Bored – Nothing to Do by Peter Spier

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been reviewing Peter Spier books for children.  That’s because I’ve pulled them all out to share with my grandchildren when they arrive next week!  Peter Spier’s books are heavy on illustration and light on text allowing children to imaginatively explore and enjoy the details in each drawing.  His books were favorites of my children years ago, we’re hoping to pass that same interest on to Chloe and Paul. 


Bored – Nothing to Do by Peter Spier

One of my favorite Spier stories for older children is Bored-Nothing to Do! My kids learned not to say to me that they were bored or had nothing to do because I would quickly un-bore them and find plenty of things to occupy them…..but I digress.


The story begins with a picture of two boys sitting outside looking bored.  Strewn about them are various toys, games and activities that hold no attraction for these two.  Their mother then sternly orders them, “Go find something to do.  I was never bored at your age!”  So the two dejected-looking boys head for the barn and once there, decide to make something, but what?  The one brother spies an old propeller hanging up high in the barn.  The boys attach a rope and lower the propeller to the floor.  They smile, scratch their heads and look at a book showing them how to make —–an airplane!


Thus begins the madcap exploits of two brothers who are no longer bored.  They grab their father’s tools then rush about collecting items they need to make the plane.  The hilarious illustrations show them dismantling the fence for the boards, removing a wheel from the baby carriage, taking a door and some sheets from the house, and helping themselves to things from the yard such as the clothesline, exterior windows, and barrels.


The boys manage to build a fully functional airplane (after stripping the engine from their VW.)  The parents, oblivious to their boys’ feat, begin to discover all sorts of things around the house which no longer work. They stand outside and ask, “Where’s everything?  Where are the boys?” Just then the airplane appears over the barn and the mama faints into the amazed papa’s arms.  They’re told to come down where they get a spanking and a kiss before having to put everything back where it came from.


After the boys are sent to their room, the parents chuckle and smile, “Some boys!  Clever, too!”  And the boys?  Why they’re up in their room, bored-nothing to do.


Gobble Growl Grunt by Peter Spier

If we were playing Name that Animal by mimicking the sounds each animal makes, we’d all guess the animals for “MMMOOOOO-OO,” ” @#!*% -A-DOODLE-DO,” and “GOBBLE-GOBBLE.”  But we might not guess an otter sound is “CHAT-CHAT-CHUCK-CHAT” (say it over and over – fast!) or that “RRUMMPF” is a hippo or that “FUDDA-FUDDA-FUDDA-FUDDA-FUDDA” describes a dragonfly in flight.

In his forty-two page book Gobble Growl Grunt Peter Spier illustrates hundreds of animals with an accompanying sound that each one makes.  There’s even a page entitled SHHHHHHH…. depicting animals that make no sounds.

What a fun book this is for kids and adults alike!  I have fond memories of my mother-in-law reading Gobble Growl Grunt to our children.  Her imitation of a seal was delightfully enhanced as she slapped her forearms together and waddled around while enthusiastically demonstrating her best seal bark.

Spier’s drawings are colorful and engaging.  He manages to catch characteristics and personality of the various animals.  Loud animal sounds are printed in large font and bold print, sometimes ending in exclamation marks.  Quieter animals have their sounds printed in smaller fonts in regular print.  The insect sounds are depicted by a long undulating line of print in very small font. Visually engaging for sure!

If you want to have a lot of fun reading to your children grab a copy of this book and start practicing these wonderful animal sounds.  Parents have every bit as much fun as kids when reading this great book.

Copyrighted in 1971 this book is now out of print, though many good used copies are available online and from used book stores.

Crash! Bang! Boom! by Peter Spier

I love Peter Spier’s books for children!  Peter Spier was born in the Netherlands in 1927, the son of a renowned Dutch artist.  After WW2 the family immigrated to the US and Peter began illustrating books.  He is the illustrator or author-illustrator of more than 30 children’s books.  Working primarily in watercolor on paper, his art is whimsical, detailed, and clever.  My children were introduced to his work in the 1980’s by their book-loving Granny, my mother-in-law.  Adult and child alike were entranced by the color, detail, and personality of each volume. Now Purple Grandma gets to introduce the same books to her grandchildren!

Crash! Bang! Boom! by Peter Spier is a board book for young children first published in 1972.  This is not a story but rather a collection of drawings depicting common objects, events, machines, etc. that make noise. (See the review coming soon A board book for toddlerson Gobble, Growl, Grunt for his wonderful book on amimal sounds.)  Spier’s drawings are accompanied by written sounds that the item makes.  A dropped plate is described with “SMASH!” a girl jumping rope with “SLAP  SLAP  SLAP” and an electric shaver with “HUMMMMM.”   As parents we became engrossed in our attempts to accurately make the sounds for windshield wipers, a policeman’s whistle, an air hammer, a riveter, a tornado, a snow blower, a bowling ball knocking down bowling pins, dribbling a basketball, orchestral instruments warming up, fireworks, and many, many other things that inhabit our lives.

A few of the illustrated examples are dated and no longer commonly seen in 2011 (typewriter and super 8 movie projector for example) but most of the things are familiar.  This is a fun and very interactive book for parent and child.  Sadly, it is out of print but good used copies are available at used book stores and via the web.

Reviewed 7/8/11