reviews and stories about parenting with picture books

Jasper & Joop: A Perfect Pair for my TIDY/MESSY Family

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This morning my daughter and I had something we often don’t: time together, alone.

We hung out at our local bookstore.

Usually, book shopping goes like this: I chase my son around trying to keep books on shelves and out of his mouth while my daughter carries a stool from one display to the next rearranging stuffed animals and toys the way she sees fit.

This chaos often results in disappointment with the book I distractedly bought. But not today.

Today we did it right. First things first. We smelled books. Then we studied spines and jacket art. We flipped through pages and read excerpts.

We found one…two…three that made the cut. My daughter carried them to the counter. We paid and walked next door to the coffee shop to read:

Jasper & Joop: one TIDY, one MESSY by Olivier Dunrea (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2013)

Dream Friends by You Byun (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013)

The Mitten by Jan Brett (G. P. Putman’s Sons, 1989)

We’ve enjoyed them so much that tonight I am going to break Picture Book House tradition and write about a book that we have only owned for ten hours: Jasper and Joop.

I am becoming as obsessed with Oliver Dunrea as I am with THE STEADS.

The book I had intended to buy at the bookstore today was Olivier’s Gideon, but Gideon is a board book. Jasper and Joop, which my daughter found while standing on a stool, is the size of a board book but printed traditionally. Jasper and Joop beat out Gideon because…

My daughter loves small, traditionally printed books.

She also loves being tidy. If she spreads a blanket out on the floor she lays flat every corner. Before bed, she asks that we pick up her room. If anything ever spills she directs me to clean it up, and if I’m not fast enough, she does it herself.

My daughter is Jasper.

My son is Joop.

My husband is Jasper.

I am Joop.

Two of us TIDY. Two of us MESSY. Together we make a PERFECT family.

Jasper and Joop is about best friends who go on a series of adventures around the barnyard; Jasper avoiding all messes, Joop splashing, rolling and leaping in them.

For example: “Jasper pokes his head outside. ‘It’s wet,’ he says. [next page] Joop pokes his head outside. ‘It’s WET!’ he honks.” The illustrations alone make this one of my all time favorite pages. They are perfect.

And when nothing but capital letters and the change of one word forces me to read each of these consecutive, almost identical pages completely differently I am absolutely delighted.

It is illustration, not text, that foreshadows the climax of this tale when we see a few bees buzzing around the goslings, and sure enough several pages later Jasper “…sticks his bill in the beehive” and he and Joop then “RUN” back through the story to escape the bees, both of them now getting messy until they jump in a pond and honk together (spoiler alert) “‘What fun!'”

So. Much. Fun.

Don’t miss out.

We won’t, with a Picture Book House Rating of “Read It Again, Mommy!”

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