TRC Read to Kids

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Dust Bunnies with Jan Thomas: When less is more!

Dust bunnies. Who knew they were so funny?
Jan Thomas did and let us in on their secret.  You’ll never look at cleaning under the couch the same way again.

Thomas writes picture books with bright, bold illustrations, lovable characters, humor, suspense, action and irony. She writes short, punchy text that sometimes rhymes and repeats, often with a surprising twist at the end.

The combination of bold illustration, spry text and witty story lines makes her picture books excellent read-alouds. Thomas adeptly builds suspense and drama through her characters' facial expressions and crisp dialog. And like Mo Willems' work, although her books look very simple and can be read to very young listeners, their wit and irony engage older listeners, too.

What Will Fat Cat Sit On?
The answer to that burning question drives this story. Full of suspense, emotion and animal sounds, this picture book will keep listeners predicting and laughing right up to its surprise ending.

A Birthday for Cow
Some of the same characters from Fat Cat make a cake to surprise Cow for his birthday. Duck keeps trying to add a turnip to the recipe, but Pig and Cow stop him. Does Cow really want cake for his birthday? Explore irony and birthday tradition with this winning picture book.

Can You Make a Scary Face?
This interactive book asks the reader to follow directions. Young kids will love wiggling, dancing and making faces. Pair it with Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems, The Monster at the End of the Book by Grover (and Jon Stone) or The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak for more interactive fun.

Is Everyone Ready for Fun?
Keep the kids moving after reading Can You Make a Scary Face? with this action-packed picture book, where the goats and Chicken disagree on what is fun. Encourage the kids to predict what the goats will do and how Chicken will respond, while acting out the story as you read it.

Pair Thomas' books with Mo Willems’ Pigeon or Elephant and Piggy books and Doreen Cronin’s books for a wry take on animal antics. Or, on their own, Thomas' books could be used to introduce the concept of irony to an older group of kids.

Don't be fooled by the simplicity of Thomas' illustrations or text. She has plenty of surprises tucked in her picture books. Reoccurring characters allow for inside jokes and allusions to other stories that older readers will enjoy. Even younger kids will love finding "Easter eggs" Thomas includes for her readers.

Rhyming dust bunnies? Elegance and silliness in the same book? Through her picture books, Jan Thomas proves that less is more.

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