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Gorilla Loves Vanilla

Title: Gorilla Loves Vanilla

Author: Chae Strathie

Illustrator: Nicola O’Byrne

Age Group: 1-5

Synopsis: Little Sam Sundae is an ice cream king, watch him work his magic for these five hungry animals.


The Low Down:

We love ice cream. I don’t know who doesn’t. Whether you’re eating a classic recipe or something a bit less lactosey, it’s all amazing. The guys in my life definitely think so. My husband devours cartons within days of purchase and then guiltily returns them to the freezer with little less than a scoop remaining. Bug’s not much better. As we drove away from our old house we were waving goodbye to things and Bug asked to stop so we could say a solemn farewell to our local ice cream spot. Not even the park received this honor. So it’s really no surprise, that Bug loves Gorilla Loves Vanilla so adamantly. What is surprising is how much I enjoy the story as well. It’s clever, imaginative, and well-written. The illustrations are fabulous and are certainly worthy of further perusal.

The rhyming narrative introduces us to Jellybean Street and Sam Sundae’s ice cream shop. We then take a crazy turn as the animals who enter the shop all request their favorite flavors. Sam handles the blue cheese, fish finger, dandelion and other flavor requests like a pro. Not even flinching as he fills a cone of worms for Chicken. Not only are the animals impressed by his performance but the reader should be as well. It’s only when a new customer joins the party that the story’s rhythm is thrown off. Sam takes Gorilla’s request for boring old vanilla and makes it into a mouth-watering cone that towers over two pages. All the accompaniments come together to create something that looks like it could be a very tasty Christmas tree. Sam outdoes himself and Gorilla decides that sharing with the salivating onlookers is the best course of action.

Illustrations throughout the book are active, inviting and interesting. Sam’s shop looks as if it has been dropped out of a child’s dream with candies and treats sparkling from every corner of the store. Bug spends just as much time reading as he does chose treats on each page to “pretend-nibble.” The animals are funny and their requests appeal to that strange place in kids that loves seeing something weird and disgusting but without making anyone nauseated. The best page (besides the towering ice cream tower of dreams) is when Gorilla distributes spoons for sharing even seemingly to the reader. Bug diligently chooses colors for everyone and then we all tuck in on the next page. Whether we just read this or have taken a vanilla hiatus I can often hear him reciting the words to himself as he plays, which is just confirmation about how books stay with us after we finish reading them.


Story Tips:

  1. Get ready with a carton of ice cream.

  2. Look out later for fun crafts to go along with this great story.


I need more!

Chae Strathie has some great titles out including an amazing looking one called: Into Your Dreams. I haven’t read anything else of his but after Gorilla Loves Vanilla it’ll definitely be on my to-do list. For more info about him and his books check out Amazon.

Nicola O’Byrne had a busy year last year with The Great Dragon Bake Off and The Last Book Before Bedtime as well as Gorilla Loves Vanilla. We’ve read Open Carefully: A Book with Bite! and Use Your Imagination, both beautifully illustrated. For more information check out her website: http://www.nicolaobyrne.com/


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Gorilla Loves Vanilla
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