Children's picture books

The highly appealing Great Galloping Galoot, by Stephanie Thatcher (Scholastic), contains a sweet and simple story for encouraging discussions about self-esteem and the importance of believing in oneself.

Great Galloping Galoot is a giraffe who is ridiculed by his community for being a clumsy fool, yet loved unconditionally by his parents. But because he is always called a great galloping galoot he has built up the strong belief that he is indeed "great".

Which is just as well because one day the jungle animals need someone who is clever and brave enough to help them when their bridge is swept away. The simple storyline of this book is beautifully paired with endearing pencil and watercolour illustrations. Suitable age: 2-6.

• Blue Gnu by Kyle Mewburn and Daron Parton (Scholastic) is a rhythmic tale about a gnu who wants to be the only one who's blue. Unfortunately, my group of 4-year-olds were quite indifferent to this story, most likely because of the repetitive nature of the language throughout the book, which makes this story boring for older children.

So the opportunity can be lost for sharing and discussing the important message about being different (whether through birth or choice). Quaint illustrations by Daron Parton.

The delightful Madison Moon and the hot-air balloon by Chris Gurney and Catherine Foreman (Scholastic) is full of silliness and fun, a book my test group adored. Madison Moon becomes tired of all the hustle and bustle of traffic as she drives around town. So to escape the madness she buys a hot-air balloon and begins travelling tranquilly in the sky.

Unfortunately her friends and acquaintances start buying their own hot-air balloons and before she knows it the sky becomes just as conjested as the roads.

This entertaining story contains fun, expressive language and provides lots of opportunities for children to make links to their own lives. Suitable age: 2-6 years.

The Three Little Pigs, a story and play by Roger Hall and Errol McLeary (Scholastic) is about as politically incorrect as one would expect. And while I truly support and actively encourage children's involvement in dramatic play, these three little pigs are called Tubby, Chubby and Bubby (which is repeated constantly throughout the story and play - Hall has obviously never had weight issues), so no decent parent or place of education would be able to use this book.

Because not only can some very young children read and understand meanings of written text but all children's self-esteem and sense of worth (of themselves and others) begins developing at a very young age, so why would an adult purposely subject them to this?

Butterfly Butterfly, a pop-up book of colour by Petr Horacek (Walker Books), is a highly attractive, beautifully illustrated book. And even though this story is aimed at young children, my 4-year-olds were still mesmerised by the vibrant colours, the dynamic nature of the simple pictures, and the clever holes in the pages that link everything together. They even enjoyed the giant pop-up butterfly on the last page.

Children aged 1-4 years will adore this.

Paula Benson-Gamble is an early childhood teacher.

Nicely said

Dailyreader: I agree totally . Many people I have grown up with have an expectation that the world owes them something, which I suspect is a result of political correctness. These people are now doing nothing worthwhile.

Tubby, chubby and in context

"These three little pigs are called Tubby, Chubby and Bubby ... so no decent parent or place of education would be able to use this book", proclaims Paula Benson-Gamble.
Thank goodness for indecent parents and places of education, then. Those of us whose wits have not been dulled by the self-esteem movement, those of us who understand that not everything revolves around the concerns of urban humans, could think of many ways to riff with the kids on what thinness and fatness mean among humans of various cultures and among animals.
We could even talk about how in far-away times long before their grandparents were born, being thin meant you were poor because only the rich could afford to eat enough good food to not only fill their bellies but make them chubby so it was a sign of success. But now food choices are such that food with too much sugar and fat is the cheapest so now people think it looks bad to be big, even when the big person is strong and fit and active.
What would they think, an imaginative teacher might ask, if they saw a paddock of sheep or cattle or pigs all bony and thin? Would they say, look at the supermodel animals, aren't they fabulous? Or would they feel sorry for the animals that were neglected, and angry with the farmer who didn't care enough to feed them properly?
Even small children can understand, as Paula Benson-Gamble says, meanings in text that affect self-esteem. Hiding books that could promote discussion on the mixture of cultural meanings behind fatness and thinness because that's easiest leaves them without context or understanding to help them place and accept themselves. [Abridged]


One would expect

Sometimes, life is not politically collect and a large percentage of humour is by definition not politically correct.  I truly don't think  this book is as damaging as suggested in the review. It would be interesting to let a group of children decide the book's worth.

Self esteem is created by self achievement.  Hence the word self. If our children make their own sense of worth and don't grow to expect protection of political correctness  maybe they would be better equipped to meet the real world later.   


Ms Gamble's criticism of Roger Hall's 'Three Little Pigs' is rather scathing. Sounds personal:'... is about as politically incorrect as one
would expect...' sounds as if she has something against Mr Hall. What does she mean by 'as one would expect'?