PPBF: How Little Lori Visited Times Square



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!


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



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




PPBF: The Stupids Die


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.


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.



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


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


“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.


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!


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.


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


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

PPBF: Big Wolf & Little Wolf

Author: Nadine Brun-Cosme
Illustrator: Olivier Tallec
Publisher: Enchanted Lion, 2010
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: wolves, feelings, friendship, loneliness
Opening: Big Wolf lived under his tree at the top of a hill. It had always been that way. Then one day Little Wolf arrived. He came from so far away that at first he looked no bigger than a dot.
Summary: (from my library catalog) Big Wolf has always lived alone at the top of a hill under a tree, so when a little wolf suddenly arrives one day, he does not know what to think.

I like this book because: I love the illustrations (big surprise, Patricia?), but more importantly this is a very touching story on the evolution of a friendship, told slowly, gently, creating the perfect tension. Bet you couldn’t read it fast if you wanted to! Perfect accompaniment for a lollipop.


Resources/activities: Read the other books in this series: Big Wolf and Little Wolf, Such A Beautiful Orange!, and Big Wolf and Little Wolf, The Little Leaf That Wouldn’t Fall; watch the following interview with Tallec on his books, Waterloo & Trafalgar and Big Wolf & Little Wolf; discuss friendship, sharing and loneliness.

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


Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit. – Aristotle

PPBF: The Pilot and the Little Prince


Author/Illustrator: Peter Sis
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014
Ages: 5-8yrs
Themes: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, authors, airpilots
Opening: Long ago in France, at the turn of the last century, a little boy was born to be an adventurer.
Summary: (from my Aaron Reynold’s website) A biography of French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince.


I like this book because: it’s an aesthetically masterful tribute to the author and adventurer, making it so easy to float away and get lost in the life story of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry as a pilot and author. I certainly did, but donning my reading glasses enabled a close look at all of the smaller spot illustrations that accompany the timeline (and some very fine print!). The book makes you want to know more about de Saint-Exupéry, but more importantly, it wakes the spirit of adventure! All in time for what would have been de Saint-Exupéry’s 114th birthday on June 29th.


Resources/activities: I see this book AS a wonderful resource and companion book to The Little Prince (suggested age level 7+), as well as for a transportation unit; a wonderful example to inspire students to illustrate a scene from literature as a visual activity; listen to the interview with Peter Sis on NPR – HERE

de Saint-Exupéry’s most famous book was first published in the US

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s early sketches for “The Little Prince.” (all images courtesy The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, © Estate of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, photographed by Graham S. Haber, 2013)

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

End papers, and the 'Lucky Day' selection slip from my library.

End papers, and the ‘Lucky Day’ selection slip from my library.

And I could not resist doodling Le Petite Prince myself:

LePetitePrince cropped

PPBF: Pirates vs. Cowboys

PiratesVCowboys Author: Aaron Reynolds
Illustrator: David Barneda
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013
Ages: 5-8yrs
Themes: pirates, cowboys, communication
Opening: Burnt Beard the Pirate was the scourge of the seven seas, the four oceans, and several lakes.His scurvy crew had ransacked so many ships and pillaged so many villages that all their treasure had them riding low and slow. It was time to go ashore and bury the booty.
Summary: (from my Aaron Reynold’s website) It’s a bad, sad day when Burnt Beard the pirate and his scurvy crew swagger into the town of Old Cheyenne. They run smack-dab into Black Bob McKraw and his posse of horn-swagglin’ varmints. Trouble is none of these cowboys can speak Pirate. And none of those pirates can speak Cowboy! And that’s a recipe for trouble. Can anybody bring this explosive situation to a sweet smelling end?

Preliminary sketch for the cover

I like this book because: it’s got language! Haha! Pirate and cowboy talk, and therefore this is THE perfect read-aloud for anyone who loves to get into voice. It also shows that misunderstandings are not always obvious, and solutions can come with something as simple as a bath! The illustrations are hilarious, though sometimes I found a few details that were too dark to pick up (good excuse to read again, though!).


Resources/activities: discuss how language and lack of understanding could cause strife, and ask students what solutions they can think of to bridge a gap; fun book to read for a unit on migration; discuss how one language can have such different dialects – how is that possible?; draw your own pirates or cowboys using animals that have a geo graphical connection; read the book for Sept.19th – Int’l. Talk Like a Pirate Day – more info HERE


For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE

My new favorite character: Pegleg Highnoon