Sometimes I Like to Curl up in a Ball is a beautifully illustrated board book that’s both fun and sweet. Each page is a delightful exploration of all the things Little Wombat likes to do:
Sometimes I like to jump high as I can, to see how much noise I can make when I land… Sometimes I like to stand still as a tree, and watch everyone rush around about me.
The energy and activity in the story is fluid and fresh, moving with ease from one moment to the next, but not always in the most expected ways (“Sometimes I like to scream ever so loud, Not that I’m cross, I just like how it sounds.”) Little Wombat can get up to some busy, noisy, and messy play but it’s all good-natured, honest exploration and delight in new discovery. I like that Little Wombat finds equal fun in “standing still” and in “running ever so fast” and that Little Wombat acknowledges “I sometimes come first, but I sometimes come last.”
There’s one spot where I feel the text loses its strength, where I’ve often been thrown off rhythm when reading out loud, but I’ve learned to remedy this by omitting a word (“Sometimes I like to
just walk round and round, I pigeon step, pigeon step, till I fall down.”) I must confess that I also say ‘until’ rather than ’till’. For me, this makes for a better read.
Apart from the text, the illustrations offer extra layers of story–particularly in the area of Little Wombat’s relationships. Here we meet his friends and see how they participate in– or are effected by–Little Wombat’s antics. Charles Fuge flawlessly infuses humour and beauty into the story bringing to life the most meaningful moments.
Whatever activity occurs in a day, when the sun starts to fall Little Wombat does what he does best of all: he “finds somewhere soft, somewhere cozy and small and that’s where [he] like to curl up in a ball.” And that, of course, is at home nestled in the arms of Mama.
My primary appreciation of this book is that it helped make a book-lover out of my resistant reader. Granted, my daughter was young–not yet two– but she would push away books whenever we tried to read with her. I began to wonder if this would be a long-term tendency and (honestly) became a little lazy with my efforts, waiting for her to be the one to express interest. Her dad, however, persisted. Instead of trying to simply read the book (which she’d push away) he had our son come and act out what Little Wombat did. As my husband read, my son would curl up, jump, land, scream, walk in circles, fall down, stand still, poke out his tongue, make funny faces, mime a mess of his hands and chest, run fast, and finally curl up in a cuddle. My daughter loved this! And it was our daily routine until she eventually opened up to all sorts of stories.
My kids have since grown beyond board books, but this one remains on our shelf and still comes out every once and a while. It’s a keeper.
Reviewed by K.C. Darling
(review copy personally purchased).