Ronna Mandel reviews Mine!($6.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, ages 1 and up) by Shutta Crum with pictures by Patrice Barton.
I’m particularly partial to board books with few to no words so that parents can spend more time discussing what’s going on in a story than actually reading. This is exactly the case with Mine!
Two toddlers on a play date find fun and friendship as one proclaims all the toys are “Mine!” and the other sits patiently watching calamity after hilarious calamity ensues as the other gathers up all that’s hers (or his because the toddlers’ genders are not pronounced). When the child, not keen on sharing, notices the visiting child pick up one dropped toy, the chaos begins. Enter playful pup and you can guess the rest. The story unfolds seamlessly with tumbles and tosses that need no description because the artwork is so vivid.
The joyfulness of this story is evident from giggles and grins galore on the characters’ faces including the dog (okay the dog doesn’t giggle, but he does woof). You will love the beautiful illustrations by Patrice Barton, and your children will be captivated by Mine! as will you.
When I first read My No, No, No Day! by Rebecca Patterson ($16.99, Viking, ages 2 and up), I burst into commiserative laughter. This story rings true for anyone who has raised a toddler or has seen a toddler in full-fledged fit. Bella, l’enfant terrible, is not having a good morning. Her baby brother, Bob, has gotten into her room and licked her jewelry, and that is only the beginning of a very bad day for Bella, Bob and their enduring mother.
Patterson has a talent for capturing the experiences, discontent and language of young children. As one thing after another upsets Bella, she expresses her anger in that special way that only young children can. Then I came downstairs and I saw that egg. I cried and cried and said, I can’t eat that!And Mommy said, “You could eat it last week. Look at Bob eating his mashed banana.” After the terrible egg I didn’t like my shoes either. So I took them off all by myself, shouting, No shoes!And then we had to go shopping and Mommy said, “Please stop all that wriggling, Bella.” But I couldn’t stop wriggling and in the end I shouted, Get me out!
Patterson is also the book’s illustrator and does a great job of depicting the situations and facial expressions that parents dread: a toddler having a tantrum in public and lying on the floor; the tearful, angry, pinched face of the toddler; the annoyed or sympathetic faces of onlookers; and so on. Patterson does an especially nice job of adding expressions to the plush toys and animals that witness Bella’s bad day.
I read this 32-page book to my three-year-old daughter while she was in the throes of a tantrum. After a few minutes, she stopped her crying and yelling, and settled down to hear about Bella’s battles. As we read along, I asked my daughter about Bella’s behavior and what she thought of it. Through her tear-streaked face, she replied and recognized that Bella was “grumpy,” and that she was “having a hard day.” We then talked about why my daughter was also having a hard day. The ability of children to recognize other children’s behavior reflected in their own is a wonderful learning tool and My No, No, No Day! does a great job of facilitating that.