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Thursday, 23 February 2017

This is the Way

Author and Illustrator: Charles Fuge
Publisher: Gullane Children's Books, 2008. Featured board book edition, 2009.

Here's a fun board book that has really encouraged early language development in my children. This is the Way is simple action-noise book, very repetitive and very catchy. It's about a little boy (or girl, I can't quite's the 70s bowl cut hairstyle that's confusing) who follows behind various animals, copying the way they move with an action and sound. 
Some of the creatures the boy follows are slightly a-typical (for this sort of animal rhyme book), so a dinosaur and anteater for example, and the onomatopoeic noises they make are also a little uncouth (the dinosaur doesn't roar as one might expect, but he stalks and says 'snarl, hiss, gnash!')
I've found in the past that the flow of the rhyme works so much better in this book if you repeat the action-noise twice:
'This is the way the orangutan swings, Ooh,Ooh,Ooh! / adding - Ooh, Ooh, Ooh!' / And this is the way the tawny owl sings, T'wit, T'wit, T'woo!,/ adding -T'wit, T'wit, T'woo!'
: as my children tend to join in with the noise on the second repetition each time. 

At first the illustrations in the book put me off, particularly the boy/girl in corduroy trousers with big blue eyes as he looks very dated, but actually now I really like this about the book; the illustrations feel retro and quirky. 

Both the children and I like that this very short board book has a real ending, a 'reveal' nonetheless, as on the last page the boy is fast asleep in his bedroom surrounded by inspiration for his imaginative creature reenactments; his cuddly toy is the tree-frog he meets, he has a bumble bee poster by his bed, his book is open on the anteater page. Most of my children have come to this realisation at about 2 years of age, and it brings them a real sense of satisfaction, making this connection.  

The book is perfectly pitched at the 1-18 month audience, but equally suitable (and more engaging maybe) with the 18 month-2.5 year age range. I distinctly remember Bert reciting the whole book at about 2 years old, making all the lovely animal noises, but we're a long way off that recall with George currently (20 months). 

The book really invites joining in, making noise, imitation, and performance. It uses a 'follow the leader' scenario that even young children will be familiar with,  and promotes a sense of parallel play, with the boy moving alongside the creatures; this again is very age appropriate for the toddler audience. In all, an excellent and highly recommended toddler board book. 

If you like this you might also like: Hug by Jez Alborough

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