One morning, while exploring the woods, Muki and Pickles spot one last peach on the tree across the stream. How will they get across the water to pick it?
Muki and Pickles is a beautiful story about friendship, resourcefulness, and the quest for one delicious peach.
Both the children and their parents loved this book - and for once the illustrations took precedence over the words! They were so colourful and eye-catching that the children were more interested in flicking through the pages and telling each other what was happening than listening to someone else read the book to them. Of course, this is the ideal way to introduce preschoolers to reading. A love of books is something that cannot be encouraged early enough, and making sense of the words will come - by which time they are already well on the way to understanding the story.
Once they had "read" the book to each other, they were ready to settle down and listen to the words too. This is always a special time with the older person - usually Dad or Mum - who has the patience to stop-start while an earlier page is revisited or there is a discussion around the ethics of what is happening in the story. Adventures and problem solving are important aspects of the tale; Miss Four was dismayed at first to see that things did not pan out as Muki and Pickles had hoped. She was quite annoyed with the thieving squirrel who got in first. But in the end she was relieved to find that the friends were rewarded after all - that made everything right!
While Miss Four was concentrating on the outcome of the adventure, Mr Two was more interested in the raft. He tried to convince his father that the sticks in the back yard might be enough to make a big raft one day. Well, he is still only young and not very sure of the amount of wood that might be needed for such a task. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see the two children come away from the book with completely different impressions.
It was a bonus to find that there was a recipe for the story's upside-down peach cake included in the appendix. With assistance from an adult, pre-schoolers can have a lot of fun making a cake and eating it - but having first read about it makes it especially relevant. This recipe uses everyday ingredients which most families will already have available, although when peaches are out of season it might be necessary to use the canned variety. The recipe allows for either.
The other extra item was the knot tutorial. That in itself is fascinating; I am one of those people who are useless at tying knots, so I will enjoy learning along with the children. Quite simply, this is a lovely book - it presents the themes of friendship, mutual help, and adventure alongside the creative activities of cooking and learning to tie different knots. There is something here for every child - and what a great way to learn!
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