Two of our bestselling and most frequently recommended picture books both happen to feature rhyming animals. Rhyming can be a great way to give a story flow and show children the magic of language, encouraging them to make unusual associations between words and ideas. It's surprisingly difficult to get this sort of thing right though, and there are many out there that don't exactly trip off the tongue. Thankfully, both of these read aloud a treat.
Few books make such an easy or fun recommendation as Kes Gray and Jim Field's Oi Frog! All you have to do is start reading aloud and quickly the idea is conveyed. To begin with, a bossy cat demands that a frog sits on a log.
"Can't I sit on a mat?" asked the frog. "Only Cats sit on mats," said the cat. "What about a chair?" said the frog. "I wouldn't mind sitting on a chair." "Hares sit on chairs," said the cat.
Mules sit on stools, lions sit on irons, puffins sit on muffins, and so on... until the frog asks the fateful question, "What do dogs sit on?" I'll give you a clue: they're small and green, and Frog is about to find out.
You Can't Take an Elephant on the Bus by Patricia Cleveland-Peck scored high on our giggle-ometer when we read it for one of our weekly storytimes.
You can't take an elephant on a bus...
It would simply cause a terrible fuss!
Elephants' bottoms are heavy and fat,
And would certainly squash the seats quite flat.
One by one the animals try to find their perfect mode of conveyance, none of which seem to work out very well. But there may be one form of transport that would suit them all. No clues this time; you'll have to read it. David Tazzyman's frantic illustrations perfectly match the absurdity of the text (Tazzyman is also known as the illustrator of the popular junior fiction series Mr Gum). Tony, Margaret and I each have a different favourite. Mine is probably the bear, who should not be allowed anywhere near an ice-cream van.
Other rhyming animal favourites include The Fox In the Dark by Alison Green and Deborah Allwright, and The Great Dog Bottom Swap by Peter Bently and Mei Matsuoka. The collaborations between Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are of course must-haves, including The Snail and the Whale, Tiddler, Superworm... I'm quite fond of their first ever collaboration, A Squash and a Squeeze. We currently have copies of these books signed by Axel Scheffler himself.
Rhyming animals, so much fun,
We've got rhyming books for everyone!
But I must warn you, please beware,
They're guarded by a hungry bear.
Hmmm... I told you it was difficult.