Format: Picture book
Author: Margaret Mahy
Illustrator: Polly Dunbar
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (published May 2013)
Parents often underestimate their children’s ability to absorb new vocabulary. We might know that a word is considered difficult, but our children have no such preconceptions. While it’s important to choose books at an appropriate reading level for your child, it’s equally important — and piles of fun — to throw in some books with words beyond their current abilities. If the language is engaging enough and the illustrations sufficiently beguiling, your little reader will enjoy the book, learning some great new words rather than becoming frustrated. A great book to try this out is Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy. This wild linguistic romp concerns a baby who flies off, stuck in a bubble blown by his sister. Mother is terrified and the townspeople are stumped: how to get Baby down safely? As well as being a tongue-twister to read (“At the sudden cry of trouble, Mother took off at the double, / for the squealing left her reeling, made her terrified and tense, / saw the bubble for a minute, with the baby bobbing in it, / as it bibbled by the letterbox and bobbed across the fence”), Bubble Trouble is a great introduction to words rarely seen in picture books: this week, my two-year-old and I have been discussing the meaning of words like “quibble,” “cavil,” “grovel,” and “divest.” I think a preschooler might get more from the book than my toddler does, but she still loves reading it. Spoiler alert: the baby is safely caught in a patchwork quilt.