Monday, February 23, 2009

And speaking of childish things ...

In just two posts, this blog has gone where it hasn't gone before: adult literature and now stuff for the really young set, namely Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie by Norton Juster, illustrated by Chris Raschka. In this picture book, a young girl visits her loving grandparents, who ask (reasonably), who's visiting them -- Sourpuss or Sweetie Pie. The girl (reasonably) responds that she just doesn't know. It's kind of a nice story because I'm not sure that many kid can explain when or why they go from sour to sweet. At least this little girl knows she can, that those grandparents will love her anyway.

My first read-along audiobook! I bring no skills to reviewing picture book/audio combos! So, the first thing I learn is that it's really important to have the book in front of you while listening, or it was in this case. The text of this story makes absolutely no sense without the illustrations. So, I took 15 minutes out of my day and slipped in disc 2 -- the one with the page-turn tones -- and opened the accompanying book.

(The page-turn tones are annoying and the pauses after them are really long; but I am not a listening preschooler, who is likely to get a great kick out of turning the pages at the cue.) The narrator, Michele Medlin, sounded like an intelligent preschooler -- without resorting to infantile caricature -- and she nicely captured the subtle differences between Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie. The text of the book is almost exclusively first person from the little girl and her mood switches frequently, and I'm not sure that audio is the best way to capture those back and forth swings. Even with the illustrations, and the fine performance by Medlin, the complexities of the story were difficult to track. (I think there could be more that one occasion when your preschooler would ask is she Sourpuss or Sweetie Pie here.)

Bearing in mind that I need to listen to a really terrific read-aloud audiobook for comparative purposes, I'm giving this one a tepid positive.

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