SteigFEST 14: Happy birthday, Bill!

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from The Agony in the Kindergarten, Duell, Sloane and Pierce,1950

Thanks for joining me in this fourteen-day long celebration! I’ve taken the liberty of wishing Bill a happy birthday – I never met him, but I hear that’s what he liked to be called by friends, and, well, it’s his birthday!

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Publisher: Godine, 1984
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: creatures, volcanoes, flowers
Opening: .
Summary: (from Amazon) What would happen if every creature on land and sea were free to be as rotten as possible? If every day was a free-for-all; if plants grew barbed wire; if the ocean were poison? That’s life on Rotten Island. For creatures that slither, creep, and crawl (not to mention kick, bite, scratch, and play nasty tricks on each other), Rotten Island is paradise.But then, on a typically rotten day, something truly awful happens. Something that could spoil Rotten Island forever. Out of a bed a gravel on the scorched earth, a mysterious, beautifly flower begins to grow…

I like this book because: What could be more fun for kids than to get ugly, then uglier, mean then meaner along with horrific creatures and to have it all consume itself? I think this book in particular demonstrates well how Steig fed the child within himself  and without letting his adult brain lead, wrote a story for adults. Enough, just go read it!

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Resources/activity: this is one for the writers – young, old, and in between: let the child within write whatever it wants, whatever pleases, and whatever you do, have fun! Nothing would please the ‘birthday boy’ more! For a fine lesson in sentence transformation, check out Renee’s guest post with Michelle – HEREFor more PPBF picks, go to Susanna Hill’s blog – HERE

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Today’s tidbit: Check out this birthday post from 2011 from the wonderful father, picture book maker, and creator of the Happy Birthday Author blog, Eric Van Raepenbusch – HERE. (Photos Eric posted of his kids jumping in a leaf pile inspired the sketches for the blog banner above)

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Rotten Island, Godine, 1984

I hope you’ve already hit your libraries and your local independent booksellers in search of some of the titles shared during SteigFEST, but I have ONE REMINDER: savor them slowly, like chocolate (which Steig loved – actually, all sweets!), taking note of Steig’s shaping of beautiful phrases. And when you find a delectable mouthful (you MUST read Steig aloud) share it!

from The Agony in the Kindergarten, Duell, Sloane and Pierce,1950

from The Agony in the Kindergarten, Duell, Sloane and Pierce,1950

Further reading:

The Art of William Steig

The World of William Steig

The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker

Heart and Humor: The Picture Book Art of William Steig

The Comic Worlds of Peter Arno, William Steig, Charles Addams, and Saul Steinberg

SteigFEST 12: The Toy Brother

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Publisher: Harper Collins, 1996, 1st ed.
Ages: 4 and up
Themes: humorous stories, siblings, alchemy
Opening: Magnus Bede, the famous alchemist, and his happy-go-lucky wife, Eutilda, thought they had a harmonious family. But their older son Yorick, considered little Charles a first-rate pain in the pants, always occupied with something silly.
Summary: (from my library catalog) An apprentice alchemist finds that his despised kid brother is the only one who can help him when he concocts a potion which makes him the size of a peanut.

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I like this book because: who hasn’t dreamed of altering ourselves only to realize it might not be an easy thing to live with? Or to transform one’s own siblings, or a school bully? That’s why it’s so fun to watch Charles enjoy this happening to Yorick from the safety of the sofa!

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Resources/activities: play a thinking game that Steig enjoyed with his family: What Would You Rather Be? (taken from the contribution of Maggie Steig in  THE ART OF WILLIAM STEIG. Get the book. Read it!) Ask questions like, What would you rather be, a tree or a flower and have students explain why (it lives longer; it’s prettier). And read the book: Which Would You Rather Be?, illustrated by Harry Bliss

ToyBdogspotToday’s tidbit: Steig’s older brother Irwin gave William his first painting lessons. His younger brother Arthur later founded an art-supply manufacturing firm whose products were widely used by artists and graphic designers, including William.

 

SteigFEST 11: Brave Irene

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Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986, 1st ed.
Ages: 5 and up
Themes: humorous stories, dressmaking, blizzards
Opening: Mrs. Bobbin, the dressmaker. was tired and had a bad headache, but she still managed to sew the last stitches in the gown she was making. “It’s the most beautiful dress in the whole world!” said her daughter, Irene. “The duchess will love it.” “It is nice,” her mother admitted. “But, dumpling, it’s for tonight’s ball, and I don’t have the strength to bring it. I feel sick.”
Summary: (from my library catalog) Plucky Irene, a dressmaker’s daughter, braves a fierce snowstorm to deliver a new gown to the duchess in time for the ball.

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I like this book because: is it Irene’s perseverance? Her mother’s? A show of female strength? Yeah, probably all of the above. Whatever the reason, this one is a particular favorite. I don’t want to overthink it – just love it! I appreciate the continual spreads of Irene in the snow, because I have been through enough storms (of one kind or another) and can identify with Irene. I bet kids would like it too!

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Resources/activities: make a dress – a simple A-line will do for a parent-child project. See some easy examples/instructions HERE; discuss how to handle getting caught in a snowstorm during a weather unit – tips HERE, Lesson plans HERE

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BIspotToday’s tidbit:  

 

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

SteigFEST 9: Tiffky Doofky

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Publisher: MacGraw-Hill, 1978, 1st ed.
Ages: 5-8
Themes: humorous stories, dogs, true love
Opening: Tiffky Doofky, the garbage collector, went his rounds in a jolly mood. It was first-rate weather. He planned to wind up work in time to get to the Annual Picnic of the Oil and Vinegar Club over in Moose Hollow.
Summary: (from my library catalog) Tiffky Doofky, a kindly garbage collector, spends his day waiting for a fortune teller’s prophesy to come true.

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I like this book because: it’s silly, slightly ridiculous, and even though it breaks some rules of storytelling, it still works for me. The pictures add so much humor and warmth – just look at Tiffky’s outfit! Oh, and I do have a weakness for fortune-telling!

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Resources/activities: make an origami fortune-telling device – like these beauties HERE; read companion books: Fortune Cookie, by Albert Bitterman/Chris Raschka, and Amelia Tells All, by Marissa Moss

TiffkyDoofky3Today’s tidbit: “Steig would later admit to being a bad student more interested in recreational activities such as touch football than ever cracking a book. He excelled in at least one of those recreational endeavors – he was a member of the All-American water polo team during his time at City College.” Read the complete post covering many aspects of Steig’s life from The Comics Reporter HERE

 

SteigFEST 6: The Zabajaba Jungle

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Publisher: Harper Collins, 1987, 1st ed.
Ages: 4 and up
Themes: humorous stories, jungle animals, adventure
Opening: oops , back with the correct opening later!
Summary: (from my library catalog) Leonard penetrates the mysterious Zabajaba Jungle where odd adventures await him, from carnivorous flowers to a petrified monster.

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I like this book because: Steig takes Leonard where we ‘dare not go’ as children, but here the main character staves off fear, questions not, and forges on! And the reader is right behind him! Read and join this pure tale of adventure!

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Resources/activities: discuss fears and why we have them, how can they be useful, or hinder us from doing things we’d like to do; create a fun creature to add to the Zabajaba Jungle.

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Today’s tidbit: Steig produced 117 covers and more than 1,600 drawings for The New Yorker – more here in the Newsweek post THE KING OF CARTOONS.

Best Witches

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No PPBF today – Susanna is busy narrowing down Halloweensie entries (reading them, I got the ‘itch’ to draw). But I’d like to invite you back tomorrow for the start of SteigFEST – a 14-day picture-book-salute to an author-illustrator I very much admire, William Stieg.  orange_24(1)-1

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