As a preschool teacher, I am forced to read aloud all kinds of picture books over and over and over. I often wonder who decided to spend money on them in the first place.
This month we have been studying dinosaurs, so I’ve been spending my time mispronouncing dinosaur names by the dozen and trying to keep the more sensitive children (like I would have been) from being traumatized by pictures of dinosaurs fighting and eating each other. A few books, though, separate themselves from the fold and feature dinosaurs that are just like people. I guess in these books’ world, the dominant life form evolved from reptiles instead of monkeys–kind of like how in the Arthur world everyone evolved from fuzzy animals…
Today I’m going to talk about this little gem: Mama Rex and T Stay Up Late by Rachel Vail.
The story: Mama Rex has a lot of work to do, so she hurries her son, T, home and tells T to find something quiet to do. T attempts to be good, but spills rocks, sings and dances, and then gets glue all over Mama Rex’s sock. Finally Mama Rex gives T the important job of decorating the folder said important work will be going into. The finishing touches are a pair of rocks he glues in the middle. Spoiler Alert: The last line is “The bigger one is you, and that one is me.” So sweet…
This picture book is divided into chapters. I’m not sure why, since nothing really happens. And the first two pages you open to have over 140 words combined–Not the sort of thing any adult likes to be faced with, especially when T’s attention rambles as much as the narrative. We are given every mundane detail of that long night before T is finally able to go to bed.
Am I being exceedingly picky? Perhaps. The children don’t seem to notice my feelings for the book–too dazzled by those talking dinosaurs, I guess.
Here is my strategy for dealing with certain picture books:
1. Don’t put the book out in the first place (if it’s in my classroom).
2. If #1 is out of my control, hide the book at the bottom of the book basket.
3. If brought to me by one of many children, all holding out different books, conveniently choose all the other children first, and hope the one holding the “special” book loses interest or goes to lunch.
4. If all else fails, read only the first line on each page. Most 3-year-olds won’t know the difference, and hopefully the one on my lap won’t either.
BTW: You can get your own new paperback of Mama Rex and T on Amazon for just $9.81!