Pros:Bold thick paints, bouncy island rhythm, loving father-child relationship
Cons:The rhythm/intentional poor grammar could frustrate some adults, some language is a bit touchy-feely
The Bottom Line: A lovely board book with a Caribbean feel (rich colors, bouncy rhythm) for Moms and Dads to share with ticklish youngsters.
After a session of Baby Rhymetime at our local library, I strapped my daughter into her stroller and wheeled her around to the board book section. That's where the warm and colorful picture on the cover of Tickle Tickle jumped out at me. I recognized the signature Ken Wilson-Max illustrations (thick colorful paints, large figures, black outlines) and immediately wanted to bring the book home. However, I didn't recognize the author's name: Dakari Hru. Regardless, I grabbed a few others and checked them all out.
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At home, while my daughter napped, I read through the book. I always like to do this so I'll have an idea of what the rhythm of the text is so I won't get tongue-tied during storytime. The words immediately made me think of reggae and Caribbean sounds. There was a bouncy rhythm and rhyme that almost made me hear drums in the background.
"He tickle me ribs, me neck, me back
his fingers grow longer each day
me twist and swing and laugh and kick
but he hold me anyway"
The pictures have lots of shades of red, yellow, and orange. The loving family is drawn in shades of tan and brown. Mom is mostly in the background (she's holding a camera in one scene) and Dad and baby, always with big smiles on their faces, are the stars. The thick strokes of paint and black outlines make the figures almost 3-D. The curly locks on baby's head look so springy they almost jump off the page.
There were a few lines in the book that made me uncomfortable at first ("me scream and run each time he come/me papa tickle me feet"), but after watching my husband play with our daughter, I realized the innocence of the text. Daddies really are kind of fun and rough at the same time, and babies love that almost-painful, out-of-control giggle fit they fall into when their Dads tickle them and throw them in the air. There's a great illustration of a dizzy, out-of-breath infant on one spread and the text perfectly captures that feeling:
"me eyes, they water
me throat be sore
me weak, me dizzy
but me want more"
When I read Tickle Tickle to my daughter I tried to convey the bouncy rhythm by bouncing her on my knee as I read. She cooed and, several times, she tried to grab the baby in the pictures. And just like the Dad in Tickle Tickle, we've started calling her toes "finger treats."
This is a lovely board book to share with youngsters (newborn through preschool, but ideal for toddlers), especially those who have big lovable Dads who like to munch on and tickle squirmy baby toes.
First board book edition published by Roaring Brook Press in 2003, retail price $5.99. The text originally appeared in In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall in 1997, published by Lee & Low.
Written by Dakari Hru
Illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
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