PPBF: Brian Wildsmith’s Animal Gallery

Author/Illustrator: Brian Wildsmith
Publisher: Candlewick, 1967, 1968, 2008, first US edition 2020
Age: 
0-8
Themes: animals, nomenclature

Opening: see spread above.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Discover a troop of kangaroos, an ambush of tigers, a rafter of turkeys, and a flotilla of swordfish in this glorious introduction to the animal kingdom from internationally acclaimed artist Brian Wildsmith. A lion yawns lazily in the grass. Curious giraffes crane their long necks. Step into this rich world of animals from an extraordinary illustrator whose work influenced generations of younger artists. Each animal’s essence is strikingly captured, from the playfulness of otters to a noisy gathering of parrots, while panoramic pictures give a real sense of the animals’ habitats. Collective nouns — some familiar, others wonderfully surprising — are used to describe each group of animals. Brian Wildsmith’s stunning illustrations will inspire a love of nature and a respect for animals from the earliest age.

I picked this book because: today Wildsmith’s images are knocking the gray out of my sky! the energy alone is enough to send the warmth straight to my toes, but combined with his mastery of color, texture, composition, atmosphere, and emotion it just doesn’t get better than this!

Resources/activities: look up group names for all your favorite animals and read companion picture books featuring group names, like Julie Hedlund’s A Troop is a Group of Monkeys (2013); paint your favorite group using a mixture of different media – and don’t forget fun textures!

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

PPBF: Lentil Soup

Author: Carole Tremblay, transl. Charles Simard
Illustrator:
 Maurèen Poignonec
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers, 2021; Originally published as: La soupe aux lentilles ©2018 Les editions la courte echelle.
Age: 
4-8
Themes: soup, lentils, brothers

Opening: see full spread below title page image

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) A young mouse cleverly avoids eating his soup by distracting his older brother with questions about every single ingredient.

I picked this book because: I first pulled it out of the new-release shelf because of the title, and then for the illustrations – so cute I wish the book were larger. (I actually put on a pair of reading glasses that are too strong so I could look at the details more closely!). But why I chose it for PPBF is for the voice of these characters. There is a lot of what could be considered didactic information included in the text, but the characters allow you to look past and enjoy and identify this familiar situation between siblings. A perfect read this time of year in the northern hemisphere, because you are going to want to make soup!

Resources/activities: Make lentil soup! Also, learn about making another basic vegetable soup to introduce kids to the simplicity of creative cooking (my first foray was either tomato or carrot soup, both of which I still love. I just wish I had been introduced to making soup much earlier!) Read companion books, like The Real Story of Stone Soup, or Freedom Soup.

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

PPBF: This Is Your World

Author: Sophia Gholz
Illustrator:
 Robin Boyden
Publisher: Running Press Kids, 2021
Age: 
4-8
Themes: Bob Ross, painters, biographies

Opening: see full spread below title page image

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) From rescuing animals in his backyard to barking orders as a miliary sergeant, follow famous artist and television star, Bob Ross, as he journeys from his childhood in Florida to his days in Alaska to his discovery of the joys of painting–and teaching others to paint.

I picked this book because: Even though I was never drawn to painting, even as a child I could appreciate the relaxed and soft-spoken instructor on tv. I really enjoyed how the text effortlessly conveys what an emerging artist feels about observation as much as about practice. The illustrations are so charming too! I know creative kids will relate, and those who are not yet sure about their artistic confidence will feel seen. Delightful!

Resources/activities: watch some of his old instruction videos on YT; for adults: watch the documentary about his life; paint (!) or draw something from nature and just accept that what you see is your world!

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

PPBF: The Great Stink

Author: Colleen Paeff
Illustrator:
 Nancy Carpenter
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry, 2021
Age: 
4-8
Themes: sewerage, Bazalgette, London

Opening: see full spread below.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) This funny and informative picture book tells the story of Joseph Bazalgette, a 19th century engineer who designed London’s first comprehensive sewage system. In doing so, he saved thousands of lives from cholera outbreaks that regularly plagued the city. This STEM-focused story provides a window into the past and shows how one invention went on to affect generations to come-and teaches kids how they can prevent pollution in their own neighborhoods today.

I picked this book because: I was also thrilled to see what illustrator Nancy Carpenter had done with the cover, and could hardly wait to discover the magic I knew she would bring to my Soaring20s pal’s debut picture book. I was not disappointed, and sublimely surprised at what Colleen conjured with the text! Amazing how the two of them could bring so many gross AND fun facts to life with humor and enthusiasm! Definitely worth your while!

Resources/activities: I generally dislike suggesting more screen time, but these two videos are fascinating: 10mins on Bazalgette’s work HERE, and another 59min video that presents very interesting research on what’s going on with waste water development today.

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

PPBF: Poles Apart

Author: Jeanne Willis
Illustrator:
 Jarvis
Publisher: Nosy Crow, 2016
Age: 
3-7
Themes: penguins, polar bears, getting lost

Opening: As everyone knows, penguins are found at the South Pole and never at the North Pole. At least not until the day…

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Everybody knows that penguins live at the South Pole and polar bears live at the North Pole—but what would happen if, one day, a family of picnicking penguins accidentally got lost? When the hapless Pilchard-Brown family find themselves at the wrong pole, they need Mr. White, a friendly polar bear, to guide them all the way home.

I picked this book because: I enjoy other books by Willis and by Jarvis so I was curious to see a collaboration between them – and I was not disappointed! It’s simple and sweet and a huggable sort of book with bright, lively, and loose drawings (something I am forever trying to achieve myself!). And be just right for the toddler/preschool crowd for story time with lots of alliteration and fun details that truly engage. Hope you enjoy it too!

Resources/activities: look into which animals are found on both poles, and which are not; make a diorama featuring the differences; create a play adding other locations with backdrop paintings; read more picture books featuring animals from the north and south poles, like Except Antarctica by Todd Sturgell.

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

PPBF: Little Red and the Cat Who Loved Cake

Author/Illustrator: Barbara Lehman
Publisher: HMH, 2021
Age: 
3-7
Themes: wordless picture books, fairy tales, cats

Opening: see spread below

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Little Red has baked a cake with their father, and is on the way to Grandma’s house to make a delivery. But someone has been trailing them ever since they left home . . . someone who really loves cake. This playful retelling of a beloved classic is a visual delight, with references to other fairy tales hidden throughout Lehman’s inviting illustrations.

I picked this book because: the author-illustrator is one of my idols and I would read her shopping list given a chance!! BUT, this is yet another delightful wordless picture book illustrated in the deceptively simplest lines that it takes a few pages before you notice all the wonderful fairytale clues seamlessly woven into the frames. And so much humor! I have read it 4x and I’m still finding something new to make me smile!

Resources/activities: Lehman has included some wonderful search-and-find material in the back matter; I would suggest looking for versions of some of the tales included in the illustrations to read along with this title, and maybe even a Each Peach Pear Plum, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg too! This could also be a fun story to act out!

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

PPBF: Wildfire!

Author/Illustrator: Ashley Wolff
Publisher: Beach Lane, 2021
Age: 
3-8
Themes: wildfire, firefighters, forest animals

Opening: Buck hears the rumble. Squirrel sees the flash. Jay spreads the news. ”FireFireFire in the forest!”

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Illustrations and easy-to-read text reveal the struggles of forest animals to survive when fire breaks out on Spruce Mountain, and the actions of the firefighters who work through the night to stop the blaze.

I picked this book because: The cover had such a strong visual impact I would have picked this to read anyway, but also because I live in a region that has been dealing with wildfires for a long time. My former neighbor was a hotshot firefighter too. I’ve read a few books that deal with fire and natural disaster, but this one is not only beautifully illustrated, but easy for kids to understand, whether they live in a region like mine or not. And highly informative. I am looking forward to sharing this when story time in the bookstore resumes and to read it while making local school visits. Thank you, Ashley Wolff, for creating such an important book!

Resources/activities: read the wonderful details included in the back matter; learn best behavior practices for forest hiking and camping; visit a local fire station.

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

PPBF: Stretchy and Beanie

Author/Illustrator: Judy Schachner
Publisher: Dial, 2021
Age: 
3-7
Themes: cats, pets, stories in rhyme

Opening: When the McHandsome Clan met the McBrights, each kid got a cat, so it worked out just right.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) An independent cat and his young owner learn to appreciate the independence and enthusiasm of the other.

I picked this book because: The rhyme is a delightful read-aloud and this is the kind of book I would have poured over as a kid, picking out my own favorite cat, or favorite cat expression, and looking to see which other McBright child seemed most like me. I would swear up and down that I would have been a better cat owner, but truth be told: I also stuck a kitty or two in a drawer too many! Just like Beanie and the other kids, I would have loved to have had a kitty of my very own. The illustrations are jam packed with wonderful little details (check out Beanie’s shoe choices!), cheerful colors and loads of humor and energy!

Resources/activities: check out Judy Schachner’s IG account and have a look at her handmade stretchy-accordion cats and make your own; read Stretchy McHandsome; learn about best practices with a new pet – cat or other!; make your own cat tail, or headband ears like Beanie’s.

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

PPBF: Magic Candies

Author/Illustrator: Heena Baek
Translated by: Sophie Bowman
Publisher: Amazon Crossing Kids, 2021
Age: 
4-8
Themes: candy, magic, imagination

Opening: I play on my own.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Tong Tong could never have imagined what everyone around him was thinking. But when he gets hold of some magic candies, suddenly there are voices everywhere. He can hear how his couch feels, what upsets his dog, that his demanding dad loves him. He even gets to catch up with his dead grandmother. It turns out, these voices in Tong Tongs life have A LOT to say! Is Tong Tong ready to hear it? At turns funny, weird, and heartfelt, this imaginative picture book from award-winning Korean author Heena Baek will take readers along on Tong Tongs journey as he goes from lonely to brave.

I picked this book because: The amazing illustration on the cover caught my eye, and the interior art does not disappoint! I love the concept of magic candy, where each candy takes the main character and how he even learns to manipulate the magic – and make the most of it! Very sweet and it left me wanting more, so I made the most of it and imagined what I might hear with a few such candies!

Resources/activities: Do what I did, and imagine what you might hear with magic candies. Draw what they might look like. Maybe investigate how to make your own candies or lollipops – and share with friends! Read another book from Korean illustrator Heena Baek: Moon Pops, Owl Kids, 2021

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

PPBF: Gemma and the Giant Girl

Author: Sara O’Leary
Illustrator:
 Marie Lafrance
Publisher: Tundra, 2021
Age: 
4-8
Themes: dolls, dollhouses, giants

Opening: Gemma lived in a very nice little house and had a very nice little life.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Gemma lives a nice little life in a nice little house where things have been the same forever and ever. She wonders if she will ever grow up, or if she will always be her Momma and Poppa’s little girl. And then one day something happens that shakes up everything. Is Gemma’s little world about to get a whole lot bigger?

I picked this book because: because I will always pick up a book illustrated by Marie Lafrance! I find the most attractive quality of her art is that I always feel transported to another, very elegant world. BUT to the story: it feels simple, but it’s an adventure that unfolds with perspective, change, and adaptation. I love picture books whose ideas linger for a good while in my head, like sucking on a lemon drop. And now I wish I had my old dollhouse back!

Resources/activities: read other books that feature dollhouses, like This is My Dollhouse, by Giselle Potter; peruse Pinterest HERE for inspiration; make your own shoebox dollhouse.

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