Longjohns, by Kit Allen

Longjohns (Board Books)
Longjohns, by Kit Allen (2003, Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-618-22996-5)

There’s not a ton to be said about this very short, very simple book, but what there is to be said needs to be said!

GirlChild grabbed this board book for BoyChild at random, and I’m so glad she did! It is apparently part of a seasons series by Kit Allen: Longjohns is for winter, and Galoshes, Swimsuit, and Sweater appear to be for spring, summer, and fall respectively. Each spread has a simple picture of the featured child (which I assume to be a boy based on his baldness and the swim trunks he’s sporting in the Swimsuit one, although the same basic character appears to be a girl in Galoshes and Sweater) on a relatively basic (but not completely plain) background that fills about 60% of the page and a broad, one-color sidebar with a single word (either a noun or a verb) that goes with the image. The pictures tell the story of a little boy getting ready to go out to play in the snow and coming back in to get warmed up and go to bed, and the simple illustrations manage to convey a lot more than they would appear to be able to do with a main character whose facial features consist of two black dots and a black line. If I was awesome enough, I would decorate my children’s room with this character because I really like the style of the illustrations. (Hmm, maybe I could. Almost. Although the longjohns boy isn’t here.) Additionally, the book is called *Longjohns*, and that’s just plain fun.

GirlChild and BoyChild’s Reactions: GirlChild thought it was pretty funny that longjohns are underwear. Although I haven’t had a chance to do it yet, this would be a great book to use to discuss how illustrations help tell a story and to initiate discussion about how she thinks he feels or what he’s thinking or whatever because none of that is actually stated in the book, but it’s pretty clear. It would also be a great book to use as a model for a basic story for her to “write” for herself (once she learns to draw clothes!); what could be easier than drawing herself getting ready and telling Mommy what word she wants on each page? She enjoyed the book (she enjoys most books), so it shouldn’t be hard to get her to agree to read it again and talk about it. She also, after hearing it twice, took a nap and woke up and “read” it all (correctly) to me without prompting…I think this kind of book will boost her confidence to start actually trying to read books and use picture clues to help figure out a story. BoyChild thought the book tasted good. (He also seemed excited when I opened it up to start reading (and I wisely left him strapped in his highchair to do it) and leaned forward to look at the pictures and didn’t fuss at all while I read it. Twice, because I accidentally skipped the first page (the longjohns one) the first time.)

UPDATE: Coolest thing ever! (Okay, not really, but it’s neat!) If you go here, you can actually click through all the pages of this book to see the illustrations! My favorite is “sip.”

Additional titles (all apparently out of print, but you can read them at the author’s website!):

Galoshes (Board Books) (I love the word “galoshes”!)

Swimsuit (Board Books)

Sweater (Board Books)

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