Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tournament of Children's Books Sweet 16

Welcome back to the Tournament of Children’s Books! Only 16 books remain in the fight for James and Daddy’s favorite children’s book of all time. In you missed the first round action here are links to Day 1 and Day 2. Here's the Sweet 16:

Click here for a zoomable version..

We have some great match-ups today as we find out which books make the Elite 8. Let’s get to it!

Mother Goose Region

(1) The Very Hungry Caterpillar defeats (5) Around the Farm
Let’s be honest here. If the three Eric Carle books left in this tournament were the 96 Chicago Bulls, The Very Hungry Caterpillar would be Michael Jordan, Brown Bear would be Scottie Pippen, and Around the Farm would be Toni Kukoč. Or for you non-sports fans The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a vacation to Hawaii, Brown Bear a vacation to Florida, and Around the Farm a day trip to a water park. Yes Toni Kukoč was a fine NBA player, but MJ is one of the all-time greats. Yes, going to an amusement park is better than hanging out in your neighbor’s pool but Hawaii’s a honeymoon destination. Sorry Around the Farm, you’re great and all but you are just outclassed in this one.

(6) Curious George to the Rescue defeats (2) Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
This match-up was fairly easy to determine. James had a good solid three weeks recently where he wanted to read nothing but Curious George to the Rescue. He really loves when the poor chef gets covered in spaghetti and when George, Hundley, and Gnocchi all end up falling into the lake. He’s never had a similar run with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. On top of that, this short version of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (which ends when the letters fall out of the coconut tree) is knocked down a few pegs on Daddy’s list because of its association with the long version where Capital letters show up to rescue the letters that fell, all rhythm is lost, and nothing makes any sense. The long version is the director's cut that should have been left on the editing room floor. Curious George in the upset!

Little Golden Books Region

(1) Peek-a-Who defeats (4) Hand Hand Fingers Thumb
James loves monkeys, but he was an owl for Halloween for a reason. The boy loves owls. He loves making the owl sound. And not only does Peek-A-Who let him make owl noises he also on the very next page gets to make one of his other favorite sounds, BOO!. We always played Peek-a-boo with James and before I put him to bed after story time I always say “Give Daddy a Boo” and he puts his hands over his eyes, removes them, and yells "Boo". It’s super cute when he is so tired that it's barely a whisper. On Halloween we put a ghost figurine in the china cabinet and he learned to say boo when we asked him what sound it made. And if having both Hoo Hoo and Boo! wasn’t enough, Peek-a-Who also has a moo (he loves when Grandpa makes a cow noise) and choo-choo (he also has a thing for trains).

(3) The Monster at the End of this Book defeats (7) Eight Silly Monkeys
It’s a tough day for monkeys as lovable furry ole Grover comes out swinging. When I was a kid The Monster at the End of this Book was one of my favorite books. When my Mother read this to me I remember feeling so strong when I was able to turn the page despite Grover tying the pages together with knots, nailing them together with boards, and covering them with bricks. Thirty years later it is just as fun watching James do it. I remember how awesome it was when he began to turn the pages of books on his own and it’s so much fun to say “Please do not turn the page” in Grover’s voice and then whispering “Go ahead and turn it” into his ear. The smile on his face is just awesome when we turn the page and see the destruction we have wrought.

Dr. Seuss Region

(4) We’re Going on a Bear Hunt defeats (1) The Going-to-Bed Book
As we learned in Round 1 The Going-to-Bed Book has some great things going for it. It is super catchy and it does a great job of getting James ready for bed. Unfortunately, there’s one specific moment where it goes completely off the rails. The book starts with a big group of animals on a boat who are getting ready for bed. They take a bath, hang up their towels, find pajamas, and brush their teeth. Everything is perfectly normal so far. But then the animals exercise. What? I’m trying to wind this kid down and after I have him all clean and calm you want him to do some jumping jacks? I don’t think so! Now without that moment We’re Going on a Bear Hunt would still win this match-up, but exercising at night after cleaning up makes this a blowout win.

(3) Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You? Defeats (2) Brown Bear Brown Bear
This matchup of Brown vs. Brown was the hardest decision of the tournament thus far. In fact I had initially penciled in Brown Bear with the victory. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that Brown Bear had been skating by on James’ love for bears and the possibility of an all-bear regional final. But really, the brown bear is only on the first page and by the time we’ve reached the purple kitty or the blue horse the brown bear has already been forgotten and James is often losing interest. Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You on the other hand keeps James interested with fun sound effects the entire way including a Knock Knock (with Daddy knocking his hand on the wall), Splatt Splatt (lightningThe night we brought James home from the hospital lightning struck one of the huge trees that surround our house. It was the loudest thing I've ever heard. The tree is half dead now and needs to come down. You can bet I'm getting a baseball bat made out of it.), and James’ favorite Hoo Hoo (those owls are everywhere!). Mr. Brown moves on!

Good Night Region

(4) Shark vs. Train defeats (8) A Cuddle for Little Duck
James and I love to play a game we call Daddy Shark. It starts with me chasing James while making the shark sound (the doo doo doo doo from Jaws). He laughs, falls down, I tickle him, then I go and hide. If he doesn’t find me at first I make the shark sound as many times as it takes for him to track me down. I jump out, scare him, tickle him, and then run off and hide again. We repeat this over and over until Daddy Shark is lying on the floor trying to catch his breath. It’s a great game and I think James loves this book so much by association. In fact he makes the shark sound whenever he wants to read this book, which lately has been all the freaking time. The best thing about this book is it is so good and funny that even after reading it approximately 879 times it still amuses me when I get to the page when the shark and train are competing at carnival rides and the sign in front of the shark tank says, “You Must be This Crazy to Ride”. And of course I love the lack of opposable thumbs when they are playing Extreme Zombie Squirrel Motocross. James also loves to find the shark hiding behind the bed and the train in the closet when they are playing hide and seek. And … well you get the point. You had a good run Cuddle for Little Duck, but it ends here.

(2) Goodnight Moon defeats (6) B is for Bear
As previously mentioned James loves tractors. As word of this passed among family and friends he began receiving tractor toys. And of course if you have tractors you need a farm and animals. Before you knew it, what began as a small family owned farm turned into a giant toy agribusiness. The boy has 3 tractors, 1 barn, 1 silo, 4 pigs, 4 cows, 4 sheep, 3 horses, 1 chicken, 1 goat, and employs 4 farmers. James also happens to have several blocks shaped like half moons. Why do I mention this stuff here? Well, the look on James’ face when we lined up the half moon blocks and then had his cows jump over them just like the picture in Goodnight Moon was awesome. B is for Bear is a great book, but it doesn’t have a moment like that.

What a day! Fan favorites Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Brown Bear Brown Bear go down! Come back Sunday night as we find out which books make the Final 4!

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