Sunday, May 20, 2012

Picture Book Review: Sing-Along Song by JoAnn Early Macken

For Sprout, one of the perks of having a mom who works for the library system is that I'm always bringing home new titles to read. Even though we go to the library together nearly every week, if I run across something I think Sprout will like, I can't resist checking it out for him. Sometimes it's a new release, other times a familiar favorite, and every once in a while it's a title that's just now popping up on my radar.

A few weeks ago I brought home one such bookSing-Along Song  by Joanne Early Macken. Somewhere in my travels this title jumped out at me, and just one glimpse at the cover told me it would be a hit with Sprout. And boy, was it ever -- the second I pulled it out of my bag, Sprout was all over it, telling me again and again, "This boy is me, Mama!". (He's pretty much right, by the way - the resemblance is sort of uncanny!) He could hardly wait for us to read it together.

And I'm thrilled to say that Macken does not disappoint with this exuberant celebration of a little boy's day. All along the way, our hero finds something to delight in, from the way the cat stretches to catch a mosquito to the delicious dinner Mama brings to the table. And for each discovery, there's a song that this cheerful tyke can't help singing along to. With the robin in the tree outside, it's a "cheery-up song". With the sleeping dog, it's a "whuffle-woof song". And at his baby sister's bedtime, it's a soft, sweet "gurgle-coo song".

Macken's use of language is pitch-perfect, and her rhymes are infectious. I love the way she uses imagery with each new scenario, for example, showing us how baby sister looks "like a flower bud / wrapped up warm and tight". Too often I think authors shy away from this kind of metaphor in books for the youngest children, which is really a shame. After all, children are the masters of metaphor, comparing the circle of the sun to the round pancake on their plate, or the fluff of popcorn to bubbles in their nighttime bath. Thankfully Macken gets that, and her prose is nothing less than engaging at every turn.

And then the illustrations - what more do I need to say than that they are done by the incomparable LeUyen Pham? I've raved about Pham's artwork before, as we've long been devotees of her sweetly inventive pictures in Whose Knees Are These? and Whose Toes Are Those? by Jabari Asim. And Pham delivers yet again, with warm, homey images of a loving family and a curious toddler encountering all the wonders of his everyday life. The simple joy of a small boy gazing out at a sky full of stars is one of my favorite spreads in this title, and there are many, many more.

Sing-Along Song is a fun choice for storytime, and a natural pick for winding down the day at bedtime. And one read-through will have you and your little ones listening closely as you go through your day, finding your own sing-along songs in the world around you. We do!

Sing-Along Song by JoAnn Early Macken, with illustrations by LeUyen Pham
Published by Viking
Source: Library
Ages 2-6
Sample: "Squirrel skips and scampers on the front porch rail, / Scoldin' all the neighborhood and flickin' his tail. / When I hear that squirrel sing his chitter-chat song, / I burst out singin'! I just gotta sing along."
Highly recommended.

NOTE: This is an older book, no longer easily available for purchase, sadly -- check your used bookstore or library!

1 comment:

Michelle Cusolito said...

I love the cover! Just reserved a copy form my library. Thanks for pointing this one out. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have come across it.