PPBF: One Word from Sophia

SophiaCoverThe PPBF series on Susanna Hill’s blog is still snoring the summer away, but I must share Perfect Picture Books as I come across them, at least on Fridays!

SophiaEndPAuthor: Jim Averbeck
Illustrator: Yasmeen Ismail
Publisher: Atheneum, 2015
Ages: 4-8
Themes: pets, politeness, giraffes
Opening: Sophia’s birthday was coming up, and she had five things on her mind – One True Desire and four problems.
Summary: (from my library catalog)All Sophie wants for her birthday is a pet giraffe, but as she tries to convince different members of her rather complicated family to support her cause, each tells her she is using too many words until she finally hits on the perfectone. Includes glossary.

Sophia1I like this book because: of big words and nimble, fluid illustrations! This may be a challenge for younger ears, but go ahead and challenge them! The text is dense and deep and the light and elegant illustrations compliment perfectly!

Sophia2Resources/activities: Review the glossary, discuss the big words, and see if you can find more to add; discuss strategies and methods as well as manners to communicate with; list everyone’s One True Desire (for the day!)

Sophia3For existing PPBF selections including resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: HERE

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SteigFEST 14: Happy birthday, Bill!

SteigFEST

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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

PPBF: The Worst Princess and 3 WINNERS

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Author: Anna Kemp
Illustrator: Sara Ogilvie
Publisher: Random House, 2012
Ages: 3-7yrs
Themes: princesses, dragons, stories in rhyme
Opening: Once upon a time, in a tower near you, lived a lonely princess – the Princess Sue.
Summary: (from my library catalog) Lonely Princess Sue longs to leave her castle tower, but when her prince finally rescues her, she realizes she is destined for a less traditional partner.

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I like this book because: first of all, I love how the opening line tells us we’re in for some great humor! The rhyme frolics sprightly without hurrying – and gosh, who can resist a princess in chucks intent on adventure? And for those who know me, the ART!

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Resources/activities: check this Pinterest board for fun dragon activities; make an egg box dragon like THIS one; check out A Might Girl’s list of books featuring independent princesses HERE

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And now for the WINNERS, 100% teen-disregard guaranteed, of a copy of BAD APPLE”S PERFECT DAY by Edward Hemingway – read the GIVEAWAY post HERE

Wendy Wahman

Edna Hokunaauao Cabcabin Moran

Kirsten Williams Larson

For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list 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: This Moose Belongs to Me

MooseCoverAuthor/Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Publisher: Philomel Books, 2012
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: moose (or meese if you’re being silly), pets, ownership
Opening: Wilfred owned a moose.
Summary: (from my library catalog) A young boy learns that moose do not always follow the rules of proper pet behavior.

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I like this book because: it got me. Some books just do that. Was it the wry humor, the fun character drawings, the use of existing landscape art in collage? Can’t quite pinpoint, but I keep coming back to this book.

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Resources/activities: ask students what makes a suitable pet and discuss why some don’t; make collages with magazine pages of landscapes and drawn characters placed in them. For a GREAT poem, in a GREAT new series from Penny Parker Klostermann, AND a moose – click HERE!

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Listen to this:

Perfect Picture Book Friday is still on hiatus for the summer (back next week! Come back for a GIVEAWAY!), but there are still plenty of selections on a themed and alphabetized list, each with teacher/parent resources, on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE

MoveMoose

PPBF: A Lion in Paris

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Author/Illustrator: Beatrice Alemagna [English translation by Rae Walter]
Publisher: Tate Publishing, First published in French by Autrement, 2006; Engl. edition 2014
Ages: 3-8yrs
Themes: lions, paris, statues
Opening: He was a big lion. A young, curious and lonely lion. He was bored at home on the grasslands, and so one day he set off to find a job, love and a future.
Summary: (from Amazon) “A lion … bored by his rural life in the savanna, seeks excitement and opportunity in the City of Light. Upon arriving in Paris, the lion is disappointed to find that despite his size, people barely pay attention to him, not even when he lets out a ferocious roar on the busy underground Métro”

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I like this book because: of the art. Hands down. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story, but I almost feel the words were superflous. The art is so powerful, so full of energy, whimsy and detail (deserving of the thick paper used in the making) and left me thinking about them all day. I am so glad the size (15 x 11.3 inches) is large enough to accommodate, and I wonder if the the vertical opening was necessary for the image below, but having neck and shoulder problems I would have appreciated a horizontal format (selfish!). This is a must-read for all budding artists!

LionInterior2Resources/activities: learn about a local statue in your town/city and it’s history; create stories for statues about how they might have found their resting spot; make pap-mâché statues after watching a tutorial – HERE.

Perfect Picture Book Friday is still on hiatus for the summer (back in 2 weeks!), but 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 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: Journey Cake, Ho!

JCHcover Heading for the hills this weekend – will reply later!

Author: Ruth Sawyer Illustrator: Robert McCloskey Publisher: The Viking Press, 1953 Ages: 3+ Themes: farm/farmers, animals, run-away food Opening: There were three of them: the old woman, Merry; the old man, Grumble: and Johnny, the bound-out boy. They lived in a log cabin, t’other side of Tip Top Mountain. Summary: (from my library catalogue) Johnny is leaving the farm because of hard times when his Journey Cake leads him on a merry chase that results in a farm yard full of animals and the family all together again. JCHtitlepage I like this book because: I adore the flavor of dialect in this classic’s rhythmic text from Ruth Sawyer, with words like ‘this-wise’, ‘nettlesome’, and ‘all of a tucker’. The very simple use of just two contrasting tones from master book maker Robert McCloskey, of Make Way for Ducklings fame, make the pictures pop, but I really appreciate the bold line strokes used to create texture and infuse energy in these traditional illustrations (pssst -I plan to post more McCloskey favorites this year). JCHrunawayfood Resources/activities: Read about the history of America’s first pancakes, and make the recipe – HERE ; put on a play, like the kids from the Atlanta School – with music! – in the video below (17:30mins – play is over after 13 )

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

Fractured Tales Contest: Blue-Bill

Susanna Hill is having a March-Madness writing contest. The rules: Write a children’s story, in poetry or prose, maximum 400 words, that is a fractured fairy tale. Mine is not a fracturing of the gruesome French Bluebeard tale (read it HERE), though I alluded to it in my 383-word reconstruction of the English fairy tale, The Magpie’s Nest (read it HERE) , for an American audience. Hope you enjoy it!

BLUE BILL

The other birds were suspicious when Black-billed Magpie opened a nest-building school.

“He has skills,” remarked Chickadee.

“And he’s clever,” said Wren

“Look at all his shiny treasures too,” said Hummingbird.

“I wouldn’t trust that ‘Blue-bill’ with a ten inch twig! Bet he lines his basement with little bird bones!” said Robin, and flew off. But the rest were in awe and stayed.

“Before building you must be in good physical shape,” said Magpie. He explained everything he knew about nutrition, fresh air and exercise. But Wren was easily bored, and the lessons hadn’t even started yet. So Wren left and made a nest in an old shoe.

“Location, location, location,” said Magpie. “First you need a good spot. Without one, it doesn’t matter how well you build.”

“But how do you know? How can you be sure? Do you have a checklist? Is spring best for building? What time of day?” Chickadee went on and on, with more and more questions.

“Well, I am very wise. I just…know,” said Magpie. But answers like that were not sufficient for Chickadee. He flew off too.

“Next, you will need materials,” said Magpie. “Twigs, leaves and sticks of the best quality.”

“I can’t carry thick twigs like you. I’m not strong enough. I’m just a little bird,” said the Hummingbird.

Magpie saw his chance. “Then allow me to offer my home. We can nest very snuggly together.”

“I’m not so sure that would be wise. I have heard stories,” said the Hummingbird.

“That’s just what they are – stories.” Sensing Hummingbird’s lack of trust, Magpie made another offer. “My home would be yours and my treasures too. Anything your heart desires.”

“Really? Then I’ll have that red gem to wear around my neck. Bring it down and help me put it on, would you?” asked Hummingbird.

Magpie seized his chance. But while Hummingbird kept him busy, another bird proved to be the wiser and moved into Magpie’s excellent nest while he was out! The Great-Horned Owl was not skilled, but fierce!

But Black-billed Magpie was outsmarted twice that day. While he was busy constructing a new nest, Hummingbird got away – far away!

And that, my friends, is why the Ruby-throated Hummingbird lives in the east and the Black-billed Magpie lives in the west.

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rubythroated hummingbirdPlease pop over and read the other entries – HERE

PPBF: The Snatchabook

Author: Helen Docherty
Illustrator: Thomas Docherty
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabbberwocky, 2013
Ages: 3 and up
Themes: books, stories, community, sharing
Opening: One dark, dark night in Burrow Down, a rabbit named Eliza Brown found a book and settled down…when a Snatchabook flew into town.
Summary: (from my library catalogue) The woodland animals of Burrow Down are ready for a bedtime story, but where are the books? Haha! That was short!

I like this book because: I don’t like to throw out terms like classic, or evergreen, in fact, I haven’t ever attempted to predict a book’s success, but… yeah, I think this is one! Not only a clever premise, but a great read-aloud, and a celebration of stories and reading, inclusion and community. It has a delightful play of contrast with bright, colorful images, and moonlit, windy, owl-hooting darkness and such endearing characters. Oops, I almost forgot…it’s a rhymer!

Resources/activities: This is a perfect vehicle to start a discussion on favorite stories, books we like to read with our families, even how books should be treated and stored; talk about sharing books with those who don’t have many; start a book collection for a school in need; make a drawing/picture or diorama of Eliza’s room in the tree.

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