Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Still a Gorilla

Rhyming is a very important component of literacy. It’s an early indicator of familiarity and facility with language, and can be a predictor of future reading fluency. Playing with words, especially rhyming words, builds vocabulary and encourages recognition of differences between words that sound similar. There are literally thousands of children’s books written in rhyme, but every now and then we come across one that’s extra fun and appealing. Kim Norman’s Still a Gorilla delights with its fun rhymes and bold, eye-catching illustrations by Chad Geran.

Willy the gorilla sees all of the other animals at the zoo, and attempts to imitate them in the hope of being more like them. But no matter how hard he works at it, he’s "still a gorilla." Undeterred, he continues to try. Young readers will have fun making the animal sounds represented, and may try behaving like a lion, a kangaroo, or an alligator. My favorite page is the one in which Willy tries to be a walrus. "If Willy’s teeth grow wrong (a foot too long!), will Willy be a walrus? Will he?" (Willy places two bananas in the front of his mouth to look like the walrus’ tusks.) The answer is the same each time: "No. Still a gorilla!" Willy the Gorilla is simply what he’s meant to be.

This is a book that children will enjoy hearing multiple times, and also one that they could read on their own in a short period of time. The font is large and colorful, and there’s plenty of repetition to reinforce the text. Learning to celebrate ourselves for all we have to offer is always a valuable message, and this book joins a number of others that carry a similar sentiment. Still a Gorilla is silly, lighthearted, and fun, and was one of my grandson’s favorite gifts over the holidays. It’s easy to see why.

Guest post by Bridget W. 

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