Monday, September 21, 2009

She's Tough. She's Brave. She's 75.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything
by Linda Williams
Illustrations by Megan Lloyd
Harper Collins, 1986

The weather is cooling, which means fall is in our midst. This is my favorite time, with pumpkins on my balcony, gourds on my counter, walking my dog in the graveyard across the street to see the colors, and harvest stories and scary tales leading up to Halloween. For the little ones just getting into the spirit of the season and spooky tales, here is a friendly yarn about a gallant granny and a pumpkin head spook.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything is a story that focuses around a brave little woman and a scary entity she meets in the woods on her way home from collecting seeds and herbs. Having walked a little too far to gather wild nuts and seeds, it is a dark and lonely walk back home for the little old woman. As often happens on these scary solo treks, she happens upon frightening figures. She first meets a suspicious pair of animated shoes, then pants, then a shaking shirt, on and on until she meets the frightening piece de resistance, a great and ghoulish pumpkin head. The culmination of the creepy clothing and the putrid pumpkin head put quite a fright in the once brave old woman and she runs home. When the being comes knocking on her door later that night readers will see how even a horrible scare can rejuvenate one’s bravery and even instill some creativity and ingenuity.

I chose this story for its simple style. It is just the right length for afternoon reading time at home or morning story time for preschoolers in class or at the library. This book focuses around the common motif of visibly constructing the story line as the plot rolls along. This is a useful tactic in picture books for pre-readers because it allows them to make predictions about what comes next. It reminds me of the story the Old Woman and Her Pig or the The Teeth in the way the events crescendo into the climax. The repetition of the events in the story help support a child’s ability to see how parts of a story relate together and it gets them excited about what will happen at the end. “Two shoes go clomp, clomp, and one pair of pants go wiggle, wiggle.” “Two shoes go clomp, clomp, and one pair of pants go wiggle, wiggle, and the shirt went shake, shake.” This type of storytelling allows children to remember the events more clearly and also to participate in the story telling with the “clomp, clomp” and the “wiggle, wiggle” type verse. The illustrations in this book are stylistically simple and as such, fit in very appropriately with the text. Despite the fact that mostly simple lines and primary colors are used, the artwork pops. The tone of the illustrations is not too frightening for a young audience. Overall this is a nice quick reading little picture book.

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