Frederique has always really really loved being read to, and has always engaged with the world through literature (my favourite example of this is at 14 months on our first night in a new house she woke up at 3am and wanted us to read Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten over and over again, which begins with Rose moving into a new house, more recently, while we were away she chose a Ladybird book called Topsy and Tim go in an Aeroplane and was terribly soothed by it's fairly functional story of going in a plane).
Until recently her preference was far and away picture books. I love the way she engages with illustrated texts and we haven't pushed a progression to extended texts because I think this engagement is actually a great precursor to independent reading. We had read longer books, like when she was too sick to sit up and look at pictures I read Teddy Robinson to her, and last year in Queensland we worked our way through the The Big Book of Tashi (which are an absolutely inspired intermediate step between picture book and chapter book, since they have illustrations on every page and the stories are actually quite short and manageable) and she's also shown interest in another good intermediary, Martine Murray's Henrietta books. But mostly she was restless with the idea of pictureless books (I'd tried Wizard of Oz and Little House on the Prairie without success - she was very distracted by wanting to skip ahead to the pictures and then losing touch with the narrative).
Still as our OS trip loomed I began to feel a bit fidgety about taking a pile of picture books with us. Luckily about a month before we went away I spent a rainy afternoon reading Ramona the Pest to Fred and she was hooked. We've since read Enid Blyton's The Enchanted Wood, The Folk of the Faraway Tree, Ramona about three more times and Teddy Robinson several times over, we're now reading Martin's mum's copy of the The Wishing Chair. Something I've really noticed is that these extended stories have really entered her playlife in a way picture books haven't so much. Together we played the Faraway Tree all round England, Ramona in France, and Teddy Robinson in Helsinki. We also acquired some picture books on the trip - at the moment Fred is equally happy with both, which is a nice stage and something I'd like to continue to promote - I feel I am not as image literate as I would like to be, and Fred seems to be very visual and really enjoy the tension between illustration, design and text.
Anyway, is there something you observe about the above list? Yes, these are all books from my childhood, in fact all published before I was born. What's more, none of them are Australian. I've blogged about my struggle to find books in this market before and got heaps of responses.
So I've been trawling the net looking for books for Fred to put on her Christmas list. And here is my list so far (with a * next to Aussie books). Most of these books, by the way, are Allen&Unwin books, which is not just because I have love those Alien Onion folk. It's also because, as I've just discovered, A&U have a kickarse website, the only publisher I've found so far who lets you search for books by age (or even, in any respectable way, by category):
*The Bonnie and Sam books by Alison Lester, illustrated by Roland Harvey. (Alison Lester is a brilliant illustrator, but if someone else is going to draw all over her books, then who better than Roland Harvey?)
*Frankel Mouse by Odo Hirsch (it has the Aussie star because he's from here and he's an A&U author, but worth noting that Frankel Mouse is set in the London Underground.)
The Quigleys by Simon Mason
*The True Story of Mary who wanted to stand on her head by Jane Godwin
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (actually I 'm not sure what age this is written for, I just want this for me, there's a movie coming out of this too - yay! I heart Kate DiC so much I want to meet her and frighten her with intense adoration)
*Thora by Gillian Johnson
Okay, so she might not get all of these, and some others might leap out before then. And there are still some old faves that I'd like to pick up for her, like Amelia Jane, and The Naughtiest Girl books and My Naughty Little Sister and the Gobbolino books and Little Grey Rabbit and...etc
Well, she did ask for a million books for Christmas.
Anyone else got any suggestions? Questions, comments?