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As many of you may know, Hip, Hop, Catherine Hnatov's hit board book, has been getting rave reviews. Writes Pamela Kramer of Examiner.com, "It's simple and yet elegant. It's eye catching and...just feels right." Says librarian Paula Phillips, "it is the perfect book to read to your baby and toddler." Crowding the Book Truck writes "It's never to early to be reading with children, and this looks like another great board book that will help children learn words, sounds, and letters." Hip, Hop was recently named as one of the Best Books for Babies in 2011 by the Fred Rogers Company. And the good news keeps piling in! Be sure to get your copy today. For more about Hip, Hop, please visit our website to get a sneak peek inside. Hip, Hop is available in English, Portuguese/English, and Spanish/English.
The happy rumpus of a school playground is fading out, as its little patrons are jumping into summer vacation. For some toddlers, this summer will mark their first beach walking, for some preschoolers, it will be their first camping trip. But wait. Before we start off the summer, let’s peek at delicious stories and pictures that Star Bright Books offers this fall. Remember the end of the summer last year? We all wanted to go back to books and bury our faces into pages when exhausted (though happily) after summer excursions. Toddlers and Babies, Children and Parents, I am very pleased to introduce Star Bright Books Fall 2011 list!
Urban Animals’ author, architectural historian and photographer, Isabel Hill takes us to the buildings we carelessly pass by. Young readers (and grown-ups) learn that buildings have settings, characters and plot just like the storybooks they love. Buildings Stories tells stories of their past, people who lived and worked there, what was made inside, if we look at them a little more closely—was it a pencil factory or a sailor’s house or a milk house? As it is in Urban Animals, the photo illustrations in the book will enchant children and adult alike.
The façade of buildings are not alone that tell “stories.” As My Face Book shows, the faces of babies absolute, remarkable, and adorable communicator of “stories.” Their faces totally lack elf-consciousness, being free to express their very emotions. Babies love looking at other faces, first, at their mothers! If you smile at them, they smile back at you. That’s how they communicate, right? Each spread page has an opposite expression, for example, silly and serious; frowning and smiling; laughing and crying; awake and sleepy. . . Looking at these adorable faces, we do feel responsible for making a better world for them, don’t we? Check out Crowing the Book Truck’s review
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It's summertime in the city and it's HOT out! I don't know that I've ever been this appreciative of how intensely air conditioned the Star Bright Books offices are...after being stuck in the cramped, suffocating subway and trekking through the heat from station to office, I had to take a moment upon arrival to simply bask in the glory that is AC. But even so, I'm excited for the weekend - it's finally time to shed those winter duds for good and get some sun!
It's a hot summer day for Tim and his grandpa, too. In Tim and the Iceberg, young Tim listens to Grandpa tell tales of the North Pole, where "it's so cold that the land is made of ice." Tim thinks that sounds wonderful, and his sense of adventure is piqued when he hears about icebergs - "huge mountains of frozen water." Tim decides to make a journey in his sailboat to the North Pole to bring back one of these fantastic icebergs for his grandpa, and along the way he meets all sorts of people and animals. But the return journey to warmer waters does not bode all that well for his surprise for Grandpa...
Tim and the Iceberg is sure to be a hit with kids. Paul Coates' fun story comes to life with Ian P. Benfold Haywood's colorful, bright, and beautiful illustrations. Children will enjoy revisiting this book again and again, regardless of the season. They will love letting their imagination set sail with Tim as he embarks on his journey to the north - and maybe they'll be inspired to one day take a trip of their own!
Did I mention that my little friend has turned four in May? Unlike me, he is so excited about growing old, on his fourth birthday, exuberantly shouting, “I am going to be five!” (Well, he has to wait quite a bit of time to be five…). I wonder what he perceives of that ever-growing number. Stronger, bigger, freer? Or a better understanding of the world he lives in, including different species that reside on earth with him?
For the last year, his interest in animals has exploded. Of course he has always loved animals and animal stories—even more so, when animals do silly things. But it was more like immediate, unconscious fascination with other creatures rather than human. Now, on top of that, animal ecology, animal habitat, and animal behavior become a great interest for him. He frequently uses the word “species.” He is particularly excited at animals that camouflage, animals that migrate, animals that employ tools, and animals that hibernate. He enthusiastically explains to me the visual and behavioral differences between meat-eating dinosaurs and plant-eating ones. While walking home from school, we encounter earthworms, caterpillars, robins, sparrows, and squirrels. He observes, he analyzes, he makes associations from one species to another. Yes, he is so into “zoology,” as are many kids around his age.
No wonder why In the Dark Cave –a story of a cricket, a rat, and a bat that live happily in a dark cave—caught
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April was National Poetry Reading Month. Belatedly, I am reading Judi Moreillon's Read to Me again and again, and recite it (privately). The book is a single poem— a simple rhyme, yet with wisdom-full verses that encourage and inspire parents to discover the joy and value of sharing stories with their children. Its gentle, yet joyous lines celebrate the time and memory of reading as a family. "Read to me," your little one will bring a book to you, babbling, smiling, or talking, you can almost hear it. More than anything, when reading a book together, parents and children dream together. Kyra Teis' illustrations are colorful and lively. Loving grandma, grandpa, moms and dads read with their little ones in the park, by the water, on the bed. Children read with their siblings, sitting on the stairs or lying on their tummies. The smiling faces of babies and families are from all different ethnicities.
Read to Me is a poem Judi wrote for Pima County Public Library's Project L.I.F.T. (Literary Involves Families Together), "to help young mothers learn that literacy is an important part of nurturing their babies."
The most enduring heritage that we can leave for our children is to guide them to learn the joy of reading. Here are the first few lines from Read to Me. Enjoy.
Spring comes with Easter. Close to Easter, each day we witness the spring’s dominant presence in our backyard, streets, and neighboring parks. Easter is the day that we celebrate every thing that comes back to life after the long winter (literally and metaphorically). For children, it is about eggs, egg hunting, a bunny that lays eggs, and family gatherings, all of which carry out Easter’s spirit, and yes, fun. So here we have electrifying eggs and Easter bunny stories, Susan Glass’ The Great Eggscapeand Lorna Balian’s Humbug Rabbit.
In The Great Eggscape, two villain protagonists, Benedict, aka “Benny,” a mean soul, and Aggie, a “hard-boiled type,” decided to escape their fate of becoming colored Easter eggs (“They ain’t got nuttin’ on me”),and wanted to have some fun. Cracking out of the carton, they roughed up everyone in the fridge and went on to the pantry.
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PW has published a review of A Donkey Reads, calling it “a fine introduction [for children] to the dozens of tales about Nasreddin, the legendary 13th-century wise man.” Indeed, the protagonist of the story, Nasreddin Hoca, an imam, a teacher, a judge who lived in the 13th century in Anatolia (now Turkey) is a celebrated historical figure, tales about him are widely read/told in Turkey and the Middle East. He is a sage, yet full of wit. In A Donkey Reads, Nasreddin teaches a donkey to read to save a poor villager, Mustafo from the tyrannic Mongol ruler. Muriel Mandell’s retelling of this tale is engaging: readers will learn the secret of a donkey reading, and therefore, “thoroughly enjoy watching the Mongol leader get his comeuppance”(PW). PW also praises the artwork: “Portuguese artist Letria paints figures in a naïf, folk-art style nicely suited to this traditional story; their movements are puppet-like, yet their expressions are convincing, even moving. Full-bleed spreads alternate with entertaining spot illustrations of rows of villagers or miniatures of their offerings to the Mongol leaders.”
To read the full review from PW, click here, to read our blog posting click here.
Good Night, Little Sea Otter’s author Janet Halfmann talks about her works and life as a children’s book writer with VS Grenier, editor of Stories for Children’s Magazine on Blog Talk Radio. Award-winning author of more than 30 children’s books, Janet’s new books include Star Bright Books’ Good Night, Little Sea Otter, which has been very well-received by children’s literature blogosphere, as well as by readers. Learn more about Janet, and her works, visit the magazine’s April issue that features Janet, and listen to her talk! (did you know that before being a full time children’s book writer, she had been a waitress, grocery store checker, daily newspaper reporter, editor of a national children’s magazine, and a creator of coloring and activity books? And did you know that she writes “in an upstairs office that overlooks a huge old maple tree?”)
I am often amazed at wonderful toys and craft tools today (iPad included), many of which certainly spark and cultivate children’s imagination, creativity, and critical thinking. On the other hand, I wonder if children’s imagination is somewhat manufactured or confined by those educational/fun/creativity boosting toys and crafts. In an abundance of toys and crafts (and yes, iPad included), children may not have a chance to exercise their full capacity of creativity and imagination.
My not-yet-four year old friend loves playing with twigs and sticks as much as he loves playing with Lego toys. Out of twigs, we make a ladder, a flag pole, and a mast for a boat. Of course, empty cardboard boxes are always one of his favorites. It turns into a cave where his miniature dinosaurs have lived(hidden) for many years, into simply a hide-and-seek place, or into a firetruck that he is in charge of. He even made a space shuttle out of packaging foam. Nothing goes to waste; everything is recycled into fun toys. With cardboard boxes, my friend's world expands as far as he wants it to, constructing his own adventurous narrative. So does our little friend Ben.
Deborah Bruss's Big Box for Ben is simple, yet adorable story that young children will immediately identify with, even be inspired by! Ben has a big box. It’s a simple, ordinary cardboard box. But as Ben and his dog, Wags unfold their journey, the box become as many things as Ben imagines: it turns into a race car; a boat that he can paddle; a top of a mountain where he almost reaches the sky; the back of an elephant he is proudly riding on. And at the end, it turns into a cozy place where Ben and Wags fall asleep hugging each other after their extraordinary adventure. A simple, rhythmical text fits perfectly to read aloud with a young child, and Tomek Bogacki's illustrations creates Ben's dog, Wags as a silly companion that brings smiles to young readers. Big Box for Ben cheerfully articulates that children create their own amazement out of ordinary things only geared by their powerful imagination. Toys and craft tools may be wonderful, but cardboard boxes are inspiring. Join Deborah Bruss for a reading, signing, and play-date at Barnes and Noble in Manchester, NH, on May 7th (from 11 to 1:00). Of course, there will be plenty of boxes for the kids to play in (and with).
For many children, rinding the subway is not a mere means to travel from one point to another. The sheer sound of a train coming and going; getting on, getting off; the conductor’s calling, “Next stop... ;” looking at the seemingly tangled, yet, colorful subway maps, these are all little things grown-ups find indifferent if not annoying, but children are fascinated with. If the subway is the New York City subway, the excitement (or annoyance) would be tripled!The local, express, uptown, downtown, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or A, B, C, N, Q, R, S. You would be riding with a huge crowd of people wherever you go, all different faces, colors, dresses, and a babble of languages. Then there, if you are very lucky, you would encounter the Island Lady, as little boy Oscar did. She has a “fine islands smile,” a broad, and welcoming smile that invites shy Oscar to somewhere beyond the subway.
In Miriam Cohen’s Down in the Subway, Oscar was riding the # 1 train with his mother and baby brother. It is a hot day. Peeking at the Island Lady, Oscar is wondering what is in her big Island bag? She smiles, and pulls out things(!) she carries in her colorful straw bag- a cool blue Island breeze; Ackee rice, guava, coconut tarts, soursop soup, a delicious Caribbean meal that everyone in the subway has plenty of; and Calypso Man and a steel band. Then the Island lady pulls out a Caribbean town, where people start doing the jump-up. So do the reserved New Yorkers in the subway. Down in the subway, where it might not be a very pleasant place on a hot summer day, there Oscar gets the tropical vacation.
Miriam Cohen’s vivacious story becomes even more lively and enchanting by Melanie Hope Greenberg’s colorful, rich, creative illustrations (click here
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St. Patrick’s Day is coming, and the green array of leprechauns’ hats and shamrocks would fill streets across the globe, giving even random spectators a glimpse into the Irish experience. For the world of literary grown-ups, Irish people connote a distinguished sense of humor (often showing no mercy!), the ever-present Guinness, and witty-and-drunken brilliant writers and poets (you may add Irish fiddlers to this list). For the world of literary kids, it’s all about a story of mischievous and clever wee men called leprechauns, the Irish fairy, and their hidden pot of gold. They are not quite as nice as other fairies, but if you capture one of them, you may find the pot of gold. So here begins Lorna Balian’s Leprechauns Never Lie.
There lived a girl named Ninny Nanny and Gram in a tiny thatched hut. Oh, how poor they are, they only have rainwater soup to eat, and there is a lot of work to be done: “the thatch needed patching; the potatoes needed digging; the firewood needed gathering; and the water barrel needed filling.” “Oh, woe is me,” the ailing Gram sighs, but lazy Ninny Nanny doesn’t want to work. Instead, Ninny Nanny has a splendid idea - capture a leprechaun! Then he is bound to tell Ninny Nanny where he has hidden the pot of gold. Lucky for Ninny Nanny, she catches the little wee fairy man while tumbling over a log. Will the leprechaun tell Ninny Nanny the truth where he hid the treasure? Will Ninny Nanny find the gold as easy as she caught the leprechaun? Or does the clever leprechaun have a trick to deceive Ninny Nanny? We will see about that!
Originally published in two colors, Leprechauns Never Lie is now republished with full color illustrations by Lecia Balian, Lorna Balian’s daughter. Although the storyline itself is just as engaging, the plot alone cannot fully deliver the delightfulness of this book, illuminated in Lorna Balian’s uniquely witty dialogue. Trippinglly as you read along, Lorna Balian’s language is so rhythmical, you’d want to read aloud to your child again and again (and she/he would want to hear them again and again)! Of course, Ninny Nanny and Gram speak an Irish brogue. So if you can, read it with an Irish accent.
Growing up in a developing country (1970s South Korea), I rarely got my hands on picture books. Sure, there were many children’s books, and from the age of 5 or 6, I was an avid reader. But not picture books, let alone silly, mischievous, whimsical, yet adorable characters’ adventures with their sillier companions (cats, pigs, dogs, and monkeys) or those whimsical animals’ larger than life adventures. Certainly nothing like lots and lots of cats dressed in air force uniforms, or Texas rancher outfits, or a cat resembling Captain Ahab (you should really look for it!) as in John Stadler’sThe Cats of Mrs.Calamari. So I take much pleasure reading picture books for this blog, particularly the silliness and whimsy of this story, delivered in pictures page after page. With the inspiring silliness,The Cats of Mrs.Calamari is also a visual festivity for me. So is for my not-yet-four-year-old friend, whose eye for detail is remarkable. Watching him intensely studying the pictures, I wish I would have grown up knowing those books. But nothing is ever too late.
On Monday morning, Mrs. Calamari is moving into her fine apartment, with her many, many cats. On Tuesday, the new landlord, Mr. Gangplank, informs her of a no-cats policy in the building, starting the coming Sunday. Fortunately for Mrs.Calamari, Mr.Gangplank has lost his gl
For moms and dads (and grannies), watching their children eat fills their hearts with joy. Watching their tiny mouths munch food is just irresistible. For babies and toddlers, watching their parents eat is not so interesting. However, watching animals eating (pets, farm animals, or zoo animals, anything not human) fascinates them. They understand that animals are different from humans, so when animals act just like them, it is something truly special. Eating, strangely, becomes an adorable thing to watch. Animals get excited when they see their favorite food, which in turn excites babies and toddlers. When a sheep gently licks their little palms, when a donkey munches on an apple so close they can hear the crunch, the world is filled with magic.
In Catherine Hnatov’s Yum, Yum, friendly animals munch on their favorite foods, making a happy (and familiar) noise: “yum, yum.” The foods are in bright colors, with the animals in contrasting bold black and white. Yum, Yum combines two eye-catching components for babies: animals eating and the world of color (donkey eats a red apple; sheep eats yellow flowers, and so on). In every other page, featuring the same bright color as the food, appears simple text. Babies and toddlers, welcome to the world of color and to “Yum, Yum.”
Folktales are a unique way to discover, explore, thus appreciate other cultures beyond time and space. Their narratives are usually simple, often accompanying moral lessons. Yet, they observe acutely the very core of human conflicts, but always bring resolutions through wit, humor, and clever tricks. And such a humour never fails to radiate in human hearts. Although not well-known to Western readers, Nasreddin Hoca, an imam, a teacher, a judge who lived in the 13th century in Anatolia (now Turkey) is a widely celebrated historical figure. The tales of him are widely read in Turkey and the Middle East. He is a sage, yet full of wit, a down-to-earth figure who brings justice (or compromise) with laughs and giggles. In A Donkey Reads, Muriel Mandell retells a story of this witty sage for children from preschool to early graders. This time, Nasreddin teaches a donkey to read to save a poor villager, Mustafo. During the Mongol rule in Turkey, there lives a poor villager named Mustafo, who must give a gift of tribute to his tyrannical Mongol ruler. The only thing he can offer to the ruler is his old donkey. But when he presents it to the Mongol, the Mongol is furious and threatens him with death. Then, Nasreddin Hoca, the wise village man, assures the Mongol that this donkey is not ordinary, and he will soon teach it to read. A month later, indeed, the donkey reads a thick book by turning pages so quickly. What is Nasreddin’s trick to teach a donkey to read?
A Donkey Reads is lushly decorated with Andre Letria’s illustrations that are deep and rich in acrylic color, and detailed in every expression, even in the mice, that young readers find it fascinating. The Junior Library Guild’s pick.
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Does anyone really know the real, original, and truthful origin of Valentine’s Day? If you are not certain, here is the very palpable, sweet as your little ones, witty as your first love in junior high, and thoughtful as your significant other: A Sweetheart for Valentine by wonderful Lorna Balian. My not yet four years old friend liked it, shimmering sweet smiles as I read it to him. I doubt, though, he understood it fully as much as I did. I think this is more my cup of tea than his.
One morning, people in the peaceful small village of St. Valentine find a giant baby girl. She doesn't belong to anyone, so the villagers decide to raise her all together (true, it takes a whole village to raise a child!). Unlike anyone, she has one great-grandfather (he has a long, long white beard), three great-grandmothers, six grandfathers, seven grandmothers, eleven mothers and fathers, and many more sisters and brothers. They name her Valentine and find ways to care for her as she grows. Whenever there seems an issue for her well-being, Great -grandfather calls for a special meeting to find a solution collectively, and they always do (they even build a house that grows with her. How? With vines and sunflowers!). Then one early morning, they find a very large young man stuck in the mud. Is he a sweetheart for Valentine?
It’s a lost-in-time fascination to look at Balian’s illustrations, as much as her playful and rhythmical words. Whenever they hold a special meeting, responses from villagers are so distinguished and livelyㅡthe loving nature of mothers, wisdom-full nature of grandmothers, logic-driven, yet caring nature of fathers, supporting and fun nature of grandfathers, and we-can-help nature of sisters and brothers. Every time I read it aloud, it leaves a I-am-happy smile on my face. I can’t help it. *Another spoiler: Valentine and the big young man were not in “love at first sight” (as it doesn’t often happen in real life), but became so fond of each other as they learned more about each other (as it happens in real life).
“The kids LOVE Valentine's Day,” said my friend Aiko, a 3rd grader teacher. “Each student makes a mailbox (usually out of a shoe box or big envelop decorated in pink and red with their names on it)....They are still young, so they don't understand the 'boy+girl" love per say, but it is a fun day when they get thoughtful notes from the classmates!” With that excitement and happiness, their cheeks would turn red, and lively chatters, laughs and giggles would fill the classroom. But if, someone doesn’t get many cards, and feel sad? (as it always happens in real life!). In Bee My Valentine, Miriam Cohen lively and warmly depicts the first graders’ Valentine’s Day, accompanied by Ronald Himler’s gentle illustrations.
Valentine’s Day is coming, and the first graders are excited about choosing/making Valentine’s cards; what they would write and to whom; and of course, the cards they will receive. The teacher tells everyone to send a card to everyone else in the class so nobody will feel left out. On Valentine’s Day, however, George gets fewer cards than everyone else. George runs away and hides in the coat room, crying. All the first graders think hard about how to cheer him up, and altogether, they find a way.
Bee My Valentine
2 Comments on George didn’t get enough Valentine’s Day Cards. What can we do for him?, last added: 2/7/2011
Turning a page of a board book is a great activity for babies, anticipating another colorful picture appearing. But we know, they are grabbing, holding, sucking, and often chewing it rather than reading it. They certainly do not comprehend what mommy reads, but hear mommy’s voice that always excites and comforts them. The simple, repetitive, rhythmic words ring in their ears, while colorful pictures hold their short attention. For babies, board books are one of the first navigators into the world they don’t yet know.
One of the much-read children’s book blogs, Jennifer Robinson’s Book Page recently posted a great review on two board books from our Babies Everywhere series, Familiesand Carry Me, saying “these two books are an excellent addition to our library of board books... and a great addition to, say, a basket of books delivered to a new baby.”
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My friend is drawn to a book that has many words, which, by the way, he has absolutely no idea what the words, and sentences mean. He is three and a half. Anyway, he reads (rather he gazes at the pictures), so focused. I guess he is under the spell of the illustrations as he turns the pages, and unwritten stories unfold. I don’t dare interrupt him, but wonder what he is thinking, what he perceives, what he imagines. I should ask him what the story is about. Then he would tell me the story, the story only he can tell...Children enter the world of literature (or simply stories), not just by words, but also pictures that hold their eyes, and enchant them.
In Giora Carmi’sA Circle of Friends, a boy goes to a bakery and gets a muffin for a treat. On his way back home, the boy sees a homeless man sleeping on a bench. He looks at his muffin, having taken only a few bites...hesitates, then leaves his muffin for the homeless man. The man wakes up, surprised, and happily eats the muffin. The man sees birds in a nest, and leaves some crumbs for them. The story goes on, the boy’s kindness brings unexpected, yet, joyful moments to the boy. The story is told in wordless pages, only through illustrations.
This wordless story can travel to any corner of the globe, beyond borders, beyond languages, as does kindness. Kindness, Giora Carmi whispers, goes beyond borders, whether between strangers or between people and animals. Then as the title says, we are all in a circle of friends, where miracles of kindness happen (or the law of kindness is discovered). The quiet kindness and sharing are the spirit of the holiday seasons that we remember most, and have our children grow with. p.s. For little children, telling a story of a wordless picture book may not be an easy task at first. They need our interaction, and theatrical(?) help. Becoming a storyteller from a listener, I guess, is unknown to them, yet, an exciting experience for them. As it often happens with children who have imaginary friends, this experience will expand their vocabulary, and ability to form a narrative. I wonder how would the same wordless book be rendered in different cultures, let’s say, by a boy in New York or by a girl in Peru or in China? But all stories will be u
Happy New Year to all! It’s always good to have a new year; a new start, a new chance to reclaim (oneself), to be hopeful again, and make a new new year’s resolution; a new wish list, things to do, things to learn, places to go, and above all, books to read! In the case of books, a list is always involved with classics, either not-yet-read (shame) or re-reading a list of books that we would always return to.
No other books would do better than A Child’s Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson's timeless poems for children. The book has been in print since 1885, and is now illustrated by Brian Wildsmith’s stunning art. The year that is begun with poems, I suppose, cannot go wrong. It’s not April yet, not a national poetry month. But reading poetry gives children an appreciation for reading aloud. We all know children are very keen to hear rhyme, and rhythm and that’s how they come to know the joy of playing with language.
Read aloud to your child as poetry is supposed to be. Recite poetry with your child, one by you, another by your child. Perhaps, each night or each morning like a ritual. In the book, there are plenty of poems that resonate with a child’s every mood and imagination; whimsical, silly, exuberant, and melancholy. Then just hold a moment to study Brian Wildsmith’s enthralling wonder of color, magical brushstrokes that makes us happy again, dream again, imagine wild again, silly again and smile again. So will the year of 2011 be to all!
A friend of mine has invited me to go with her to Karen Armstrong’s talk on Thursday. A renowned British writer for her books on religious philosophy, will talk about her recent book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. I haven’t read the book yet, but the idea of compassion has always fascinated me with many questions: simple questions like are we born with compassion or do we learn it from life? Is compassion a remarkably human thing? How far can our compassion be extended? In ancient China, the great Confucius thinker Mencius wrote four virtues of men, which starts with compassion: “The heart of compassion is the sprout of benevolence...” Can compassion be taught without being so didactic? Can compassion be a pure pleasure? Are children more compassionate than adults? I was reading Brian Wildsmith’s Hunter and His Dog (I am re-reading Wildsmith’s books as much as I can before his birthday. Yeah! January 20th is the day. It’s my own private celebration of his birthday. I don’t think he knows, but that’s totally okay!) A hunter was training his new puppy as his new hunting partner, and one day, he took him on a real hunt. He shot a wild duck, the duck fell to the ground. The hunter told the dog to bring the duck as he trained him to fetch sticks and eggs. But when the dog went to fetch the duck, he could not bear to retrieve the wounded duck. Instead, the dog brought sticks back to the hunter and took the wounded duck to a little island. Each time when they went hunting, the dog took wounded ducks to a little island where they could heal, and every night he brought a loaf of bread to the ducks. Then one night, the hunter followed the dog.....
Hunter and His Dog is a story of compassion. The tender-hearted dog shows remarkable compassion towards wounded ducks, the helpless, the weak, and acts on their behalf, despite it being against the authority. Brian assures us that compassion is not just a human thing. When asked why he chooses to paint and write about animals,
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Children love tricks. Don’t they? My little friend, on the way home from preschool, he often stops and asks me if I want to see his new tricks, which mainly involves jumping, kicking, spinning... spinning with kicking, and kicking with jumping. Then he proudly shows me his new tricks, so enthusiastic as if a professional gymnast would confide his new skills to his circle of close friends. Children love watching a circus or clown shows like juggling balls (and clubs), power tumbling, hat tricks, and balancing on a rope, and of course swinging in the air. They laugh, they giggle, they are appalled, they hold their breath, they shout with joy, and they clap as hard as they can. As he has always done, Brian Wildsmith brought another wonderful story to us: this time, one full of fun and amazing tricks by not clowns, but by wild animals in a jungle. In Jungle Party, the hungry Python announced a party and invited all jungle animals. First, the animals were skeptical of the sly snake’s invitation. But the Python promised that he would not hurt anyone at the party, and suggested a great idea for a party- the trick competition. Who would not love the party? And showing their proud tricks? So here goes a team of a Gnu, jungle fowls, and a chameleon. Jungle fowls stand on beaks on Gnu’s back, and a Chameleon catches insects. The audience says, “Not bad. Not bad.” A Hyena walks on 2 melons for 20 yards. The animals were very impressed. “That’s great. That trick will be hard to beat.” A Spotted leopard and 4 monkeys stand on their heads on the leopard’s back. The audience went wild, “Wow. These tricks are getting better and better.” A Pelican collects many animals in its beak. Then, the hungry Python says he can get more animals into his mouth than the Pelican. Everyone is too excited to be cautious... What will happen to them?
Animals and their tricks performances are rendered in Wildsmith’s magical colors, and the tricks are just fun and amusing. The responses of animal audiences make you giggle. Full of wit and zest, Jungle Party is another wonderful story children would love.
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“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I Have a Dream speech, August 28, 1963 As we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., it struck me that his message is always in the present, not just in the past. Children, no matter where they are coming from, what they might show in their character or talent or not, each one of them are a unique, and distinguished being with full potential. It’s our responsibility to let them shine in their own way.
Children never complain about the weather: they love freezing and snow blocked ‘inconvenient’ ( grown-ups’ perspective) winter as much as they love hot sweaty ‘unpleasant’ (grown-ups’ perspective) summer. Yet, they do long for spring when winter seems too long (mainly to be free from a heavy coat, I figure). Still in the middle of deep winter, everyone is getting “restless,” and that’s around February. Luckily, Groundhog Day is right on February 2, which will tell us how much more winter fun we will have or when winter will be over. Groundhog Day is a folk custom and a tradition that puzzles and amuses children in a way no other “days” do. It gives them a chance to know the ways farmers used to live, to learn about certain beliefs, and getting familiar with unfamiliar animals (like a groundhog), and their behaviors. Lorna Balian, one of the much-beloved children’s book authors, whose books are often passed down from a mother to a daughter, captures all aspects of this unique tradition in A Garden for a Groundhog, in a playful manner, let alone her much praised illustrations. Mr. and Mrs. O’Leary live in a small cottage with their cat in a small farm that has a tiny shed for the goat, the lamb and two chickens, and a tiny vegetable garden. There is also an apple tree, under which a groundhog, who loves vegetable as much as the O’Learys, owns his burrow, and hibernates there. All winter long the O’Learys spend time knitting and reading, and eating a lot of zucchini dishes. But Mrs. O’Leary and Mr. O’Leary have a little different opinion about a groundhog. When Groundhog Day came they went out to see what the groundhog saw!
The water-color illustrations are so distinguished- detailed touch, gentle lines, and, the warmth of colors is radiated in page after page. There are five kitchen scenes in the book, which are slightly different one from another, that make me restless to find out what has been altered!: the stove, the sink, the calender, the cat, the “Home Sweet Home” picture, the number of zucchinis, and a lot more.
Yeeaaa! One of the greatest living children’s illustrators, innovator of children’s picture books, Brian Wildsmith was born today in 1930, so much joy for children and adults around the globe. A son of a miner, he grew up in a small mining village in Yorkshire, England, where everything was grey. He was poor like everyone else in the village, so it didn’t much matter. “Everything was grey. There wasn’t any colour. It was all up to my imagination. I had to draw in my head...”
The imagination, against all odds, was, indeed, the source of inspiration that made him who he is today. He won a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art where he studied for three years. But teachers at the school would not let him paint what he imagined. “They’d try and make you paint like them.” But he wants to make children “want to paint. Not to copy, but to think” (Interview in Book Trust). For a while he taught music at the Royal Military School of Music, but then gave it up so that he could paint full time. In 1962, he published his first children’s book, ABC, for which he was awarded theKate Greenaway Medal, Britain’s equivalent to the Caldecott Medal. In 1994, the Brian Wildsmith Art Museum was established in Izukogen, a town south of Tokyo, Japan, and when the Fuji Art Museum in Tokyo hosted a traveling exhibition of his work in 2004, almost one a