Friday, June 1, 2012

Huff & Puff in Twenty by Jenny

Who’s the Big Bad Wolf?

Here’s the genius behind Huff & Puff by Claudia Rueda: The toddler gets to play the big bad wolf.

Forget the iPad (just for a moment). This is what interactive reading is all about. The child gets to discover, by turning the pages, why those holes in the pages seem to be related to the pile of straw or sticks on the next page. And, as the story continues, readers also realize why the three pigs don’t look frightened that a wolf just blew their houses down. The experience of reading aloud together is itself interactive. But add to that a clever activity that’s intrinsic to the story, and you have a truly rewarding and playful interactive experience.

Certain stories almost seem to be known at birth. The Three Little Pigs is one of them. Goldilocks and the Three Bears is another. But there may be no greater refrain than “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.” A die-cut hole in the middle of the page makes it seem as though the child’s strong “blow” travels through the opening and knocks down the house of straw and sticks (and finally blows out the candles on a birthday cake). Like Press Here, the book’s pages seem to anticipate the child’s actions and “react” to them, which delights the child. When I got to interview Claudia Rueda for Kirkus Reviews, she said, "I wanted the reader to be one of the characters."

I must confess that I did not get the conceit until my third reading of the book (and admitted this to the author), but toddlers get it immediately.  They know they’re the ones blowing the houses down. And they’ll want to do it over and over again.

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