Frances Watts' Parsley Rabbit's Book about Books
illustrated by David Legge
Book review by Susan Syddall
A Useful Teaching Tool to Teach About Books
Do you think it's possible to write an exciting book which teaches children about books? One that shows where the title page is along with the imprint page and the blurb? Doesn't sound like an extremely interesting or exciting topic for a children's picture book, does it?
However, author Frances Watts and illustrator David Legge have achieved the impossible when they created Parsley Rabbit's Book about Books.
This book is so good that it won the Children's Book Council of Australia Awards: Eve Pownall Award for Information Books, 2008.
Well done, Watts and Legge, who have given parents and teachers a valuable teaching resource to use when talking about books and how they are put together!
So how did Watts and Legge manage to turn a seemingly uninteresting topic into an award winning children's picture book? The answer is a loveable character named Parsley Rabbit.
You may have guessed by now that Parsley is a rabbit. A very clever rabbit who knows a lot about books. He acts as the tour guide throughout the book, directing the reader's attention to all the points of interest along the route.
It's the illustrations in this book that keep you wanting to turn the page. The rabbit is drawn and painted with warm colours that make you like him immediately. He's been created so effectively that in places you feel like he's crawling out of the book.
I believe that a good artist has the ability to make drawings come to life. In this book, Legge has done this - especially in regards to the rabbit’s eyes. They seem to follow you wherever you go.
This rabbit has the longest ears of any recorded rabbit in history. He uses those ears to measure how wide his book is. This is a creative way to include maths in the story.
The design of the book has been cleverly put together. On one page Parsley Rabbit is shown as gasping at an awesome sight through a hole. On the following page, he's jumping out of the hole.
The book is full of surprises which have been created by the use of flaps. Lift the flap and suddenly the long ears are even longer! My favourite however is the clever arrangement of a dinosaur head imposed on the rabbit. But I won't say more about this or it will spoil the surprise for you when you read the book!
Parsley Rabbit's little brother, Basil, also features in the book, much to Parsley Rabbit's dismay. The rivalry between Parsley and his "pesky" little brother adds depth to the story and makes the characters somehow more believable.
As for the language, the book introduces the reader to terms such as author, illustrator, imprint page, title page, blurb, publisher along with descriptions of the role each of these have to play in a book.
Throughout the book, the reader is spoken to directly. Questions have been included which are great for prompting discussions with children.
This is a very successful book because it takes what could potentially be a very dry subject and turns it into a story that is informative and playful.
It's great to see a book which promotes books in such a positive and fun manner.
So if you're looking for a book aimed at celebrating the joy of reading and fostering a lifelong love of books, then Parsley Rabbit's Book about Books has to be one to add to your bookshelves. As an information book, it's sure to be read time and time again which something we often do.
Read more of Susan's reviews.
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