SO THE KETTLES WENT IN . . .
When it comes to concepts taught in early childhood, we all know the drill: alphabet, numbers, shapes, colours, opposites. These are the basics, obvious to everyone, the building blocks that prepare children to understand more complex ideas.
But there are also concepts that we take for granted as adults, but which do not simply become apparent to youngsters one day out of the blue, like magic. One of the most ubiquitous of these is the idea of patterns. How DO toddlers and preschoolers learn what stripes, polka dots, checks or paisley are?
One answer is: they learn them from Dayle Ann Dodds’ The Kettles Get New Clothes.
Here’s a book that teaches something you probably never thought about your children needing to know, and does it in the guise of a great story, beautifully written.
When the Kettles go on their annual wardrobe shopping trip, they are astonished to discover that in place of their usual store with its plain, simple, clothing, there is a fancy new boutique with a much wider array of styles. As the proprietor, Monsieur Pip, outfits the family, all sorts of patterns are shown and named.
Beyond the useful information, though, The Kettles Get New Clothes is simply a wonderful storybook. Author Dodds uses a clever and perfectly balanced mix of rhyme and prose, with built in pauses for emphasis, that makes the story ideal for reading out loud; and the descriptive language is full of great words.
Jill McElmurry’s drawings are equally fantastic, full of colour and clearly displaying each pattern in the context of the characters’ clothing without ever being overwhelming or overdone.