David Shannon is the author for April. While I can't say that I fall into the No, David! fan club (I think my boys already come up with enough bad ideas on their own...), there are many of his books that I sincerely enjoy.
This month, we checked out several that we'd never read before. I happened to love A Bad Case of Stripes, but there was no question that the all-out favorite for Aaron and Max was Jangles: A Big Fish Story. I can't tell you how many times they've requested this book. Luckily, we had some family visiting last weekend so we were able to coerce some new readers for this book.
Jangles is a big fish--"the biggest fish anyone had ever seen." He got his name from all the lures and fishhooks embedded into his jaw from the times someone had almost caught him before he broke the line and got away. Because Jangles always got away. Until one day when he chomped a boy's fishing line. (Incidentally, "the boy" is the father of the narrator, who is telling one of his father's childhood stories.) Jangles pulls on the line and takes the boy to his home underwater where he tells him stories from the beginning of time. When the boy finally decides to go home, he just can't let Jangles, the uncatchable fish, go free. No one would believe that he'd actually caught the huge fish. He battles with his conscience, finally deciding to let Jangles go, and Jangles gives him a wonderful parting gift.
As the title suggests, this is a "big fish" story. It contains a glimmer of truth, but mostly, it gives the impression of being retold and stretched, retold and stretched many, many times. Many unbelievable things happen to the boy (not the least of which is the idea that he can still breathe underwater), but the whole time you're wondering, Did he really catch Jangles, or was that just made up, too? Aaron and Max couldn't decide on the answer, and I think it was that blurriness between truth and fiction that made this story especially appealing to them.
After reading the book (several times), I thought the boys might like to make their own Jangles and come up with their own big fish story.
First, we gathered our supplies:
- felt, various colors, for making fish, fins, spots, etc.
- googly eyes
- paper clips
- pom poms
- scrunched up aluminum foil
- anything else that seems especially jangle-y
- hot glue gun (for moms only!)
Then I used the hot glue gun to attach a googly eye and some fins.
The Jangles from the book has spots. At first, I thought we could simplify and leave off the spots, but then Aaron said, "And I want his spots to be black" as if there was not even a question about whether or not he would have spots, so I cut out a bunch of black spots, as requested.
They laid out the spots how they wanted them, and then I glued them on.
Then we added the "jangles"! We unbent a paper clip, and the boys added beads, buttons, etc., to turn it into a tempting lure.
Then I helped them poke one end of it through the bottom edge of the fish and gave it a twist so it wouldn't come out.
They added a few more hooks, and ta-dah! Jangles! Or "Mike," as Aaron decided to call his:
And "Naxty," as Max named his:
But what is a fish without a story? A few days later, I sat down with Aaron and had him tell me all about Mike. Even though he makes up dozens of stories when he is playing, this "telling-a-story-and-writing-it-down" was a new concept for him. He needed a few promptings/suggestions from me to help get him going, but he quickly caught on. He especially liked drawing the pictures to go along with the story.
Since it was a little bit challenging for Aaron, I decided not to try it with Max. But that boy had a story, and it was just bursting to come out. When he saw what Aaron was up to, he was more than ready to start dictating, and dictate he did. This is word for word, stream of consciousness Max:
The Great Story of Naxty
Naxty destroys people's cups and spiders.
Naxty has a bad skin. If you touch it, it could kill you.
Naxty has a bad dot on him. So if you touch his dot, it could break off your hand.
If Naxty eats bad food, he will not die. He really eats bad bats.
This probably seems totally random and even a little bit ominous and violent, but it's not quite as weird as it looks. I'm pretty sure Naxty's "bad skin" was inspired by the poison dart frog, which we read about just the other day and which really does have poisonous (i.e. "bad") skin.
We were also recently reading about a snapping turtle, which, you may recall, has the strength to bite off a person's finger. I think this is why Naxty can "break off your hand." As to Naxty's other attributes, I'm just as clueless as you are.
Even though we didn't do anything fancy for these books (just white copy paper stapled together), Aaron and Max are so proud that they made up the words and drew the pictures. They feel like real authors/illustrators, especially when they can add their book to the stack of books at bedtime, and I read them right alongside Eric Carle or Jan Thomas or even David Shannon!