PPBF: Mice Twice

Author/Illustrator: Joseph Low
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry (Atheneum), 1980
Age: 
3-8
Themes: animals, etiquette, humorous stories
Opening: Cat was thinking about supper. He thought, “I could eat forty-seven grasshoppers. or I could eat 69 crickets. Or I could eat a fine, fat sparrow. But what I think I’d really like is a nice, tender mouse.

Summary: A round of uneasy hospitality results when Mouse and Dog arrive at Cat’s house for dinner.

I like this book because: first off, I’m not alone – this title is a 1981 Caldecott Honor book. I love the loose, energetic rendering and use of a simple yet bright palette, dominated by pinks and yellows. That’s what attracted me to this book I found at Brattle Bookshop in Boston this spring, but it’s the round robin tale of trickery and wit and the drama of it all that delighted me so very much! Hope you can find a copy.

Resources/activities: learn more about Low, his obituary here; look for other titles on the Caldecott list from 1981; perform this story as a play.

There is a summer break for new entries, but for more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE.

Around the corner from Brattle Bookshop, the Make Way for Ducklings sculptures in Boston Commons (dressed as RBGs!)

PPBF: Mystery

Author/Illustrator: Arthur Geisert
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, 2003
Age: 
3-6
Themes: pigs, art museums, mystery stories  
OpeningI packed the lunch – sandwiches with extra mayonnaise, apples, oranges, and twenty-four cookies. Everything my Grandpa liked.

Summary: (from my library catalog) During a visit to the art museum, a little piglet and her grandfather investigate the disappearance of several paintings. Clues in the illustrations give readers a chance to solve the mystery along with the heroine.

I like this book because: I confess, I like all of Geisert’s books, and this isn’t even my favorite, but it warms my artist heart with all the visual references to great paintings, architecture, sculpture, and even, in the last image below, to the publisher! Oh, and PIGS! I’ve added one of my own pigs to the bottom of this post (because…PIGS!)

Resources/activities: visit an art museum – one of my local favorites: The Kirkland; check out this site to find one near you – or near where you are headed: http://www.artcyclopedia.com/museums-us.html; check out how to become a police artist HERE

There is a summer break for new entries, but for more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE.

PPBF: Ogilvy

Author: Deborah Underwood
Illustrator:
 T.L. McBeth
Publisher: 
Godwin Books/Henry Holt and Co, 2019
Age: 
4-100
Themes: rabbits, clothing, sex roles, story in rhyme
OpeningOgilvy happily hopped up and down. The very fist day in a very new town .

Summary:(from my library catalog) When Ogilvy moves to a new town, he discovers that bunnies who wear dresses play ball and knit socks, and bunnies in sweaters make art and climb rocks, and Ogilvy must figure out a way to do it all.

I like this book because: it’s BRILLIANT! In a delightful yet touching way, Underwood has managed to teach such a valuable lesson without having bopped the reader(s) on the head with pedagogy! Each time I read it I find another layer too! Get your Ogilvy on!

Resources/activities: Make collage clothing for your own bunny characters; discuss what it might feel like to move to a new town (read a companion book, like Neville by Norman Juster, and or what it feels like to be pressured by others to behave in a way you might not want to; discuss empathy, tolerance and acceptance and what makes them similar, and how the are different.

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

PPBF: I Can Only Draw Worms

Author/Illustrator: Will Mabbitt
Publisher: P
enguin Workshop, 2019, orig. published by PRH UK, 2017
Age: 
3-6
Themes: worms, counting books, humorous stories 
OpeningThis is a book about worms. (I can only draw worms.)

Summary: (from my library catalog) Teaches the reader to count to ten using worms that have great adventures or everyday experiences, described but not illustrated due to the author’s inability to draw anything but worms.

I like this book because: super simple, super bright, and super funny! I’t’s simple, really! (psst, I’m still laughing!)

Resources/activities: what can you draw? Make a counting book with whatever subject you like to draw best; dig up and examine some worms, but remember to treat them well, and put them right back as soon as you’re finished! Make tissue paper worms by following instructions HERE

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

PPBF: The Undefeated

Author: Kwame Alexander
Illustrator:
 Kadir Nelson
Publisher: 
HMH, 2019
Age: 
4-100
Themes: African-Americans, Children’s poetry,
OpeningGrandfather was a man of few words .

Summary:(from my library catalog) The Newbery Award-winning author of The Crossover pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree.

I like this book because: the illustrations grab you and do not let you go! So beautiful, so arresting, and the use of negative space is equally powerful. Now imagine that they not only amplify the text, but are equal to this gorgeous of endurance and spirit, of love. Still get the chills writing this post.

Resources/activities: do not wait for a specific month dedicated to African-Americans, read the stories of the figures mentioned, and beyond, throughout the year.

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

PPBF: Look Up!

Author/Illustrator: Jung Jin-Ho, translated by My Hyun Kim
Publisher: Holiday House, 2016
Age: 4-8
Themes: kindness, friendship, perception

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) .

I like this book because: of it’s simplicity! The choice of rendering in black and white allows the eye to focus so much more on the details of a unique perspective and place the reader/viewer not only in the mind but also in the body of the protagonist, a child in a wheelchair. And it’s a sweet story of how easy it can be to make a new friend too!

Resources/Activities: look at things from different heights: a stoop, a tree, the top of the stairs, or take a visit to your local parking garage, or another building that is multiple stories high, to get a sense of what it is like to look down on a scene. Now look up instead!

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

PPBF: Grandfather and the Moon

Author: Stéphanie Lapointe
Illustrator:
 Roge
Publisher:
Groundwood Books, 2017 (Orig. Les Editions, 2015)
Age:
3-100
Themes: grief, grandfathers, space
Opening: Grandfather was a man of few words .

Summary:(from my library catalog) Tells the story of a loving granddaughter who worries about her grandfather’s depression after the loss of her grandmother and enters a contest to travel to the moon, with unexpected results.

I like this book because: the illustrations are a perfect reflection of the mood of the concept and ideas within the text. The dreamlike, imaginative pondering of the child become visual and real – the space in which the main character enters into is inside and out. There is something mystical and magical, sad and hopeful. I hope you look for this because it is hard to pin point in words. Truly a picture book of discovery for ALL ages. I read it while waiting for a friend but my thoughts on it lingered for some time, and I am sure will continue.

Resources/activities: there are many great books on grief and we should not wait until there is a death to start talking about it with children.

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

PPBF:I’d Really Like to Eat a Child

0662347C-E88A-464D-8328-16039979D337Author: Sylviane Donnio
Illustrator:
 Dorothée de Monfried
Publisher: 
Random House, 2004
Age:
3-8
Themes: humorous stories, food, crocodiles
Opening: see first full spread below.

CD6512C2-93A2-4F99-AA5F-10D3209807E8Summary: (from my library catalog) One morning Achilles, a young crocodile, insists that he will eat a child that day and refuses all other food, but when he actually finds a little girl, she puts him in his place.

3E91E8A3-68FC-4C1E-925E-F4F9960EE091I like this book because: I’m actually surprised I have not recommended this title before – it’s truly one of my favorites! The title grabbed me, as I am sure it grabbed you, and I was in no way disappointed. The simplicity, the humor, the tenacious child in whom we may see ourselves. And while parents would also like to see him eat the bananas, we also cheer him on in his persistent pursuit!

53B2FBDD-5A24-4D35-A216-1D1141DEF7F6Resources/activities: read about what real crocodiles eat, where do they live, how do they differ from alligators; bake a chocolate cake – if that’s what you’d like to eat; find out how many different kinds of bananas there really are and where they come from.

3259BB1E-1F15-405D-BB3D-4AB2C87A4F44For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE.

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One more for the road…though this is an alligator, of course…in underwear!

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PPBF: Lola Shapes the Sky

BFD1381A-FF6F-4638-9B4B-BC13A86CEEE1Author: Wendy Greenley
Illustrator:
 Paolo Domeniconi
Publisher: 
Creative Editions, 2019
Age:
4-8
Themes: weather, clouds, acceptance
Opening: see photo below.

90C04E47-4D2E-4920-842B-3EDE9D37666DSummary: (from the publishers) A cloud with a mind of her own and a gift for making awe-inspiring shapes encourages her friends to go beyond their practical functions and expand their imaginative horizons.

670D23B6-75D6-414A-9C42-49007E6FCFCAI like this book because: Bias Reveal: this is the debut picture book of my longtime critique-partner Wendy Greenley! BUT, bias aside, it‘s a lovely book of self-acceptance and creativity, and was very well received by my adorable storytime gang at the bookstore! It‘s also brimming with absolutely beautiful illustrations! The kids were mesmerized!

62948B6A-5E78-48BB-A657-A14FE50F75BCResources/activities: start a kid’s chapter of The Cloud Appreciation Society – find out more HERE; learn how clouds make rain and other weather;  make umbrellas on popsicle sticks – see photos below

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

40818650-EA6C-42D7-A028-0D92B13459E9

 

PPBF: Noah Noasaurus + Interview

1F34B122-4FF9-48A3-9F85-754FB630B9F1Author: Elaine Kiely Kearns
Illustrator:
Colin Jack
Publisher: 
Albert Whitman, 2019
Age:
4-8
Themes: dinosaurs, attitude, no
Opening: Noah Noasaurus woke up feeling very No.

DA2BE2B8-9587-4CCE-810D-3E1CB7BCBA54Summary: (from the publishers) Noah is in a grumpy mood and wants to be alone, but when his friends follow him around he cannot help but have fun.

9E152B12-0F96-449F-BB24-3BB8605CAA6DI like this book because: Believe it or not we had a little grumpy critter in this household at one time (it wasn’t me!) and all it took to set things in motion was a seam in a sock! And my guess is other households have seen a grump or two! And that’s perfectly okay! It was great to see that Noah’s family also gave him the space he so obviously needed, and that sometimes just sticking with a friend is all it takes for them to find their own way back to having a yabba dabba doo time.

Resources/activities: play Prehistoric People (could become a new craze!); make new labels for your toothpaste (Smilodon! 4 out of 5 dinosaurs prefer it!), some scrambled dodo eggs (minced veg for speckles), and don’t forget Jurassic toast!; discuss grumpy moods and favorite strategies for dealing with them (I like to read silly poetry!)

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

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I was a lucky winner of a copy at KateFoxWrites, and Elaine not only sent me a signed copy – and a tattoo! – but also happily agreed to answer a few questions for this PPBF post!

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

My favorite part of the writing process would have to be coming up with a title. I would have to say that most of the manuscripts that I write start with a title. That doesn’t mean that the title won’t change of course, but finding a title that a really like gives me lots of inspiration to write.

Got a tip on keeping organized (or on-task!) with your writing work?

I wish I could offer a golden nugget of wisdom on this but the truth is- I am all over the place when it comes to keeping my writing organized. I have learned to save every 7th or so draft that has had a major revision as a new doc with the title and a number. But sometimes I forget so even that doesn’t always work for me. Do you know one that you can teach me?

How do you refuel when your creativity-tank is running low?

When I feel like I am running on empty I watch Pixar movies. I drive my kids crazy because I have seen MONSTERS INC, TOY STORY (all of them) and FINDING NEMO more times than they have! Watching those movies usually will pull me right out of my creativity funk.

Name an un-related skill you have that in some way helps writing picture books?

What a good question! (I had to really think about this one.) The only thing I can think of is that in addition to my education degrees, I also have a degree in marketing. In college I originally wanted to go into advertising, so I took a lot of business courses in marketing and business. It wasn’t useful when I abandoned the idea and became an elementary school teacher, but now I think I really scrub my picture book ideas to see if they are marketable before I even begin writing a new manuscript. So I guess it wasn’t a waste of time after all!

One-for-fun: a favorite thing about spring?

I love finding the very first crocus coming up in my yard. They are so persistent and strong and tiny, I usually find one popping up right through a patch of leftover snow. When I see it I always feel very hopeful!

Thank you, Elaine for sharing a bit about your process – and I do have an organizing tip for you: leaving piles of paper in very neat stacks that line up with the sides of your desk can give you an undeserved but nifty sense of accomplishment when all else fails!

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You can follow Elaine on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

ELAINE KIELY KEARNS  writes picture book and middle grade stories. Armed with a master’s degree in education, she scours the internet for information about children’s writing for the website she founded, KidLit411.com. Her picture book NOAH NOASAURUS (Albert Whitman) illustrated by Colin Jack is available anywhere books are sold. She lives in New York with a menagerie of animals but sadly, not one dinosaur. Find her online at elainekielykearns.com  She is represented by Linda Epstein of the Emerald City Literary Agency.

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