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Jeanne Loves Books – August

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Ernest, The Moose Who Doesn’t Fit, by Catherine Rayner

Ernest is an endearing moose who is so large he doesn’t fit on the pages of his own book. “Luckily, Ernest is also a very determined moose. He’s not going to give up easily.”

This fun picture book tells a simple story but is packed with lots of concepts. It includes problem-solving, important math concepts about size, and it highlights perseverance and teamwork.

Ernest and his very small friend chipmunk want Ernest to fit on the book’s pages. They try lots of ways to make this happen. We see Ernest’s head and front on one page, we see his middle on another page, and there is a wonderful double-page spread where he tries to squeeze in, rear end first. But none of these attempts work because Ernest is just too big!

But then Ernest’s little chipmunk friend has a BIG idea. She gathers up tape and moose gathers paper, and together they work on their solution. “They are busy for a very long time…” Their solution is to use the pieces of paper and tape to make the book bigger. The last page folds out and up and graphically looks like it is enlarged with different pieces of paper and tape. It is a great surprise ending, and it makes the book big enough for Ernest to fit on perfectly!

The text is spare and large, but uses rich words like, “fetches,” “struggles,” “determined,” and “crumples.” It also includes terms like forward and backward. Finally, it gives very fun and concrete illustrations of size as Ernest keeps trying to fit on those pages. And his very small Chipmunk friend presents a vivid example of small – the opposite of large.

The illustrations of the gangly moose and small chipmunk are endearing and convey a surprising amount of emotion.

Fun with Reading:

  • Play with some of the math concepts in the book
    • Find several objects and a bowl and guess if the objects will fit in the bowl before trying to fit them in
    • Use some paper to see how much you’d have to use to fit your child in the book
  •  Refer back to Ernest in the future if something is too big to fit into something else, i.e. “This is just like Ernest being too big for the book’s pages isn’t it?”
  • Practice going forward and backwards with small children. Once they have it, do it in silly ways, like going zig zag but still forward or backward.
  • Talk about chipmunk’s idea to add to the book to make Ernest fit. Use it as an example of the statement that “two brains are better than one.”  Why is that?
  • Look for other examples of “big” and “small.”
  • The word “large” is highlighted in a large font in the book. The first few times you read it, run your finger under the word as you say it. On the third or fourth reading, pause and see if they recognize the word and can say it or say it with you. This is one of the techniques which helps children see that the same set of marks always means the same thing.

Author: JeanneLovesBooks

Jeanne is a retired youth services librarian and the former Supervisor of Hennepin County’s Readmobile Program. The Readmobile, which is also retired, was like a Bookmobile, but dedicated to young children, which developed and provided early literacy enriched visits to Head Start Programs, Early Childhood Learning Centers, Child Care Providers and Family, Friend and Neighbor Providers. Jeanne shares literacy info about books for infants through preschoolers in her “Jeanne Loves Books” column once a month. She welcomes your feedback and suggestions for books to highlight.

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