PPBF: The Boy Who Lost His Bellybutton

Author: Jeanne Willis
Illustrator: Tony Ross
Publisher: Andersen Press, 1999
Age Level: Preschool-Gr.2
Themes: bellybuttons, animals, humor
Opening: Once there was a little boy who lost his bellybutton.

I found this other cover image online, and have to wonder why the subtle change? I like the coloring of the lower cover, but I like the boys expression better on the top cover. Hmmm….
Summary: (from Jeanne Willis’ website) One day a little boy loses his bellybutton, so he goes into the jungle to find it. Along the way he asks all the animals that he meets whether they have seen his bellybutton, and discovers that all of them – from zebras to warthogs – have a bellybutton of some description. When he sees the crocodile’s, however, he realizes that there is something very familiar about it. Readers will be on tenterhooks until the very last page: can the missing navel be retrieved without harm to the boy?
Why I like this book: So here I am with yet another great title from the same team from last week’s PPB (Hippospotamus). I took this to my local kid-lit crit-group, along with some other books, because I wanted to discuss voice, specifically that of a very young child. Anyway, one of the members brought her 6 yr old daughter along, and as we started discussing the books, I wanted to read it aloud for the child’s enjoyment too. I had already read it at home and really liked it, but WHILE I was reading it for this girl, I put a little more effort into MY voice, and fell in love with the story, especially the ending, ALL OVER AGAIN! Some of the things about reading aloud, especially adding pauses, that I learned from reading Mem Fox’s book, Reading magic : why reading aloud to our children will change their lives forever, really clicked while I was reading this. I need to start volunteering more in elementary classes! And look at this cute, and great big, gorilla!


Resources/Activities: great way to start a lesson/discussion on anatomy, on what a bellybutton is for, what they look like on other animals too. Play a game of Pin the Bellybutton on the Crocodile, or any other animal for that matter!
For more PPBF picks, go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – HERE

PPBF: Hippospotamus

Author: Jeanne Willis
Illustrator: Tony Ross
Publisher: Andersen Press USA, 2012
Age Level: 5-7
Themes: imagination, animals, story in rhyme
Opening: Hippopotamus had a spotamus…on her bottomus.
Summary: (From the flap) “It’s a  blister!” said her sister. “It’s the measles!” said Weasel. “”It’s hippopox!” said Fox. But in the end the spotamus turns out to be something hilariously unexpected!

Why I like this book: I am just discovering the marvelously vibrant art of Tony Ross, so I put this title on hold at the biblioteca, but I fell in love with Jeanne Willis’ silly sense of humor and spot-on rhymes! How can you not love Weasel’s next line: “You sat in a breezle and caught a diseasel…” It goes on, but I don’t want to spoil the fun!
Resources/Activities: make a new party game: Pin the Spot on the Hippospotamus; make a list of a rhyming words for animals (fox/socks, cat/hat, etc.); play a game listing an animal for each letter of the alphabet.
For more PPBF picks, go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – HERE