PPBF: I Used to Be A Fish

iusedtobeafishcoverAuthor/Illustrator: Tom Sullivan
Publisher: Balzer & Bray, 2016
Age: 4-8
Themes: fish, humans, evolution
Opening: I used to be a fish. But I got tired of swimming.
Summary: (from my library catalog) A boy explains how he used to be a fish, until one day he grew legs and then fur, before becoming human.

iusedtobeafisheWhy I like this book: So simple yet the book manages to convey the idea of our history on Earth with a minimal palette and a touch of ‘Suessical’- which ties in well with all the Grinch Sticks I just made for the reading in the bookstore tomorrow (note the green food die on my finger in the third pic!).

iusedtobeafish1Resources/Activities: this book opens the can of worms on evolution, and depending on the child, you can dive deep into discussion or just enjoy the simple yet humorous text; make all the evolving figures out of playdough – or bread dough…and bake!

iusedtobeafish2For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

iusedtobeafishback

PPBF: A Well-Mannered Young Wolf

wellmanneredwolfcoverAuthor: Jean Leroy
Illustrator: Matthieu Maudet
Publisher: Eerdmans, 2016, originally publ. in France by L’école des loisirs, 2013
Age: 4-8
Themes: wolves, manners, humorous stories
OpeningA young wolf, whose parents had taught him good manners, went hunting alone, in the forest for the first time.
Summary: (from my library catalog, short and to the point) A young wolf must fulfill his prey’s last wishes before he devours them.

wellmanneredwolf2Why I like this book: I have a penchant for sweet-on-the-outside stories with bite! The illustrations are much like those found in graphic novels, with very simple use of color and white space, allowing for the characters to take the simple plot on a well-paced ride!

wellmanneredwolf3Resources/Activities: A great book to discuss manners, honor, expectation and safety too!

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

PPBF: Would You Rather…

WouldYouRatherCoverAuthor/Illustrator: John Burningham
Publisher: SeaStar Books, 1978 (Originally published in the UK by Random House, 1978)
Ages: 3-6
Themes: bedtime, decision-making, humorous stories
Opening: Would you rather…

WouldYouRatherTitleSummary: (from my library catalog)A series of comical choices such as, “Would you rather eat spider stew or slug dumplings or mashed worms?” ends with an invitation to bedtime.

WouldYouRather2I like this book because: What fun! The notion of asking the reader to choose between a variety of increasingly silly options to simple questions is genius! A dare any child not to enjoy this! The playful loose drawings are a perfect compliment.

WouldYouRather3Resources/activities: Make up your own set of questions and options to choose from, according to themes, books or units a class might be covering.

WouldYouRather4For existing PPBF selections including resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: HERE

PPBF: Dinner at Alberta’s

DinnerAtAlberta'sCoverYup, The PPBF series on Susanna Hill’s blog is still on vacation, so I am giving myself permission to stretch the rules for this recommendation, listed under JuvF – not PB – at my library.

DinnerAtAlberta'sEndpapersAuthor: Russel Hoban
Illustrator: James Marshall
Publisher: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1975
Ages: 6-10 (from the publisher in ’75)
Themes: crocodiles, etiquette, first love
Opening: “Arthur,” said Mrs. Crocodile to her sone one evening at dinner, “you are eating like a regular little beast.”
Summary: (from my library catalog)Arthur Crocodile cannot seem to learn table manners until his sister brings her new girlfriend to visit.

DinnerAtAlberta's1I like this book because: it’s a gem! I am on a James Marshall kick (again!), and this is where I’d like to thank my favorite children’s librarian, Giny (miss you!), for asking me to take a second look at the Marshall books years ago. Hysterical yet understated, lots of beastly sibling snarkiness, and perfect for any child who has been admonished to sit up straight or chew with their mouths closed (you got that, Olivia?).

DinnerAtAlberta's2Resources/activities: write up a list of reasonable table manners, and another wacky list – just for fun (we had ‘no singing during meals’ for a while); discuss table manners that are different form yours – here is a list of 17 from other countries at The Savory, HERE.

DinnerAtAlberta's3For existing PPBF selections including resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: HERE

DinnerAtAlberta's4

PPBF: A Summery Saturday Morning

SummerySaturdayMorningCoverPPBF on Susanna Hill’s blog is taking a nap – a long summer slumber – but I can’t help myself – gotta share books I think are ‘pickcha poifect’! (I’m allowed to tawk like that – originally from LonGisland, NY).

SummerySaturdayMorningEndpapersAuthor: Margaret Mahy
Illustrator: Selina Young
Publisher: Viking/Penguin Group, 1998
Ages: 2-6
Themes: dogs, summer, stories in rhyme
Opening: We take the dogs down the wiggly track,/The wiggly track, the wiggly track./One dog’s whoite and the other dog’s black/ On a summery Saturday morning.
Summary: (from my library catalog) Nothing seems to go as planned on their Saturday morning, but the children enjoy themselves.

SummerySaturdayMorning1I like this book because: it’s a rollicking read-aloud with a funny storyline with cheerful watercolors that play up the fun. I really appreciate Margaret Mahy’s playful way with words.

SummerySaturdayMorning3Resources/activities: watch this New Zealand TV trailer for a Margaret Mahy documentary, even if we can’t get out hands on the film here in the US – it’s still fun!; take a walk on a summery morning and describe what you encounter – maybe in a rhyme?!SummerySaturdayMorningSpot

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

PPBF+Cybils Awards Finalist: This is a Moose

This 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: Richard T. Morris
Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2014
Ages: 3-6yrs (according to Amazon, but I think it’s for kids a tad older)
Themes: documentary films, moose, animal behavior
Opening: This is a moose – take one! This is the Mighty Moose. His father is a moose. His mother is a moose
Summary: (from my library catalog) Director Billy Waddler is trying to film a documentary about moose, but the moose in question has no intention of spending his life in the woods and his animal friends, who have dreams of their own, help him prove his point.

I like this book because: it’s funny! My critique partner brought it to share and we all had a good laugh reading it! How could you not enjoy a moose who dreams beyond other’s expectations? The ink, gouache and colored pencil illustrations are stunning – perfect for an ‘outdoor documentary’! I’ve seen a number of moose here in Colorado, but never ran into one with a good sense of humor.

Moose

Resources/activities: this is a great companion read for a unit on animal behavior; make a class documentary with a storyboard depicting animal behavior – or get silly and dream up goals of your own for the animals.

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

SteigFEST 5: Spinky Sulks

SteigFEST

Publisher: Farra, Straus and Giroux, 1988, 1st ed.
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: humorous stories, family life, anger
Opening: Spinky came charging out of the house and flung himself on the grass.
Summary: Spinky is convinced that his family hates him and goes off to sulk in his hammock. His brother and sister try to make amends. His mom even brings him a beautiful tray of food. But nothing can get Spinky to stop sulking—not even a circus passing by on his street! Will Spinky ever cheer up? Spinky Sulks is another delightful tale from the incomparable William Steig that will leave readers of all ages smiling.

Spinky4a

I like this book because: I have vivid memories of feeling that same kind of all-the-world-against-me anger, of hiding, as per usual, under the middle pine tree for as long as need be. As a parent I can laugh at the familiar attempts made and lengths taken, over-stretched, to console the poor child. There were times we were not even allowed to look at my oldest at the breakfast table – but we can all laugh now!

Spinky3a

Resources/activities: great discussion starter on feelings, anger, moodiness, cheering up a friend or letting them have their space, and how we might help ourselves when a bad mood is coming on. For adults, writers especially: read this post on Neruda and his childhood realization about our ‘longing for mutuality that impels us to make art’, at Brain Pickings –HERE

SpinkySulksToday’s tidbit: Letters of Note post on Steig’s Caldecott acceptance speech and glossophobia- HERE

 

SteigFEST 3: Zeke Pippin

SteigFESTZekeCover

Publisher:HarperCollins, 1994
Ages: 4-8
Themes: humorous books, pigs, harmonicas
Opening: Moseying down his street one morning, Zeke Pippin found a harmonica. He didn’t exactly find it. It fell at his feetfrom a garbage wagon that happened to be rumbling by.
Summary: (from my library catalog) After finding a harmonica in the street, a young pig becomes an accomplished musician, but when his loving family falls asleep every time he plays, he runs away in search of a more appreciative audience.

ZP2

I like this book because: it is a great discussion starter! It is also close to a Zen story I have often shared, about what we might consider to be lucky – read #6 HERE

ZP3

Resources/activities: discuss communication, how one person can understand or remember a situation differently than another person, and what we can do about a misunderstanding before it escalates; learn to play a simple tune on the harmonica – HERE

ZP1

Today’s tidbit: Always wanted to know how to pronounce his name? Click HERE

PPBF: The Birds (and my 400th post!)

Birds7

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.

Not So Random Tandem and Fish for Supper

Catherine Johnson is writing a poem (HERE), prompt word ‘lighthouse’ (in cahoots with Jody Hedlund’s lighthouse series) and I doodled these images, because sometimes we like to push each other around, I mean, to motivate each other. But my lighthouse just would not come on it’s own. Finally a lighthouse keeper appeared…then a cat. I’m interested to see what will happen next!

Idea note_20140803_191134_06

 

Now for a PPBF selection (yes, I know Susanna’s blog is on vacation, but I can’t help myself – love sharing great picture books!).

P1160016

Author/Illustrator: M.B. Goffstein
Publisher: Dial Press, 1976
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: humorous stories, grandmothers, retired life
Opening: When my grandmother went fishing, she would get up at five o’clock in the morning, and make herself breakfast,…
Summary/I like this book because: (from my library catalog) “Describes Grandmother’s typical day of fishing.” What? I think that was the shortest off-the-wall summary I’ve found yet! Let me do a little ‘splainin’. I didn’t have a single selection for today in my book bag. I picked this one off the shelf, that one of my kids chose as the elementary school library was getting rid of a slew of too well-loved books, to make room for new ones. I read it again, thought, this is not really a story that would be considered publishable today (no complication, no resolution), but it grabbed me, like a one-liner sticks long after you’ve left the scene. So, I googled, and found that this little smirk won a Caldecott Honor in 1977, and that this author I had not otherwise read (surprising only because I was averaging 100/wk for yrs), is famous – AND has a fabulous quirky website – HERE.

Fish

Resources/activities: check out M.B. Goffsteins’ post: How to Write and Illustrate a Picture Book. Now. HERE

Fish2You can still head over to Susanna’s blog for a wonderful list of titles with resources. She keeps the back door unlocked!

Untitled

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. -Henry David Thoreau