PPBF: Pig and Pug

PigPugCoverAuthors: Laura Marchesani and Zenaides A. Medina Jr.
Illustrator: Jarvis
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers, 2015
Ages: level 2 progressing reader
Themes: farm animals, friendhip, commonalities
Opening: Pig lives on a farm. There are four cows. There are ten chickens. There are six sheep. But there is just one pig.
Summary: (from my library catalog) Pig lives on a farm where he is the only animal without a friend until a new creature arrives, Pug, who is not a pig but has a curly tail, snorts, plays in the mud, and just might be a good friend for Pig.

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I like this book because: despite my choice being a leveled reader, it’s narrative is fun to read aloud and the takeaway is endearing. The illustrations are delightful, simple (okay, a little more depth of color/contrast might be too much to expect in a leveled reader, but I’d suggest it for the series), and full of emotion.

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Resources/activities: Compare animal traits; What do we feel would make a good friend and why?; Do we have friends with which we share a lot in common? How important is that? Draw the characters in the book – they are perfect for emulating.

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For more PPBF selections including resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: HERE

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PPBF: Farewell Floppy

FarewellFloppyCoverAuthor/Illustrator: Benjamin Chaud (Engl. translation: Taylor Norman)
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2015 (orig. published: Adieu Chausette, hélium/Actes Sud, 2010)
Ages: 4 and up
Themes: pets, friendship, responsibility
Opening: Floppy, that’s my rabbit. That’s his name because of his ears. They don’t stand up straight like other rabbits’. 
Summary: (from my library catalog) A boy feels that he is too old for his pet rabbit, so he tries to turn Floppy loose in the woods–but when he realizes that he really loves his pet, and returns for him, Floppy is nowhere to be found.

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Why I like this book: I picked it up because of the book’s vertical format (8 x 0.5 x 12.5 inches) and the illustrator’s work (another PPBF pick of mine HERE). But at first I was not taken with the text – WHHAAAAH? But, I read on – so something must have been working because I am a tosser (over the shoulder but with a soft landing). If I am not grabbed in the first 2 pages, 3 max, the book is airborne. The illustrations invited me to keep going. but the last line on page 2 got me:  “So I had to let him go.” Yikes! I had to follow the mc and find out how he planned to do this! When you’ve read it too let me know what you think. I fell, big time! A Kirkus review did not, and as with all books, it keeps me wondering about personal tastes and how we form opinions – too deep a topic for this recommendation though. Do give it a go!

FF5Resources/activities: discuss pet care and the connected responsibilities, and choosing the right pet; learn about lop-eared rabbits; contact your local Humane Society to arrange a visit; tell the story with puppets.FF4

For more PPBF selections including resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: HERE

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PPBF – Cybils Awards Finalist: The Girl and the Bicycle

 

Girl1This selection is one of seven finalists for fiction picture books, and I am a participating judge for round 2. Which means I have to read them. Tough work, huh? For information on the Cybils Awards, click HERE

Author/Illustrator: Mark Pett
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2014
Ages: 5-8yrs (feel it can easily be read with a younger child)
Themes: moneymaking projects, friendship, bicycles
Opening: wordless – girl walking past city shops notices a bicycle for sale in the window
Summary: (from my library catalog) A wordless picture book in which a girl sees a bicycle she wants to buy, works hard for a kindly neighbor to earn themoney for it, then gets a pleasant surprise.

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I like this book because: of its beautifully drawn and easy-to-read pictures, with plenty of negative space to help set the pace. A lovely message about the benefits of hard work, sharing and friendship.

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Resources/activities: classroom activities for learning about cost/benefit using this book

For more PPBF selections including resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: HERE

SteigFEST 10: Amos & Boris

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Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1992, c1971.
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: mice, whales, friendship
Opening: Amos, a mouse, lived by the ocean. He loved the ocean. He loved the smell of sea air. He loved to hear the surf sounds- the bursting breakers, the backwashes with rolling pebbles.
Summary: (from my library catalog) Befriended by a whale as he is drowning in the ocean, a mouse gets a chance to reciprocate years later in an equally unlikely situation.

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I like this book because: like many of Steig’s characters, Amos has some pretty deep thoughts about beauty and life and what may become of his soul after death. I like that in a mouse. Also because he named his boat the Rodent, and among all the useful things he packed a yo-yo, and that says a lot.

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Resources/activities: Common Core activity Pitner’s Potporri HERE ; draw another adventure for Amos and Boris; felt amn elephant or male a boat at moomah.com

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Today’s tidbit: more gorgeous homemade Amos and Boris characters at moomah.com – HERE

I’m a guest blogger on Laura Sassi Tales today – HERE

PPBF: Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau

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Author: Andrea Beaty
Illustrator: David Roberts
Publisher: Abrams, 2014
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: hats, birthdays, hatmakers
Opening: In a three story house with a shop down below lived the world’s finest hatmaker, Madame Chapeau.
Summary: (from my library catalog) When a crow flies off with her birthday bonnet as she walks to dinner, Madame Chapeau chases the thief through the streets of Paris while admirers offer her replacement hats, but none seem quite right until someone offers a special gift.

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I like this book because: this has to be one of the perfectest perfect picks ever! The rhyme is so delicious, you have to read it again and again – aloud! The story is adorable, and the pictures – OH! I want to spend my next vacation IN this book!!! The illustrator includes an interesting note in the front, about his own influences and work as a milliner. The look of main character is based on the fashion editor, Isabella Blow. Get the book and read more for yourself!

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Resources/activities: make paper hats – instructions HERE; learn to knit -tutorial HERE; make a chocolate gateau, like the one below – click on the image for the recipe post.

Perfect Picture Book Friday has plenty of selections listed on a themed and alphabetized list, each with teacher/parent resources, on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

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PPBF: Bad Apple’s Perfect Day and a GIVEAWAY!

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BONUS! Interview with the author/illustrator below!

Author/Illustrator: Edward Hemingway
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2014
Ages: 3-5yrs
Themes: apples, worms, friendship
Opening: The sun was rising. The crickets were chirping. And Mac and Will were getting ready for the perfect day.
Summary: (from the publisher) Mac the apple and Will the worm set out for a perfect day at the watering hole, and although little goes as they plan, friendship, imagination,and a sense of fun make everything turn out fine.

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I like this book because: these two charming buds are back with a sequel (Check out my recommendation HERE). I am crazy for the end papers in this one (above), and for the color palette – simply sumptuous! The story promotes all my favorite things: creativity, imagination, story-telling and looking on the bright side of a rainy day. Living in Colorado I actually miss rain (yep!) but this year has been the moistest in the 16yrs I’ve been here. Still, there is nothing like a slate colored sky against green leaves – and apples if you’re lucky!

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Resources/activities: read together with Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship; go apple picking at an orchard nearby (for help finding one, click HERE); have your own Perfect Day Picnic; watch the book trailer below

Edward was kind enough to answer a few questions too:

JRZ: I’m going to skip the proverbial ‘what comes first for you as an author-illustrator’ question (unless you’d really like to answer that!), but would you share a bit of how Bad Apple came to be?

EH: I tend to come up with simple ideas/ titles first, and with Bad Apple it was no different. I was trying to convince my friend Brian Floca to come out to an orchard with me and my friend Sara Varon. I told him, “It could be inspirational. You could write a book about the tractors on the orchard, Sara could write a book about the goats, and I could write a book about a…bad apple.” It just came to me like that, and then I said to myself, hey, that’s not a bad idea. Then I started to think about what a “bad apple” could be. I decided it didn’t have to be bad, just misunderstood, and the story flowed from there.

JRZ: Do you use critique partners for your manuscript drafts, illustrations or initial ideas?

EH: Yes. It’s important to have artists and readers in your life with a critical eye, who aren’t afraid to give you honest, constructive criticism. I also like to put work away and come back to it after a week or so and approach it fresh.

JRZ: As you like to paint in oils, how difficult is it if there is an editorial change?

EH: By the time I am working on painted finishes, there is often little room for editorial change, as my sketched finishes are always very detailed. But I have been known to bring a brush to the offices and touch up pages at the request of and in front of my art director…

JRZ: Would you share one piece of advice you have received on your journey that stands out?

EH: ALWAYS be working on your NEXT project. Thanks Maira Kalman for giving me that advice!

JRZ: Is there something else that you do, a hobby perhaps, that you feel influences your writing or illustrating?

EH: I love reading and going to films, what better way is there to hone one’s own storywriting skills than by appreciating others?

*Read an extensive interview with the author/illustrator on Seven Impossible Things – HERE

AND we’ve got THREE copies of Bad Apple’s Perfect Day(courtesy of G.P. Putnam’s Sons)  for a GIVEAWAY! Please comment below with your full name – by 12pmMST on Sept.18th – to enter. I’ll have a random couch potato teen – with earbuds – pick 3 names from a hat (rest assured, full attention will NOT be paid to the picking!) and reveal the winners next Friday, Sept.19th.

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Perfect Picture Book Friday is BACK! There are still plenty of selections on a themed and alphabetized list, each with teacher/parent resources, on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

PPBF: The Birds (and my 400th post!)

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Author/Illustrator: James and Ruth McCrea (one of 4 books the couple collaborated on)
Publisher: McClelland and Stewart, 1966
Ages: 3-7yrs
Themes: humorous stories, birds, friendship
Opening: Once there were two friends who were very fond of sailing. Every day, right after lunch, they went for a sail in their little boat.
Summary: (from my library catalog) Mr. Woolsey and Mr. Tootle, two bird friends find their lovely umbrella missing from their boat. It is returned the next day, and gone again the following day. An investigation brings the two birds a new friend and the boat a new resident.

I like this book because: I saw an image from the book posted by Rowboat Watson on Antoinette Portis’ fb page (she posts a bird a day), and had to find out more about it. The artwork is striking in mustard yellow, magenta and black and white line-work. Simple, quirky, beautiful. The story is simple but told with just the right amount of silly humor for my taste – the fact that they use a flower pot for bailing says it all!

Resources/activities: Make paper cutouts of the characters and the elements needed to tell the story again – live action style: a boat, an umbrella, a flower pot, a tin box for cookies (or real cookies – yum!).

PPBF is taking a break until September, but you can still head over to Susanna’s blog for a wonderful list of titles with resources. She keeps the back door unlocked!

The book was reissued by Houghton Mifflin with illustrations by Swiss cartoonist Jürg Furrer in 1977.

PPBF: The Sea Serpent and Me

 

Author: Dashka Slater
Illustrator: Catia Chien
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, 2008
Ages: 6-9yrs
Themes: sea serpents, friendship, growth
Opening: On Tuesday, as I was about to climb into the bath, a sea serpent dropped out of the faucet and into the tub.
Summary: (from my library catalog) One day a small sea serpent falls from the faucet into the tub as a child is about to take a bath, and as the days go by and the serpent grows, they both realize that he needs to go back to the sea where he belongs.

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I like this book because: the story reminds me of childhood dreams of just such an experience (who am I kidding – still hoping!), written simply and beautifully – “the clouds drifted over green jungles and silvery cities…” – yet the undertone is exciting with an anxious pull. The illustrations are flowing, loose yet captivating, as you can see – and believe it or not, I did not post the best spreads – you’ll have to check them out yourself!

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Resources/activities: I will forever appreciate how a friend of the family, Risa, taught me to appreciate the smallest of creatures, not to be frightened when they take interest in my personal space, but to help them find a way to a more suitable environment – for us both! Discuss the natural habitats of creatures and why it is important to respect them; Create an inviting habitat: plant flowers and shrubbery for butterflies, bees, and other wildlife in your back yard, or school grounds; Take a field trip to the beach, the woods, or a stream – pick up plastic rings, bottles, and other trash that can kill birds, turtles, dolphins, and other animals.

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Perfect Picture Book Friday is on hiatus for the summer, but there are still plenty of selections on a themed and alphabetized list, with teacher/parent resources, on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE

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The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man. — Charles Darwin

PPBF: Big Wolf & Little Wolf

Author: Nadine Brun-Cosme
Illustrator: Olivier Tallec
Publisher: Enchanted Lion, 2010
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: wolves, feelings, friendship, loneliness
Opening: Big Wolf lived under his tree at the top of a hill. It had always been that way. Then one day Little Wolf arrived. He came from so far away that at first he looked no bigger than a dot.
Summary: (from my library catalog) Big Wolf has always lived alone at the top of a hill under a tree, so when a little wolf suddenly arrives one day, he does not know what to think.

I like this book because: I love the illustrations (big surprise, Patricia?), but more importantly this is a very touching story on the evolution of a friendship, told slowly, gently, creating the perfect tension. Bet you couldn’t read it fast if you wanted to! Perfect accompaniment for a lollipop.

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Resources/activities: Read the other books in this series: Big Wolf and Little Wolf, Such A Beautiful Orange!, and Big Wolf and Little Wolf, The Little Leaf That Wouldn’t Fall; watch the following interview with Tallec on his books, Waterloo & Trafalgar and Big Wolf & Little Wolf; discuss friendship, sharing and loneliness.

Perfect Picture Book Friday is on hiatus for the summer, but there are still plenty of selections on a themed and alphabetized list, with teacher/parent resources, on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE

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Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit. – Aristotle

PPBF: Jumpy Jack & Googily

Author: Meg Rosoff
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
Publisher: Henry Holt, 2008
Ages: 4-8blogspot.com: friendship, monsters, snails
Opening: “I’m nervous,” said Jumpy Jack to his best friend, Googily. “There could be a monster nearby and I’m scared of monsters.” “Don’t be ridiculous,” said Googily.

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Summary: (from my library catalog) Jumpy Jack the snail is terrified that there are monsters around every corner despite the reassurances of his best friend, Googily.

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I like this book because: I really have a soft spot for books that let the reader in on what is oblivious to (at least one of) the characters. Here we have Jumpy Jack describing his fear of monsters, and describing his friend Googily to a teeThe beautifully detailed artwork slimes it’s snaily way right into the heart – check out the tea cozy below!

Resources/activities: Check out the prepared literature unit activities from edHelp.com – HERE;Read Kay Yeh’s article: Why Picture Books Are Important – HERE

Photo courtesy of Kat Yeh

Photo courtesy of Kat Yeh8

For more Perfect Picture Book picks, go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s bolg at susannahill.blogspot.com

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