What drew me to this whimsical clock were its big observant eyes, set within finely painted circles
Some years back, I came across "Buffalo Dusk" by Carl Sandburg. The poem is in The Random House Book of Poetry for Children: A Treasury of 572 Poems for Today's Child
(1983) selected by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. Here it is:
The buffaloes are gone.
And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they
pawed the prairie sod into dust with their great hoofs,
their great heads down pawing on in a great pageant of dusk,
Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
And the buffaloes are gone.
Sandburg was wrong, but is that what he thought when he wrote the poem in 1920? How many people, in 1920, thought "those who saw the buffaloes" were gone? It wasn't true then, and it wasn't true in 1983 when Jack Prelutsky chose the poem for the collection... Did Prelutsky think so in 1983? And when Lobel was drawing the buffalo herd that accompanies the poem, did he think so?
By: James Preller,
Blog: James Preller's Blog
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, Matthew Cordell
, Preller Mighty Casey
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I first learned of Matthew Cordell when he was hired to illustrate my picture book, MIGHTY CASEY. Despite Matt’s great artwork, the book never really found an audience, and I guess it sort of died on the vine, as they say. But there are two great things that came out of that book. First, my ongoing friendship with Matthew and his amazingly talented wife, Julie Halpern. Someday I hope we’re all in the same room! In my opinion, Matt is a hugely gifted illustrator, and a true artist, and an heir in his approach and dedication to Arnold Lobel, who is one of my all-time heroes. He’s also got a touch of William Steig.
Look, I’ll say it. A lot of children’s book illustration, while technically spectacular, isn’t very appealing to kids. Matt’s work, on the other hand, is loose and inviting and draws readers into the story. Like Lobel, and Steig, and James Marshall, and all the best. I really think Matt is that good, and he’s just scratching the surface.
Secondly, I’m gladdened by the consistent pleasure I experience when on odd times I pull out MIGHTY CASEY and read it aloud to large groups of students. I’m telling you, it works every time. We laugh, we have fun, and by the end these kids are right there, leaning in, eager for the play at the plate. Sales or not, those experiences tell me that Matt and I did good together — we made something, you know, put it out into the world. It’s all we can do.
Anyway, Matt created a homemade trailer for his new picture book, ANOTHER BROTHER. Now on sale on every street corner, car trunk, haberdashery — and independent bookstore, too!
Enjoy . . .
By: Betsy Bird
Blog: A Fuse #8 Production
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It was kind of a kooky idea, I admit it. I’ve seen plenty of sites where artists will reinterpret someone like Maurice Sendak in their own styles. What I wanted was something a little different. I wanted to see what would happen if great children’s book illustrators illustrated one another. If a Lobel illustrated a Bemelmans. If a Carle illustrated a Silverstein. Trouble is, famous folk have a way of not bothering to illustrate one another (to say nothing of the fact that a bunch of them are dead as doornails). The solution? To offer a silly fun challenge. And so the Re-Seussification Project was offered: To re-illustrate any Dr. Seuss book in the style of another illustrator.
Now there was some question at first about revealing the identities of the people making the mash-ups. Some folks thought this fun contest was unfortunate because I wasn’t celebrating the great talents of up-and-coming artists. So as a compromise, I’ll present the art first and then the names of the artists at the bottom of the page. Makes it a little more streamlined anyway.
And now . . . the moment you’ve all been waiting for . . . in the order of the faux artists, here’s the lot!
So, we’re all friends here, right? Right off the bat I’m going to make a confession. In offering this contest all I really wanted was for someone somewhere to do an Eric Carle. It was a lot to ask since we’re talking about an artist dealing in the medium of cut paper. It looked like it wasn’t going to happen. Then, last night, the final submission was sent in and it was . . .
1. GREEN EGGS AND HAM IN AN ERIC CARLE STYLE
A brilliant way to start us off!
Next up, I’ve fond memories of this book. As a child of Kalamazoo I was slightly obsessed with any and every mention of my hometown, no matter where it might be. Dr. Seuss was one of the few authors to understand the true glory of my hometown’s name and for that I shall forever be grateful. It lifts my heart a little then to see him memorialized in the form of . . .
2. HORTON HATCHES THE EGG IN A LAURENT DE BRUNHOFF STYLE
I particularly like how worried Babar appears. One thing’s for certain. That elephant bird is gonna be one snappy dresser.
This next image didn’t go the easy route, no sir. Some illustrators have styles that are easier to imitate than others. For this next one I was incredibly impressed by the sheer details at work. From the border to the font to the colors to the fact that this looks like an honest-to-gosh watercolor. Hold onto your hats folks, for you are now in the presence of . . .
3. GREEN EGGS AND HAM IN A TOMIE DEPAOLA STYLE
The best part is that his name is signed with dePaola’s customary little heart. THAT is the attention to detail I crave.
We had plans to ski last Sunday, but high winds kept the chairlifts at Whiteface Mountain grounded for the first part of the morning. Instead of waiting it out, we headed into Lake Placid for some pancakes and a dogsled ride.
I've always been fascinated by the Iditarod, the 1150-mile sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. A few years ago, my husband and I visited Iditarod headquarters and got to meet some of the amazing dogs that make that journey. But it was summer, so we couldn't actually ride on a dogsled.
That's why we jumped at the chance to take a ride with these gorgeous dogs on Lake Placid's Mirror Lake.
The dogs were excited to find out they had some business.
The ride around a frozen Mirror Lake was brisk but spectacular!
This is our musher, whose name has escaped me, but he was very, very cool and friendly. Interestingly enough, he never actually hollered "Mush!" He hollered "Hike!" instead. We were slightly disappointed but got over it.
While we circled the lake, other winter weather lovers were skating or riding toboggans down an icy chute set up along the shore.
This is Lightning. He likes to run in the back of the pack and was the friendliest of the sled dogs -- the only one the kids could pet after our ride. The rest of them couldn't wait to pull us around on the sled but wanted nothing to do with us when the ride was over. You can see in their eyes that these dogs still have a lot of the wild left in them -- one of the reasons they do so well in the actual race in Alaska.
The real Iditarod is going on right now. Here's a great website where you can follow the progress of the teams.
Frog and Toad were reading a book together.
"The people in this book are brave," said Toad. "They fight dragons and giants, and they are never afraid."
"I wonder if we are brave," said Frog.
Frog and Toad looked into a mirror.
"We look brave," said Frog.
"Yes, but are we?" asked Toad.
Frog and Toad are the best of friends. They do things together. They help each other when things go wrong. They have cookies together. They read together. They even have heart-pounding adventures together. But mostly, they are the best of friends.
For Teachers and Librarians:
Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad stories are short, sweet, to the point, and loved loved loved by the little guys. (I know, I'm probably preaching to the choir, here...) Yet, despite their simpleness, they are full of possibilities in the classroom. Frog and Toad Together as a whole is perfect for a unit on friendship to illustrate the many things good friends do for each other and with each other. Or, how about reading it aloud as part of a lesson on how to fix your day when things go wrong - as Toad learns in A List? The Garden is a fun way to introduce a plant unit - What does a seed need to grow into a plant? What did Toad do that is not useful to get your seeds to grow? Help your kids grasp the concept of willpower by reading Cookies. There are so many more ways you can use this book in your classroom. Read your copy again (or go get one and read it) and open your mind to the possibilities.
For Parents and Caregivers:
This is a book your little guys will love for many, many years - even once they're "too old" for it. Frog and Toad are the best of friends. Though they are both quite different at times, they are always good friends to each other. Toad tends to be a bit grouchy, and a bit afraid of new things or stepping outside what is familiar. Frog is always there to support Toad, and gently guides him when he thinks Toad is being a bit silly or isn't doing something quite right. The situations Arnold Lobel puts Frog and Toad in are ones little kids frequently find themselves in. What kid hasn't tried to test their bravery? And how many have stuffed themselves silly with too much of a good thing (cookies!). And how many (adults included) have worried that their best friend might leave them - in a dream, or for real? Fun to hear read aloud, and fun to read on their own, kids will cherish this one.
For the Kids:
Frog and Toad are the best of friends, and they are always there for each other. Have you ever had a problem, and you didn't know how to solve it, but your friend helped you figure it out? Frog does this for Toad. Have you ever tried to plant a seed, but it wasn't growing and you didn't know why? That happens to Toad, and Frog is there to help him figure out what to do. Have you ever tried to see if you are brave? Was it scary? Wait till you read about what Frog and Toad get into when they try it! This book has five different stories in it, and great pictures to show you what's happening. So, you can read it all at once, or one part at a time, and both ways will be fun.
For Everyone Else:
All you early forty-somethings on down to teenagers out there may remember the Frog and Toad books fondly. Go find your old copy, dust it off, and take a trip down memory lane. See if it doesn't make you feel good, like it did back then. If you don't have it, or didn't read it, head off to the library and find it, and see what you've been missing.
Title: Frog and Toad Together
Author and Illustrator: Arnold Lobel
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Publisher and Date: HarperFestival - a Division of HarperCollinsPublishers, 1999
Edition: I Can Read Picture Book Edition (reprint)
Published In: United States
Some random books from the shelves this week. Hope you find something that you and your children will enjoy!
Shark in the Dark, written by Peter Bently and illustrated by Ben Cort is adorable, literally, from cover to cover. The front cover features a cut-out that appears a shark is going to come right through, out at the reader and the text inside is filled with cute rhymes about how this shark scares all the little fish. When the shark meets someone even bigger than he is, a fish that wants to eat HIM, the shark begins to think a little differently about how he treats fish smaller than he is.
Cute, rhyming text, bright, bold illustrations, and a cute plot make for a great read aloud. Not too scary for the little ones, I promise!
Shark in the Dark
The Frogs and Toads All Sang is a brand new collection of short little stories by the infamous Arnold Lobel, with color by Adrienne Lobel. The stories, discovered by his daughter, are as lovely and sweet as anything else you've ever read by Lobel, accompanied by familiar, soft illustrations, perfect for bedtime reading.
I felt comfort while reading this book, as it definitely reminded me of my childhood reading of Lobel's work. Frog and Toad will always be hits!
The Frogs and Toads All Sang
Maggie's Monkeys, written by Linda Sanders-Wells and illustrated by Abby Carter, is my laugh-out-loud pick of the week. Your kids will be giggle throughout each reading of this adorable book, filled with realistic characters (that I'm sure you're children can relate to!).
When little Maggie declares there are pink monkeys living in the refridgerator, everyone in her family, except for her older brother, is very kind to the "monkeys." Dad puts a "do not disturb" sign on the door, older sister helps Maggie make clothes for the imaginary monkeys, but her older brother is insistant that everyone is just crazy!!
A very cute read, perfect for storytimes, with bright illustrations and an adorable plot!
Finally, Ballyhoo Bay, written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Derek Anderson, is my do-good choice of the week! It's a sweet story of kids and animals teaming up together to save their beloved beach when highrise apartment buildings are said to be in the works.
Though maybe a bit of a complex plot topic for the younger kiddos, the older ones will certainly understand, and the illustrations are so bold and bright, they'll easily hold the younger ones' attention. Plus it's by Judy Sierra! Ya gotta read it!
Recommended for storytimes and for library shelves.
Simon & Schuster
My Favorite Picture Book...
This morning I got a copy of the Publishers Weekly Fall 2009 Children's Book edition which always makes me very happy. When I get these special editions, first I flip through a few times and look at the pictures and publishers' ads (which are like mini catalogs), then I go back and read the lists and features.
This issue includes a feature complied from Anita Silvey's upcoming Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book (out in October from Roaring Brook) for which Silvey asked contributers, "What children's book changed the way you see the world."
If she had asked me, I would have picked Miss Suzy by Miriam Young, illustrated by Arnold Lobel. The title character in this beloved book is a nice gray squirrel who lives in a little house in a big oak tree. She makes firefly lamps and acorn cakes and wears a tiny apron as she sweeps the floor and keeps things tidy. She's quite happy with her simple squirrel existence until a gang of red squirrel thugs descend, chase her away, and take up residence in her once happy oak tree home. (I think one of them had an eyepatch. You knew they were trouble.)
This injustice was very upsetting to me in the early '70s when I first read Miss Suzy. I was a shy, chubby-ish kid and I had my share of being picked on. I hated that mean read squirrel gang and how they picked on Miss Suzy. But (spoiler alert) it all turns out okay. Miss Suzy befriends some toy soldiers (with shiny triangle swords) that she find in the attic she escapes to. She tidies up and takes care of them. And then they kick those thug squirrels furry thug squirrel butts out of Miss Suzy's house. It was so satifying to me that she made friends and her friends stood up for her. She took care of them and they took care of her. As a seven-year-old I knew I wanted friendships like like that. And I knew good could win out over evil. Oh Miss Suzy...I can't wait to go home and read my copy even though the binding it cracked and it's full of crayon marks (which so untidy). But isn't that sign of a well-loved picture book?
I want to hear from you (since I imagine Anita Silvey didn't ask you either)--what book changed the way you saw the world when you were a child? If you'd like to share, post a comment.
Headline News....Author's Book Buying Addiction Out of Control--Bookshelves Overwhelmed
It's been a long convalescence since they chopped me and my back up at the beginning of February. I'm not a terribly patient person, and lying in bed 'resting' for days and weeks and months is something I find quite trying. Nevertheless, there have been consolations. Apart from precious time to write, I have had 'bednet' to keep me in touch with developments in the outside world, and I've had books to read, which is the best legal way of passing time that I know of--and I didn't even have to feel guilty about doing it in the daytime. Many beloved old favourites have featured in this reading fest, of course, but also piles and piles of lovely new books, which I have been buying lately with the sort of gay abandon Imelda Marcos used to use on her shoes. It's all got a bit out of control, really, and while I am not quite as overwhelmed as Arnold Lobel's picture book character (see above) who had 'books to the ceiling, books to the sky', I'm not far off that happy state of affairs. The trouble is, I am a book hoarder. I'm not quite sure how many books I have, but it must be close to the 10,000 mark and growing. Yes, you did read that right. TEN THOUSAND, mostly divided into subject matter and section, all in alphabetical order by author so I can put my hand on what I need immediately (I am also a librarian manqué). There is no room for ornaments in my house. Shelves are for the storing of literary stuff and nothing else. I have built-in bookcases (here when I arrived), bought bookcases, and bookshelves I have put together myself with much swearing and bashed thumbs. The Billy shelves from Ikea which live in my office are double and sometimes treble stacked, and now I am running out of room. The picture below shows a mere fraction of the problem, and I'm not even mentioning the overflowing attics and the floors. My husband, the long suffering Wanton Toast Eater, has now issued a decree. Books. Must. Go. But which ones? This question induces complete panic in me. After all, I might need to refer to any of them at any time--even the old family ones I inherited from my grandmother and great-aunt which haven't been opened since 1953 or possibly since 1853 (hey, they might be valuable or have useful information in them). I'll probably
Wish I wrote it...
Books to the Ceiling
By Arnold Lobel
Books to the ceiling,
books to the sky.
My pile of books are a mile high.
How I love them!
How I need them!
I'll have a long beard
by the time I read them.