Jungle Gym Jitters. New York: Walker & Company.
Jerry J. Jingle has the jungle gym jitters (say that five time fast!). His dad, George keeps adding to the jungle gym he built in their backyard. While Judy, Jerry's sister, and all of his friends have no problem climbing up on the giant see saws and towers, Jerry can't do it. But when he sees that his sister may be in danger, will Jerry be able to conquer his jitters then?
The rhyming couplets and repetition of the J and G sounds lends this book to be used as a read aloud, or at moments, even a tongue twister.
As with Into the Forest by Browne, the illustrations of Jungle Gym Jitters reminded me of the artwork of Chris Van Allsburg. Richards's style is both surreal and intricate, with a reference to Escher's House of Stairs work:
Richards only uses subtle, dark colors, so that at a distance the pictures appear to be in greyscale, but up close you can see the variations.
In terms of potential discussions, Jungle Gym Jitters can be used to discuss assonance and alliteration, or to trigger students' own poetry. A teacher could recommend students describe their favorite toys (whether real or imagined) in verse and then create a picture to go with it.
On a more personal level, a teacher and student could discuss a fear of heights or getting hurt on a jungle gym as well as the meaning of courage. Also, this would be a good read aloud before recess to encourage students to participate in physical play or to discuss helping one another.
Quotes of Note:
"Jerry J. Jingle had fun every day,
for Jerry's dad, George, had a brain made for play.
When Dad got an idea that planted its seed,
fun would sprout up like a blossoming weed."
"By late afternoon Dad had proudly unveiled
the new jungle gym his hammer just nailed.
Jerry hung loose with a monkey-faced frown
while Judy, his sister, showed off upside down."
"When Jerry came home his mouth opened in awe.
His friends were sky-high on a giant seesaw.
As he studied the moves of those strange seesaw sitters
he was suddenly sick with the jungle gym litters!"