Every Day is Pizza Day

August 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

My having eaten a slice of pizza every day for lunch while I was pregnant may have something to do with the fact that my nearly two-year-old daughter is very, very obsessed with Pizza at Sally’s (Ages 2-4), by Monica Wellington. But given that my son was equally obsessed at age two with Truck Driver Tom, by the same author, it’s perhaps more probable that Wellington knows a thing or two about how to talk to kids. At first glance, Wellington’s books might be quickly dismissed: the gouache, brightly-colored, and largely two-dimensional paintings could come off as a bit juvenile, perhaps not of the same artistic caliber as what I normally review here. But it would be a mistake to pass up these books. At closer inspection, the illustrations are packed with visual gems, including (in the case of Pizza at Sally’s) tiny photographs pasted in for fresh ingredients and even for the finished slices of pizza themselves. But what makes Wellington’s books so immensely accessible to kids are their linear, matter-of-fact narratives: they take kids through every step of the job at hand, in this case a pizza chef running her own restaurant. Kids get to follow along as Sally “the pizza maker” picks tomatoes in her community garden (turn page); then greets the flour as it is delivered from the mill (turn page); then visits the cheese shop (turn page); then begins to chop up all the ingredients; then rolls the dough (turn page); and so on and so forth until she’s serving fresh-baked pies to a host of excited children. The text is robust with vocabulary: “Cut, chop, stir, simmer” for the sauce and “Push, pull, punch, and pound” for the dough that Sally tosses into the air. Each step gets its own double-page spread, where full-page illustrations are paired with text pages encircled by little pictures designed to spur additional vocab development (See measuring cup. See cash register. See excited children with gaping mouths.). Even the humor seems perfectly tailored to little ones: my daughter loves pointing out Sally’s tabby cat, who attempts to make her own pizza alongside Sally. I’m not making any promises that, after reading this book a few hundred times, your child will be making her own dinner (although one can dream, and there is a recipe included on the last page); but what I do stand by is that the direct and always cheery descriptions will help children make a little more sense of the bustling world around them. And that calls for a slice of ‘za! (And almost makes me wish I was still pregnant.)

Other Favorites by Monica Wellington:
Truck Driver Tom (Ages 2-4)
Mr. Cookie Baker (Ages 2-4)
Zinnia’s Flower Garden (Ages 2-5)
Apple Farmer Annie (Ages 2-5)

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