Thursday, August 7, 2008

Me Hungry by Jeremy Tankard

Me Hungry is a simple story. A boy is hungry. Dad is busy. Mom is busy. So the boy goes hunting. He tries one animal, then another, then another. One hides, one warns, and one threatens. While fleeing imminent peril at the paws of animal three, he meets a fourth animal who offers a unique solution. Success through teamwork and friendship.

It seems an odd solution for a young caveman named Edwin. (Edwin! Isn’t that great? I figured he’d be named Hairy or Little Grunt or just Ugh.) One would expect a caveman, even a young one, to solve problems more simply. With a club. Thunk!

Young readers will find success quickly with the simple story (“Me hungry. Me busy. Me hungry. Me hunt.”), and parents are presented with an easy grammar lesson. (“Is that how he should say that? What should he say instead?”) Be prepared, however, for your four-year-old to ignore said grammar lesson, turn prehistorically growly, and declare, “Me hungry!” around noon. It’ll happen.

It’s the pictures that make the story come alive. Bold and bright. Simple, yet amazingly expressive. Not being an artist, I am impressed every time I see pictures that show emotion so simply. With two lines and two dots – eyebrows and eyes – Jeremy Tankard shows a tiger that’s slightly surprised, mildly inquisitive, and unsure of a potential threat. On the next page the eyebrows and eyes are part of “Back up if you know what’s good for you! You don’t want a piece of me!”

Read the story once. Then reread and look carefully at the pictures. There are details to be found and discussions waiting to happen on each page. How does he feel? What is she thinking? Is that going to work? Would you do that? Me Hungry is a story that holds numerous rereads, each as enjoyable as the last.

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