Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rollicking Refrains

Children glom onto the refrain of Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed because it states the obvious—“The doctor said, ‘No more monkeys jumping on the bed!’”—yet the monkeys do it anyway. Eileen Christelow’s approach is lighthearted despite the pretty bad head bumps that occur.

The monkeys see the injuries of their siblings and still take a chance—against the doctor’s orders. The mother also seems to have trouble learning the lesson because she keeps calling the doctor even though she consistently receives the same response. At this stage, toddlers appreciate the repetition; they have time to digest and feel in on the joke. The doctor is the only one who seems to get increasingly frustrated. In Eileen Christelow’s illustrations, he looks patient enough during the mother’s first few calls, but by call numbers four and five, he’s clearly reached his limit. His advice, as repeated by the mother, appears in all capital letters the fifth time.

The design of the book makes it easy for children who are just starting to identify letters and sight words. The key refrain always appears in the same way: Mama holds her injured child on the left, the doctor appears on the right for the phone call, shown as two large vignettes, then the mother sharing the doctor’s advice with her children appears on the next page. Children also learn to count down from five to one through the course of the book and through repeated readings. This is a terrific addition to the backseat library—a great one to have on hand so everyone can join in the recitation and laughter.

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