Big Fun, Little Guy

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Playing with the Big Guys

My son, like many 4-year-olds, vacillates between feeling he can take on the world and being afraid to enter his own dark bedroom alone. My husband (shout-out to a super dad!) tries to include B in many of his activities. It accomplishes two things: first, Daddy gets projects done and spends quality time with B at the same time; second, B gains a real sense of pride at being able to do grown-up things. He loves to work on projects around the house or yard with Daddy (and thanks to Papa he has kid-friendly versions of all the requisite tools). He accompanies Daddy to the driving range to practice his golf swing. He’s even tagged along for a couple of casual lunches with Daddy’s colleagues. Unfortunately, sometimes B’s sense of big-boy entitlement goes a little too far, and he has to be reminded that Mommy and Daddy make the rules, and not all activities are appropriate for kids.

It’s a book! It’s a toy! It’s a souvenir! It’s a lesson!

I’ve shared my affinity for books as souvenirs before, and as anyone whose read my last two posts knows, I just returned from some family vacation time. Most of our time was spent blissfully unscheduled, relaxing at the resort pools and recreation areas, but we did fit in an aquarium visit. B’s souvenir from the aquarium trip was a fun book by William Boniface, The Adventures of Max the Minnow. First of all, the book caught B’s eye (and proved entertaining on the car ride home) because of the googly eyeballs protruding from the cover. A rigid clear ball encases each greed-irised “eyeball” which glide and jiggle and are weighted such that no matter which way you turn this board book, the pupils continue to “look” at you! Now, while Minnows weren’t exactly the feature creature at the aquarium, I think a book about fish is enough of a connection to jog our memories and discuss our vacation excursion.

Braun vs. Brains
Max the Minnow Picture Book (Wiggle Eyes)
The story of Max the Minnow is told in rhythmic couplets – iambic septameter to be exact. Unnecessary terminology, I know, that’s the Lit. major in me coming out. What that means to the reader is that every other syllable is accented in slightly shorter lines than Shakespeare wrote most of his works. It makes the text very bouncy and light. The illustrations are bright and cartoonish, and holes through to the back of the book allow a different creature to show off the googly eyes on each page. Max begins the story frustrated that little guys (remember he’s a minnow) must hide and watch the big fish at play. Inspired by watching blowfish puff up, he sets out to try to become bigger by eating malts, pizza, and noodles, but discovers his new pudgy size makes him the target of some clownfish teasing. His last stop is Sharky’s Diner, where his new plump physique makes him a target for the shark chef. He’s sure hope is lost when he discovers his size has slowed him down, but remembers in the nick of time that “brains mean more than bulk” and finds a space just large enough for him (but not the shark) to escape. When children experience frustration because they’re not allowed to do grown-up things or because they’re not physically big enough to do certain activities, this story is a great way to start a discussion about all the special qualities they do possess or privileges they have.

Appropriate for: toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades

What special activities make your child feel grown-up? Hope you’ll share in the comments and/or add your own link to share a recommended book!


Raising a Happy Child August 20, 2010 at 7:54 AM  

It sounds like daddy and his big boy spend a lot of quality time together. One thing that my daughter really likes is ability to wash herself. To make sure that she is successful, I am making her a bubble bath once in a while and let her soak and play with her sponge for a while. She emerges "crystal clean and proud of herself.

Shonda August 20, 2010 at 8:33 PM  

So glad I found this again. I want to start posting my books on Fridays and get other ideas.

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