PPBF: The Charge of the Light Brigade

Author: a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson
s: Alice and Martin Provensen
Publisher: Golden Press, 1964
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
 Eva Eriksson
Publisher: Floris, 2016; first publ. in Sweden by Rabén & Sjögren, 2015
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)
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
 Georg Hallensleben
Publisher: Frances Foster Books, FSG, 2012
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
 David Barneda
Publisher: Knopf, 2013
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.

PPBF: The Cat and the Rat and the Hat

Author: Em Lynas
 Matt Hunt
Publisher: Nosy Crow, 2021
Themes: rats, cats, hats

Opening: see image below.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) A raucous, rhyming tale that will have children (and adults) in fits of laughter! Cat is sitting on his favourite mat, when who should come along but Rat with a very nice hat? Cat wants Rat’s hat and will stop at NOTHING to get it. But when Bat arrives wearing a fancy cravat, well, what could be better than that? Chaos ensues as both Cat and Rat decide they MUST have Bat’s fancy cravat for themselves! From Em Lynas and Matt Hunt comes this hilarious, read-aloud picture book, bursting with comic capers and animal antics. With a hilarious, tongue-twister text, slapstick humour, bright neon artwork and colourful, comic characters.

I picked this book because: those colors were shouting at me!! And i too have a manuscript with a cat and a hat! So of course I wanted to see what kind of relationship these characters have with each other – so funny – and how these amazing colors would be used – such great compositions – and how it would all pan out – terrific twist! Read it!

Resources/activities: This book will be great to use in teaching how shapes are the foundation for so many things you can draw; re draw these characters in your own style; get out some graph paper and doodle using the squares; try creating a drawing using a limited number of colors – and loud ones too!

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

PPBF: One of a Kind

Author/Illustrator: Neil Packer
Publisher: Candlewick Studio, 2020
Themes: classifying, sorting, concepts

Opening: see image above.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Meet Arvo. Now look at his family tree. Meet his cat, Malcolm, and check out Malcolm’s family tree, too. Whether people or cats, buildings or books, food or vehicles, there’s a category for everything. And in this mesmerizing narrative introduction to taxonomy, readers follow Arvo through his day to learn about the order of the animal kingdom, to his music lesson to help categorize instruments, and across town to classify cloud formations he sees along the way.

I picked this book because: I love to organize – even if I’m not good at it (I get overwhelmed and capitulate!) and I love fun, random facts, AND I know there are kids out there just like me, maybe some adults too. The illustrations are beautiful and composed for the organizing freak with an aesthetic eye. And the main character loves cheese – just like me! So grab this if you have a child you know who likes to line up their matchbox cars neatly and enjoy the book together.

Resources/activities: choose an amount of objects to sort and classify, like stuffed animals or art supplies. Try some of the cheeses listed on the cheese page (this will happen at my house!).

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

PPBF: See You Soon

Author: Mariame Kaba
 Bianca Diaz
Publisher: Haymarket, 2022
Themes: mothers, emotions, imprisonment

Opening: Queenie is what they call me, but Reyna is my name. I am six years old. And my life’s about to change.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) From New York Times Bestselling Author Mariame Kaba, a poignant, beautifully illustrated story of a little girl’s worries when her Mama goes to jail, and the love that bridges the distance between them.

I picked this book because: It’s beautiful and important. The US has 4% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prison population. You can just imagine the number of children affected, but I’ll tell you: approximately 7% of the US population has had a parent in prison or jail at some point. That’s 5 million children. And they need books like these as well as all the other books to make them laugh, to find comfort, and to learn from. I’d love to see this in every school.

Resources/activities: How to Explain an Arrest or Jail to Children; Tip Sheet for Teachers (Pre-K through 12): Supporting Children Who Have an Incarcerated Parent; video from Sesame Street https://youtu.be/I3sf7O5mrlY

To lighten the mood just a bit, here is my image for Poisson d’Avril Instagram and facebook challenge with the ii: Illustration Institute. It’s a French tradition to tape a paper fish on someone’s back for April Fools day. And a few to print and color!

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

PPBF: Mina

Author/Illustrator: Matthew Forsythe
Publisher: Paula Wiseman, 2022
Themes: mice, parents, pets

Opening: Mina lived in her own little world where nothing ever bothered her. Except for one thing.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Mina the mouse is very upset when her father brings home a pet “squirrel” that she is certain is a cat.

I picked this book because: see my review on the Kid’s Indie Next List, March/April 22, image below:

Resources/activities: I hope in reading this kids – like me – feel the urge to draw in color! Try drawing lines in one color first and going over the same lines with another color, laying down an area of colored pencil and using an eraser to draw in that space, or using one range of colors, like greens, blues and purples for a single drawing.

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

PPBF: Never, Not Ever!

Author/Illustrator: Beatrice Alemagna
Publisher: Harper, 2021
Themes: bats, first day of school, parents

Opening: see image below.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) When Pascaline, a little bat, screams “Never, Not Ever” in response to going to school, something extraordinary happens, which changes her mind.

I picked this book because: I would pick up any book illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna! Her illustration style is so playful, unrestricted, unencumbered that I feel immediately transported back into my years as a young mother, even back into my own childhood. And i love a story that begins with defiance, follows a roller coaster of emotions, and ends with a … well, you’ll just have to read and find out!

Resources/activities: read more books about starting school, like My School Stinks by Becky Scharnhorst, illus. by Julia Patton. Set up a pretend classroom to practice what a day in school might be like. Visit the school playground over the summer.

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

Also, happy 10 year blogaversary to me! And since we are only a day out from St.Paddy’s, here is a coloring sheet kids can print out and fold to make a fortune-teller which includes Irish superstitions in the inner drawings: salute a magpie by telling it the time for good luck, be kind to robins for good luck, do not disturb fairy trees, an itchy nose means a disagreement is coming, a fallen fork means a female visitor is to be expected, burning ears means someone is talking about you, bird poop brings good luck, and see a penny (coin) pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck.