Sunday, April 8, 2012

Book #99: Herman the Helper by Robert Kraus, Illustrations by Jose Aruego & Ariane Dewey

Image from OpenLibrary.org

Herman is a young green octopus who likes to help. He helps everyone – his mother, his father, his friends, his enemies. And at the end of the day, when Herman goes home for dinner he can also help himself to dinner.

Although this charming book lacks any sort of conflict, it’s a great book for babies and toddlers who are learning how to be helpers. The text is very short and aided by comments from Herman and his friends in smaller fonts. The illustrations are imaginative and colorful and will appeal to kids. I especially like the illustration of Herman helping his uncle build a ship in a bottle. 

As you read the book, spend a bit of time pointing out the different types of animals, plants, and colors on each page. If you’re reading this one-on-one, see if you can count all of Herman’s siblings. Also point out illustrations that use basic shapes, such as the circles that represent the balloons that carry the turtles. 

After you read this book, ask the kids what they do to help at their house. Do they have certain chores? Who else do they help? Point out that Herman helps in big ways, such as fighting fires and saving his friends, but in lots of small ways too, like gathering flowers for his mother. Another topic to explore is why Herman is so helpful. Discuss the idea that Herman helps others because it makes him feel good inside, rather than to get something or become popular with the other characters. 

There are dozens of ocean themed rhymes and songs. A couple of my favorites are I Wish I was a Fishy in the Sea, Octopus, Octopus, Turn Around (a version of the classic Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around), and The Waves on the Sea, which is sung to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus. 

Finally, I found directions for making cardboard toilet roll octopuses while planning an Under the Sea storytime. It’s a great craft because it uses basic art supplies and is quick and easy to put together, especially if the paper is pre-cut. 

-Amy

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