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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Barbara Cooney, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 12 of 12
1. Illustration Inspiration: Stephanie Graegin, Illustrator of Peace is an Offering

Stephanie Graegin spent her childhood drawing and collecting fauna. These days, she lives in Brooklyn, is still drawing, and has managed to keep her animal collection down to one orange cat.

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2. Way Back Wednesday Essential Classic

Chanticleer and the Fox

By Barbara Cooney


“Flattery looks like friendship, just like a wolf looks like a dog.” Remember that line please, for it provides a perfect introduction via this anonymous quote, to another essential classic in our Way Back Wednesday essential canon of picture book not to be missed classics.

Flattery is at the heart of Barbara Cooney’s Caldecott Award winning adaptation of “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale”, taken from Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.”

Winning the award in 1959, the picture book tells the story of Chanticleer, a beautifully crowing, but proud cock and his nemesis, a wily, but ultimately outfoxed fox. Chanticleer, and his mate Partlet, are a lovey dovey duo, living on the farm of a poor, but hardworking widow with two young daughters.

Chanticleer has a very prophetic dream that his mate pooh poohs. He dreams of a


….beast like a hound which tried to grab my body and would have killed me. His color was between yellow and red, and his tail and both ears were tipped with black different from the rest of the fur


Hmmm. Now what sort of description does THAT fit, eh Partlet? But instead of comforting her partner, she calls him a coward and says, “Do not fear dreams.” Dear Partlet, tell that to Caesar, when his wife, Calpurnia (great name), warned him not to go to the Senate on the Ides of March. And we all know how THAT dream ended.

But this tale is not so much about dreams, but how flattery can get both Chanticleer and the fox in a spot where both use flattery to get what they want. Fortunately, for Chanticleer, they each want different things.

Barbara Cooney won a second Caldecott in 1980 for “Ox-Cart Man” and, who can ever forget the Lupine Lady, “Miss Rumphius?”

In “Chanticleer and the Fox”, Ms. Cooney elegantly employs a combination of color and black and white in her drawings to emphasize the intensity of the action, or a splash of color to set off more pastoral scenes.

Her descriptive passages and narrative draw young readers in, and her use of vocabulary is first rate.

I applaud picture books such as “Chanticleer and the Fox.” They are excellent both in storytelling, art and they believe their audiences to be up to the challenge of this type of book and never water things down too much.

May I say that they, in a way, “flatter” the reader in a good way? They believe young readers are up for it. And they are; if we, as adults, believe it too!  


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3. Barbara Cooney's MISS RUMPHIUS: Take Two

Editor's Note: Back in 2009, I wrote up a short note about Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius. Because the book is on the We Give Books site, I decided to revisit that short post, add to it, and repost a cleaned up version of it here, today:

Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius

Though it is much loved and winner of an American Book Award, every time I think of Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius, the image that I recall is not the lovely lupines she walks amongst or the landscapes people adore. Instead, I remember this page:

(Source for image: http://theartofchildrenspicturebooks.blogspot.com/2011/03/miss-rumphius.html)

Here's the text for that page:

Now he worked in the shop at the bottom of the house, making figureheads for the prows of ships, and carving Indians out of wood to put in front of cigar stores.

"He" is Cooney's great grandfather. He's the one who carved cigar store Indians. So... what is wrong with that page?

Source: Oklahoma Historical Society

Noted Creek writer, Alexander Lawrence Poseysaid that the cigar store Indians "are the product of a white mans's factory, and bear no resemblance to the real article." Posey died in 1908.

Is Cooney wrong for including this information in her book? It is factual as Cooney wrote it--carvers of that time period did carve figureheads for ships and wooden Indians, too--but given that Miss Rumphius was published in 1982 and the information about these carvings being stereotypical is quite old, perhaps she could have inserted "stereotypical" in front of "Indians."

If she had done that, the text on that page would be:

"Now he worked in the shop at the bottom of the house, making figureheads for the prows of ships and carving stereotypical Indians out of wood to put in front of cigar stores."

Course, if Cooney did that, the story wouldn't be as charming as it is, but it would be more accurate, and it could prompt teachers, parents, and librarians to address stereotypes whenever they read the book to children. What do you think?

8 Comments on Barbara Cooney's MISS RUMPHIUS: Take Two, last added: 9/21/2012
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4. Favorite Holiday Books

By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: November 29, 2011

During the holiday season it’s a great joy to share family traditions and spend time together. Every year, I look forward to reading these beloved books below to my daughter.

The Story of Holly & Ivy

By Rumer Godden; illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Rumer Godden begins The Story of Holly & Ivy with the sweetest line, “This is a story about wishing.” When an orphan named Ivy and a dreamy doll named Holly see each other through a toy shop window, magic happens. In this classic Christmas tale, Holly and Ivy both find a sense of belonging in their new home and to each other. Wishes come true in part thanks to Barbara Cooney’s tender illustrations of the festive village and toys. Godden captures the precious beauty of a brave girl unwilling to give up on her dream. (Ages 5-10)

Christmas Tree Memories

By Aliki

My daughter and I love returning to Christmas Tree Memories by Aliki each December just like the family’s tradition in the book of sitting by their tree with cookies and a roaring fire to recount each story behind their homemade ornaments. Aliki imbues such gentleness to each character, whether it’s Papouli or the children, the love this family feels for each other comes across with her every detail. (Ages 4-8)

Jingle Bells

By Iza Trapani

Jingle Bells (as told and illustrated by Iza Trapani) is a rollicking fun songbook filled with holiday customs and traditions from around the world. Children will enjoy learning about bearded little gnomes in Sweden, lantern parades in the Philippines, breaking the piñata in Mexico, and presents found in their shoes in Italy. (Ages 4-8)

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5. National Picture Book Month

November is National Picture Book Month, and I thought I would contribute to the celebration with a list of ten of my favorite picture books. This is by no means a definitive list – I have hundreds of favorites! – but for our family, these books have stood the test of time and continue to delight, even after multiple readings. Many of them also ‘break the rules’ of picture book writing and publishing, and remind us that a unique idea, an original voice or a magical complement of story and art make it possible to venture beyond formulas and create something surprising and enduring:

Bark, George! (Jules Feiffer) – The giddy tale of a puppy who speaks every other animal’s language but his own – with superbly spare text and Feiffer’s brilliant, classic line-drawings.

The Dot (Peter H. Reynolds) – A child who thinks she has no creative talent learns how simple it can be to express oneself creatively and to take pleasure in the ownership of one’s efforts.

Goodnight, Moon (Margaret Wise Brown/Clement Hurd) - A little rabbit preparing for bed says goodnight to everyone and everything in his world. The perfect, classic bedtime story.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (Mo Willems) – A brilliant tribute to the often dramatic and unreasonable behavior of preschoolers, with simple but hilarious illustrations and text.

Harold and the Purple Crayon (Crockett Johnson) – Harold takes a memorable journey with a simple purple crayon… First published in 1955, a tribute to the power and wonder of imagination.

I Stink (Jim and Kate McMullan) – A hilarious ode to the humble garbage truck, reminding us that everyone has value and something to contribute.

Miss Rumphius (Barbara Cooney) – Alice Rumphius has three life quests – to see faraway places, to live by the sea in her old age, and to do something to make the world a more beautiful place.

Olivia (Ian Falconer) – The “Eloise” of pigs! Ian Falconer’s hilarious series about an unforgettable (if a tad precocious) porcine heroine.

Owen (Kevin Henkes) Owen and his beloved blanket are inseparable, until the first day of kindergarten. Can his parents find a solution that suits everyone and helps their son transition?

Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep (Joyce Dunbar/Debi Gliori) – A thoughtful bunny calms his younger sister’s nighttime fears by encouraging her to think happy thoughts.

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6. Miss Rumphius

Miss Rumphius
Story and Pictures by Barbara Cooney
Scholastic, 1982

Miss Rumphius, written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney, has lovely illustrations and a lovely story. The young girl, Alice, lives with her grandfather in a city by the sea. She watches the wharves and ships from the front stoop. Her grandfather is an artist and sometimes Alice helps him in his studio. Alice tells her grandfather that when she grows up, she will go to faraway places like him, and then live by the sea when she grows old. Alice's grandfather tells her that is good, but she must also make the world a more beautiful place. Alice carries that with her and figures out how to do that when she becomes old and is living in her cottage by the sea.

Miss Rumphius was a recipient of the American Book Award.

7. Good Book Cover Design

First impressions do count. A good book cover design can make you pick up a book to explore it contents. To me, a book cover should capture some of the essence of the book and give you a taste of what's inside. Ever been lured by a great book cover only to find the inside of the book is disappointing? Not good.

Here are ten book covers that I think are very nice. Please let me know if you like this posting about book covers, I'm thinking about making it a weekly thing.

Cover Design by Antonio Frasconi
Time Inc., 1963

2 Comments on Good Book Cover Design, last added: 1/24/2011
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8. When things come together beautifully – what we received in the Picture Book Swap

My official swap partner for Perfect Picture Books by Post was Beth and her homeschooling family in New Hampshire. They chose to send us a Caldecott medal winning picture book set in their home state, Ox-cart Man by Donald Hall, illustrated by Barbara Cooney.

Photo: VinothChandar

Beth couldn’t have known that right here, right now this is the perfect picture book for us – I’m currently reading M Little House on the Prairie, and as soon as we’d finished reading Ox-cart Man she immediately made a connection between the two. Somehow seeing the life she’s listening to shown in another book really thrilled her and ever since it has been inspiring hours and hours of role play.

Ox-cart Man depicts the rhythm of a year in the life of a New England farmer and his family in the early to mid 1800s. Opening with the farmer packing up his ox-cart with goods he and his family have grown, made and prepared throughout the preceding 12 months, we follow his journey through russet and gold autumnal countryside to Portsmouth Market, where he sells his wares, right down to his ox and cart. Using his earnings to buy a few store goods for his family he returns home to start preparing for the following year’s market, with his first task being to build a new yoke and cart.

Photo: sskennel

The tale is told in a sparse and unadorned manner (for example, barely any adjectives are used), mirroring the family life being depicted. But in the eyes of a 21st century girl it is a tale full of wonder. I think M found it both slightly baffling and rather thrilling to see how much the family makes and grows for itself (even though we make and grow quite a lot ourselves, at least by urban, British standards). Baffling because of the simple lack of “stuff” and the value placed on nowadays seemingly almost valueless items like a single needle, and thrilling because it appeals to every young child’s sense of independence and belief that they can do everything themselves.

Barbara Cooney’s illustrations match the simplicity of the text. They are unfussy, yet full of historical detail and

3 Comments on When things come together beautifully – what we received in the Picture Book Swap, last added: 11/15/2010
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9. Barbara Cooney's Wee Birds

Took a sweet side trip up to Bowdoin College Museum of Art to see the final days of the Barbara Cooney Exhibit. Oooed and awed my way through the minute details of her work alongside the beatific illustrator, Jamie Hogan.

We stood dumbfounded by a group of tiny birds gathered in the gutter in an out-of-the-way corner of Cooney's picture book, Eleanor. Watch for the attentive, busy animals in almost every single spread she creates.

Was also enamored with the lupines painted on Chinese silk for Miss Rumphius. Proud to say, I have worked with Penguin USA and Raising Readers to include Miss Rumphius in an anthology of picture books by Maine authors and illustrators that will be distributed to Maine five-year-olds in 2010. Cooney's lupines grace the end papers of a collection that also includes Robert McCloskey, Amy MacDonald, Lynn Plourde, and Scott Nash.

It was one thing to see this exhibit and another to see it alongside the ever-curious-eye of Jamie Hogan. She finds wonder and inspiration in every detail of life. If you have not spied her Blog, JamiePeeps, you must. It is a perfect reflection of her creative life, mindset, and process.

Thanks to Jamie for this sketch of me made while I was sketching a wall carving from Iraq circa 859 BC. Under Jamie's pencil, I need not go on a diet.

1 Comments on Barbara Cooney's Wee Birds, last added: 9/11/2009
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10. Making the World More Beautiful

Guest blogger Tina Chovanec is the manager of Reading Rockets.org: the authoritative online source for comprehensive and accessible information about teaching young children to read and helping those who struggle. Reading Rockets is one of four multimedia educational websites created by Learning Media, a division of WETA, the PBS affiliate in the Washington DC area. Tina is the mother of two grown daughters, both enthusiastic readers and Scrabble players. She volunteered at Hoover School (Corvallis, Oregon) throughout their elementary school years, and just started as a reading tutor at Drew Model School in Arlington, Virginia.

Last month I made the trek up to Rangeley, Maine (“midway between the Equator and the North Pole”) with my daughters for a family reunion at Gull Pond – the place where I spent many growing-up summers. The Maine air still feels diamond-clean and the geography of the water’s edge looks remarkably unchanged after 20+ years.

Emily, Nora and I walked the logging road into town. I wanted to visit the old stone library – my favorite place on a rainy summer day. The welcoming stone facade is still there, but wow it’s changed inside. No longer small and Hobbit-like, it’s now spacious, with a light-filled atrium, bustling media center (of course), expanded book collections – and lots of visitors. (It seems that libraries everywhere are thriving!)

We made a bee-line to the young reader’s section, all three of us drawn to the books of our childhoods. In a place of honor on the “you-must-read-this” display was my all-time favorite children’s book, Miss Rumphius.

This children’s librarian knew something! With Miss Rumphius, author Barbara Cooney created a timeless and evocative picture book about some of life’s big questions: What is my place in the world? Can I envision a better world and then act to make something positive happen?

In Miss Rumphius, the adventurous Alice Rumphius settles by the sea in Maine after a full, rich life of traveling and making friends around the world. Keeping a promise made to her grandfather when she was a young girl to “make the world more beautiful,” Miss Rumphius does just that, by becoming the eccentric old lady who scatters lupine seeds everywhere.

This is a wonderful read-aloud, a book that prompts many questions and opportunities to learn. Here are a few:

Vocabulary development. Miss Rumphius is filled with rich words: ‘bristling,’ ‘conservatory,’ ‘figurehead,’ ‘jasmine,’ ‘masts,’ ‘prow,’ ‘stoop’). Learn more about building a child’s vocabulary through books and conversation in this Reading Rockets article, “Taking Delight in Words.”

Background knowledge. What is lupine and why does it bloom year after year? Miss Rumphius travels to faraway places. Map her journeys to learn more about the world and its people. When Cooney writes about the Land of the Lotus Eaters or cigar store Indians, what does that mean?

Plot structure: the flashback. Talk about the present, past, and future as you read this book with a child. Can they identify the shifts in time? Have they read other flashback stories? Could they tell their own story in flashback? Learn more about teaching plot structure with picture books.

Making a difference in the world. This is a great discussion topic for children. Ask if they have ideas about how they might make their community a better place. Do they know people who stood up for something they believed in and showed great courage? For a selection of other wonderful stories dealing with these same themes, browse this Reading Rockets booklist.

Roots and wings. Miss Rumphius raises other themes worth talking about, even with very young children. What does “home” mean to you? Is it important to see and experience different parts of the world in order to understand your own place in it? Books are a great way to travel the world.

The central themes in Miss Rumphius are powerful and enduring. The International Reading Association even coined a term, the Miss Rumphius Effect, to describe “a phenomenon taking place on the Internet as teachers enact new visions for literacy and learning through the curriculum they create and share with others.” They established the Miss Rumphius Award, which recognizes educators committed to spreading their innovative teaching ideas (like lupines…) to the world.

The Horn Book published a fascinating article by Barbara Bader in 2000 about Cooney, the evolution of her illustration and storytelling style, and her instinct to write stories about “determined, creative women, like Cooney herself.”

I had the chance to meet Barbara Cooney years ago when my daughters were small. Our local independent bookstore, Narnia Books, had invited Cooney to visit and there we were: first in line, holding an armful of books awaiting a signature, excited to meet this woman we so admired. She was very kind and genuine, and she asked Emily and Nora about their favorites places to read. I was enchanted: she looked just like Miss Rumphius.

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11. Art, Anxiety and Inspiring Acceptance: Emily

EmilyAuthor: Michael Bedard
Illustrator: Barbara Cooney
Published: 1992 Dell Dragonfly Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0440417406 Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Warm, evocative illustrations and beautifully worded, thought provoking narration make this fictional encounter with poet Emily Dickenson a stirring introduction to poetry, eccentricity and the power of understanding.

You can read more about social anxiety in children’s book here.

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12. Teaching Compare and Contrast with Picture Books

Renee Kirchner
By: Teaching Tips Contributing Editor, Renee Kirchner

It is important for elementary aged children to understand the concept of compare and contrast. This concept can be applied to many areas of the curriculum including math, science, and literature. When a child is asked to compare and contrast two different things, they are supposed to tell how they are alike and different. Comparing shows the similarities between two objects and contrasting shows the differences. Children will use words such as both, like, also, and similar when comparing. Words such as unlike, however, and but might be used when contrasting two objects.

Children’s books, both fiction and nonfiction, can be useful tools for teaching the concept of compare and contrast. Select one book with two different characters or choose two books with similarities and differences in character or plot. Nonfiction books will also work well. For example, you could choose a book on reptiles and compare and contrast two different types
of reptiles.

There are two useful tools that teachers use as prewriting activities when teaching compare and contrast: the Venn diagram and the T-chart. The Venn diagram is made up of two or more overlapping circles depending how many objects you are comparing. Each circle contains different information about the objects and the overlapping portion in the middle contains the

For example if I was comparing a rabbit with a wolf, the rabbit circle might have herbivore and the wolf circle would have carnivore. The overlapping portion in the middle might contain the word mammal, since both animals are mammals. Of course your student would put more than one descriptive word in each circle. The more detail they use, the better. The T-chart is organized differently than the Venn diagram. If we use the example of the rabbit and the wolf the chart would look like this:

Characteristic Rabbit Wolf
Diet Grass Meat
Animal group Mammal Mammal

Here are some examples of picture books that would work well for studying the concept of compare and contrast:

One Picture Book with Two Characters

Bubba and Beau
Bubba and Beau: Best Friends by Kathi Appelt

Bubba is a Texas baby and Beau is a Texas puppy and they are best friends. They have adventures together and both of them become very upset when their pink blanket gets washed.

Similarities between Bubba and Beau:

Both of them are keen on chewing, neither one is housetrained, and they both disdain soap.

Differences between Bubba and Beau:

Bubba loves the pinky pinky blankie because it smells like Beau and Beau likes the pinky pinky blankie because it smells like Bubba.

Two Picture Books with a Similar Main Character

A wild Western Cinderella
Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella by Susan Lowell

Chickarella by Mary Jane Auch

Similarities between Cindy Ellen and Chickarella:

Both of them have an evil stepmother or step-chicken, a fairy godmother or fairy fowl mother, and both have a prince or a princely rooster.

Differences between Cindy Ellen and Chickarella:

Cindy Ella can wrangle, rope and gallop. Chickarella starts a high fashion business that grows out of making clothes for the ball.

Children can use the examples above to create a Venn diagram or a T-chart and then write a compare-contrast paper about the different characters.


Note: Although school is out for summer vacation in most places across the country, parents can still read with their children this summer and use activities like this one to have fund with their children as they help them become better readers.

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0 Comments on Teaching Compare and Contrast with Picture Books as of 1/1/1990
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