Books Meta-Reading Picture Books Reading Themes

Little Charlies and their Books (with Beetles, Bugs, Butterflies, Pirates and Knights)

Myra here.

We are not unfamiliar with books about books, having used that as our reading theme back in 2013. We have also featured Lauren Child’s postmodern Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Book (complete with my daughter’s video recording once upon a time) and her Beware of the Storybook Wolves. When I discovered that Lauren Child had a similarly-themed title in her Charlie and Lola Series, I immediately borrowed it from the library, thinking that it would pair nicely with Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picturebook. They do go together quite nicely, if I may say so myself.

But Excuse Me That Is My Book

Written and Illustrated by: Lauren Child and Bridget Hurst and Carol Noble and Tiger Aspect (Producer)
Published by: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2006
ISBN-10: 0803730969
ISBN-13: 9780803730960
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

The story is written from Charlie’s point of view whose little sister Lola simply couldn’t stop talking about an “extra specially special” book that she loves oh-so-dearly: “Beetles, Bugs, and Butterflies.” While the reader somewhat senses Charlie’s growing exasperation with his younger sister who talked about nothing else as they head over to the library to borrow it for the seemingly-nth time, he does a fairly acceptable job of humoring his sister.

His patience is naturally tested when Lola could not find the “very best book in the world” while at the library, despite her combing through bookshelves beginning with B, as suggested by Charlie.

To amuse his sister who is increasingly getting frustrated by the lost book, Charlie shows Lola other titles that may be of interest to her, such as this gorgeous pop-up book that Lauren Child has done beautiful justice:

Naturally nothing comes quite close to “Beetles, Bugs, and Butterflies.” Then Lola sees something that nearly broke her heart: her book in the hands of another child:

How the siblings reacted to this, I shall leave for you to discover. Truth be told, the ending felt kind of anticlimactic to me. I feel that the real star here is Child’s traditional collage art chock-filled with tiny details that a reader can spend hours poring over. For more sibling stories, I invite you to pair this book with Giselle Potter’s Tell Me What To Dream About and Liniers’ The Big Wet Balloon.

Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book

Written by: Julia Donaldson Illustrated by: Axel Scheffler
Published by: Macmillan Children’s Books, 2005
ISBN-10: 1447294378
ISBN-13: 9781447294375
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Now this one has a Scheherazade-vibe to the entire narrative, with Charlie Cook “curled up in a cosy chair” reading his favourite book about a pirate who found a book inside a treasure chest that tells a story about a girl named Goldilocks who was reading a book in Baby Bear’s bed about a knight fighting a dragon… and so the story goes.

To call the book “clever” would be an understatement. I particularly enjoyed the tiny details that made the feel of the story so authentic – from the changing titles at the header of each page:

to the changing typography and the changes in the design and layout reflecting the different story found in each book found in each page. Then there are the side bars that are worth a leisurely read as well (see below):

As I was reading this, I was reminded a little bit of Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman’s Previously as each page leads the reader to another story. But I feel that this would best be paired with Jesse Klausmeier and Suzy Lee’s Open This Little Book.

Do let us know if you have other book recommendations similar to these titles.

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