Monday, October 01, 2012

{Guest Post} My Favourite Children's Author: Lynley Dodd

Dame Lynley Stuart Dodd (born 1941) is a prominent author of children’s books from New Zealand.

Best known for her 'Hairy Maclary' series, all of which feature animals with rhyming names, she was the ninth recipient of the Margaret Mahy Award in 1999, and received a New Zealand Order of Merit, Dame Companion, in 2001. 

This week, Sarah of The Playful Parents to share with us why she likes books by Lynley Dodd.

Sarah runs a domestic circus where her loving and loyal audience of 3 keeps her hearts and hands full. She blogs at The Playful Parents when her hands are free of the kids, spatula, and laundry. Sarah enjoys encouraging families to be more intentionally playful.  The former public school educator now enjoys teaching, storytelling and writing whenever she can.  She also provides literacy and drama curriculum consultancy services to educational companies.

*****

If you’re a dog or cat or duck fan
Or just not into fuzz and feathers,
Whatever your critter affections,
Lynley Dodd’s books will still delight.

I’ve always found a particular charm about books written in rhyme. (Because as you see, I cannot write rhyme). A rhyming one that is humourous and has a stellar storyline deserves our pure love and adoration. From the land of lush natural beauties and the kiwi fruit, Lynley Dodd’s Hairy Maclary books enthrall.

Ever since my boys and I chanced upon our first Lynley Dodd book, we have been hooked!  I found a board book copy at our neighbourhood library and decided to borrow it because it was new, and clean, and we needed some new authors to read.

And boy! Was it a treasure we found!

We kept that copy for 6 whole weeks at home, and read it practically every day. We must have read it almost a 100 times over before we returned. My then-3 yo would make me read it again, and again, each time.

Our tiny Lynley Dodd home collection
While we haven’t managed to procure (budget constraints) nor borrow (library selection limitations) many Lynley Dodd titles, we have loved every single Lynley Dodd story we’ve laid our hands and eyes upon.

If you’ve never ever read her, here’s an excerpt from her very first book, Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, written in 1981:

"Schnitzel von Krumm
with a very low tum,
Bitzer Maloney
all skinny and bony,
Muffin McClay
like a bundle of hay,
Bottomley Potts
covered in spots,
Hercules Morse
as big as a horse
and Hairy Maclary
from Donaldson's Dairy"

Dodd's doggy bunch

Why We Think Lynley’s Stories are Lovely
  • Rhythmic verse that’s like music to the ears
  • Vivid imagery painted through her use of rich vocabulary e.g. “Hairy Maclary felt bumptious and bouncy”
  • Spectacular plots of mischief 
  • Endearing characters
  • Repetitive and cumulative structure
  • Sunny pen and watercolour illustrations that are lively, detailed and interesting

Some of Our Favourite Titles 
Hairy Maclary’s Scattercat (1985)
If my memory serves me well, this may be our very first Lynley Dodd book. Lee loves animals and the realistic illustrations coupled with the delightful story about how Hairy get a taste of his naughty medicine when the ferocious Scarface Claw "bothered and bustled him, rustled and hustled him, raced him and chased him all the way home."

Slinky Malinki Open the Door (1993)
A cat and parrot make unlikely accomplices for mischief around the house. I think my boys were just  delighted to have one of their favourite acts of mischief validated by this book as Slinky Malinki and Sticky-Beak Sid. The duo gets into rooms all over the house, wreaking havoc by tumbling things, throwing stuff around and messing everything up. In one word -  Destruction! That’s what little boys are best at aren’t they?

Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack (1999)
The teeny duck, Zachary Quack, tries to get Hairy Maclary’s interest in playing with him. All Hairy really wants to do is to snooze. Little Zach is persistent and he keeps going “pittery pattery, skittery scattery, ZIP! A round the corner.” Lee didn’t like this too much at first. I’m not sure why but I’m guessing that this bothersome Zachary Quack reminded him too much of his little brother, Zee, who often liked to bother him into playing at the wrong times.

However, the storyline proved too relatable for Lee and he loved it so much he made me read it over and over and over again. Until I felt like I wanted to go ‘ZIP! Around the corner go away book!’

Anymore?
Yes there are a lot more I could go on writing about her books but shan’t. I wouldn’t want to deprive you the pleasure of discovering them with your child.

We have loved all the Hairy Malary, Slinky Malinky and Zachary Quack books we’ve read. And I don’t think you will be disappointed. You may perhaps get a little regretful once your child starts badgering you for multiple readings in a sitting, and wished you had never started him on it.

Some Lynley Literary-Inspired Post-Reading Activities 
I admit I’m not much of a crafty person. But I do still enjoy doing stuff with my children.
Lynley Dodd’s playful use of literary devices such as alliteration, assonance, simile, personification, onomatopoeia and cumulative structure allow for some nice language activities to be done. Aural discrimination, patterning, phonological awareness, attention and focus are just some of the skills you can develop through these games.

1. Gibberish Echo (Suitable for blabbering infants and older)
This is a game I’ve played with my children as soon as they show interest in repeating my words. It’s a simple and enjoyable game where you say nonsensical words, and the child echoes it back at you. I love playing this game because it can be used to build so many vital skills in the children. You can play with rhythm, consonant+vowel blends, patterning.  For example:
Vowel+ Consonant Blends: Ba - Ba -Ba  (sung to the tune of ‘do-re-me’)
Patterning: Di-Di-Da, Di-Di-Da

2. Finish It (Suitable for toddlers who’ve started speaking some words and up)
This game helps build the child’s ability to listen, and identify sound patterns. You provide the first string of gibberish, and they have to sound out the right ‘word’ to end the pattern sequence.
You: Bam – Bam – Boom, Bam - Bam –  ? (child fills in word)

3. Exploring Onomatopoeia
Onomatopoeic words are words that sound very much like the thing they describe e.g. Woof! Bang! Plop, Fizz. Explore these words that describe objects, movement and animal sounds.

I hope you have the chance to fall in love with this New Zealander’s literary giftedness and rascally bunch yourself. And if you’re already a fan, I would love to hear about how you adore her books!

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