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When my youngest daughter was two and a half, she received her latest 'Book Start' pack which all children receive from the government in an attempt to encourage early reading. One of the books she received was 'Silly Suzy Goose' by Petr Horacek, and it soon proved to be one of her firm favourites! As well as this it is also enjoyed by my elder four year old daughter.
In this book the main character is Suzy Goose who doesn't like the fact that she is exacly like all the other geese around her and wishes she could be something different. She goes through a whole list of animals thinking what she would be able to do if she were that animal. For example, she thinks that is she was a giraffe she could stretch up high, or if she was an elephant she could splish and splash, along with many other animals doing lots of things. On every page where she is thinking of a specific animal we see a picture of that creature doing exactly the thing that Suzy wishes she could do! Suzy is along side each of the animals trying to do the same thing. On one page she wishes she was a bat and the picture of her hanging upside down with all the other bats is quite comical!
This is how the story goes on until Suzy wishes that she was a lion so that she could roar very loudly. The only thing is that there really is a lion and Suzy does have a go at roaring - only thing is that it comes out as a ROARRRRHONK! At first the lion doesn't hear her, but after a louder roar he does and doesn't like it so he starts to chase her. As Suzy makes her escape she yells and stretches, swims, jumps and splashes, slides and flaps all the way back to the other geese! In fact, apart from hanging upside down, she does all the things that she wished she could do if she were one of the other animals! When she gets back to all the other geese, the lion cannot spot her because she blends in with all the other geese which leads her to think on the almost last page:
'Perhaps it is better to be just like everyone else!'
but then we turn over to the last page and Suzy lets out a very large ROARRRHONK and says 'but not all the time!'
This is a very enjoyable book and all the pages have some lovely illustrations of animals doing lots of different things. It's also quite useful for helping young children identify different animals and to talk about the different things they can do!
There is a pattern in the language on a lot of the pages with each one starting 'If I was a ...' and this makes it easy for the children to start joining in with the story. This has also led to us making up our own 'If I was a...' game with my daughters thinking of other animals and saying what they could do if they were that animal! All of the language used is quite straightforward with not many words on any page and this makes the story very accessible to young children - especially with having the lovely picures to look at as well.
As with most children's stories there is a bit of a message as well. The fact that Suzy Goose wants to be different is probably something that lots of children can identify with. This book is quite useful for discussing the things that make us all different but also sometimes the fact that it's good to be the same as well!
Overall, this is a very enjoyable story with a lot of talking points. It is not ever so long so it is possible to keep a two year old's interest from start to finish although my daughter does keep wanting to urn over the pages to look ahead. It is published by Walker Books and can be bought from Amazon for £6.49, although as I said earlier ours was free!
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