Friday, January 20, 2012

Book #20: The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na

Image from
This intricate, yet simple book is about an elephant who finds a thingamabob. He asks all his friends, from the blue bear to the feathery ostrich, but none of them can figure it out. As it begins to rain the elephant realizes what readers will have already figured out – The thingamabob is an umbrella!

The illustrations are childlike, with lovely embellishments in unexpected places. At first glance the umbrella is simply bright red, however if you take a moment to look you’ll see that there’s a design of swirls, raindrops, and clouds on it. It’s the little touches like this that make the illustrations so fascinating.

This story models curiosity and experimentation in a wonderful way. First, the elephant tries to figure things out on his own. When he can’t find the answer, he is not shy about asking his friends. Many kids (and quite a few adults) are afraid of not knowing the answer to every question. In this story the protagonist is rewarded by his persistent curiosity and exploration.  Talk with the kids about what they do when they don’t know the answer to a question. Who do they ask? Where do they go for answers? It’s good for kids to know that they aren’t the only ones who don’t know the answers.

Image from Valentina's Room blog
Bring in objects that children may not be familiar with and pass them around. See if anyone can guess what the object does. Items like old-point-and-shoot or Polaroid cameras, kitchen gadgets (but nothing with blades or sharp edges!), even things like tape cassette players or old radios. Many kids are growing up with computers, ipods, cellphones, etc. and may not know what these items are or what they do.  

This story is fun for younger children, so here are some fingerplays about umbrellas. Try Raindrops, and Five Umbrellas, Umbrellas Go Up Umbrellas Go Down. There’s also Five Little Umbrellas, which is fun to do as a flannelboard


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