The DFF Book Club

It’s been half a year since I’ve featured a book on what used to be a monthly feature here on Sparkling Adventures. The DFF Book Club has served as a showcase for favourite books in our home library, and since we’ve packed up everything and hit the road, we haven’t had access to our books save for those available on our Kindle.

However as we travel, we do read many, many books. We spend hours in local libraries, browse through the bookshelves of the houses we visit, and some books have particularly impressed us. So, instead of just saving the DFF (“David Fisher’s Family”) Book Club for books that we own, I’ve decided to feature some of the outstanding books we’ve seen on others’ shelves.

Snug house, bug house! by Susan Schade and Jon Buller

When I first read Snug house, bug house!, I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular. Although it’s published by Random House and branded as one of the Bright and Early Books for Beginning Beginners books, I’ve read so many mediocre books in that series that the cheesy Cat-in-the-Hat logo doesn’t set my pulse racing.

This book is set apart in the early-reader selections because its story is so much greater than the text. In fact, you could skip the captions entirely and tell a rich story entirely from the delightful illustrations.

But the words are there. And they’re easy to read, so why not encourage your early-reader to sound them out? Then you can talk over the pictures, which are so much fun!

Just like other favourite books, Snug house, bug house! starts just inside the cover. Don’t skip over the title page — it’s the beginning of an adventure!

Snug house, bug house! by Susan Schade and Jon Buller
"Come along, come along!" Without captions, the story begins: Fred the butterfly is calling his friends to his exciting discovery.

Snug house, bug house! by Susan Schade and Jon Buller
It's a ball! What can you do with a ball?

An idea is born — along with easy-to-read words as the captions. The story is also a beautiful picture of community collaboration in construction, something we’ve been learning about first-hand during our travels around New Zealand.

Snug house, bug house! by Susan Schade and Jon Buller
I love the way the insects make use of their multiple hands to multi-task. There's more of it in the illustrations to come.

Snug house, bug house! by Susan Schade and Jon Buller
After preliminary works, construction begins in earnest. Everyone is pitching in. (The fly is wearing a hard-hat and sitting on the front of the roller.)

After some clever logistics, the ball is brought into position.

Snug house, bug house! by Susan Schade and Jon Buller
Whew! It's in position now.

Snug house, bug house! by Susan Schade and Jon Buller
There are so many great elements to talk about in this illustration. How about the left-handed bug using two screwdrivers? Or the way the insects are cutting the ball? Ask your child why they think glue is being squeezed around the base.

A bit of paint and some classy finishing touches, and the house is almost ready for the friends to move in.

Snug house, bug house! by Susan Schade and Jon Buller
But first, let's connect the electricity, okay? This is a clever touch, although the negative end of the battery isn't also wired up. (Maybe some smart home-schooled kid will notice that.)

So the house is finished, and it’s beautiful. The friends admire their handiwork and then move in. Each insect is given a room (and a name). All the rooms are very different, giving each bug a definite personality. And even the common rooms are named — but nothing is as normal as a kitchen or living room.

Snug house, bug house! by Susan Schade and Jon Buller
There are six tvs to choose from in the "lazy room" and the "sound room" is where the friends make beautiful music together (making good use of their multiple hands).

The story finishes beautifully with some more simple words and a final look at the snug house.

Snug house, bug house! by Susan Schade and Jon Buller
You can just imagine the fun that the friends are having inside their cheery bug house! (I would *so love* to live in a house that looks like this.)

I was so impressed with this book when I discovered it on the shelf at the Langs’. I have never seen it before and haven’t particularly noticed of the author/illustrator team before either, although married couple Susan Schade and Jon Buller have collaborated on over thirty books.

I enjoyed browsing their website and reading a short version of how Jon started illustrating, met Susan, and started working together. I love discovering a bit about the authors of our favourite books, and to discover that this team was husband and wife makes me like Snug house, bug house even more.

If you think you may like a copy, it’s not currently available at Book Depository (but check again soon!). However, Amazon offers several different copies, as well as Ebay.