Saturday, December 03, 2005

Notes on Toad and Marsupial Sue

It wasn't a great day for reading yesterday. Besides having to read The Cat In The Hat* again, I also read Toad by Ruth Brown and Marsupial Sue by John Lithgow.

The illustrations of both books (the first is dark and earth-toned, the other vibrant and light with yellow-greens and aqua) are really effective in conveying mood.

To the toad. I broke one of my rules: don't read a book to her without reading it myself beforehand.

My immediate reaction to Toad was that it was grotesque (in both graphic and figurative detail). I was also confused. I couldn't understand the disparate presentations (during the story) of the toad or the reason for the disparity. Maybe I just need to read it again. I couldn't help the self-scolding for not having pre-read it before introducing it to my daughter.

I also found myself having to answer questions about Toad (the usual, preschooler queries) while trying to sort out my own reactions to the text: a monstrous toad is not in itself difficult to explain but the toad was in a natural setting without anything monster-like about it or its environment. I was contradicting the text. "Does he look like a monster? No? I don't think so either."

As for Marsupial Sue, I'm not sure how high my expectations were set when I started reading my first John Lithgow book. I suppose it intrigued me because the actor had struck me as intelligent and talented. The book even has a musical score that was co-written by Lithgow with Bill Elliott.

I note that the musical score made the book unique in my reading journey.

The rhyming verse seemed clumsy at points and my impression was that it made a better song. (I can sight-read music and I might sing it with my daughter before it's due back at the library.)

For the first time in a very long while, I have to say that I wouldn't recommend either of these books.

*I love The Cat In The Hat but I read it daily at least twice to my daughter.

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