Advertisement. Click on the ad for more information.
Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | Candlewick Press

Me, All Alone, Reading This Book

Me, All Alone, at the End of the World

Sometimes, the illustrations are wonderful but the language is captivating. You know how you read a picture book and you can’t decide which part to focus on? Should you look at the picture first? Should you read the story because it’s the thread that’s pulling you through?

Well, when you read “He was a long-leggedy man with a wide, wide hat and a beard in a circle around his head. His glasses reflected the clouds,” the impetus is strong to read the story first and come back to look at the illustrations later.

But then you peek at the illustrations and you realize there is always something extra-ordinary going on in them. A branch is really a worm-like creature about to devour a pot of gold.

There is being alone, and there is lonely, and there is being busy, and there is a world of dazzle and FUN. This is a book that explores each of those parts of life. The noise and the quiet. The raucous gaiety and the art of listening. The fun you sign up for and the joy you find and the never-before-noticed amazements you explore.

Me, All Alone, at the End of the World

This is a story book. It has a longer text which I believe is just right for reading out loud. The language is a revelation. It’s a parable of our modern world. And then you realize, the story and the illustrations are vital to each other. You can read this book again and again to notice a new phrase in Mr. Anderson’s writing, a small element of wonder in Mr. Hawke’s art. This is a book that tells a story that means something. It’s a treasure.

I missed this book when it was first published in 2005. Candlewick has reissued it. Don’t you miss it now.

Me, All Alone, at the End of the World
written by M.T. Anderson
illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Candlewick Press, 2005; reissued, 2017

Read more...

Women Can Be Magicians, Too!

Anything But Ordinary AddieIn a sumptuous picture book biography, author Mara Rockliff and illustrator Iacopo Bruno give us the life of Adelaide Scarcez Herrmann, a real person who lived from 1853 to 1932. During her 79 years, she was an actress, a dancer, a vaudevillian, and she was shot out of a cannon. As the title says, she was Anything but Ordinary Addie. In 1875, Addie married Alexander Herrmann, a magician, and became his assistant. They added other acts to their show and traveled the world as Herrmann the Great. When Alexander died of heart failure in 1896, at age 52, Addie decided to carry on as the magician in the act. A female magician was uncommon, so her first solo show included a daring and dangerous magical feat. It was good enough to keep her on vaudeville stages as Madame Herrmann for 25 years. She kept performing until she was 75. Four years later, she passed away and out of memory.

In the Author’s Note, Rockliff laments that “Generations of girls grew up thinking all the great magicians had been men.” With a daughter interested in magic, Rockliff says “This project started when I went looking for a biography of a woman stage magician for my daughter and found to my dismay that none existed.” She began researching women magicians and ran across a very interesting research story. (Yes, I think you should read this in her book.)

It’s an inspiring story appropriate for children. It doesn’t include the financial ups and downs of the Herrmanns, focusing instead on Addie’s successes. A determined little girl and woman, she accomplished admirable feats, including The Bullet-Catching Trick. Although the book shares the highlights of her career, I’m intrigued to find out more. Other readers will be as well. Isn’t that what we want out of a good book?

gr_addie_shock_600px

Iacopo Bruno’s illustrations are richly colored with glowing elements that light the pages much as footlights would light a stage. Addie’s costumes and hair adornments are period-perfect. Even the lettering on the handbills and posters transports readers to the Gilded Age era. Bruno has a curious way of providing depth to his illustrations by surrounding people and objects in the foreground with a thick, white border, almost as though they were cut out of paper. It’s a style that grew on me. It adds focus to the page, directing the reader’s eye to truly see what’s on the page. 

I’d recommend this book for school libraries, classrooms, and for homes where magic and accomplished women are interests.

Read more...

Roxane Orgill

I’d like to know a thousand things about this book because you’ve opened so many doors for my imagination. I’ll restrict myself to only a few of those questions, primarily to help students who are drawn in by all the stories within this photograph and the poems you’ve written about it.

Roxane OrgillYou have been a journalist and a music critic. You’re a picture book writer, a biographer, a nonfiction writer. This is your first book written in poetry. How did you learn about poetic form so that you had confidence to write this book?

I wrote a couple of sort-of poems and thought they might work as a way to tell the story of the photograph “Harlem 1958.” Then I started reading poetry, and I attended a poetry retreat. Mostly I just kept writing.

Jazz DayHow long did it take you to write Jazz Day? Is that more or less time than it normally takes you to write a picture book biography?

I’m not sure, maybe a year and a half. Less time than my picture book bios, but that’s not counting the time I spent trying other forms in which to tell the story. That’s always the hard part for me, figuring out what the story is and how I want to tell it. That period can last many months.

How did you find the right place to ask permission to use Harlem 1958 in your book?

I went through the Art Kane estate.

You wrote “This Moment” in the form of a pantoum. That form uses four-line stanzas. The second and fourth line from one stanza become the first and third line of the following stanza. How long did it take you to get this poem just right?

Not long. It’s like a puzzle. But I wrote that poem near the end, when I was already familiar with the story and the people in the photo.

Do you recall when you first learned about the pantoum form?

At the poetry retreat, from the teacher, a poet named Lesléa Newman.

Did you end up being happy you’d chosen to write the book in poetry or deciding this is the last time you’ll do this?

Absolutely, yes. Poems turned out to be the perfect way to write about this photograph, jazz, a Harlem street, the 1950s — the whole thing.

gr_jazzday_boys_600px

“Scuffle: The Boys,” from Jazz Day by Roxane Orgill, copyright Francis Vallejo

How do you decide the subject of your next book?

I follow my nose, I guess. What interests me. It doesn’t always work; I have a few books which I spent a lot of time researching and writing, and in the end, they didn’t work. My next book is not about music or the arts, and I had to muster the courage to tackle something completely unfamiliar.

 Were you drawn to this book because of your love for jazz or photography or the 1950s? What pulled you into the project?

Jazz pulled me in, but I’d known about this particular photo ever since I began learning about jazz.

What difference did it make to the book that you were able to interview a primary source, the photographer Art Kane’s son, Jonathan Kane?

A big difference because there are lots of versions out there of what happened that day, whose idea it was to take the photo, etc. I basically used Jonathan Kane’s version of events.

You had no idea how your poems would be illustrated, how they would make that leap from separate poems and illustrations to integrated double-page spreads that work together to help us understand a time, a place, a feeling, a group of people. Did you find yourself altering your poetry to allow room for the illustrator to make his own contributions to the book?

No, not at all. The way it works is that I complete the manuscript, revise it together with my editor, and then the finished text is sent to an illustrator who has been chosen by the art editor. I may have changed a word or two to suit an illustration or layout, but that’s all. I was sent sketches and invited to comment, which I did, but for the most part, Francis and I worked independently. We didn’t even meet until after the book was published. That’s pretty much the norm.

Your list poem, for example, “What to Wear (from A to Z)” is illustrated brilliantly in list fashion as well. Were you aware of including items in your list that could be easily illustrated?

No, I don’t imagine how my words will be illustrated. I guess that’s why I am a writer, not an illustrator!

“Names: Williams ‘Count’ Basie, pianist,” from Jazz Day by Roxane Orgill, copyright Francis Vallejo

You state in the author’s note that you researched why some of the most famous jazz musicians aren’t in the photo. What drew you into doing this “extra” research? Or do you view it as extra?

It wasn’t extra, not to me. I knew many “greats” were missing: Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis, on and on. I thought it might be fun to focus on one of the missing people, and maybe figure out what he or she was doing instead of being at the photo shoot. It was also a way of talking about the jazz life; most of these guys, and gals, were on the road all the time.

Roxane, thank you for taking the time to share your insights with our readers. Your book has received six starred reviews from the major review journals … it’s hard not to fall in love with Jazz Day.

Read more...

Francis Vallejo

Francis VallejoWe are pleased to share with you our interview with Francis Vallejo, the illustrator of Jazz Day: the Making of a Famous Photograph, our Bookstorm™ this month. This book is so rich with visual images that stir readers’ imaginations. You’ll feel like you’re standing on the street with the other onlookers!

The title page says that you used acrylics and pastels to create this art. Are those familiar media to you? Did you use any other media or digital manipulation?

I developed this technique for Jazz Day. Before this book I had extensively used acrylics, but had not used pastels very much. As I was working on the early sketches and thinking about how I would paint the final images, I discovered the illustrated books of John Collier. He used acrylic and pastel (although sometimes gouache instead of acrylic). Also, my friend and incredible artist Jane Radstrom has been creating beautiful pastel works for a while. Her work kept experimentation with pastel fresh in my mind. So combining a wet medium (acrylic) and dry drawing medium (pastel) seemed like the best of both worlds. I could create large washes and make big decisions, and then detailed mark making using drawing.

I also generally like to develop a new finishing process for every project I work on, so the next book will assuredly have a radically different look. I think it keeps me fresh. Finally, yes, I used a little digital manipulation in post to add a few details I may have missed in the physical stage.

SoCal_600px

copyright Francis Vallejo

40_600px

copyright Francis Vallejo

Before you begin creating art, do you make sketches? Do you keep those sketches to refer to throughout your illustration process?

My process before creating the final image is borderline obsessive—scratch that—it IS radically obsessive! My process is based on that of Norman Rockwell. I spent 3 years working on the art for this book. 2.5 was spent on the sketching and research and studies and photography to prepare for the final painting. My publisher filmed this video of me going over my process:

Grays and blacks are predominant in this book. There are some alluring uses of bright color, such as the yellow taxi, the gold cornet, and the hot pink on the cover. Can you share with us some of the decision-making you did while you thought through your illustrations? Or is trying a bit of this and a bit of that?

An important part of designing the pages was to look at them as a whole, in one big group, on one sheet (or screen). Since books are sequential projects, the images have to work in sequence and not just by themselves. The colors, values, and mood, has to flow with the emotions of the story. I referenced color keys from movies, particularly Pixar movies, in how I designed the overall color keys for individual paintings, and made a strong effort to group together pictures that took place in front of townhomes and separately images of the musicians at their venues.

Your “perspective” changes throughout the book. You look at scenes from different angles, sometimes from above, sometimes from street level, sometimes from far away, sometimes close up. When do these perspectives enter into your planning process?

Right at the very beginning I knew that that idea was going to be challenging. Most of the pictures were going to be set in front of the same set of stairs. I had to create 15 illustrations all set in the same place and not make it repetitive! So using unique and varied perspectives was one of my very first priorities. Believe me, I was very excited when I was able to take a break from the street scene and move into the jazz clubs for a few pictures.

Do you choose the fonts that will be used in the book? Why did you choose a sans serif font?

I didn’t choose the font outright, but I was involved in the discussion. We thought sans serif was appropriately modern and avant garde – just as jazz is.

Did you know from the beginning that there would be a fold-out of the original photo? Did you make the decision to include the word “click” as a direction to open the fold-out?

That was an editorial decision that was planned out before I was even involved with the project. It is everyone’s favorite part and I do think it was a smart design and pacing decision!

37_600px

copyright Francis Vallejo

When you plan an illustration, do you consciously leave room for the poem that will go with it?

Absolutely. The text is just another shape on the page, so it is integral to plan for it from the very beginning. It is among my favorite things to do actually. I am a nerd like that. I love the puzzle of figuring out how I can design a scene to organically allow text to fit so that it seems like the negative shape the text is placed in is actually a shape that fits into the picture. Many of the most forward-thinking illustrators from the 1960’s would really explore this idea (Al Parker is king at this) and they were a big influence.

Did you always know the order in which the poems would be included in the book? Did that change how you thought about these illustrations?

I did. The order was given to me at the beginning and is incredibly important to consider. As I mentioned prior, the images have to work sequentially. There were numerous individual images that I was very fond of that I had to scrap as they did not fit the overall flow.

Was there an illustration that challenged you the most?

Yes! There is an image of a girl looking out of a window (appropriately titled “At the Window”) that took maybe 60 hours to sketch out then maybe 10 more to paint. In order to capture the poem I had to capture a profile shot of the girl from the side, as well as the top of the people’s heads. To do this I had to use a fisheye warped perspective. Figuring that out involved a lot of head scratching…and erasing!

Which of the illustrations in the book gives you the most pleasure when you look at it now?

The one I just mentioned. I battled that picture to get it right. I don’t always win those fights, but this one turned out well and the painting of the girl might be one of my very best!

Read more...

The Jungle Book

The Jungle BookThe word exquisite once won the game for me while playing Password. I have been fond of that word since that time and look for instances where it applies. That is surely the illustrated edition of The Jungle Book, written by Rudyard Kipling all of those years ago, and newly illustrated by Nicola Bayley. Candlewick published this edition of the classic stories and their classics are worth collecting, reading, and treasuring. They should be well-worn on the bookshelves in your home.

I first read The Jungle Book when I was ten. I don’t remember any illustrations in the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books version but I remember that this book made a big impression on me. It was so “other.” It was not the world I knew and it was larger than the farm dogs and pet cats I observed. It gave me a sense of the world beyond my vision. I believe it can still do that for readers today.

Bagheera and Mowgli by Nicola BayleyThe story of Mowgli and his wolf-pack, of Shere Khan, the tiger who believes Mowgli is his to dispose of as he wishes, of Baloo and Kaa and Bagheera … is as captivating now as I remember reading it as a child. There is such dignity and grace in the words that Kipling wrote, the stories he weaves with fierceness and humor and respect, that The Jungle Book transcends time. Who would not be fascinated by this story of a young boy (cub) who is adopted by a wolf pack, grows up believing he is a wolf, and then must re-join the world of man when the animals judge it is time. He lives in the jungle, is accustomed to the ways of the animal tribes, and this never leaves him, especially in his dealing with humans.

Midday Nap by Nicola BayleyThe book is such a treat to read because the visual experience is so rewarding. There are richly-colored borders and sumptuous story-dividing pages with patterns evocative of India, where The Jungle Book takes place. Every spread has some illustration it, done in colored pencil, that set the scene or enhance the storytelling or give us a glimpse of Mowgli and the animals. The full-page illustrations are riveting.

You’ve read before of my fondness for “butter covers,” dust jackets finished with a smooth and tangibly soft cover that invites holding and reading. This book has such a cover and it is irresistible. (I made that term up, by the way. Don’t try Googling it.)

In the “Word” at the beginning of the book, Nicola Bayley writes, “I’d been to India and visited all sorts of places you wouldn’t normally see, and I went to libraries in London to find out what the country was like in Kipling’s time.”

In the author’s bio on the jacket flap, we learn that “Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was born in India and spent his early childhood there. He lived a migratory life: educated in England, he returned to India in 1882, then met his wife in London and spent the early years of their marriage in Vermont, eventually settling in England. The most famous writer of his time, Rudyard Kipling was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1907, thirteen years after the publication of The Jungle Book.” His writing is a look into his world and his time, his experience, his feelings about life.

This edition of The Jungle Book is exquisite. I recommend it highly for your family read-aloud time, for young and older. Don’t skip over the poetry. Its rhythm and words are part of the experience. It will give you much to discuss and a world to explore.

Read more...

Fashion Studio

Fashion Studio Oh. my goodness. When I opened up this box, I was immediately transported to my grandparents’ back yard, on the blue blanket under the elm tree, when a gaggle of friends brought their Barbies and Kens together and we sewed clothes out of fabric scraps and held fashion shows. Those days are some of my best memories of childhood.

If we had had this Fashion Studio from Candlewick Press, I’m convinced it would have altered lives. This would have amped up the creativity level and built confidence.

You see, we often became frustrated because we lacked new ideas or didn’t quite know how to construct a garment. Fashion Studio will crack that disappointment wide open. There are cardboard templates to help you make paper garments.

For those who are challenged by spatial relationships, this will provide many an Aha! Moment as designers fashion their clothing.

First of all, the Fashion Studio itself is chic (and purple!). Well-designed to have wide appeal, it’s made from sturdy cardboard that folds open to reveal a beautiful shop with its own type of runway. There are dress stands and a display rail. When designing is done for the day, it all folds up into an easy-to-carry box that is roughly the size of a Harry Potter book.

Fashion Studio

Want to make a Skater Dress? Pages 8 and 9 in the Fashion Handbook by author Helen Moslin take you step by step, with a drawing for every direction, cutting out, gluing (no stitching here but there are seam allowances and one can easily make the leap between a line of stitching and the glue).

When the dress is assembled and the glue is drying, it’s time to make the adorable little polka dot mules and the small bag.

At the end of each set of instructions, there are ideas for other combinations of paper and trim, just enough to spur the imagination into making its own designs using these templates and papers found around the house or designed with crayon or watercolor. The papers and stickers included with the Fashion Studio will appeal to a wide variety of tastes.

Fashion Studio

A glossary of Dressmaker Words is included—and the text uses them—so that the design and assembly processes are akin to the world of fabric and sewing.  

Like the outstanding Candlewick Press Animation Studio before it, this Fashion Studio will bring big smiles and happy hearts to the fashionistas in your life. Lucky kids!

Read more...

Books about Chickens

Whether a chicken makes you cluck, BAWK! or cheep-cheep-cheep, books about chickens make us laugh. We may not have been introduced to a chicken in real life but, trust me, some people keep them as egg-laying wonders and other people keep them as pets. These fowl have been around in many colors, types, and breeds in most countries in the world … and quite recently they have become the subject of many books. Go, chickens! We’ve suggested 19 books. What would you add as the 20th book on this list?

The Perfect Nest  

The Perfect Nest
written by Catherine Friend
illustrated by John Manders
Henry Holt, 2011

Farmer Jack, the cat, is building a nest to attract a chicken who will lay eggs for his mouth-watering omelet. Things don’t go quite as planned. Other birds find the nest to be perfect, too. The eggs hatch and Jack is suddenly tending to little chicks who think he’s their father. The book is laugh-out-loud funny and makes a great read-aloud. Each of the perfect nest’s occupants speaks with a different accent.

Hoboken Chicken Emergency

 

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency
Daniel Pinkwater
illus by Jill Pinkwater
Simon & Schuster, 1977

A classic book that will keep your kids laughing with every page turn. Arthur Bobowicz is sent to get the Thanksgiving turkey but there are none to be had. On the way home, he sees a sign in Professor Mazzocchi’s window (you know him, the inventor of the Chicken System). Arthur ends up taking a chicken home but it’s a 266-pound live chicken named Henrietta. She gets loose … and causes disaster all over Hoboken, New Jersey. A good read-aloud but also the perfect book for 9- and 10-year-olds to read.

Beautiful Yetta  

Beautiful Yetta: the Yiddish Chicken
Daniel Pinkwater
illus by Jill Pinkwater
Feiwel & Friends, 2010

Yetta, the chicken, escapes from a poultry truck in Brooklyn and is soon lost, lonely, and hungry, shunned by the rats and pigeons she encounters. Heroically, she saves a little green bird, Eduardo, from a cat, winning the gratitude of his friends, the parrots. They teach Yetta how to find food and how to get along in an unfamiliar place. The book is filled with Yiddish, Spanish, and English phrases and Yetta’s speech appears in both Hebrew and English alphabets. Your kids will soon be exclaiming about the “farshtunken katz”!

The Little Red Hen  

The Little Red Hen
Paul Galdone
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011 (reissued)

When the Hen asks for help planting wheat, the cat, the dog, and the mouse all say “No!” They won’t help her water it, or harvest it, or grind it. They are quite lazy. When the Little Red Hen bakes a delicious cake, who will be invited to eat it? Ages 4 to 11.

Chicken Man  

Chicken Man
written and illustrated by Michelle Edwards
1991, republished in 2009 by NorthSouth Books

Rody lives on a kibbutz in Israel, where he is assigned to tend to the chickens. He comes to love them and they him. He sings loudly with joy. And thus other kibbutz workers think the chicken house must be the best place to work and Rody is re-assigned to another job.  The chickens stop laying eggs. And Rody misses his chickens.  How will Rody find his way back to his favorite job? A good look at life on a kibbutz.

Chickens to the Rescue  

Chickens to the Rescue
written and illustrated by John Himmelman
Henry Holt, 2006

On the Greenstalk farm, things are continually going wrong. Monday through Saturday, when things need to be done, it’s the chickens to the rescue! In hilarious attire, with laugh-out-loud results, the good-intentioned chickens help animals and humans alike. Except on Sunday. Then they rest. The illustrations in this book are delightful.

Interrupting Chickens  

Interrupting Chicken
written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein
Candlewick Press, 2010

Papa is good about reading bedtime stories to Little Red Chicken, but she can’t help but interrupt his reading to warn the characters in the books about what’s to come. Which, of course, brings an abrupt end to the stories. Papa asks Little Red to write her own story but Papa interrupts … by snoring. It’s a charming book, sure to cause giggles … and it brings some classic tales to life. Caldecott Honor book.

First the Egg  

First the Egg
written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Roaring Brook Press, 2007

It’s a book of transformations, from caterpillar to butterfly, from tadpole to frog, from egg to chicken, and more. Illustrated with luscious color and simple die-cuts, this is an engaging concept book for the preschool crowd. Caldecott Honor book.

Chicken Cheeks  

Chicken Cheeks
Michael Ian Black
illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Simon & Schuster, 2009

Bear enlists all the other animals to make a tower so he can get at some elusive honey. The hilarity comes from the view of many animal bottoms, 16 ways to refer to those bottoms, and the unstable, improbable, teetering tower of giggle-worthy animals.

Chicks and Salsa  

Chicks and Salsa
Aaron Reynolds
illustrated by Paulette Bogan
Bloomsbury, 2007

The animals on Nuthatcher Farm are bored with their food. The rooster looks around and hatches a plan. They will eat chips and salsa made from the ingredients on the farm! The salsa recipe changes to accommodate each animal’s preferences. It’s so exciting they decide to have a fiesta! But when the day comes, the humans have absconded with their ingredients to enter into the state fair. What will the animals do? Thanks to the quick-thinking rooster and a resourceful rat, the party goes on!

Chicken in the Kitchen  

Chicken in the Kitchen
Nnedi Okorafor
illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
Lantana Publishing, 2015

Set in Nigeria, a young girl awakes to a noise in the middle of the night. When she investigates, she discovers a giant chicken in the kitchen. Hilarity ensues. Nothing is quite what it seems. Will Anyaugo be able to protect the traditional foods her aunties have prepared for the New Yam Festival? Gorgeous illustrations and a good look at the masquerade culture of West Africa. 

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?  

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
illustrated by Jon Agee, Tedd Arnold, Harry Bliss, David Catrow, Marla Frazee, Mary GrandPre, Lynn Munsinger, Jerry Pinkney, Vladimir Kandunsky, Chris Raschka, Judy Schachner, David Shannon, Gus Sheban, and Mo Willems
Dial Books, 2006

When 14 illustrators are asked “why did the chicken cross the road?” their answers are fresh and fun and varied. They’ll delight you with their original takes on this old chestnut.

Hattie and the Fox  

Hattie and the Fox
Mem Fox
illustrated by Patricia Mullins
Simon & Schuster, 1987

In a cumulative tale with plenty of opportunity for different voices and great energy while reading out loud, we learn that Hattie, the black hen, spies a fox in the bushes. She tries to warn the other animals but they don’t believe her. A wonderful pastiche of anticipation, repetition, and the illustrator’s vivid use of tissue paper collage and conte crayon make this an excellent choice for storytime and anytime.

Hen Hears Gossip  

Hen Hears Gossip
Megan McDonald
illustrated by Joung Un Kim
Greenwillow, 2008

“Psst. Psst. Psst.” Hen is addicted to gossip, especially about herself. When she overhears Pig whispering a secret to Cow, Hen spreads it around until it returns to her with a not-so-nice rendition. Reading this book provides a good opportunity to talk about the ways gossip hurts. 

Big Chickens  

Big Chickens
Leslie Helakoski
illustrated by Henry Cole
Dutton, 2006

When a wolf threatens the chicken coop, the chickens RUN! They’re terrified and they want to get away. The fun ensues as they get into one hilarious predicament after another. It’s the exact kind of silly kids love and Henry Cole’s illustrations reinforce the goofy chickens’ reactions to the chaos they create.

Chicken Followed Me Home!  

A Chicken Followed Me Home:
Questions and Answers about a Familiar Fowl
Robin Page
Beach Lane Books, 2015

What would you do if a chicken followed you home? You’d learn to tell what kind of chicken it is, what it would like to eat, and how to keep it safe and healthy. You’d observe how many eggs a chicken lays in a year and how a chicken is different than a rooster. With bold illustrations, this book will appeal to both younger and older children.

Kids Guide to Keeping Chickens  

A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens:
Best Breeds, Creating a Home,
Care and Handling, Outdoor Fun, Crafts and Treats
Melissa Caughey
Storey Publishing, 2015

Filled with wonderful photos and practical advice for kids who would like to raise chickens … whether in the city or out in the country.  The book suggests ways to consider chickens as pets, offering crafts to connect with your barnyard beauties: build them a fort, learn to speak chicken, and create a veggie piñata for them. Egg-celent egg ecipes are available, too.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer  

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
Kelly Jones
illus by Katie Kath
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015

Moving from Los Angeles to a farm her family inherited, Sophie Brown and her mother and father are reluctant farmers. Sophie feels isolated, which she tackles by writing letters to her abuela and to Agnes of Redwood Farm Supply. You see, Sophie’s great-uncle kept chickens. One-by-one they come home to roost and Sophie discovers they are not ordinary chickens … they have powers. Are they magical? Supernatural? They’re certainly unusual and neighbors will do just about anything to claim them. A funny, middle-grade novel, Unusual Chickens will have reader wanting to become Exceptional Poultry Farmers.

Prairie Evers  

Prairie Evers
Ellen Airgood
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012

Prairie Evers moves from North Carolina to upstate New York, where her family claims an inherited farm. She’s going to attend a public school for the first time. Up until now, Prairie has been homeschooled and having classmates is a new experience. When Ivy Blake becomes her first-ever friend, Prairie realizes Ivy’s home life is not a happy one. The Evers invite Ivy to spend time with them … and Prairie finds that a new experience, too. This middle-grade novel  has great information about the chickens Prairie is raising … and a lot about friendship, optimism, and loyalty.

Cheater for the Chicken Man  

Cheating for the Chicken Man
Priscilla Cummings
Dutton, 2015

A serious YA novel set on a chicken farm, this is a companion to two earlier books in the Red Kayak series. Now Kate is dealing with her father’s death, her mother’s grief, and her brother J.T.’s return home from a juvenile detention camp where he served a sentence for second-degree murder. She wants to give her brother a chance at a fresh start but it’s a daunting task.

My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me  

My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me
Maya Angelou
photographs by Margaret Courtney Clarke
Crown, 2003

“Hello, Stranger-Friend” begins Maya Angelou’s story about Thandi, a South African Ndebele girl, her mischievous brother, her beloved chicken, and the astonishing mural art produced by the women of her tribe.  With never-before-seen photographs of the very private Ndebele women and their paintings, this unique book shows the passing of traditions from parent to child and introduces young readers to a new culture through a new friend. Thanks to Nancy Bo Flood for suggesting this title.

 

Our commenters have added:

  • The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane and Herb Auch
  • Wings: a Tale of Two Chickens by James Marshall
  • Chicken Squad: the First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin, illus by Kevin Cornell
  • Henny by Elizabeth Rose Stanton

chicken books

How about you? What’s your favorite chicken book?

Read more...

Collecting your observations

Welcome to New Zealandby Vicki Palmquist

I never kept a journal. Why? It never occurred to me. It wasn’t within my realm of familiarity. I started writing many stories on notebook paper and stuffed them into folders. But how satisfying to have a journal, specifically an observation journal to keep track of what you see, hear, and think.

As a child, I was a hunter-gatherer. Were you? Did you have a collection of rocks? Leaves? Agates? Animals? Perhaps you still do. Or perhaps you know a child who has these tendencies.

I think of Rhoda’s Rock Hunt by Molly Beth Griffith and Jennifer A. Bell (Minnesota Historical Society Press). Rhoda collected so many rocks on her family’s camping trip that she couldn’t walk—they weighed her down.

Adding to Rhoda’s story, I think of Lois Ehlert’s The Scraps Book and Leaf Man. Author and illustrator Lois Ehlert is renowned for her collections, her “scraps,” and how she puts them to use. A consummate hunter-gatherer.

Then there’s a brand new, absolutely amazing book about creating a nature journal, Welcome to New Zealand by Sandra Morris (Candlewick Press). This picture book combines the record-keeping, visual art satisfaction, and examples of different things to observe in nature that will keep a hunter-gatherer busy for years. I admire this book on so many different levels.

Welcome to New Zealand

Very cleverly designed as a journal, this book shows examples of different types of art, ways to arrange things on pages, labels, and note-taking. There’s advice on pressing leaves, observing clouds and phases of the moon, and making a landscape study. Every turn of the page brings a new surprise and something to try on your own. (And you can do this—none of these excuses about not being an artist—you are!)

Morris writes, “Create a layered map of the birds on the shoreline as the tide changes, like my high-tide journal page here. Working from the top of the page downwards, draw the different flocks as they advance closer.” Much better than ANY video game (and I like playing video games).

Welcome to New Zealand

Examples of crayon, pencil, watercolor, and charcoal drawing will inspire each reader. Plentiful samples of creative hand-lettering encourage the freedom to make your journal quite personal. Morris provides ideas, but unless you’re sitting on a beach in New Zealand as you read this, your journal will be all your own.

And that’ just it. If you’re not in New Zealand, reading this book will teach you a lot about the landscape, the mammals, the trees, the insects, and the seasons.

This book is great for any young hunter-gatherer and observer but any old person will like it, too! It’s a treasure.

Other Resources

Smithsonian Kids has a site devoted to collecting.

Kids Love Rocks Fun Club

Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson, Advantage4Parents, writes “Why Kids Love to Collect Stuff.

Now that you know about this book (you’re welcome), and you try out some of the suggested activities, send me a sample in the comments. Most of all, enjoy the time you spend with nature and your journal.

Read more...

Museum Feast

HistoriumHistorium
curated by Richard Wilkinson and Jo Nelson
Big Picture Press, 2015

by Vicki Palmquist

In a large, folio-sized book, the curators of Historium present a printed-page trip through a museum, grouped by cultures and described in detail so you can understand what you are seeing without being rushed along by the crowd. Much like those rentable museum audio tapes or the placards on the wall, it’s an enhanced experience of the artifacts. Unless you are a well-traveled museum habitué, many of these items will be unfamiliar to you.

There are articles from cultures all over the world over a great length of time, represented for context by a timeline. From one million years ago, a Stone Age hand ax to the early nineteenth century, a stone statue from Polynesia, traveling to Melanesia, The Levant, Ancient Islam, The Hopewell, and the realm of the Vikings.

This museum is open 24/7, without the need for signing a field trip permission slip or paying for parking.

Historium Ancient Egypt

On page 35, a beautifully decorated jug from the Pueblo is explained in this way: “pottery skills and designs were passed from mother to daughter. Each Pueblo settlement would try to keep the location of its clay deposit a secret, to prevent it from being plundered … they often refer to the clay as female.” This kind of detail provides depth for our understanding of the world.

On page 50, there is a double-headed serpent mosaic from the 15th or 16th century, “intended to both impress and terrify the beholder.” We learn that “the craftsmen best known for their turquoise mosaics were not Aztecs but Mixtecs …” which results in a tangential search to find out more about the Mixtecs, just as a bricks-and-mortar museum would do.

I’m not sure I understand why the artifacts are presented against darkly-colored backgrounds … sometimes the contrast makes it harder to study the items, but overall this is a book that will satisfy the curious in your family or classroom. Like all good museums, it is the beginning to a journey of discovery.

Read more...
ill_matchboxdiary.jpg

Gifted: The Matchbox Diary

When a young girl visits her great-grandfather for the first time, her imagination swirls with everything she sees in his antique shop. He asks her to pick out her favorite item and he will tell her a story about it. She chooses a cigar box filled with match boxes. As it turns out, this is […]

Read more...
bk_walkthisworld.jpg

Gifted: Walk This World

Walk This World: a Celebration of Life in a Day Lotta Nieminen, a Finnish-born graphic designer and art director Big Picture Press, an imprint of Candlewick Press, November 2013 As you consider gifts for this holiday season, we suggest … (book #2 in our Gifted recommendations) … Visit 10 countries in one book! This stylish […]

Read more...