Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Picture Book Review Tuesday!

Initially I was going to review two new books that I read yesterday, and while they were entertaining, they didn't inspire me enough to dedicate an entire blog entry/review on them....and I know that all 3 readers of this blog come here expecting to be inspired, entertained, and to read casually misspelled words and poorly diagrammed sentences. But I don't want to keep anyone on tenterhooks on what those books were: Super Guinea Pig to the Rescue - Udo Weigelt and Delicious! - Helen Cooper. I did thoroughly enjoy these sweet little books, and encourage reading especially the Helen Cooper Pumpkin Soup books in general.


The particular book I'm going to chat about today elicits laughs out of me and my son (and my coworkers) even when the book isn't right in front of us. It also pulls an ancient (from my childhood!) emotion out of the kid-feeling archives: that feeling when you bring something to school from your home (food, a toy, a book, etc) that you love and adore but everyone in the class seems to find weird, foreign, yucky, etc. Yes kids today I'm talking about Yoko, by Rosemary Wells.

Yoko is a cat who lovvvvvvvvvvvvves sushi, just like any self-respecting cat should. Her mom prepares a treat for her lunch one day, rolling up all of Yoko's favorite sushi rolls into her special lunch box. When lunchtime rolls around, Yoko's classmates are dramatically disgusted by the contents of her meal. (We all remember how melodramatic first grade could be...)

Yoko's teacher feels pangs for her, so she decides to launch an international food day in class...will Yoko's Japanese fare be accepted and praised amongst the Mexican, Italian, and American food? Will anyone eat Yoko's sushi her mother once again prepares?! Intrigue! Drama! Beans!

...there are several points in this book, full of Wells' classic expressive animal characters, where I either laugh out loud, or frown a bit when I feel exactly how Yoko feels when everyone sneers at her sushi. A rush of personal experience and emotion wells up as I remember similar experiences in school (I think all of us remember these awkward, red in the face, put your head on your desk embarrassing moments from grade school...)...mine in particular was also in the first grade, just after Christmas break. Our teacher (the lovely and always my favorite Mrs. Carroll) instructed us to bring in our favorite Christmas/Hanukkah gift in for show and tell. My mom wouldn't let me bring my "Real Baby" doll to school, fearful I would lose it (those things were NOT cheap even for 1980's standards...) So I had to bring a smaller baby doll I had received in my stocking. I felt, next to every one's fancier toys (including another Real Baby!) that mine just was not up to first grade snuff and I hid it in my cubbyhole and told everyone I 'forgot' my gift and that I got an awesome Real Baby, for definite!
Wells' precious little Yoko is so dainty and sweet (just like me in first grade! What happened?)...her always charming stories are full of depth and emotion, even in less than 15 pages. I've included the usual link on the left, and I encourage you to check out her other works as well (she's most well known for the Max and Ruby stories...)

Have a great Tuesday, and eat some sushi!

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