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Favorite Storybooks

By: Cassie Swayze, After School Programs Associate VISTA
One of the best parts of my job is managing the TAP library, which contains over 350 books. We have everything from children’s storybooks to nonfiction resources like theatre theory and devising techniques. Today I wanted to share a few of my very favorite storybooks with you.

The first time I read Yoko by Rosemary Wells I couldn’t stop smiling! Yoko is a kitten whose mother packs her lunch every day. She rolls special sushi for Yoko and packs it all in a willow-covered cooler. At school Yoko’s classmates have a variety of lunches. Timothy eats a peanut butter and honey sandwich, Fritz has a meatball grinder, Doris eats squeeze cheese on white, and the Franks (a pair of bulldogs) have franks and beans. I love the watercolor illustrations of each student’s lunch. Rosemary Wells even makes a raccoon eating a meatball sandwich look appealing. The other kids think Yoko’s lunch of raw fish and seaweed is Yucko-o-rama! Yoko’s teacher decides to host an International Food Day in response to the teasing. Yoko is a story about bullying, tolerance, and acceptance. It holds a special place in the TAP library and receives rave reviews from TAs!

Another book I love is Willy and Hugh by Anthony Browne. At the beginning of this story Willy, a monkey, is lonely and friendless. Browne walks the reader around Willy’s town as he tries to meet new monkey friends. Eventually Willy runs (literally) into Hugh, a much larger, intimidating gorilla. Hugh and Willy become fast friends after Hugh stands up to the gorilla who bullies Willy. The rest of the book shows the pair having fun together, visiting the zoo where humans are caged instead of gorillas, and jogging through park with other grimacing gorillas. The illustrations are wonderful. Brown uses watercolor, pencil, and ink to express fright, anger, frustration, and delight in the character’s faces. I love looking at the differences in Willy and Hugh’s clothes! This book packs a great message about friendship, bullying, and celebrating differences. And it always makes me giggle.

The last book I would like to share is Reckless Ruby by Hiawyn Oram. Ruby is a very brave little girl with fiery red hair. She is so beautiful that her parents expect her to, “grow up and marry a prince who’ll wrap her in cotton and only bring her out for glittering banquets.” What a fate! Ruby decides to be as reckless as she can by handlebar dancing on a moving bicycle, swallowing porcupines, smoking multiple cheroots, and attempting to walk on water in lead boots. To her parents dismay she sports various injuries throughout the book: black eyes, broken bones, and ever more reckless behavior. Reckless Ruby is a great book for young girls and boys alike. It made me laugh then cry! I love Ruby’s determination, courage, and self-assuredness in spite of her parents’ insistence that she is wrapped in cotton. This is a new addition to the TAP library and sure to become an old favorite.

If you want to browse all of our children’s books please visit TAP’s Shelfari. What are some of your children’s favorite books?

About creativeactionaustin

We are based in Austin, Texas and reach more than 16,000 young people every year through our unique blend of theatre and education programs.Our programs expose young people to critical social problems and offer opportunities for them to creatively think about how they can be a part of solutions to these problems. Creative Action is a unique blend of art and education – for us, the two are intertwined. We believe that using the arts as a teaching method provides a fun, engaging and inspiring way to learn – it incorporates the whole mind and body.

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