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When you were a child, did you ever wonder what happened to all of the storybook characters when you went to sleep at night? Well, in this story, Otto is a storybook bear who lives in a book on a shelf in a house, and when no one is looking he comes to life and explores! He reads his favorite stories, he practices his writing, but he is happiest of all when children read his book.
One day, something terrible happens – the people at his house move and they leave him behind! Otto definitely does not like being all alone and decides to set off on his own on a new adventure. He quickly finds that he feels very small and unwelcomed in the big bad world, until he finds a library. There he meets lots of new storybook friends and best of all, lots of children read his book, and he lives very happily ever after. What a sweet and gentle story that reminds us of the beauty of a child’s imagination!
When you go to an art gallery in a big city, it is fascinating to see how people from all over the world, who are speaking a wide variety of languages, are all able to enjoy looking at the same art. Art is truly universal, and it can bring people together, allowing them to connect despite their differences.
Today's picture book tells the story of one young bear's art adventure, and we see how his art helps him to make a new friend.
One morning Ted the bear wakes up, he looks around his room, and he realizes that his room needs “an artist to spiff things up.” Ted looks all over his house for an artist, and when he can’t find one hanging out in the fridge or in the fish aquarium, he decides to become an artist himself.
Ted knows that he needs an imagination to be an artist, and thankfully he has “one of those,” but what he doesn’t have is a paintbrush. Nor does he have paint, but Ted is a clever young bear and he improvises. He makes himself a paintbrush, and he finds that jam, mustard, chocolate sauce, and ketchup can be used as paint.
Soon Ted has painted big murals on the white walls of his house. For some reason, his mother isn’t very enthusiastic about his works of art, so when Ted gets to school he paints the walls there. Principal Bigham does not seem to appreciate Ted’s art either, but Ted does not let the principal’s negative attitude bother him.
In class, Ted notices that there is a new student in the room. Ted tries to make friends with Pierre, but the little monkey refuses to smile or speak. Somehow, Ted needs to show Pierre that he is welcome and among friends.
Art is one of the few things in this life that has universal appeal. Even if two people come from very different backgrounds, they can still appreciate the same work of art. They can also communicate through art when they don’t have a common language. In this charming picture book, the author explores this idea. Her irrepressible Ted is not easily discouraged, and his passion for art not only makes him creative, but it also makes him keen to use art to reach out to his new classmate.
I’m taking a break from the Fierce Reads Tour today to jump to the other end of children’s literature—picture books! Today I get to help celebrate the launch of Kelly Bennett’s newest picture book, ONE DAY I WENT RAMBLING. Kelly has joined us for a little Q &A about the book.
I’m glad to have you here today, Kelly! I loved your concept of rambling: a long, lazy, keep-an-eye-out-for-interesting-thing-a-ma-jigs-treasures-what’s its-whose its sort of walk. It’s great for kids to do on their own or with friends, but also a fun way for parents and grandparents to play with their children. Did you like to ramble as a kid? Is this something you’ve done with the children in your life?
Kelly: Oh yes I’m a rambler—in thought and deed—always have been. Back in the day, they called it “daydreaming” and said, “She’s off in her own little world again.” “Where’d you disappear to this time?” and “What took you so long?”
When my kids, Max, Alexis and my heart daughter/friend, Chelsie, were younger we’d stroll around the neighborhood, along the beach, into the woods—often with a few of their friends in tow. Too, at least once a month, we’d pack our old VW Bus with whatever food we had in the house and set out on an adventure. A favorite spot was Robber’s Cave State Park in Southeastern Oklahoma. Belle Starr and her gang are said to have hid out there. Pert near impossible not to be on the watch for treasure in a place like that!
But you don’t have to go anywhere to ramble. A favorite car ramble is a riff on the “I Spy With My Little Eye” game where one person points out an interesting building, sign, tree, thing-a-ma-gig on the side of the road and everyone takes turns imagining what else it might be. Or what about playing the “Cloud Game,” where you find animals, faces and mystical creatures hidden in the clouds?
The illustrations are exuberant. You and the illustrator, Terri Murphy, also teamed up on the delightful Dance, Y’all, Dance. Your work goes so well together, it feels like you are good friends. Do know each other personally?
Kelly: Like her art, Terri Murphy is smart, creative, funny and most importantly, about 8 years old inside—and she gets it. Gets the “it”
OH NO! NOT AGAIN! (Or How I Built a Time Machine to Save History) (Or at Least My History Grade) is the sequel to Mac Barnett and Dan Santat's fantastic picture book, OH NO! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World. If you read the first book, then you know that Barnett is economical with his framework of words that carry the story while Santat is exuberant and extravagant with his
Told from the Native American point of view, Black Elk’s Vision provides a unique perspective on American history.
From recounting the visions Black Elk had as a young boy, to his involvement in the battles of Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee, as well as his journeys to New York City and Europe with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, this biographical account of Black Elk—an Oglala-Lakota medicine man (1863–1950)—follows him from childhood through adulthood.
S. D. Nelson tells the story of Black Elk through the medicine man’s voice, bringing to life what it was like to be Native American in the mid-to-late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The Native people found their land overrun by the Wha-shi-choos, or White Man, the buffalo slaughtered for sport and to purposely eliminate their main food source, and their people gathered onto reservations. Through it all, Black Elk clung to his childhood visions that planted the seeds to help his people—and all people—understand their place in the circle of life.
The book includes archival images, a timeline, a bibliography, an index, and Nelson’s signature art.
I read two books recently about young children victimized by war, and they both broke my heart. In Black Elk’s Vision, a picture book based on Black Elk Speaks by John Neihardt, warfare destroys not only Black Elk’s home, but also his people’s entire way of life. From the cover to the last page, this colorful book is striking and thought provoking. It doesn’t pull any punches, either. From Little Big Horn to the massacre at Wounded Knee, Black Elk’s story is compelling and unforgettable. From the vast plains, hunting buffalo, to the hardship of a walled reservation, his words remain steady and engrossing. I am not sure that I would be as forgiving as Black Elk, Great Vision or not. Manifest Destiny is such an ugly chapter in the history of this country, and I find it painful to read many accounts of settlers as they steamrolled over everything in their path to conquering the West.
There are several parts of this book that I found disturbing, and I am sure that I will find them hard to forget. Before the white settlers flooded like a tsunami over the Great Plains, there were an estimated 30 million bison. Thirty million. By 1889, there were about a thousand. The numbers are mind-numbing. Worse, diseases brought by Europeans wiped out hundreds of thousands of Native Americans. And that was before the settlers began to intentionally drive them off of their ancestral homelands. Thinking about the massive loss of life is nauseating. Thinking about a twelve year old boy forced to defend his life, as well as the lives of his family, is also upsetting. Thinking about having everything you owned, every belief and physical possession, even your way of life, torn away also merits deep contemplation. I would not have survived nearly as well, or lived nearly as gracefully, as Black Elk.
I found Black Elk’s Vision a compelling read. Interspersing colorful acrylics with vintage photos of the events described in Black Elk’s narrative, I found t
Every year, the Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC) in Singapore sets up a wonderful bookstore for the festival attendees. This year, the bookstore was the best it's ever been because it was run by Bookaburra, a specialist children's bookseller in Singapore that believes in "good books and even finer children." There was a greater variety of the latest children's and young adult books from all over the world and the people from Bookaburra were doing a great job hand-selling. This, of course, was dangerous for the wallets of all the festival attendees!
While in Singapore for the AFCC, I made sure to visit Woods in the Books, an independent picture book shop for all ages. The shop had a well-curated collection of new and classic board books, picture books, comics, and graphic novels from around the world. The Sunday afternoon I was there, there were so many customers: artists, families with very small children, and young professionals (I could even hear them talking about the books they were reading). Very heartening!
This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with Elisha Cooper (pictured here from my 2008 7-Imp interview) about Homer, his newest picture book and one of my favorite picture books of 2012 thus far.
Here’s a brief excerpt:
”When I was painting the book, I’m sure I was thinking about my daughters. They were heading off to summer camp before returning to me at the end of their day. But in some larger sense, I knew they were also heading off into their lives. This letting-go stuff still sort of kills me. But I know it’s important. If we create space for those we love, then love will come into that space.”
We’re very pleased to share Caroline Grant’sFive Family Favorites with you. We’ve been reading her delightful food stories and recipes on her blog Learning to Eat for years. And we’re eagerly awaiting the forthcoming book based on it, The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat. Caroline is editor-in- chief of Literary Mama, a fantastic magazine and resource for mothers to return to for inspiration. She’s also the editor of another fascinating anthology Mama, PhD. Thanks to Caroline and her family for sharing their favorite books with us. They have made us hungry for more!
In the Night Kitchen is the book my sons and I comforted ourselves with when we heard the sad news of Maurice Sendak’s death last month. This quirky story, frequently banned because Mickey slips out of his pajamas and frolics naked in his dreams, is a terrific fantasy of independence and cake baking. We love the bold illustrations and the comic book look of the book, the inventiveness of buildings topped with egg beaters and juicers, and the subway train that looks like a loaf of bread, but most of all, we love that Mickey can stretch bread dough into an airplane and fly wherever he wants until, having fetched the baker’s milk, he slides gently back home and safely into bed.
Everyone knows Eric Carle’s wonderful The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but our very favorite Eric Carle book is Pancakes, Pancakes!, in which a boy named Jack asks his mother for pancakes. “I am busy and you will have to help me,” his mother says, a line that sets Jack off on a gentle adventure. One by one, his mother names the ingredients needed and Jack gathers them: he cuts and threshes wheat; grinds the wheat into flour; milks the cow and churns the milk into butter; feeds the hen so she’ll lay an egg; cuts wood for the fire; and finally, steps down into their cool cellar for some jam. I love that Jack’s mother doesn’t drop everything to cook for h
Father’s Day is almost upon us. Why not celebrate by reading a few books about the proud papas who brighten our days? So snuggle up with your little ones and thank your lucky stars for the doting fathers in their lives.
This book is radical, dude. Seriously, Kristy Dempsey delivers a tidal wave of fun with this tale of a young would-be surfer chick yearning to rip the tides like her righteous dad. When she wipes out, she becomes more determined than ever. Cole’s sunny funny painted illustrations add humor yet a mellow yellow vibe.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc. | May 1, 2012
If “Luke, I am your father,” is a familiar phrase and let’s face it, who hasn’t heard it, then you’ll love this hilarious sendup to single fathers trying desperately to be nurturing dads. The book poses the question if Darth Vader had been a real pop to Luke, what might have happened? Told in a comic way with light-hearted illustrations, you’ll laugh until you cry.
All Ages | Publisher: Chronicle Books | April 18, 2012
Wing employs “’twas the night before” as a clever convention in this rhyming story of a family working together to surprise Dad on Father’s Day. I especially appreciated the handy mom who could check the oil while leading her kids as they clean up the garage and wash the car. You should check out the other “night before” books from this bestselling series.
Ages 3-5 | Publisher: Penguin Group | May 10, 2012
I’ve been taking a break from blogging for the past month in order to focus on writing and editing deadlines, as well as other professional obligations… but I’m proud to have popped up on one or two other people’s blogs this month in interviews!
Please check out Julie Hedlund’s Blog where I am proud to be the featured author for June, discussing the problem of “The Mucky Middle” when crafting a picture book, as well as Beth Stilborn’s blog where I am equally proud to be interviewed in depth for her Wednesday Worthy series.
I’ll be blogging again shortly with a new series on … Series Writing!
What are the elements that go into creating a picture or chapter book series? How does one establish continuity of style, develop character, or come up with plots that continue to engage? These are just a few of the questions I’ll be addressing… but what do YOU want to know about crafting a series? Post your questions here and I’ll do my best to answer them in the weeks ahead!
In many houses, going to bed is anything but a fun experience.
There are objections, arguments, tears and fears.
Jammy Dance (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012) by Rebecca Janni and Tracy Dockray puts a happy spin on the bedtime ritual. The book features a brother and sister who, with a little help from Mom and Dad, dance their way into bed.
Today’s reviewer, Abby, has a brother, so she just might try her own jammy dance one night. (Although, as you’ll see below, the part of the book that really made an impression on her was the illustration of the dog drinking out of the toilet!)
Take it away, Abby!
Our reviewer: Abby
Things I like to do: Read books. Play with Mommy. Have play dates with Sienna.
This book was about: The jammy dance to help the brother and sister get ready for bed.
The best part was when: They jammy danced.
I smiled when: The dog was crushing the dolls.
I was surprised when: The dog was licking the potty water.
This book taught me: How to get ready for bed in a happy way.
Three words that best describe this book: “Dirty.” (The kids’ room was messy!) “Fun.” “Nice.”
My favorite line or phrase in this book is: “I love you.” (Editor’s note: This phrase isn’t actually in the book, but that’s what Abby remembers. And love is certainly an underlying theme of the book.)
My favorite picture in this book is: The dog drinking the potty water.
Other kids reading this book should watch for: The dog licking the potty water and the messy room.
You should read this book because: It’s fun!
Thank you, Abby!
If you’d like to learn more about author Rebecca Janni (who has had two other books reviewed on this blog by two different kids — SoniaandBrooke) you can visit her website.
If you’d like to learn more about illustrator Tracy Dockray, you can visit this site.
A Hen For Izzy Pippik. Aubrey Davis. Illustrated by Marie Lafrance. 2012. Kids Can Press. 32 pages.
Shaina perched on the porch with her eyes shut and listened. Mama's sewing machine chattered in the kitchen. Baby Pinkus pounded a pot. Grandpa whistled an old-time tune. In the market across the road, a nanny goat bleated. A truck puttered past. A cuckoo cooed from Mr. Fine's clock shop. Shaina wished she could still dust for Mr. Fine. She wished she could help the other merchants, too. But people had little to spend these days. There were few shoppers in the market and fewer jobs to do. Times were tough.
Can a chicken bring a whole town good luck? It can if it is Izzy Pippik's chicken. One day a crate falls from a truck, a hen is inside. Shaina, our heroine, knows the hen doesn't belong to her, it has an owner already. But she knows that she can take care of it for Izzy Pippik in the meantime. She knows that he will be back for it sooner or later. But taking care of a hen isn't that easy, not when the hen keeps having chicks, who keep having chicks, who keep having chicks. Because these chicks belong to a hen who belongs to someone else, all these new chicks belong to Izzy Pippik too. Soon it takes a whole town to "care" for the chicks/chickens. (Some people in town which Shaina was a little less bossy in insisting that these chickens are not to be eaten.) And soon this flock of chickens is gaining attention for the whole town, people are coming to look and see for themselves. Will Izzy Pippik ever come back to town?
I definitely liked this one!
Read A Hen for Izzy Pippik
If you like folk tales
If you like (quaint) small towns
If you like a good lesson or two in your picture books
If you like determined, responsible heroines
Good Night, Laila Tov. Lauren Snyder. Illustrated by Jui Ishida. 2012. Random House. 32 pages.
The sun was up. The day was bright! It filled our room with yellow light. It woke us both, so right away... We grabbed our things, were on our way.
Nature is celebrated in a family camping trip in Laurel Snyder's newest book, Good night, laila tov. (Laila tov means good night in Hebrew.) The first night of camping sees this family at the beach and loving it. Laurel Snyder's rhymes capture the enthusiasm of the trip so well:
The sand was hot. The waves were wide. Tall grassed swayed. The salty air Was soft and still and everywhere. And the waves whispered... Good night, laila tov...
The second night of camping sees the family setting up in a field (or meadow). Here readers see the family planting trees together. Again the love of nature is evident. We see a joyful family together living and loving nature, thankful for the beauty around them. The illustrations complement the text quite well, for they are beautiful.
Read Good Night, laila tov
If you're looking for a book that celebrates the beauty of nature, of the natural world
Video courtesy of ChronicleBooks: What if Darth Vader took an active role in raising his son? In this hilarious and sweet comic reimagining, Darth Vader is a dad like any other—except with all the baggage of being the Dark Lord of the Sith. Celebrated artist Jeffrey Brown’s delightful illustrations give classic Star Wars® moments a fresh twist, presenting the trials and joys of parenting through the lens of a galaxy far, far away. Life lessons include lightsaber batting practice, using the Force to raid the cookie jar, Take Your Child to Work Day on the Death Star (“Er, he looks just like you, Lord Vader!”), and the special bond shared between any father and son.
Jeffrey Brown is the author of numerous graphic novels and comics, including Cat Getting Out of a Bag and Cats Are Weird. A lifelong Star Wars fan, he lives in Chicago with his wife and five-year-old son.
The Smiley Book of Colors. Ruth Kaiser. 2012. Random House. 32 pages.
The Smiley Book of Colors highlights some of the photos collected for the Spontaneous Smiley Project. It is also meant to be a concept book. The smiley faces are arranged or sorted by color.
The good news? The photos used in the book are engaging and interesting. While not every reader will "love" the photographs, I think they provide enough interest to make this picture book appealing--at least making it worth a browse. (I admit some of the pictures are a bit creepy looking.) The end papers provide further interest.
The bad news? Well. To be honest. I found the text a little lacking despite the boasts of the publisher's description: "Readers of all ages will appreciate the witty rhyming text, and its inspirational message about choosing happiness." Granted, I am a bit picky when it comes to rhyming texts. And I admit that I can be hard to please when it comes to rhyming verses--if they don't have rhythm, if they don't have good flow, if they feel too forced or are too over-the-top with sentiment, then I have a hard time getting past it.
Smile! Be happy! It's contagious-- Like the good feeling you'll get From these smiley-filled pages.
You'll find smileys Wherever you turn.... We've found that happiness Is something you learn.
Decide to notice, And smileys appear. You'll giggle! You'll laugh! You'll grin ear to ear!
Smile! Be happy! You get to pick-- When something is icky, Do you focus on ick?
The text didn't bother me horribly at the first. But by the end of this one, I was tired of it. Some verses or stanzas really annoyed me. Of course, it is all subjective. And I suppose there may be readers out there of various ages who don't mind the text and may even like it.
Read The Smiley Book of Colors
If you love looking at photographs OR taking photographs. The camera lens is used creatively to see the world, and it may inspire you to take your own photographs and start your own project.
If you are looking for a quirky color-concept book.
If you like bright, sentimental rhyming books with a positive outlook.
Why Choose Self-Publishing – Jo Linsdell’s experience as a new children’s picture book author
“Why did you choose to self publish?”
I wanted full control over every aspect of the book. I wrote the story for my son and designed it to suit his tastes. the fact that he played such an active role in it’s creation makes it all the more special to me. By self publishing I got to call all the shots and make it exactly as I wanted it.
“Why did you choose to do the whole book yourself, instead of collaborating with a writer or an illustrator? Are there drawbacks to going it alone”
I studied art and design at college and love it. I figured I might as well put both my writing skills and my illustrating skills to practice. Why hire someone else when i can do it myself? There is a down side to going it alone though. For example, I had no problems in sketches the illustrations for the book, but making them digital and print quality was a whole different story. I’d never used a graphic program before and so it was a huge learning curve for me. Luckily for me, one of my tech savvy friends was on hand to give me advice and assistance. he saved the day more than once
“How has the experience been for you so far? “
Great. This book has been so much fun to do right from the beginning. I’m having fun with the marketing side of things too.
Is the process something anyone could undertake or do you need to be tech savvy?”
I think a certain amount of tech-savviness is definitely a plus. If you’re not lucky enough to have a graphic friend to help out with the technical stuff than I suggest going a different route. There’s so much you need to know, from what colours you can use to dealing with transparencies and layers, in order to get a quality end result. Producing a children’s book is not as easy as some people might think.
“How cost effective is self publishing?”
Very. I spent no money in the creation of the book. I wrote the text and did the illustrations myself. I’m also lucky to have a fantastic network of friends that volunteered to proofread for me and help out with my technical questions. My network has been amazing in supporting my promotional tour to launch the book too with many of them offering to host me on their sites, review the book and help spread the word.
The only cost I’ve had was $25 to have the book added to expanded distribution via createspace (to make it available to bookstores, onlne retailers, libraries etc…) and the cost of a proof copy.
“How time effective is self publishing with regards to all the promotional and marketing work?”
Marketing takes up a lot of time. I don’t think self publishing differs particularly from other publishing routes when it comes to marketing though. Even if you publish through a traditional publisher you will be expected to do a certain amount of promoting yourself.
“Would you choose self-publishing over traditional publishing?”
I did. Self publishing was plan A for me. The reputation attached to self publishing has changed a lot over the last few years and even big name authors are ditching their traditional publishers in favour of self publishing their work.
“Would you self publish again?”
Definitely. I would only consider using a traditional publisher if I couldn’t get the result I wanted on my own.
Alan Lawrence Sitomer is a nationally renowned speaker and was California’s Teacher of the Year in 2007. He is also the author of multiple works for young readers, including Nerd Girls, the Hoopster trilogy,The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez, Cinder-Smella, and The Alan Sitomer BookJam. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughters. Just in time for Father’s Day, Alan talks to TCBR about his newest picture book Daddies Do it Different(Hyperion, 2012).
TCBR: Daddies Do it Different. How so? And why do you think they do do it differently?
Alan Lawrence Sitomer: As daddies, we live in a new era. Look around at how amazingly involved the dads of today are in their young children’s lives. I mean back when I was a kid, they didn’t even have daddies—all we had were “fathers” who doled out gruff chores and did things like take us to baseball games in order to metaphorically teach us the nuances of life from the bleacher seats.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite that bad but still, these days, no matter where you look you see it: dads are taking a more active, involved role in their children’s lives than ever before. Dads know how to swaddle, dads go to Saturday morning children’s fitness classes, dads far and wide change diapers without blinking an eye.
What I really see is that dads have embraced the joy of being a parent in the way that moms have done for thousands of years. And truly, it is filling our collective hearts with delight. (I really do believe that dads of yore have no idea all the good stuff they’ve been missing.)
Having said all that, daddies aren’t mommies; we have our own style. Our own flair. Thus, the phrase Daddies Do It Different. One way is not necessarily more “right” than another way . . . it’s just different.
From a birthday party to bathtime, you’ve created an entertaining book on how father’s put their own spin on day-to-day events (and special occasions) in a child’s life. Inspired by your own experiences as a father, which experience in the book would you consider a personal highlight?
A great many scenes from Daddies Do It Different come straight from my own life. Jamming a banana up my nose in the middle of the supermarket just to get a smile out of my daughter? I’ve done it. Pigging out on a little kid’s birthday cake by having two or three slices while all the children at the event (i.e. the invited guests) are limited to “just one piece?” I’ve done it. Turning the entire bathroom into a swimming pool while using ¾ of a bottle of bubble bath in a troubled attempt to get my dirty little honey-bunch clean? Done that, too. Indeed, fatherhood has brought ou
Were you the sort of child who would watch all sorts of animals buzz about the garden? I remember being mesmerized by humming birds, butterflies, spiders even roly-poly bugs. I just loved watching, observing, thinking about what these animals were doing. A beautiful new picture book, Step Gently Out, celebrates this moment for children - the wonder of watching animals, looking closely at their world and ours.
Step outside, take some time to be still and just watch the world. Get down low to the ground or close to some plants, and you're sure to see tiny animals going about their business. Frost and Lieder have captured the wonder children experience as they notice these creatures.
Lieder's photography will be the first thing to grab children's attention. Each page brings the reader up close to an insect, as if you were right there crouching in the garden. The animals are caught in crisp, clear detail that will fascinate children. The colors in each photograph and the balance between sharply focused animals and soft backgrounds are stunningly beautiful. Moreover, Lieder's photographs perfectly interpret and complement Frost's poem. Just look at the beautiful title page - I love the color of the thistle this bee is perching on. The balance between the sharply focused animal and the soft background complements the text perfectly.
Frost begins by calling readers to step outside, take a moment from their busy day, and notice the world around them:
Step gently out, be still, and watch a single blade of grass.
Frost introduces animals children will be familiar with - an ant, a honeybee, a moth - and some that may be new to them - a firefly, a katydid, a damselfly. With each, Frost uses just a few words to capture its essence. Her poetry capture the magic of the moment and never overwhelms the young reader with its artistry. Frost manages to balance concrete details with just a few perfectly placed lyrical phrases.
“Now that the ocean is calm again, I can float on the waves. Look, I’m floating like a jelly fish!” – From Kiyomi Konagaya’s Beach Feet, illustrated by Masamitsu Saito (Enchanted Lion Books, June 2012) (Click to enlarge spread)
Good night, laila tov, written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Jui Ishida, is a quiet celebration of nature, giving back, and Jewish traditions. A young brother and sister go on a family trip with their parents to various outdoor locations. As the children are lulled to sleep by the ocean's waves, or the sound of rain on a tent roof, their parents quietly care for them (assembling the tent, collecting firewood). The parents also show their appreciation for the world, by planting young trees. At the very end of the book, the children have a chance to tend to their tired parents.
Throughout the book, each time the children fall asleep, the refrain "Good night, laila tov" is repeated. I had to read the jacket copy to learn that "laila tov" means "good night" in Hebrew. Thus "good night, laila tov" is a saying that their parents (and nature) offer to the children, wishing them peaceful sleep. I also learned that the tree planting by the parents is part of the Jewish tradition of "tikkun olam", repairing the world.
I like the way that these Jewish words and traditions are integrated into the story (along with the passing images of a Jewish star around the daughter's neck and a menorah in the family's window). Good night, laila tov celebrates the Jewish culture without being heavy-handed about it, or making that the only thing that the book is about. Good night, laila tov is also about the beauty of nature, the quiet efforts of parents, and the security that comes from being part of a family.
Laurel Snyder's text is pure poetry, sometimes snappy and sometimes sleepy, but always engaging to read aloud. Like this:
"We helped our parents plant some trees. We found some mice. We found some bees!
Then suddenly, The rain came down. In plips and plops It hit the ground."
She uses humor, too, with a light touch. Like this:
"We climbed into the sandy car With all our treasures in a jar.
We stopped for dinner, stopped to see...
Stopped again so I could pee."
The formatting of the text is well-done, too. In the above example, each of the first three lines is separated, used to illustrate a separate part of the picture. The "Good night, laila tov" refrain is always shown in a slightly larger font, with the text curving up and down like a wave, evoking sleep.
Jui Ishida's illustrations are warm and textured, practically begging young children to run their hands along the pages. She fills each page spread with details about nature, from arcs of sunlight on the beach to stars in the night sky. The images aren't completely representational - there's a faintly abstract quality to Ishida's trees, and an idealized quality to the rosy-cheeked children. But they work perfectly with Snyder's lyrical text.
Good night, laila tov is a beautiful bedtime book for any family, perfect for reading on a warm, summer night. The educational aspects about the meaning
Sometimes, those stories are wild flights of fancy that take readers someplace they never dreamed could exist.
Other times, those stories are based on the lives of real people who did something interesting or extraordinary. That’s where today’s book, Tomás and the Library Lady(Dragonfly Books, 2000), fits in.
It tells the story of a boy named Tomás who is part of a family of migrant workers. They travel the country picking crops. While his parents work one summer in Iowa, Tomás visits the town library and becomes friends with the librarian. She finds books he’ll like. He teaches her some Spanish.
It’s a sweet story. And then, at the very end, we find it’s based on the life of Tomás Rivera, a man who started out as a migrant worker and ended up being an author and chancellor at the University of California at Riverside. Mr. Rivera died in 1984, but the library at the college he led now bears his name.
Publishers Weekly described the book saying, “A gentle text and innovative artwork depict a pivotal summer in a boy’s life.”
What did today’s guest reviewer think? Let’s find out.
Today’s reviewer: Gwen
This book was about: This kid named Tomás and the library teacher. He spent a lot of time in the library and they became friends. Then he had to leave. It was sad.
The best part was when: When they met, because it felt like they were going to be friends.
I smiled when: Tomás was imagining the dinosaurs and stuff.
This book taught me: About dinosaurs and stuff. I like science books.
Three words that best describe this book: “Cool.” “Arty.” “Fun.”
My favorite picture in this book is: When he imagined all the dinosaurs.
Other kids reading this book should watch for: The author who made it.
You should read this book because: It’s fun to learn from.
Thank you, Gwen!
If you’d like to learn more about author Pat Mora, you can visit her websiteor watch this video interview with her where she discusses her Mexican culture and how it’s influenced her writing.
“When we finished our lowrider, I was so proud of my mama. People thought she couldn’t do it, but we sure proved ‘em wrong! And I was proud of myself for helping her choose some pretty colors for the painting.”
It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means it’s time here at 7-Imp to shine the spotlight on a student or new-to-the-field illustrator.
Today I’ve got illustrator, artist, and mural-maker Robert Trujillo, who is from Oakland, California. Robert has yet to be published as an illustrator but is, as he told me, trying to learn more about the field and meet like minds “in real time or through the Web.”
Speaking of the Web, Robert’s site is the cool side of satin, especially if you dig art and jazz (and/or funk and/or soul). Case-in-point is here.
Okay, digression over.
The illustration above, rendered in watercolor and ink, is one of two illustrations Robert created from a short story he’s written about a mother and daughter who build their own lowrider. The second illustration, as well as more artwork from Robert, is below.
And here are more words from Robert, who is pictured above at a recent visit to an elementary school in Sacramento. (More on that visit and more pictures are here at Robert’s site.) (more…)
Mario Makes a Move is the newest picture book from Jill McElmurry. You might recognize McElmurry's magnificent illustrations from Alice Schertle's Little Blue Truck books that I mentioned in my article The Changing Face of Board Books. McElmurry also illustrated the rollicking Pirate Princess by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and talks about both books at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
Pirate Princess by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen with superb illustrations by Jill McElmurry is a welcome addition to the relatively small world of good pirate picture books, especially since it features that rare creature, the pirate girl. I'm sorry, I can't say "pirate girl" without starting to sing this awesome They Might Be Giants song that I have to include here for your listening enjoyment as