The Adventures of Zippy and Elly: In Rhyme Time
by Peggy Bankston
P.L.B. Playtime Books

"Just as he was starting to enjoy the view, he ran into someone he knew. It was a friend in a hot air balloon, who was whistling a happy tune."

In this cheerful and colorful children's picture book, a little, yellow, striped zebra named Zippy and his best friend, Elly (a blue and polka-dotted elephant) travel along in their imagined adventures in Rhyme Time. One friend makes up a line of a story, and the other responds with a sentence that rhymes. Zippy is excited to teach Elly the game, and soon the two are reciting, on the spot, a story about a "man named Bill" who "lived on the side of a hill." Their silly character "liked to go into town" and liked to "play like a clown." Bankston's picture book is, in actuality, a story within a story. On one level, readers are experiencing the friendship and fun of the rhymed storytelling created by Zippy and Elly. At the same time, that same story they make in unison—about the man named Bill who loved chewing bubble gum—takes on a life of its own. And it is the latter that is sure to engage pre-readers, emerging readers, and early readers alike, focusing on the fun of making sound-alike rhymes.

Everyone knew when Bill was around because he was always chewing that bubble gum. However, one day he blew such a huge bubble that it floated him high into the air. And way up there, in the sky, is where the real adventure waits as Zippy and Elly take turns creating their story—in rhyme—about Bill and the many unexpected twists and turns he experiences all because of having blown one very large bubble.

Writer and illustrator Bankston does a marvelous job of creating for young readers bold and colorful pictures that are engaging and enticing, all of which only adds quality to the already whimsical and fun story-within-a-story. Additionally, with each new line of the story being told, at the top of the page is a prominently displayed icon of either Zippy or Elly, depending upon which character is speaking at the time. Thus, Bankston's picture book could serve as an excellent choice to share with very young readers, such as in a classroom setting or in the home, where each child could have the opportunity to take turns reading the rhymed lines of the story just as Zippy and Elly do.

Also significant here is that the little zebra and the little elephant are having so much fun, really enjoying themselves with their creative expression and storytelling. This illustrates the basic and important idea that children can find that they are already well-equipped to create their very own story. This verbal learning activity can be made all the more enticing by having young students take turns adding a new line or sentence to the overall storyline, building upon the chance to choose words that rhyme. In fact, with Bankston's book in hand, any caregiver, teacher, or parent is poised to make storytime a Rhyme Time. This book could act as an important stepping stone to invite young children to invent imaginative stories of their own in a unique way.

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