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Friday, December 18, 2009

Billy & Milly Short & Silly written by Eve B Feldman and illustrated by Tuesday Mourning. Putnam's, Penguin Group (Canada) $18.50 ages 2 and up

"Stoops, hoops, scoops, OOPS"

That's what anyone would call a short story, right? If you like them short, you are in for a real treat with this funny book. There are thirteen of them, and the art-filled pages are a needed accessory to the success of the storytelling.

We are told by the experts that rhyming is a necessary skill, if we want competent young readers. Many of our children today rarely hear nursery rhymes...once a staple of reading or talking with babies and toddlers. Often our children are not hearing the rhymes and rhythms of language that make reading more successful as they grow and develop. Mem Fox, writer extraordinaire and teacher of teachers, says that those children who know eight nursery rhymes by heart when they are four often become our most capable readers by the time they are eight. That being said, can you think of a
'funner' way to introduce little ones to the rhythms of our language and to give them the underlying sense of story they will need to help them become capable literacy learners? This book reads like a nursery rhyme and children will find much to keep them interested as they pore over the pages, watching each short story unfold in three or four rhyming words.

The illustrations almost dance off the page as we wander from story to story, and it won't be long until even the youngest is telling the tale to anyone who will listen. Along the way, their vocabulary grows and the fun factor is enhanced. I think it would be fun to share with older readers as a mentor text for their own writing and illustrating. They would have a great time trying to come up with a story that could be told with such brevity, while still making their point. Try it and see what you think.

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