It seems a good time to note some of our favourite Anthony Browne books at the end of his reign of Children’s Laureate. The new Children’s Laureate will be announced on Tuesday 7th June.
Over a year & a half ago I picked up the books, ‘My Mum’ & ‘My Dad’, they were an instant hit with Bryn as well as us. We love the detailed drawings and the humour. I especially like the patterned dressing gown in My Dad appearing on each page, including on a fish, piece of toast etc. The books celebrate parents assigning fun qualities allowing something for everyone to relate to. They end with the how much the parent and child love each other, a sentiment that can never be shared enough. (we got ‘My Brother’ last week at Hay, told from the perspective of a little sister about her cool brother, a timely addition to our collection)
'My brother is really cool. He's read HUNDREDS of books'
We moved onto Gorilla where the story & illustrations are much darker but Bryn was still captivated. Gorilla tells the story of a girl neglected by her dad who is busy working, it does however end happily. I find the illustration of the little girl in the corner of a room eating her dinner in the glare of the TV such a sad sight. While reading this to Bryn we would look at the pictures asking whether he thought the characters were happy or sad. The illustrations are stunning & moving with great use of colour to evoke mood & atmosphere. The amount of detail in the pictures provides plenty of opportunities for more questions and as Bryn has got older we have begun to explore more of the themes in the book. When I first picked up Gorilla I thought it was too old for Bryn and the pictures too realistic and surreal but I was very glad to be proved wrong.
When Bryn was 3 we discovered Little Beauty and this was the first time we saw him show real empathy with the gorilla when in the story he realises he could lose his friend the cat, Little Beauty. It was amazing to see how involved Bryn got in the story, the pictures fascinated him and again it generated lots of questions.
Signed copies of Gorilla & Little Beauty, Hay Festival 2010
Bryn is also very keen on fairy tales & we’ve read a number of Browne’s retellings, one of my favourites is Me and You based on Goldilocks & 3 bears. The illustrations cleverly divide the world of the bears and goldilocks, and the story is told from both goldilocks and the little bears perspective.
I would heartily recommend Anthony Browne’s books, there are plenty to choose from, they provide such enjoyment, pleasure and a chance to explore and discuss a range of emotions.
Which is your favourite?