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Constantly comparing yourself to others can suck joy out of creating. Find your own pace and savor the journey.Add a Comment
Is there a better way to start the new year than by introducing you to a book which will take you somewhere you’ve likely not visited via picture books before, is illustrated by the first Asian recipient of the most prestigious awards in children’s literature, the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and is about to be published for the first time in the UK with its original illustrations?
As anyone who’s spent time with children knows, the littlest people can ask the biggest questions, and so it is with the little black fish in this story who wants to find out more about life outside of the pool where he and his family have always lived. Just because the family have always lived a certain way, why shouldn’t this brave and curious fish extend his horizons and set out to explore beyond his known world?
As the fish travels downstream he sees incredible sights the like of which he could never before have imagined. He also faces some terrible dangers. Will the fish survive to see his dream – the wide open ocean? Will his story of inquisitiveness and desire for freedom inspire others?
Behrangi’s story took on great political significance in Iran after it was published, read by many adults as a political allegory (you can find out more here). Indeed the message was so powerful, the book was banned in pre-revolutionary Iran. Whilst this historical background gives the book an additional charge for adults, younger readers in 2015 can enjoy this short story as an encouraging tale about believing in oneself, about learning from personal experience, and about not being afraid to be different.
The Little Black Fish won the First Graphic Prize at Sixth International Children Books’ Fair (1968) in Bologna for its illustrations by Farshid Mesghali. The stylish bold textured prints in a limited range of colours are beautifully reproduced and bound in this smart edition from Tiny Owl Publishing. Their apparent simplicity suggests something both childlike and timeless.
Inspired by the style of illustrations in The Little Black Fish we set about creating fish prints using plasticine (oil based, non permanent modelling clay). This was a great activity for giving old and manky plasticine one last shot at life!
We squished together lots of old pieces, and created “blanks” of different sizes. These blanks were turned into fish shapes using scissors to cut them, and then decorated with impressions made using butter (blunt) knives, forks and sharpened pencils.
Top tips for printing with plasticine
Once our prints were made we worked on some net-themed frames for them, making use of some of the cardboard collected over the Christmas parcel and present season. Here’s a short animated tutorial I made to show you how we did it:
Here are some of our finished and framed prints of fish exploring the wider world!
Whilst weaving and printing we listened to:
Other activities which would go well with reading The Little Black Fish include:
I’m delighted that Tiny Owl Publishing will be bringing us more translated Iranian children’s books in the coming months (although I do hope that future books will fully credit the illustrator and translator on the front cover of books, not just inside). What other unsung heroes in the international picture book world would you recommend I look out for – authors and illustrators who are famous in their home countries but who haven’t had wide recognition in the English speaking world?
Finally, you might notice things look a little different on the blog today. Over Christmas I updated the blog so that it should now be fully mobile-platform friendly; if you want to view this blog on your phone or tablet it should now be much easier to navigate and more pleasant to look at as the text and images are fully scalable. I’ll also take this opportunity to highlight Playing by the book can be found on twitter @playbythebook, Facebook, Pinterest and even (in a very small way) on Youtube – please feel free to follow me wherever it suits you.
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of The Little Black Fish from the publisher.
A pretty obvious one, but hey…
Wondering what SkADaMo is, check this out.
KLASSEN, JON. This Is Not My Hat. 1 CD w/tr book. 34 min.
Scholastic Audio. 2014. $29.95. ISBN
PreS-Gr 3— Opening with "This hat is not mine. I just stole it," a small fish takes the listener into his confidence as he makes his getaway toward a place where he thinks that no one will ever find him. This unapologetic thief, his annoyed (and very large) victim, and a stool pigeon crab tell this wryly humorous and cautionary fish story. The outcome contains enough ambiguity that sensitive listeners can believe that the robber has more options than becoming a fish dinner. Irish narrator John Keating does a great job with a title that relies heavily on sight gags. Appropriately, his impudent robber is not particularly likable. Nevertheless, the listener empathizes with the brash little chap. A string ensemble, in a manner similar to Peter and the Wolf, accompanies the narration. A cello represents the larger fish, who never speaks, while a violin characterizes the smaller fish. The music ebbs and flows to match the story. Two versions are included on the CD. A gentle marimba riff signals page turns on the first version. The accompanying hardcover book is a "must" to truly enjoy this Caldecott Medal winner. Humor fans will love it.
Both ABC Animals and Spot the Animals: A Lift-the-Flap Book of Colors are recommended for toddlers, and make unique gifts.Add a Comment
This week’s Illustration Friday theme is “red“ and the first thing that popped into my addled brain was ”red herring”. So I thought, hey, I’ll redraw and repost this from a couple of years ago. What the heck, I’m on a roll.
Most mystery novel and film buffs know that a red herring is a plot device used in film noir, murder mysteries and suspense films, to distract the audience away from the more important aspect of the plot. The red herring can sometimes be a character, believed by the audience to be the killer, only to discover later in the film that they are innocent and another character, never even considered is, in fact, the murderer.
Now that you have your twist ending, do you know where the term red herring originated?
Wikipedia tells us:
A tradition whereby young hunting dogs in Britain were trained to follow a scent with the use of a “red” (salted and smoked) herring. This pungent fish would be dragged across a trail until the puppy learned to follow the scent. Later, when the dog was being trained to follow the faint odor of a fox or a badger, the trainer would drag a red herring (which has a much stronger odor) across the animal’s trail at right angles. The dog would eventually learn to follow the original scent rather than the stronger scent.
I’ve also heard that British fugitives in the 1800s would rub a herring across their trail, in order to divert the bloodhounds pursuing them.
All this talk is whetting my appetite for a bit of kipperes and toast (NOT!) and a Hitchcock film or two (YES!).
Happy presents a cheerful introduction to emotions through the portraits of some very colorful and expressive fish that seem to be swimming in the depths of the dark sea.Add a Comment
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Tomato Rain. It will be published shortly by the mighty Roger Omar.
Coming from Viking Children’s Books, June 13.
Oh my dears, I'm sorry I've been on the quiet side! After our five or six years of living & loving the Cornish dream, I've moved out of Falmouth! Before you ask yes, I miss my seagulls. Now I'm based in Canterbury, which is lovely to look at & has the most beautiful old buildings. It's certainly is a lot busier than Cornwall, which so far has only annoyed me, so perhaps I'm learning a lesson about Cathy + Cities.
But why leave all those beautiful, bounteous seagulls? Not because I favour the skinny little things in the East, that's for sure. I got a new job, which isn't in Cornwall, it's at Maidstone T.V studios. Now I am working in the art dept. of the BBC kids art show, Mister Maker!