Sponsored by IRREGULAR TIMES - an ezine with everything to prove.
In the world of children's books, there's a lot of dreck out there. Sloppily slapped-together productions like "Pikachu's Day" and "Binyah Binyah's Big Backyard" show that making a simple but good book isn't easy. Fortunately, there are a few really good books out there. Dr. Seuss' Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? does a wonderful job of integrating words and pictures to create a fun and worthwhile book for kids of various ages.
The book follows a character named Mr. Brown who is really good at imitating the noises of a wide variety of animals, instruments, activities and objects. In that classic Seussian verse, each page presents a noise that Mr. Brown can make, with a picture and a big colorful rendition of the noise-word ("Slurp Slurp Slurp!") accompanying each noise. The text then prods the audience into making the noise too.
This package is clever because it allows kids to learn at several levels, continuing to enjoy and grow as they get older. For babies, the book is of good length because it is relatively short, because its repetitively lilting rhyme is soothing, and because the noises made by an adult on each page are stimulating. Older infants and toddlers can work on the building blocks of speech to make fun noises and learn that those noises are connected to actions and objects around them. Through the repeated reading of their favorite passages, preschoolers may begin to associate the big colorful written words with the spoken words they recite. At all of these stages, Seuss' gentle encouragement of youngsters to get involved makes for a more active learning process.
Don't get me wrong, folks: this book is mighty fun, too! When my son was just 15-months old, he giggled as his parents made noise after funny noise, and he loved looking at and fingering the colorful illustrations. Now that my son is "all grown up" (a big three), he takes pride in identifying the words that make the sounds (and then making the sounds over and over and over). My point is that this book gives you fun with a purpose. What could be better?
I unreservedly recommend Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? to parents of young children. The only sad tale to tell is that the neat-looking board book version of Mr. Brown is missing many pages from the original. Do you really want to miss "He makes Lightning: Splat! Splat! Splat! And it's very very hard to make a noise like that..."? For that reason, the hardcover book is preferable...but unfortunately this longer version seems to be out of print. A used bookstore may be a good place to get your fingers on the original.