BOOKS FOR BITTIES: Alistair Underwater
Alistair Grittle lived the quiet life of an ordinary schoolboy. Every morning at dawn he had a breakfast of oatmeal without any sugar. He brushed his teeth and his hair, as well as his jacket. Then he went to school and reminded his teacher to collect the homework.
My almost-three-year-old’s current literary obsession is the Alistair series by Marilyn Sadler. These clever picture books — that are read at least three times a day around our house — feature Alistair Grittle, an “ordinary” boy that just happens to be a brilliant inventor and scientist.
In this first book, Alistair builds a submarine and embarks on a Jules Verne-like adventure to the bottom of his backyard pond, where he meets frog people and helps them deal with a subterranean monster. In subsequent books, he creates a time machine, explores outer space, and inadvertently adopts an elephant. Obviously, hilarity ensues.
These books strike the perfect balance of being short enough for a preschooler’s attention span while still being long enough and with enough plot that even if you read it as many times a day as we do, it doesn’t really feel like the endless, repetitive loop that many books geared towards this age group can be. (For instance, I have a strict no repeats on Green Eggs and Ham policy. I will not re-read it in a boat. I will not re-read it with a goat… you get the idea.) Alistair contains clever humor and irony that kids can appreciate more as they get older, and silly pictures and surprise endings that even a two-year-old can enjoy.
Alistair books by Marilyn Sadler: