Pros: Interesting, New words and concepts, Educational
Cons: The word Kee-ke-ri-kee, and how to pronounce it!
Because our daycare group is very mixed ages, I try to find books that I think they all would enjoy. Having enjoyed some other Eric Carle books, I decided that I would go online to our Library and put some of his books on hold for for the group. This is a wonderful way of checking out books, but the disadvantage is that you can't see the books that you have on hold until you actually pick them up. Because of this, I hadn't seen or reviewed the book Pancakes, Pancakes! until I picked up this past Saturday.
I opened it to read it to the children this morning, and immediately thought that it would be a book that we wouldn't be able to get through. Since our children range in age from infants to five year olds, I thought that this book might be too advanced for even the five year olds. I was, as usual, very pleasantly surprised.
I have to laugh as I admit that when I opened the book, and tried to pronounce the first word Kee-ke-ri-kee, as the sound of the rooster crowing, I was very afraid that I was in over my head. Luckily it got easier from there on.
Jack woke up and wanted a big pancake. Didn't sound like a huge request to me, and I pointed out to the children that we would be having pancakes tomorrow morning. I envisioned Jack's Mother making pancakes in much the same way as we do. Boy was I wrong.
Jack's Mother pointed out that they would need flour....but, that meant going out and cutting as much wheat as the donkey could hold, taking it to the miller and helping him to separate the grain form the chaff. I found this a good opportunity to point out that things like flour don't just come from the grocery store, like we are used to getting it, but have to be grown and processed too.
After the grain was ground into flour, Jack thought that now he would be able to have a big pancake....But, his Mother pointed out that they would need an egg from the hen and milk from the cow and butter would have to be churned and a fire would need to be built and finally they would need some strawberry jam to make the big pancake sweet. Lucky for Jack, the jam was already down in the cool cellar. Whew....making pancakes this way sure takes a lot of preparation and a lot of work!
As Jack was following the instructions that his Mother gave him to make the pancake, I had the children pretending to put flour in a bowl, and break the egg into it, and then add the milk and stir and stir and stir. We then made the motions, as the story went on, of pouring a ladleful batter into a hot frying pan and turning it over as it browned, by flipping it into the air. The children had fun pretending to flip their pancakes, and catching them.
Finally Jack's Mother put the strawberry jam on top and started to give the last instruction ....but Jack said "Oh Mama, I know what to do now!" as he lifted the big pancake to his mouth. The children enjoyed pretending to eat their pancakes too!
The illustrations in Pancakes, Pancakes! are done in Eric Carle's trademark style of watercolor collage.
The first two pages feature a very large rooster that spans most of the page, and Jack looking out of his house. Just the styling of the illustrations gives us the idea that this story takes place some years ago, before we had Aunt Jemima simple pancake mixes.
Mama is dressed in a long dress with an apron, not something that is worn very often today so that seemed to confirm for me the fact that this story is set in a much simpler time.
The drawings make the text of each page come alive as Mr. Carle's drawings show very well the activities of Jack and his Mother, the animals and the miller too.
Pancakes, Pancakes! is a book that I would very highly recommend. It rather surprised me how intently the children stayed with me, while reading this book. While a couple of spots were a little longer than I would have liked, such as when the miller was preparing the wheat, overall it was an excellent story.
Although I know that flour comes from wheat, I had never really thought anything about what the process entailed and was very pleasantly surprised to learn more about it myself. It made teaching the children fun, as we tried to mimic the moves of Jack in the book. Doing the things that he was doing made the children feel like a part of the process themselves, and helped to hold the attention of the younger children.
While this book is recommended for children 3 to 6 years old, I think that it would be a great book for children up to around ten years of age. It may be a little difficult for the 3 year old to grasp what is being read and he/she may lose interest quickly.
I enjoy the type of illustrations that Eric Carle gives to his books, and the process that he seems to include in most of his books that I have read. This book, like others, starts at point A (Jack wanting a pancake) and then follows the natural progression of all that it takes to accomplish his goal and get to point B (eating the pancake). I think that this repetetiveness in his story and the way things build on each other make this a book one that most children and their parents would enjoy.
One of the things that I also enjoyed in this book, is that it included the recipe for the pancakes along with all of the 'tools' that Jack needed to make his pancake. It went step by step, adding the ingredients, which allowed us to make our own imaginary pancakes right along with Jack. I pointed out to the children, that while Jack 'flipped' his pancake, tomorrow morning I would be using a spatula!
Nuts & Bolts
This wonderful book was another by Eric Carle's great works. It was written and illustrated by Mr. Carle, originally in 1970 and then reprinted in 1990.
Pancakes, Pancakes! is 28 pages and was published by Picture Book Studio.
The hard back library copy that I have lists for $15.95 U.S. and $21.50 in Canada. It can also be purchased in a paperback version.
I would recommend it for children 3 and up, even adults I think, would enjoy this very educational story.