Today didn’t start well.
In fact it started at 4.45am as 2-year-old Ben angrily pounded on the nursery door “LET. ME. OUT”.
Excellent. Another 3 words in his repertoire and more evidence for the neighbours that we’re keeping the children hostage. It took 4 attempts to get 3-year-old Alice downstairs and a further 2 attempts to make Weetabix to her exacting standards. There wasn’t enough honey. Where the flip was the banana? This is the wrong spoon. Sigh. It takes 7 minutes to get everyone into shoes and to spray their toothpaste all over my work clothes. We’re on the road. 4 questions about the circus tent we see along the way. These questions are all the same. WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY? 2 cries of “digger”. 3 demands for The Trolls CD. Seriously, if I’ve got to hear Justin Timberlake one more time I’ll give him a feeling inside his bones. Bye bye Ben. 3 smoochy kisses and we move onto preschool. Bye bye Alice. No… wait. She’s not going in. 2 bribes of Kinder Eggs and a “super duper special treat”. 2 members of staff and 6 minutes to peel her off me. 120 decibel screams as I run to the school gate. Stop at the shop. 3 Freddo frogs. That’s lunch sorted. Home. Oh wait… not quite. They’ve shut the lane for roadworks. A 5-minute detour in pursuit of 7 stressed pheasants. Home. Coffee number 2. It’s 9am. Good morning.
Like lots of working parents my day unfolds in numbers. Increments of time. It makes me a highly focussed worker, as I’ve no time to spare, but an equally exhausted person at the end of the day. And with all the hustle and bustle the one number that seems to diminish as night creeps in, is the precious time spent reading with my munchkins. But not tonight. Tonight we reached for an entirely time consuming picture book. And it was super duper.
Say Zoop! By Hervé Tullet is joyful, funny and just a little bit noisy. Warning… this is not a snuggly wuggly cutesy bunny bedtime story. It starts…
“Hi! Are you really sure you want to play?”
You’ve been warned.
We spent the next 22 minutes (22!?) chasing dots around the page with our finger saying, shouting, crescendoing, diminuendoing, hopping, shivering, crying all manner of vowel sounds. We made up songs, took dots for walks… then we started wahooing. Say Zoop! is a whopping 64 pages so don’t let dinner burn. As for the illustrations, it’s page after page of vibrant spots, reminiscent of those amazing aboriginal dot paintings. Big ones, small ones… and the final spread exploding like a Catherine Wheel.
A bit about Hervé. He’s French and an artist in New York, who directs advertising campaigns and designs fabrics for Hermès. According to Wikipedia he’s referred to as ‘The Prince of pre-school books’, I expect because he’s created over 50, each challenging the concept of how a kids’ book should work. They’re playful, inventive and above all else, interactive. And tonight, for us, Say Zoop! was just the ticket.
Today didn’t start well, but it ended in the best possible way, as I got to spend a silly 22 minutes listening to my munchkins peal with laughter. It was the best time of the day and we all went to bed smiling.