Count Downton 16* and PPBF: Christmas Lullaby


Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle): capturing him was tough, really tough!


Author: Nancy Jewel
Illustrator: Stefano Vitale
Publisher: Clarion Books, 1994 – out of print
Age: 3 and up
Themes: Christmas, nativity, animals
Opening: The donkey brought hay for the baby’s bed,the lamb brought fleece to pillow his head.
Summary: (from Amazon) A simple, eloquent story in rhyme about the animals that attended the Baby Jesus, illustrated with oil paintings done on wood; a work of art as well as an engaging version of the Nativity story.

Why I like this book: I enjoyed the very simple, almost soft spoken rhymes, but this book is absolutely beautiful. Yes, I was completely won over by the illustrations!

Resources/Activities: to be added later (little ‘academic emergency’ at the RoZo’s!)

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks and parent/teacher resources go to Susanna Hill’s blog – HERE

PF: Bush Christmas


Another Christmas film rarely seen by Americans, made in Australia in 1947.

I first saw this about 15 years ago, when we moved to Colorado, because our library had a VHS copy in it’s collection, now long gone. Don’t let the covers fool you – the film is in black and white.

A pack of five young children set off to recover their stolen horse, on their own in the Australian outback. My own kids thought it was the coolest that these children rode their horses to school, set out into the wilderness on their own – to chase horse thieves! And now you are wondering what their parents thought, right? Well, the kids told them they were just going camping for a few days, and astonishingly that was enough! It may have been made for children, but I found it highly entertaining. The 1987 remake stars a young Nicole Kidman, but we haven’t seen it.

2013 scbwi TdP-Award – process and entry

Entries had to be submitted by midnight Friday. I’ll admit I found this year’s prompt tough, a bit abstract: illustrate the given poem prompt, geared towards the very young, newborn to 2yrs. I pondered. I made sketches…


…and goofed around in Illustrator


…and made more sketches, until, having 24 hours left to submit I finally settled!

TdP 1

I tried watercolor, and soon realized it just wasn’t going to happen that day (Friday, the 13th – hmmm…). So I grabbed my colored pencils and the fat graphite pencil, the one my friend Carsten gave me so many years ago. “Just keep it loose,” I repeated.

Copy 3

Finally some type, though the addition was optional.


The unofficial gallery of contest particpant entries, run by Diandra Mae (Illustrator Coordinator for the SCBWI Houston region), to whom we are all very grateful, won’t go live until January 10th, when a winner has been chosen by Tomie de Paola himself.

PF: The Holly and the Ivy

No picture book review this week does not mean I couldn’t find one! Instead I’ve picked another form of storytelling I am passionate about – Perfect Films!

My parents asked if I could get a hold of this British classic from 1952 (IMDb), they remembered the PBS channel in NY used to show it. I found it too difficult, so I called on a film buff friend. Nowadays you can get a copy on ebay. Maybe you could then and I just couldn’t figure it out! In any case it is a tender delight – don’t pass it up next time you get a chance.

Directed by  George More O’Ferrall, the script was adapted and produced by Anatole de Grunwald from a play by Wynyard Browne. Ralph Richardson plays the English clergyman who, in his devotion to his parishioners, seems to have sorely misunderstood, possibly even neglected, his own children, played by Celia Johnson, Margaret Leighton and Denholm Elliot. Over 80 minutes we see the family coming together to celebrate Christmas, the first Christmas since the mother has passed. The aunts, played by Margaret Halstan and Maureen Delaney, are my favorite characters, and I do hope you trouble yourself to find out why!


Read about the origins behind the Christmas carol, including the lyrics – HERE