Thursday, November 14, 2013

30 Days of Picture Books - Pouch! by David Ezra Stein

It's Day 7 of our 30 Days of Picture Books Series. We have loads more wonderful titles to come, and I hope you're planning to follow along with each entry in the series. Follow us on Facebook and you'll be getting two picks per day - our selection in the 30 Days of Picture Books Series, plus the Picture Book of the Day choice, nominated by a rotating selection of bloggers. Either way, you can't lose with all this good stuff.

Today's pick is so vibrant, it just about leaps off the page at you - and it stars a kangaroo, so I'm almost being literal here! David Ezra Stein has written a host of fantastic picture books, but Pouch! is one of our favorites. It's perfect for every very young kids, as the illustrations, while colorful and complex, are also sketchy and full of movement. You may find yourself doing what Sprout and I did the first time we read it -- acting out the hops of the baby kangaroo and counting each one. Hey, books + movement = a total win-win from my perspective!

Stein's main character, predictably named Joey, is a baby kangaroo who feels he is more than ready to leave the nest -- er, pouch. "I want to hop!" Joey tells his mama. And Mama encourages him to climb out of the pouch so he can do just that. Right away Joey encounters an unfamiliar creature, namely a bee. That's enough to scare Joey right back into the pouch, where he stays until he is able to muster up the bravery to do it again. Of course on the next hop he runs into yet another stranger, and on and on the book goes. Finally, though, Joey runs into someone with whom he has more than a little in common, and finally finds the courage to stay out of the pouch on his own.

Pouch! provides plenty of reassurance for little ones on the verge of venturing out themselves - whether that's going to preschool for the first time or spending time with a new friend. Stein gently encourages kids to push their boundaries a little at a time, just like Joey does, each time finding a little more security in the otherwise unfamiliar world. I love that Stein dwells more on the surprises that Joey finds, and doesn't diminish Joey's need to recharge in his mama's pouch. Haven't we all been just like Joey at one time or another?

For a sweet and spunky title that's great for the toddler set, look no further than Pouch! Just don't forget to explore the world around with some hops of your own!

Pouch! by David Ezra Stein, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons

Bonus: a fun look behind the scenes at the making of Pouch!

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