PPBF: The Sheep of the Lal Bagh

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My well-loved 2nd-hand copy

Author: David Mark
Illustrator: Lionel Kalish
Publisher: Parents’ Magazine Press, 1967
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: sheep, India, modernization
Opening: In a little city in the heart of India there was a big park called Lal Bagh.
Summary: (from my library catalog) A sheep lives in a special park in India and nibbles the grass in decorative designs until he is replaced by a lawnmower.

I like this book because: not only are the illustrations killer, but the story is so sweet! A wonderful tale of appreciating the natural world and creatures, as well as an willingness to accept modernization – preferably in moderation! Gentle and welcome repetition round things out nicely too. If you don’t know this book already it’s bound to become a favorite!

Resources/activities: if you enjoy Kalish’s art, check out Tina Kugler’s pinterest boardHERE; this would make a good supplement to teaching about other countries around the world for K-3rd grade; learn about the history of sheep and lawncare in America – HERE.

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Perfect Picture Book Friday is on hiatus for the summer, but there are still plenty of selections on a themed and alphabetized list, each with teacher/parent resources, on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE

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Gorgeous endpapers!

Not-So-Accidental-Blog-Tourist-Hop

FrogSleepwalkingWelcome to this wandering tour of blogs by artists – writers, musicians, painters, photographers, and more. Catherine Johnson invited me to hop-along.

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Catherine is a female Dickon (Secret Garden clue for kid-lit lovers), currently swinging a maple stick in a hockey tree –  with a worrisome weakness for fried Kiwi and chips, or was it fishlips? In any case she writes and paints funny stuff – check out her blog and books at catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com

Now to blog-hop questions, and the stuff I am currently working on: portfolio pieces in preparation for the regional SCBWI conference in September; a fish-out-of-water picture book dummy; a ms based on a folk song; a rhyming board book (yeah, me – a rhymer – go figure!), and a slew of others in need of further polish. Also excited about 3 board books I illustrated for Bailiwick Press, due out in October.

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How my work differs from others of its genre: With illustration, I try to harness the energy of an initial sketch; I scrap what isn’t working and start fresh numerous times. Maybe that is why my work is simpler, less detailed, but that doesn’t mean the process is any less complicated (that’s what I tell myself!). I spend a lot of time on the emotional connection in the face or posture of my characters. Humor and imagination are what I hope to convey and promote in both my illustrations and writing.

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Why do I write/create what I do? I am a picture book junkie. The way the words and pictures meld together with the imagination of the readers elevates my spirit. The desire to make them has not always been there, but I have always found creative outlets, and still cannot understand how anyone gets bored.

How does your writing/creating process work? A snippet of a word, a scent in the air, a memory released by the shape of a cloud  – anything, essentially, can spark the process of writing or illustrating. I trust my gut to take me on it’s own journey, then later apply skills to shape, restructure and refine. When I feel good about it I will send a manuscript draft to my AWESOME online and local critique partners (sometimes 27 times – sorry, pals). Doodling every day has improved my drawing skills tremendously – I am truly grateful for the Doodle Day facebook group for the support, encouragement and super silly fun.

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Passing the baton to fellow artist Dani Duck at Dani Duck: Artist ObscureMarried, toddlered and reluctant cat owner. Writes, Illustrates and Moms. Basically awesome. Seldom boring. Avid coffee drinker and chocolate fan …

photoCheck out Dani’s post on Monday, Aug.25th – HERE

PPBF: The Birds (and my 400th post!)

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Author/Illustrator: James and Ruth McCrea (one of 4 books the couple collaborated on)
Publisher: McClelland and Stewart, 1966
Ages: 3-7yrs
Themes: humorous stories, birds, friendship
Opening: Once there were two friends who were very fond of sailing. Every day, right after lunch, they went for a sail in their little boat.
Summary: (from my library catalog) Mr. Woolsey and Mr. Tootle, two bird friends find their lovely umbrella missing from their boat. It is returned the next day, and gone again the following day. An investigation brings the two birds a new friend and the boat a new resident.

I like this book because: I saw an image from the book posted by Rowboat Watson on Antoinette Portis’ fb page (she posts a bird a day), and had to find out more about it. The artwork is striking in mustard yellow, magenta and black and white line-work. Simple, quirky, beautiful. The story is simple but told with just the right amount of silly humor for my taste – the fact that they use a flower pot for bailing says it all!

Resources/activities: Make paper cutouts of the characters and the elements needed to tell the story again – live action style: a boat, an umbrella, a flower pot, a tin box for cookies (or real cookies – yum!).

PPBF is taking a break until September, but you can still head over to Susanna’s blog for a wonderful list of titles with resources. She keeps the back door unlocked!

The book was reissued by Houghton Mifflin with illustrations by Swiss cartoonist Jürg Furrer in 1977.

Not So Random Tandem and Fish for Supper

Catherine Johnson is writing a poem (HERE), prompt word ‘lighthouse’ (in cahoots with Jody Hedlund’s lighthouse series) and I doodled these images, because sometimes we like to push each other around, I mean, to motivate each other. But my lighthouse just would not come on it’s own. Finally a lighthouse keeper appeared…then a cat. I’m interested to see what will happen next!

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Now for a PPBF selection (yes, I know Susanna’s blog is on vacation, but I can’t help myself – love sharing great picture books!).

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Author/Illustrator: M.B. Goffstein
Publisher: Dial Press, 1976
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: humorous stories, grandmothers, retired life
Opening: When my grandmother went fishing, she would get up at five o’clock in the morning, and make herself breakfast,…
Summary/I like this book because: (from my library catalog) “Describes Grandmother’s typical day of fishing.” What? I think that was the shortest off-the-wall summary I’ve found yet! Let me do a little ‘splainin’. I didn’t have a single selection for today in my book bag. I picked this one off the shelf, that one of my kids chose as the elementary school library was getting rid of a slew of too well-loved books, to make room for new ones. I read it again, thought, this is not really a story that would be considered publishable today (no complication, no resolution), but it grabbed me, like a one-liner sticks long after you’ve left the scene. So, I googled, and found that this little smirk won a Caldecott Honor in 1977, and that this author I had not otherwise read (surprising only because I was averaging 100/wk for yrs), is famous – AND has a fabulous quirky website – HERE.

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Resources/activities: check out M.B. Goffsteins’ post: How to Write and Illustrate a Picture Book. Now. HERE

Fish2You can still head over to Susanna’s blog for a wonderful list of titles with resources. She keeps the back door unlocked!

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Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. -Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

 

PPBF: How Little Lori Visited Times Square

 

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Author: Amos Vogel
Illustrator: Maurice Sendalk
Publisher: Harper Collins, 1963/1991
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: humorous stories, NYC, city life
Opening: One day Lori said to himself: “I want to see Times Square.”
Summary: A little boy wants to visit Times Square. He takes the subway too far south, the bus back too far north, a taxi without fare funds, a boat, a helicopter, a horse, an elevator, yet still he hasn’t made it. A turtle passes, very slowly, and very slowly asks why he cries, and very slowly offers to take him to his heart’s destination. You’ll have to read this nonsensical classic to find out what happens to them.

I like this book because: on the title page the reader is warned: “This is a very funny book and should not be read while drinking orange juice, or you will spill it!” Yes, it is is silly and so are the 3-color illustrations, and all the funny tidbits Sendalk designed into his illustrations (take note of the signage throughout). And pigeons!

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Resources/activities: this would be a great book to accompany the transportation units, usually covered in first grade; discuss how one could get to Times Square – from wherever you happen to be; check out this Sendalk-oriented curriculum guide for 2/3rd graders from Louisville Free Public Library HERE

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Perfect Picture Book Friday is on hiatus for the summer, but there are still plenty of selections on a themed and alphabetized list, each with teacher/parent resources, on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE

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PPBF: The Stupids Die

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Author: Harry Allard
Illustrator: James Marshall
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, 1985
Ages: 5-8yrs
Themes: humorous stories
Opening: One morning Stanley Q. Stupid woke up with a funny feeling. “Something really stupid is going to happen today,” he said. “Oh, wow!” said the two Stupid kids.
Summary: (from my library catalog) The Stupid family think they are dead when the lights go out.

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I like this book because: it’s just plain silly! Well, silly – yes, but plain? No! I don’t know if such a title could get published today, but I certainly hope it would. I love that each page has a singular idea that is so thought provoking you cannot help but linger; each illustration seems simple, yet has subtle clues that allow the reader to be in on the picture beyond the picture. As per usual, Marshall used a limited color palette. An easy choice? Maybe, yet the limitation pushes certain elements forward, as with the silhouette above or the fingernails below.

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Resources/activities: If you think Mrs. stupids dress is so very preposterous, have a look at the dress below and the exhibit of feathered fashions HERE; read other titles in The Stupids series – list posted HERE; suggested use for the classroom at The Hungry Readers HERE

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Perfect Picture Book Friday is on hiatus for the summer, but there are still plenty of selections on a themed and alphabetized list, each with teacher/parent resources, on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE

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“That’s the only thing I truly envy Jim for. Deep envy. I think The Stupids Die is the best title ever. . .”
–– Maurice Sendak

PPBF: Adelaide, The Flying Kangaroo

Author/Illustrator: Tomi Ungerer
Publisher: Phaidon Press, 2011 (First published in German, Diogenes, 1980)
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: kangaroos, flight, courage, uniqueness
Opening: Adelaide’s parents were surprised when they saw that their daughter had wings.
Summary: (from my library catalog) Adelaide, a kangaroo with wings, discovers that her unique anatomy and abilities bring her fame and fortune in Paris.

I like this book because: the story line does not follow ‘traditional’  patterns and norms,  as in escalating scenes or the protagonist having a strong hand in solving the ‘conflict’. Adelaide doesn’t see her uniqueness as a problem, she embraces it.  That was enough to satisfy me, as well as Ungerer’s ability to tell so much with so few lines. I recently watched a documentary on Ungerer, Far Out Isn’t Far Enough, and was touched by the way Maurice Sendalk spoke of him. In an article Sendak once described Ungerer’s work as passionate and personal – “it’s marvelous and it’s cuckoo and it’s that kind of veracity that’s always made for good children’s literature” (The New York Times, Sept 2011). Random tidbit: Amazon has a choking hazard warning for this book on their site! Go figure!

Resources/activitiesVintage Kid’s Books My Kid Loves posted a recommendation, and a list of Ungerer titles you might be interested in – click on any of the links for more on each book; discuss things that might make us unique, special and different from other family members or friends.

Perfect Picture Book Friday is on hiatus for the summer, but there are still plenty of selections on a themed and alphabetized list, each with teacher/parent resources, on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE

“Be different so that people can see you clearly amongst the crowds.” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

PPBF: The Sea Serpent and Me

 

Author: Dashka Slater
Illustrator: Catia Chien
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, 2008
Ages: 6-9yrs
Themes: sea serpents, friendship, growth
Opening: On Tuesday, as I was about to climb into the bath, a sea serpent dropped out of the faucet and into the tub.
Summary: (from my library catalog) One day a small sea serpent falls from the faucet into the tub as a child is about to take a bath, and as the days go by and the serpent grows, they both realize that he needs to go back to the sea where he belongs.

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I like this book because: the story reminds me of childhood dreams of just such an experience (who am I kidding – still hoping!), written simply and beautifully – “the clouds drifted over green jungles and silvery cities…” – yet the undertone is exciting with an anxious pull. The illustrations are flowing, loose yet captivating, as you can see – and believe it or not, I did not post the best spreads – you’ll have to check them out yourself!

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Resources/activities: I will forever appreciate how a friend of the family, Risa, taught me to appreciate the smallest of creatures, not to be frightened when they take interest in my personal space, but to help them find a way to a more suitable environment – for us both! Discuss the natural habitats of creatures and why it is important to respect them; Create an inviting habitat: plant flowers and shrubbery for butterflies, bees, and other wildlife in your back yard, or school grounds; Take a field trip to the beach, the woods, or a stream – pick up plastic rings, bottles, and other trash that can kill birds, turtles, dolphins, and other animals.

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Perfect Picture Book Friday is on hiatus for the summer, but there are still plenty of selections on a themed and alphabetized list, with teacher/parent resources, on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE

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The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man. — Charles Darwin