PPBF: Superworm

Author: Julie Donaldson
Illustrator: Axel Scheffler
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine, 2012.
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: stories in rhyme, worms, heroes
Opening: Superworm is super-long. Superworm is super-strong. Watch him wiggle! See him squirm! Hip, hip, hooray for SUPERWORM!
Summary: (from Amazon) Toad in trouble? Beetle in a jam? Never fear — Superworm is here! And he’s wiggling to the rescue! But when Superworm is captured by a wicked Wizard Lizard, will his friends find a way to help their favorite superhero escape?

I like this book because: I would have picked this up based on the author-illustrator team alone. Loved every one I have gotten my hands on yet. But a super-hero worm? Come on! How could I not? And this one does not disappoint! Perfect rhythm and rhyme makes you want to get up and sing for this new kind of hero and his gang of insect cohorts. The best is, all his super powers are his own super but natural qualities, stretched just a little for this adventure tale.

Resources/activities: This is all a teacher would need to get a first or second grade class excited about an insect unit; make your own Superworm with pipe cleaners, or from Dad’s knee socks – even grandma’s old stockings and a marker; go on an earthworm discovery tour in a garden – lift rocks, leaf piles or fallen branches; download a coloring page from Scholastic – HERE

 

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

2014 HCA Award for Illustration – Part 3/6: Eva Lindström

May I introduce Swedish author/illustrator Eva Lindström, third on the IBBY short list – Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE.

“The way I see it, if my story’s going to be the way I want it, I have to be my own target audience. I’m afraid that what I want to say will get diluted if I start thinking about the way anyone else, adult or child, might conceivably want to read my book” – Eva Lindström

Eva Lindström has illustrated for many other Swedish authors for decades, but writes and illustrates her own, and debuted in 1988 with Katmössan – The Cat’s Hat. Her books often deal with heavier subject matter, and she is well known for her expressive use of color.

Eva Lindström, From the book ‘Jag rymmer’, 2006

Olli and Mo, 2012

Lucky you if you understand Swedish – here is a video interview (1hour?, with plenty of her art depicted), the description of which I give you from GoogleTranslate in undiluted form: ‘On November 19 2013 she talked about its authorship and artistry with Asa Warnqvist, Sbi. The program is part of Swedish children’s institution series with author and illustrator encounters.’ Gotta love them for trying!

 

Interesting tidbit: back in art school, Eva Lindström was a member of an activist group, ‘Svarta hämnarna (The Black Avengers), which made political statements through poster art.

 

PPBF: Journey Cake, Ho!

JCHcover Heading for the hills this weekend – will reply later!

Author: Ruth Sawyer Illustrator: Robert McCloskey Publisher: The Viking Press, 1953 Ages: 3+ Themes: farm/farmers, animals, run-away food Opening: There were three of them: the old woman, Merry; the old man, Grumble: and Johnny, the bound-out boy. They lived in a log cabin, t’other side of Tip Top Mountain. Summary: (from my library catalogue) Johnny is leaving the farm because of hard times when his Journey Cake leads him on a merry chase that results in a farm yard full of animals and the family all together again. JCHtitlepage I like this book because: I adore the flavor of dialect in this classic’s rhythmic text from Ruth Sawyer, with words like ‘this-wise’, ‘nettlesome’, and ‘all of a tucker’. The very simple use of just two contrasting tones from master book maker Robert McCloskey, of Make Way for Ducklings fame, make the pictures pop, but I really appreciate the bold line strokes used to create texture and infuse energy in these traditional illustrations (pssst -I plan to post more McCloskey favorites this year). JCHrunawayfood Resources/activities: Read about the history of America’s first pancakes, and make the recipe - HERE ; put on a play, like the kids from the Atlanta School – with music! – in the video below (17:30mins – play is over after 13 )

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

2014 HCA Award for Illustration – Part 2/6

Missed Part 1 with Rotraut Susanne Berner? Click HERE. You caught it? Good! On to the next on the shortlist: John Burningham

In 1964, my birth year, he made some smart moves: to marry Helen Oxenbury (another brilliant kid-lit author illustrator), AND to illustrate Ian Fleming’s Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang (published in 3 volumes in ’64-65) which surely launched the book’s international success and his own. My proof? At least 60 more books and multiple awards. Told ya.

I haven’t read enough to proclaim a favorite, but one I feel particularly drawn to is Come Away from the Water, Shirley, about Shirley and her parents who take a trip to the beach. Her parents settle in their beach chairs with knitting and newspapers, while Shirley is off fighting pirates and retrieving treasure. I adore the contrast!

Another I have had to read to my kids over and over, and gladly, is Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, which won Burningham his second Greenaway Medal in 1970.

Publisher: Jonathon Cope, 1970
Ages: 4 and up
Themes: boats, boating, animals
Opening: This is Mr. Gumpy. Mr. Gumpy owned a boat and his house was by a river.One day Mr. Gumpy went out in his boat. “May we come with you?” said the children. “Yes,” said Mr. Gumpy, “if you don’t squabble.”
Summary: (from B&N) One sunny day Mr. Gumpy decides to take a ride in his small boat. It’s a perfect idea for a lovely summer day, and soon he is joined by children, a rabbit, a cat, a pig, and a host of other friends. But when the goat kicks, the chickens flap, the dog teases the cat and the children squabble — the boat tips into the water and everyone tumbles out. No one minds getting wet on such a nice day, though, especially since Mr. Gumpy invites everyone to his house for tea.

Burningham at an exhibition celebrating 50 years of his work

Check out a slide show of some picture book art – HERE.; his wikipedia page HERE; some ‘Vintage” love for his debut as an author-illustrator in 1963 which, wouldn’t you know it, won the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal – his first (comment to let them know to fix the date!) HERE; read more in an interview with Burningham and Oxenbury about their recent collaboration HERE

2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration – Part 1/6

The Hans Christian Andersen Awards are given every other year to a living author and an illustrator, selected by the Int’l. Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) for their complete work in children’s literature. Yep, we don’t talk much about it in the States, but it’s the highest international recognition for kid-lit. The winners for 2014 have been announced, but I’d like to introduce (in 6 posts) everyone on the short list for illustration, because I didn’t know all of them, and I thought, if I am interested maybe someone else is!

The six short-listed illustrators in alphabetical order are: Rotraut Susanne Berner, Germany; John Burningham, UK; Eva Lindström, Sweden; Roger Mello, Brazil (winner)François Place, France; Øyvind Torseter, Norway.

Rotraut Susanne Berner has been working as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator since 1977. She has written and illustrated her own books, but illustrated for many others, has a big list of awards on her wikipedia page, a website HERE and a blog. She’s famous! And here is an interesting tid-bit: according to a 2008 Spiegel article, one of her Wimmelbuecher books, was finally given the green light to hit bookstores in the States. The publisher wanted to ‘get rid of’ a few things from the original book for the American market, including the ‘exposed’ little man below. Read about the original struggle in 2007 HERE

I did manage to find this very book through my library system!

Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2008
Ages: 2-5
Themes: city and town life, seasons
Opening: It’s mainly a wordless book, but the first page of each season’s section gives us a few character story-lines to follow in the coming pictures, like “Andrea oversleeps and misses the bus.”
Summary: (from the publisher) Big, colorful illustrations and minimal text set the stage for a delightful cast of characters as they go about their day-to-day adventures in one little town throughout the year. Playing, chasing pets, running errands, going to work: following what happens and looking for the many small surprises in the pictures will absorb and amuse children and parents alike.

The following video was made from her ‘Karlchen’ stories, funny everyday happenings in the life of a little rabbit!

PPBF: Trouble Gum

Author/Illustrator: Matthew Cordell
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends, 2009
Ages: 2-6
Themes: humorous stories, pigs,  boredom, bubble gum
Opening: “The trouble at the Figg’s house began one rainy day when Grammy was over for tea. Mom was knitting a blanket for Julius. Ruben stared out of the living room window. 
Summary: (from my library catalogue) Playing indoors with his little brother on a rainy day, a rambunctious young pig causes a ruckus and then breaks his mother’s three chewing gum rules.

Why I like this book: Whilst browsing for bug books a la Cronin, I plucked this ‘old’ Cordell favorite. When it first came out, I was ultra-jealous of this oh-so-clever title, and I wasn’t even writing yet! In the book I saw myself … and the broken mirror, the hole in the door, lice in my hair, the glue on the carpet (all details will resurface in my own books!) – just a few very relatable sore-spots. And the art is just right – clean, crisp and clever!

click the image to go to Simon Decker’s page

Resources/activities: if you are a visual teacher, you might feel inspired by this pinterest board; read about the invention of bubble gum – HERE; learn the scientific method using bubble gum – HERE

Thump

read the book if you want to find out what THUMP is all about

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

Fractured Tales Contest: Blue-Bill

Susanna Hill is having a March-Madness writing contest. The rules: Write a children’s story, in poetry or prose, maximum 400 words, that is a fractured fairy tale. Mine is not a fracturing of the gruesome French Bluebeard tale (read it HERE), though I alluded to it in my 383-word reconstruction of the English fairy tale, The Magpie’s Nest (read it HERE) , for an American audience. Hope you enjoy it!

BLUE BILL

The other birds were suspicious when Black-billed Magpie opened a nest-building school.

“He has skills,” remarked Chickadee.

“And he’s clever,” said Wren

“Look at all his shiny treasures too,” said Hummingbird.

“I wouldn’t trust that ‘Blue-bill’ with a ten inch twig! Bet he lines his basement with little bird bones!” said Robin, and flew off. But the rest were in awe and stayed.

“Before building you must be in good physical shape,” said Magpie. He explained everything he knew about nutrition, fresh air and exercise. But Wren was easily bored, and the lessons hadn’t even started yet. So Wren left and made a nest in an old shoe.

“Location, location, location,” said Magpie. “First you need a good spot. Without one, it doesn’t matter how well you build.”

“But how do you know? How can you be sure? Do you have a checklist? Is spring best for building? What time of day?” Chickadee went on and on, with more and more questions.

“Well, I am very wise. I just…know,” said Magpie. But answers like that were not sufficient for Chickadee. He flew off too.

“Next, you will need materials,” said Magpie. “Twigs, leaves and sticks of the best quality.”

“I can’t carry thick twigs like you. I’m not strong enough. I’m just a little bird,” said the Hummingbird.

Magpie saw his chance. “Then allow me to offer my home. We can nest very snuggly together.”

“I’m not so sure that would be wise. I have heard stories,” said the Hummingbird.

“That’s just what they are – stories.” Sensing Hummingbird’s lack of trust, Magpie made another offer. “My home would be yours and my treasures too. Anything your heart desires.”

“Really? Then I’ll have that red gem to wear around my neck. Bring it down and help me put it on, would you?” asked Hummingbird.

Magpie seized his chance. But while Hummingbird kept him busy, another bird proved to be the wiser and moved into Magpie’s excellent nest while he was out! The Great-Horned Owl was not skilled, but fierce!

But Black-billed Magpie was outsmarted twice that day. While he was busy constructing a new nest, Hummingbird got away – far away!

And that, my friends, is why the Ruby-throated Hummingbird lives in the east and the Black-billed Magpie lives in the west.

Idea note_20140322_154108_03

rubythroated hummingbirdPlease pop over and read the other entries – HERE