Archive for the ‘Early Childhood books’ Category

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My Two Blankets, by Irena Kobald, illustrated by Freya Blackwood. HMH, 2015.

Originally published in Australia, this picture storybook is for all ages. A young person is introduced as happy in her country, a place pictured in warm tones of yellows, oranges, and soft browns. But she and her Auntie move to a new country in order to be safe. This country is shown in cool tones of blues, browns, grays, and greens. Everything is different and strange in the new country, including the language. “When I was at home,” she says, “I wrapped myself in a blanket of my own words and sounds.” She creates a metaphor for her original language–her old blanket, which is warm, soft, and comfortable– and the new language, which she calls a “cold waterfall.”  Yet she meets a friend, and begins to learn to the new language, “weaving a new blanket.”  She adds new words, so the new language is comfortable, too. “And now,” she states, “no matter which blanket I use, I will always be me.”

Use this book with anyone who is learning or teaching a new language.

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WILL ONE OF THESE BOOKS RECEIVE THE 2014 CALDECOTT MEDAL?

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, written and illustrated by Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, written and illustrated by Peter Brown

Journey, by Aaron Becker

Journey, by Aaron Becker

Nelson Mandela, words and paintings by Kadir Nelson

Nelson Mandela, words and paintings by Kadir Nelson

I was lucky to be invited to help as a facilitator today for the Mock Caldecott co-sponsored by The Lane Libraries (Butler County, Ohio) and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. What’s a Mock Caldecott, you ask? It’s a lively and exciting discussion of books, resulting in a vote among participants as they predict the upcoming Caldecott Medal and Honor books. Many libraries, schools, bookstores, and other venues hold Mock Caldecotts– with varied predictions!

We were a group of maybe 80 librarians and educators, and we had received a list of 24 titles ahead of time so we could read and examine the art in preparation for today’s festivities (thanks to Gratia Banta, former Caldecott Committee Chair, and also to Sam Bloom of PLCH for selecting and organizing).  The Caldecott Medal is awarded for the best illustrated book of the year, and you can read more about terms and criteria for this award here.

We were divided into small groups, and we quickly discussed the artistic qualities of the books, one at a time. Each group voted for their three top choices, the votes were tallied, and the results are above! We decided Aaron Becker’s wordless fantasy Journey would receive the Caldecott Medal, with Kadir Nelson’s Nelson Mandela and Peter Brown’s Mr. Tiger Goes Wild receiving Honor designations.

Will these books actually receive the awards we predicted? Only the actual Caldecott Committee will determine that, and the results will be announced on the morning of January 27. If you can’t go to the ALA Midwinter meeting in Philadelphia for this event, find a link for the live streaming here.

Here is a real treat for you . . . go to this link to watch a series of video clips of illustrators discussing some of the books that might be currently under consideration by the 2014 Caldecott Committee (books published in 2013). It is possible one or more of these books could be selected for recognition, but that’s all hush-hush for now. We’ll just have to wait until January 27 to learn more.

What are your picks for the Caldecott?

Little Bird, by Germano Zullo and illustrated by Albertine

Little Bird, by Germano Zullo and illustrated by Albertine

It looks like a picture book for very young children, but don’t be fooled! Little Bird speaks to all ages. Embedded here is a quiet message about the little things that make life valuable. To appreciate the book most, take your time perusing the pages. Especially if you are feeling frazzled, this is the antidote to the “must do more” sense that drives us to exhaustion. The story is presented in spare text by Germano Zullo, and expressive but minimalist art by his wife, Albertine. Treat yourself to this emotional uplift.

Hello In There!  by Jo Witek and illustrated by Christine Roussey

Hello In There! By Jo Witek and illustrated by Christine Roussey

Sometimes it seems like waiting for babies to be born takes forever, so the big sister in this lift-the-flap book creates a connection with her new little sister while she’s still inside mama’s belly. She talks to the baby, and sings to her. She reassures the baby, explaining she will “chase away shadows” and that “surprises are waiting.” For each statement from the big sister, the reader can lift the flap to see the baby as big sister imagines her, complete with background such as wallpaper, nature, or whatever the big sister visualizes inside the expanding belly. Finally the big sister invites the baby to come out and play, the belly is conspicuously absent, and at the next page turn Big Sister is happily holding Baby.
This is a comforting book that will be chosen over and over by big sisters anticipating little sisters. Now we need a similar tale for big brothers waiting for their little brothers!

Happy, written and illustrated by Mies Van Hout

Happy, written and illustrated by Mies Van Hout

If you are having a dreary spring, Happy will provide a cure. This is a concept book of emotions, with 20 additional emotions from “curious” to “delighted,” and everything in between including “loving,” “proud,” “brave,” “afraid,” and yes, even “furious.”
The fishes exhibiting the emotions make this book engaging for all ages, beyond the pre-K audience for which it is intended. Each fish appears to be drawn in chalk on a black background, like the “happy” fish, providing a mesmerizing neon-like quality. Opposite each fish is the one-word emotion, also chalked, and perhaps on an appropriately-colored page; “sad” is on a blue page, “shocked” on fuschia, and so on.
Get happy with Happy, and then look for the next book by Mies Van Hout, the hot-off-the-press Friends in the same format, only this time with monsters.

If You Were a Chocolate Mustache, by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Matthew Cordell

If You Were a Chocolate Mustache, by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Matthew Cordell

April is National Poetry Month! If you haven’t observed National Poetry Month, there’s still time! I recommend you start with poems by J. Patrick Lewis, current Children’s Poet Laureate. Pat has written numerous poetry books for children, and one of his most recent is If You Were a Chocolate Mustache. There are numerous poems in this collection, all illustrated with line drawing by the talented Matthew Cordell. Some of the poems are short, such as “One Lost Sock.” Here it is: “Quandry?/Laundry./Try yer/Dryer.” Others are longer, such as “Bear One, Bear Two,” composed of four four-line rhyming stanzas. There are concrete poems, such as “The Longest Watermelon Seed Spit,” and other forms of poetry as well.

After you read this book, you will be on a poetry high, so find out more about Pat and children’s poetry by clicking on The Poetry Foundation website.

J. Patrick Lewis with his chocolate mustache.

J. Patrick Lewis with his chocolate mustache.


And since today is Earth Day, here’s Pat reading one of his poems most appropriate for today!

Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown

Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown

You are probably aware that Creepy Carrots! was named as one of the five 2013 Caldecott Honor books. For Jasper, the main character in this picture storybook noir, carrots are everywhere . . . he can’t get enough of his favorite orange vegetable . . . but then they seem to be following him . . .
Illustrator Peter Brown created an insightful and informative Vimeo about the research and influences into his art for this faux-frightening tale. Be warned that you must have knowledge of Rod Serling’s 1950s-60s science fiction television series, The Twilight Zone, to fully appreciate Brown’s research– and the book Creepy Carrots! as well. Check out some full episodes of The Twilight Zone on your favorite Internet television/film provider, or go to a feature about The Twilight Zone on NPR here. Then, check out this Vimeo of Brown discussing how he made some of his decisions for this story of petrifying plants. And for the faint of heart, keep the lights on.