (#AWBRead2015)! It’s that time of the year to set new reading goals for the coming year.

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Here is the sign up page and the January-February linky if you already have reviews up. One randomly-selected participant would receive a copy of Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly, courtesy of Pansing books. Click here to view my announcement post to learn more details. 

We have just launched our new reading theme from January-February 2015. As I was searching for titles that I have read as a child, I waxed nostalgic upon discovering that most of my early reader/beginner books are actually available in our public libraries here in Singapore. And so over the next few weeks, you would see beloved reads, and books that I am confident were instrumental in making me the reader that I am now.

IMG_8971A Fly Went By

Written by: Mike McClintock Illustrated by: Fritz Siebel
Published byBeginner Books, distributed by Random House, 1958
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This was one of my favourite reads as a child which I only remembered when I started a frenzied book borrowing from the library for our current reading theme. And when I found this, I could remember my mother’s voice and the stirrings of the child I had once been; especially when I opened the page and saw this illustration.

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The memories simply surged forward – it is a reminder of a much simpler life, a time when I could just laze around and look at the sky, of six-petaled flowers, pants rolled up, with very little care in the world.

I  remember that I was quite amazed as a child, at how huge the fly was, and the fact that it is being chased by a frog that is chased by a cat chased by a dog chased by pig … and so on it goes.

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Now that I’m older and an academic studying children’s literature (among other things), I know that this format is what is called a cumulative tale – but I could only remember what a riot this was! There is once more the brilliant repetition, which gives an early reader the confidence to recognize certain words that have already been read, and provides that push to experiment with new, unfamiliar words while being drowned with easier/familiar ones.

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I also recalled being charmed by this young boy who simply took it upon himself to get into the middle of things to “shame shame shame” the animals for chasing another animal and frightening them. Imagine coming up to a fox with a stick and saying “You stop, or I will whip you – NOW!” This kind of language wouldn’t even be possible given today’s easily-offended parental sensibilities which seem to have a very clearly-defined sense of right and wrong.

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And just look at the deliciously-glorious chaos in that page, with the heavy lines, the unique typography (at a time when the word font was unheard of), the mischief, the Saturday-morning-cartoon element that is just so timeless! And at the very core of all this circuitous chasing around is a fearful bump and thump – note the build-up and sheer anticipation in this page:

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What is that thing indeed? This you will have to discover with your little ones.

Because A Little Bug Went Ka-CHOO!IMG_8960

Written byDr. Seuss writing as Rosetta Stone Illustrated by: Michael Frith
Published by: Beginner Books: A Division of Random House, Inc., 1975
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I think I must have mentioned this book quite a number of times whenever I talk about my favourite reads as a child. This is the first time that I’ve read this in, perhaps, over 30 years. And I am just as enamoured with this book as I was when I was a little girl.

It is delightful, fun, and illustrated with vibrant colors that it’s easy to forget just how brilliantly-conceived it is. Let’s begin with the first page:

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From those first three lines, you know that you have a master storyteller whispering his secrets in these pages, and you just want to cuddle up closer to the book and listen. Isn’t this how we usually share our stories with best friends “You won’t believe this…” and then on it goes.

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Each page contains only a few words – around four to five lines with familiar words, that one may easily forget how the story actually demonstrates cause-and-effect; that one thing leads to the next which leads to another that leads again to the next – that everything is actually interconnected in some peculiar way!

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This was one of my favourite illustrations as a child. I was forever wondering how Farmer Brown would actually look like without the bucket on his head. And because that little bug went ka-choo… see below:

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Look at how brilliant that ending is: “And as far as I know/ it is going on yet.” Makes me want to join the party! Think of this as the childhood version of Ray Bradbury’s Butterfly Effect from A Sound of Thunder. More fun, though, and less grim.

IMG_8964Wacky Wednesday

Written by: Dr. Seuss writing as Theo. LeSieg Illustrated by: George Booth
Published by: Beginner Books: A Division of Random House, Inc., 1974
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

It all began

with that shoe on the wall.

A shoe on a wall…?

Shouldn’t be there at all!

If I were to make a collection of fascinating first lines from children’s literature, this would probably make the list (along with the first few lines from Because a little bug went ka-choo!). As I flipped through the pages, I had a grand time just figuring out exactly what was wacky in the picture.

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I like how each page tells you exactly how many weird stuff are there – and it’s up to the reader to figure out exactly what those things are. Now that I have the benefit of hindsight, I can perhaps safely claim that this is one of the early books that made me pay attention to detail, and gave me permission to really look, and just appreciate the whimsy and the absurd – because fun!

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Visual literacy at its finest – when the term wasn’t even in vogue as a reference to children’s books and literacy in education.

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I believe this book also gave me comfort that even when things go absolutely crazy, you simply have to count them, find them, name them, and everything will “soon go away” and the world will make sense again. Or not, and that’s alright too.

Currently Reading…

I am glad to share that I have finished reading A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond which I also booktalked to my GatheringReaders book club at the library. So we’re reading the book for February!

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I am halfway through the really creepy The Doll’s House, Volume II of The Sandman chronicles by Neil Gaiman.

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At first, I didn’t want to read this novel since it is quite thick and I know there are a few more novels that I simply have to read for our reading theme and for work. And so, good reader that I am, I decided to give the first few chapters a try. And boy, was I riveted. And so The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill it is.

9 comments on “[Monday Reading] A Fly Went By + A Bug Went Ka-Choo = Wacky Wednesday (or Monday for that Matter)

  1. While I’ve read Dr. Seuss’ books written and illustrated by him, I haven’t really explored the Beginning Reader series titles despite it having a rich collection of beloved kids classics. Wacky Wednesday looks like a trip!

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  2. I love Neil Gaiman’s work, but I haven’t read The Doll House before. It does look scary though! I’m sure if I read it as a kid, I’d be so freaked out. I hope you enjoy your reads.

    My IMWAYR post.

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  3. It’s fun going back and reading some childhood favorites 🙂
    The Witch’s Boy is good… I was enchanted at times and at times I needed it to move faster!

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  4. My own children loved A Fly Went By and Wacky Wednesday, but I don’t know Because A Little Bug Went Ka-Choo at all, Myra. Guess we just missed that one. How fun that you’re going down memory lane with these books!

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  5. I loved reading your post. I’ve gone and put a hold on A Fly Went By! All copies in still in use show that it really must be amazing.

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  6. As soon as I saw the illustration from A Fly Went By, I remembered reading it as a child! So funny how you can forget a book and a reading experience until you see a picture and then it all comes back to you! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I love Kelly Barnhill’s blog but haven’t read any of her books. I really need to remedy that!

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  7. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, I loved all those Dr Suess books as a kid too!

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  8. I am looking forward to A Witch’s Boy. I enjoyed A Mostly True Story of Jack. You had some very fun picture book reading this week. 🙂

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  9. Pingback: An Amalgam of Mystery and Horror in Middle Grade Novel “The Nest” by Kenneth Opel with art by Jon Klassen | Gathering Books

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