Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sounding out

Nope, I’m not talking about phonics but rather three picture books that capture the connections between language and sound.

First is Snow Sounds: an onomatopoeic story by David A. Johnson (823 J6312S PIC BK) which is the perfect book for many of us experiencing never-ending winter and heaps and heaps of snow – welcome to my world!  This captures so aptly all the sounds soft, loud, muffled, that can be associated with waking up after a snow storm.  There are the snores, purrs and yawns of waking up, the swooshing, slushing, crashing, clunking sounds of the snow plow, the whoosh of a snow blower and the scraping of the shovel helping to clear a path before the school bus arrives.  Such industry so early morning but one that a lot of us are familiar with if you live in a snowy part of the world.  I really could feel the mutedness and soft, muffled sounds that come with deep snow and cold temperatures.  The illustrations contribute to the whole cotton-batten atmosphere.

Rattle and Rap by Susan Steggal (385 StR 2008 PIC BK) portrays the hustle and bustle of train travel, from departing the station, to traveling through towns and countryside, to arriving at the end of the line.  The vibrant illustrations add to the energy that is conveyed with travel by train.  There are lots of rattles and raps, clickety-clack sounds, much whooshing, swishing and swaying, hurtling, rocking, rolling, and whistling to help the reader envision, feel and hear what sitting on a train is like.

My last recommendation is Cool Daddy Rat by Kristyn Crow, (823 C8856C PIC BK) which a little different from the first two books as there is a bit more narrative, whereas the others present more of an impression about an experience.  In Cool Daddy Rat, Ace admires his father tremendously for being a bass jazz player, playing gigs all over town.  He hides out in his father’s bass case one night, to tag along, and sees (or hears, really) firsthand the fine “sweet beats” produced by the coolest daddy in town. With lots of jazzy, scat rhyming throughout the story it’s very easy to fall into the flow of the language. Whether it's, “shooby dooby doo dat, jazzy spazzy zee zat, or shmoozy doozy chit chat, YOW! POW! WOW! it’s all about feeling the vibe, man. I really love this one.

All highly recommended for elementary grades.


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