We just went to the library and have borrowed some mighty fine books for the week. I thought those of you with younguns (or a lower-grade reading level) might like to peruse the following:
We’re Sailing Down the Nile: A Journey Through Egypt (Laurie Krebs).
My children are very fond of the Olivia books by Ian Falconer. In Olivia and the Missing Toy, the book opens with a picture of little Olivia, perched atop a camel. The first line goes something like:
“Olivia was riding a camel through Egypt, when …”
Of course, little miss was dreaming about Egypt, and not really riding a camel anywhere near Egypt. But it has piqued (note that the word is piqued and not “peaked”- argh!) my little S-almost-4’s curiosity. First, we found Egypt on a globe while touring a house. Later, we saw a camel in another book, and S-a-4 declared that I should Look At The Camel, The Camel Like The One Olivia Rides Through Egypt. This whole Egypt thing has really caught her attention. Or maybe it’s the camels?
So when I spied this book in the children’s bin, I snapped it up. And we’ve read it a zillion times already. Both girls are fascinated. It rhymes (Sailing down the Nile/ perpetually rhymes with …in just a little while/) but they insert all sorts of Egypty words, like souk (market), and names like Ibrahim, and there are clever drawn pictures of oases and Kitchener Island, the Valley of the Kings, Giza, Cairo and the like. Each page also boasts a little hieroglyph with an Egyptian word written above and the English translation below. At the end of the book is a cartoon map of Egypt, including the surrounding countries (like Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc., all places that I had no idea actually bordered Egypt, let alone in which direction, since I am a stupid American who has no idea where any other country besides Canada, Italy and Africa are because, well, they just don’t matter.) (Not that Canada, Italy and Africa are important, either, but those are about all we ignorant imperialists are able to retain from our school days. We remember Canada because we go there to drink since it’s legal to do that there at 18 instead of our ridiculous 21; Italy, we know because it looks like a boot and they make spaghetti there; and Africa sticks in the collective consciousness because we have Black History month and there are orange and green Africas all over the teevee in February.)
Anyway. This is a darling little book, and I liked it a lot.
Another one we got was called The Mightiest, by Keiko Kasza. It’s a cute little allegory about who is the Mightiest animal: Bear, Lion or Elephant. I liked this book because it shows that there is more than one way to be strong and more than one way to influence people. The three animals are bickering over a crown that they find in the woods. Under the crown are the words, “For The Mightiest”. They decide to hide in the bushes and scare a little old lady who is walking towards them. Whoever scares her the most, they agree, will be the mightiest and get to wear the crown. Well, they take turns scaring her, and each one “scares the daylights out of [her]”, but while they are arguing over who scared her the most, a giant ogre comes by and picks all three of them up by their necks and proclaims himself the mightiest. They concede, and give him the crown, but then he decides to throw them off a cliff just to prove his point. They call for help, and who comes, but the little old woman. She’s the ogre’s mother, and she tells him to put the animals down this instant. He does, immediately, and so the animals take the crown from him and declare the little old woman the Mightiest. She thanks them all sweetly, but insists that she’s perfectly happy with her own little hat, and to their obvious amazement puts the crown back on the rock where they found it. They can’t believe someone wouldn’t want the crown, especially since she’s obviously The Mightiest. But they all go off, hand in hand, into the sunset, peace and roses, blah blah blah. Everything is all right… but not for long. The last picture shows a raccoon, a monkey, and a warthog looking at the crown. I love how this story depicts What Is Mighty. There are many things that make one mighty. Least among them is the ability to hurt others. I thought this was a good little lesson, and well stated. And it shows the considerable truth that, wherever there is a perceived power vacuum, ridiculous alpha-males will knock themselves silly trying to be the one who ends up with the crown.