PPBF: Widget

Author: Lyn Rossiter McFarland
Illustrator: Jim McFarland
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2001
Genre: fiction
Themes: dogs, cats, tolerance, acceptance, emergencies
Age Level: 3 to 6
Grade Range:
p to 1
Opening: Widget was a little stray dog. He had no home. He had no friends.
Synopsis: A small stray dog is accepted into a household full of cats learning to “fit in,” but when his mistress is hurt, he demonstrates that being a dog is not all bad.
Why I like this book: Widget weaselled his way into my heart by doing his darndest to fit in with 6 cats. I had no choice but to fall in love!
For more posts on Perfect Picture Books and resources visit Susanna Hill’s blog every Friday

WIX: The Dream of Cats Is All About Mice

cats, dogs, Arabic, idioms, Julie Rowan-ZochI thought the English translation might snag more interest over the original Arabic: hilm il-‘utaat kullu firaan.

In the pre-modern Middle East region cats maintained a high standing, higher than dogs anyway. At times dogs were hung or buried with the corpses of rebels and dissidents as an expression of contempt. No sharing living spaces with the religiously observant either. Bad dog! This prejudice has survived and owning one is still frowned upon.

Back to cats, though not yet to those dreaming of mice: in 13th century Cairo Mamluk sultan al-Zahir Baybars kept a garden for pampering purring pets. Even into the 1830’s the British orientalist E.W. Lane observed  that people still brought baskets of tasty treats for the cats in the garden of the High Court, fulfilling  obligations of the sultan’s endowment for his feline friends.

Muslim scholars wrote odes in honor of the protectors of their precious books from critters…such as mice. There are thousands of mystical Sufi stories including cats. They were famous in Islamic art; Muslim calligraphers used brushes made of the fur of long-haired cats – some bred just for this purpose.

Cats! Cats! Cats! But what does the idiom mean, you say, as I lead you astray? Exactly what I’ve been telling you: to have a one track mind!

PPBF: The Hero of Little Street

Author/Illustrator: Gregory Rogers
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, 2012
Genre: fiction, story without words
Themes: dogs, painting, time travel, London, Delft/Netherlands, history
Age Level: 4-8
Opening: hmmm…Click on the picture to flip through some pages
Synopsis: A runaway romp through one painting and another as a boy seeks cover from bullies in an art museum. From Kirkus Review: Rogers’ Boy (from The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard, 2004, and A Midsummer Knight, 2007) returns for another wordless metafictive adventure, this one centering on Dutch painting.
Reminds me of my last stay in Amsterdam, though it was a cold January and I was 6 months pregnant. This is the first I have read from Rogers, but I will keep my eyes peeled for his other titles.
Resource/Activity: The art of Rembrandt : kids art supply catalog: http://www.kidsart.com/store/karemb.html
For more posts on Perfect Picture Books and resources visit Susanna Hill’s blog every Friday