Little Bookclub: Under the sea

For this month’s Little Bookclub, I thought it would be fun to dive beneath the waves and investigate the creatures and other sights of the underwater world. There is so much to explore under the sea and we have been really enjoying our watery theme so far!

Snap! By Margaret Mayo and Alex Ayliffe
This book is in a similar vein to Dig Dig Digging which we read for our ‘exploring sounds’ Little Bookclub. It introduces various creatures that live on or under the water, such as seals, sharks, dolphins, fish and otters. The illustrations are bright and cheerful and ToddlerGirl will spend time pointing out the details on the pages – the penguins on the polar bear page are her favourites! I find it (and the others in the series) to be good for reading aloud, as there is a lovely rhythm to the words. The only downside is that it may be slightly too long for her as, depending on her mood, she can lose interest before we reach the end. Overall this is a lovely book, although perhaps not quite as much fun as Dig, Dig, Digging.

Little Turtle by Roger Pridy
We have had this book since ToddlerGirl was 5ish months old and it has been a firm favourite, along with the others we have from the series (Little Monkey and Little Chick). Each page features a large, bright illustration of a sea creature and a couple of lines of rhyming text to go with it. Some pages also have other sensory elements, such as different textures or shiny patches. The final page folds out to reintroduce all the creatures, which is great for recapping what you have read. I name each one and ask ToddlerGirl to point them out to me. The simplicity of the text and illustrations means that this was particularly lovely when she was under a year but digging it out again has proven that it is still a winner. The text is also short enough for her to begin to be able to remember sections of it. My favourite part is when we reach the crab page. The rhyme goes: ‘Beware the crab, I think he knows / Just how to pinch your tiny toes’ and we have always pinched ToddlerGirl’s toes as we read it, to the point where she started reaching down to do this herself! She remembered this as we were reading along to it this week, which really made me smile.

Hooray for Fish! By Lucy Cousins
This is a great find from our library and has been added to my ‘Library Books That I Really Want To Keep Forever’ list. We meet Little Fish on the first page who goes on to introduce us to all sorts of unusual fish (eye fish, shy fish, sky fish). There is a very simple rhyme to the text and the illustrations are gorgeously colourful, bright and bold. With so many different types of fish, it gives a good opportunity for talking about things such as colours, patterns and numbers, as well as for finding fish on a page. At the end, we meet the most important fish of all, Mummy Fish, so it has a lovely message too. Both ToddlerGirl and I love this. We can spend a lot of time examining the pictures and it probably the book chosen most often by her to read at the moment.

Under the Sea, Usborne
Another library book, this has some pretty drawings of underwater scenes on each page. My favourite is the final spread showing lots of pretty coral. The illustrations are much more realistic than any of the other books we have been looking at this month, so it has been particularly interesting from that point of view. There is a little clown fish guide who you have to find on each page, with several flaps to open to see where he may be hiding. I have to admit that this isn’t my top choice but ToddlerGirl has surprised me with how much she seems to like it, as she will often bring it over to me to read with her and I’ve also spotted her sitting and reading it herself. The pictures are quite detailed, so I think this is what she enjoys about it.

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
I’ve heard of this book before but had never read it, so when I spotted it at the library, I quickly pounced! The illustrations are gorgeous, especially of the rainbow fish himself with his shiny scales. He is incredibly proud of these and is the most beautiful fish in the sea, but has no friends. When he asks the wise old octopus why this may be, the octopus suggests that if he gives away his beautiful scales, he will find he is a much happier fish. The Rainbow Fish isn’t sure if he can do this but eventually he does until hardly any of his shining scales remain. He may be plainer but he now has a lot of friends. Hmm… To be honest, I was disappointed with this. Instead of feeling that there was a wonderful moral message about sharing, friendship, vanity, I actually was left with the impression that the fish basically has to give away the things that are special about him in order to make friends, and also perhaps that he needed to make himself less beautiful and more like everyone else for the other fish to like him. I would have personally preferred the story to focus on the personality traits that he needed to work on. Of course, it is a complex message to distill into a simple board book and I don’t think it succeeds. However, ToddlerGirl and I enjoyed looking at the pictures and she is far too young to pick up on the message. I won’t be rushing to reintroduce it to her when she is older, or maybe I will, simply to make some counterpoint arguments to the story!

So that is our ‘under the sea’ reading list for this month. Have you read any of these? Or do you have any other suggestions along this theme?

(Update: You can also read about our watery-themed play… the dry way, which was a lovely, simple activity to do alongside our under the sea reading list.)

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