PPBF: Telling Stories Wrong

Author: Gianni Rodari
Illustrator:
 Beatrice Alemagna
Publisher: Edizone, 1980; First Engl. edition, Enchanted Lion, 2022
Age: 
4-8
Themes: storytelling, grandparents, fairytale

Opening: “Once upon a time, there was a girl who was called Little Yellow riding Hood.”

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Grandpa playfully recounts a familiar fairytale–or his version, at least–to his granddaughter, and try as she might to get him back on track, he keeps on adding things to the mix, resulting in an unpredictable tale that comes alive as it is being told.

I picked this book because: I adore the exuberance in these playful illustrations, but more so the ease in the telling of the story, how the grandfather’s slyness encourages the reader to feel the fun and frustration the granddaughter is experiencing! I read it three times in a row. Magical!

Resources/activities: read the book I posted last week and follow the same activity suggestions, but this time mix the story up, just like the grandfather in this book!

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

PPBF: Previously

Author: Alan Ahlberg
Illustrator
: Bruce Ingman
Publisher: Candlewick, 2007
Age: 
4-8
Themes: fairy tales, characters in literature, humorous stories

Opening: Goldilocks arrived home all bothered and hot. Previously she had been running like mad in the dark woods.

Summary: (from my library catalog) The adventures of various nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters are retold in backward sequence with each tale interrelated to the other. Includes Goldilocks, Jack and the beanstalk, Jack and Jill, the frog prince, Cinderella, and the gingerbread man.

I picked this book because: What a fun idea to not only twist the direction of time using familiar fairy tales and characters in literature, but to play with a word not generally used by early elementary students! I would like to think kids would be inspired to write a tale themselves after reading. Ingman’s illustrations are deceptively simple and delightful! Enjoy!

Resources/activities: Identify then read all the fairy tales included in the book. Choose one of the tales and create an illustration of your own – maybe even include yourself as a baby!

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

PPBF: Caps for Sale

Author/Illustrator: Esphyr slobodkina
Publisher: W.R. Scott, 1940
Age: 
2-5
Themes: peddler, monkeys, caps

Opening: Once there was a peddler who sold caps. But he was not like an ordinary peddler carrying his wares on his back. he carried them on top of his head.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) A band of mischievous monkeys steals every one of a peddler’s caps while he takes a nap under a tree.

I picked this book because: I was inspired to give a big nod, an entire spread!, to it in my upcoming picture book, NOT ALL SHEEP ARE BORING!. Since it releases in 4 weeks I wanted to explore why the book stands as a strong childhood memory. Aesthetically the limited palette, so close to the primary colors, is pleasing and also makes it easy for kids to help count the hats – because they will want to! Perspectives are simple and easy for the very young to read. The opening lines may not be exciting for an adult, but as a kid this is how I learned what a peddler is, and carrying caps on his head for no apparent reason immediately makes him a friend! By the third page we are made aware of the problem – no buyers. After he rests by the tree the pacing has slowed enough for the reader to feel he is refreshed too, but the short sentences that follow create a new and frantic pace, and we feel his sense of worry too. “No caps.” And “then he looked up into the tree.” The reader holds their breath, “And what do you think he saw?” And is rewarded with a big spread of a tree loaded with silly monkeys donning caps! The peddler tries and tries to get them to give the caps back, with his frustration reaching a peak he throws his own cap down and the solution seems so easy! Why didn’t we remember? Monkey see, monkey do! Sooo satisfying! And we get to count the caps again to make sure they’re all there! Even now I still want to read it again!

Resources/activities: read more classics and decide why you think they have stood the test of time.

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

PPBF: Frida and Bear Play the Shape Game!

Author-Illustrator: Anthony Browne
Author-Illustrator
: Hanne Bartholin
Publisher: Candlewick, 2015
Age: 
3-7
Themes: drawing, shapes, imagination

Opening: see spread above.

Summary: (from my library catalog) Frida and Bear love to draw. When Bear runs out of ideas, Frida suggests they play the shape game.

I picked this book because: School has started in my district and one of the things I often felt got left behind was prioritizing creativity (I could go on for hours on this subject!), so I chose this book to help foster it, esp at the beginning of the year when some young people are feeling anxious – and for those that are not yet ready for a school environment this is a great activity that can be done anywhere!

Resources/activities: read then play the shape game! Watch this TED talk from Sir Ken Robinson:

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

PPBF: Hot Dog

Author/Illustrator: Doug Salati
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2022
Age: 
2-6
Themes: dogs, city life, hot weather

Opening: City summer, steamy sidewalks

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) It’s summer in the city, and this hot dog has had enough! Enough of sizzling sidewalks, enough of wailing sirens, enough of people’s feet right in his face. When he plops down in the middle of a crosswalk, his owner endeavors to get him the breath of fresh air he needs. She hails a taxi, hops a train, and ferries out to the beach. Here, a pup can run!

I picked this book because: it’s hot! I live in a small city but I’ve lived in pretty big ones and very big ones, and I also know how much dogs don’t appreciate a walk in the summer heat! Neither do I! The illustrations are playful and full of energy and the story is simple but oh, so relatable. sure to be a pleaser… but be ready because listeners will want a stretch of sand or body of water to escape to when finished!

Resources/activities: read this with a plan in mind to find refuge in nature afterwards; visit a beach or a place to dip your toes into water or dig in the sand; read other weather related books like My Winter City, or The Way the Storm Stops

(can’t find my own pics, but this looks yummy too!)

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

PPBF: The Charge of the Light Brigade

Author: a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Illustrator
s: Alice and Martin Provensen
Publisher: Golden Press, 1964
Age: 
4-10
Themes: Crimean war, authority, books from poems

Opening: Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.

Summary: (from goodreads) A narrative poem about the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War (1854).

I picked this book because: I think it’s important to show the stupidity and destruction caused by war, to understand diplomacy is the only way to end a war, better yet to prevent it. I had heard of the book because of the illustrators but never took the time to find it until recently (thanks to Judy Schachner for showing off her book on the Provensen’s on social media). The illustrations are as exquisite as the poem itself and both are worthy of discussion.

Resources/activities: read more anti-war or pro-peace books, like these that I have previously recommended: Drummer Hoff , Duck, Death and the Tulip, and Miss Twiggley’s Tree; or other books based on poems.

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

PPBF: The Midsummer Tomte and the Little Rabbits

Author: Ulf Stark
Illustrator:
 Eva Eriksson
Publisher: Floris, 2016; first publ. in Sweden by Rabén & Sjögren, 2015
Age: 
4-8
Themes: rabbits, tomtes, midsummer

Opening: Grump the tomte sat on a stool outside the old dog kennel, which he had made his home, with a stove, a bed, rugs and everything he needed.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) It’s summer in the big forest and the rabbit children are looking forward to their first Midsummer party. Owl, who knows everything, says Midsummer is a time for dancing, love and magic. What a fun time they will have! Then a terrible storm sweeps through the forest and the woodland animals must find shelter at Grump the tomte’s cottage. Will the magic of Midsummer help restore harmony to the forest in time for the party?

I picked this book because: I fell for the cover illustration, as I am already a big fan of Eva Eriksson, but my admiration for tomte stories goes back to library visits form my children’s early days in Germany. And this collection does not disappoint! Perfect for lazy summer days to read together, and it covers so many issues, like grumpiness, care for all living things, and how to deal with sadness and loneliness. Also lots to discuss with young American readers who might be unfamiliar with Scandinavian folk tales and stories.

Resources/activities: read more tomte stories and other Scandinavian books, like the Pippi series; have your own backyard or park celebration for midsummer/summer solstice – some great ideas HERE.

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

PPBF: Lost and Found

Author/Illustrator: JiWon Beck
Publisher: Peter Pauper Press, 2019 (orig. I Meet You, Bombom/Korea, 2017)
Age: 
3-7
Themes: friendship, eskimos, polar bear

Opening: wordless

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) A wordless picture book in which a young Eskimo girl befriends a weak, hungry polar bear that has taken refuge in her igloo, and the bear later returns the favor..

I picked this book because: we’re expecting snow this weekend, despite a week in the high 80’s, so this beautifully composed, quiet, wordless picture book feels just right to keep me from crying! The compositions are breathtaking and the character design melts my heart. I may cry anyway if I lose all my plums, currants and black raspberries though… In the meantime, enjoy this with a cuppa.

Resources/activities: Read books featuring snow even when snow isn’t expected. Bake something that needs to be dusted with powdered sugar. Place a paper snowflake over the cake first for a pretty design.

(can’t find my own pics, but this looks yummy too!)

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

PPBF: The Bear in the Book

Author: Kate Banks
Illustrator:
 Georg Hallensleben
Publisher: Frances Foster Books, FSG, 2012
Age: 
3-7
Themes: bears, reading, bedtime

Opening: see image below.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) At the end of the day a little boy falls asleep as his mama reads about a bear hibernating.

I picked this book because: I love the illustrator’s style, and the cover is wonderful! The author and illustrator have collaborated on a number of books and aim to check them all out. All kids have their own favorite books so I believe they will easily relate to the boy in the book as swell as the bear! The telling is rhythmic and gentle and is as pleasing for the adult reader as for a child. Makes you go, “Ahhh.”

Resources/activities: read any other book with a bear in it and compare the energies of the stories, the illustration styles, and note each favorite spread.

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

PPBF: Pirates vs. Cowboys

Author: Aaron Reynolds
Illustrator:
 David Barneda
Publisher: Knopf, 2013
Age: 
3-7
Themes: pirates, cowboys, language

Opening: see image under “summary”.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) A scurvy pirate crew, led by Burnt Beard, finds trouble when they try to hide their treasure in Old Cheyenne and have some miscommunication with Black Bob McKraw and his posse.

I picked this book because: I do love the illustrations (and all that white space!) and character designs, but I really admire a story conflict built off language and miscommunication! And the pirate and cowboy jargon is hilarious! And for younger ears it will be fine to not be able to understand the colorful language just as the main characters do not.

Resources/activities: great unit resource on language and communication, and to start a discussion on the difference between languages, dialogues, accents, etc. I will be reviewing another pirate book soon once I have my very own copy, but I would suggest reading it too as it is already available: The Monster in the Briny, written by Lynn Becker and illustrated by Scott Brundage.

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