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

Tag Archives | Candlewick Press

A World of Cities

A World of CitiesA World of Cities
text by Lily Mur­ray
illus­trat­ed by James Brown
Can­dlewick Stu­dio, 2018
ISBN 978−0−7636−9879−9

Those kids in your life, your school­room, your library who are Fact Hunters? They col­lect facts to savor, share with oth­ers, and build their knowl­edge of the world around them. This is a book for them.

Not every child can trav­el to the major cities of the world, but this book will leave an impres­sion, a yearn­ing for explo­ration.

It’s a Very Big Book, a folio, 10.9″ wide by 14.5″ high. We don’t often include a book’s mea­sure­ments in a rec­om­men­da­tion, but the size of this book makes it fun to open and read, invit­ing read­ers to become wrapped up in the book. Open this to any page and more than one child can enjoy dis­cov­er­ing the facts about each city.

A World of Cities, Rio de Janeiro

illus­tra­tion copy­right James Brown, Can­dlewick Press

The illus­tra­tions are strik­ing, mem­o­rable, invit­ing deep exam­i­na­tion. Aren’t the col­ors gor­geous?

Facts are wound through the illus­tra­tions in a way that will have the read­er turn­ing the page this way and that, seek­ing out each detail. In Rio de Janeiro, we learn that the pic­tured stat­ue of Christ the Redeemer was com­plet­ed in 1931. “The stat­ue is made of con­crete and cov­ered in thou­sands of small stone tiles. All the mate­ri­als had to be car­ried up Cor­co­v­a­do Moun­tain by rail­way.” Cor­co­v­a­do Moun­tain is 2300 feet above sea lev­el. That sparks imag­i­na­tion! 

There are pop­u­la­tion fig­ures, flag facts, hol­i­days, quotes from famous cit­i­zens, and his­to­ry, every­thing that will whet the desire to learn even more. 

Between 1808 and 1821, Rio housed the Por­tuguese roy­al fam­i­ly. In 1815, the city was declared the cap­i­tal of the Por­tuguese Empire.” I didn’t know that. Did you?

A World of Cities, Paris, Candlewick Press

illus­tra­tion copy­right James Brown, Can­dlewick Press

Vis­it­ing Paris, we learn that “more than 800 years old, the win­dows of Notre Dame Cathe­dral con­tain 50,000 glass pieces” and “Paris’s old­est café, Café Pro­cope, opened in 1686.” Vic­tor Hugo is quot­ed as say­ing “There is no lim­it to Paris.” Find a pho­to of Notre Dame Cathe­dral online. Who is Vic­tor Hugo? This book will launch a scav­enger hunt for more infor­ma­tion.

Geog­ra­phy buffs? Fact Hunters? Bud­ding artists? There are many rea­sons to add this book to your shelves. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed.

Read more...

Literary Madeleine: Sing a Song of Seasons

Sing a Song of SeasonsI believe this book belongs in every class­room, every home, and in every child’s life. It is a won­drous book to read, to look at, to mem­o­rize, and to talk about with the chil­dren around you. It is a Lit­er­ary Madeleine, scrump­tious in every way.

The full title is Sing a Song of Sea­sons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year, edit­ed by Fiona Water and illus­trat­ed by Frann Pre­ston-Gan­non, it is a won­der. Can you tell I’ve fall­en in love?

Imag­ine in your class­room, or in your home, that you have a rit­u­al of read­ing this book each day at a cer­tain time. The chil­dren will look for­ward to it. There are 333 pages in this large-for­mat book. You’ll find a poem for each day. Some­times there is one poem on two pages and some­times there are three poems on one page. They are often short poems (mem­o­riz­able) and once in awhile there’s a longer poem. The poet­ry ranges from “Who Has Seen the Wind?,” by Christi­na Roset­ti (Jan­u­ary 17th), to “April Rain Song,” by Langston Hugh­es (April 4th), to “Squishy Words (to Be Said When Wet),” by Alis­tair Reid (August 4th), to “At Nine of the Night I Opened My Door,” by Clive Caus­ley (Decem­ber 24th), 

I love the poet­ry selec­tions but I mar­vel at the illus­tra­tions. They are two-page spreads, paint­ed by one artist, and each one is a reward for turn­ing the page. A new sub­ject! Paint­ed with a new palette of col­ors! And the poem for that day is reflect­ed beau­ti­ful­ly in the sea­son­al­ly appro­pri­ate paint­ing.

SING A SONG OF SEASONS. Text com­pi­la­tion copy­right © 2018 by Fiona Waters. Illus­tra­tions copy­right © 2018 by Frann Pre­ston-Gan­non. Repro­duced by per­mis­sion of the pub­lish­er, Can­dlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Kate Wil­son, the pub­lish­er of this book, writes this in her intro­duc­tion: “For my sev­enth birth­day, my par­ents gave me a book that–like this one–contained hun­dreds of poems. It was a small, fat book with­out pic­tures. At first I found it daunt­ing: with­out pic­tures, there was noth­ing to catch my eye, noth­ing to lead me into the book. But one rainy  day after school, I took it down and began to read. And that was it for me: I fell in love with poet­ry, with rhyme, with rhythm, with the way that poet­ry squashed big feel­ings, big thoughts, big things, into tiny box­es of bril­liance for the read­er to unpack. It became my favorite book. I have it still. It is stuffed with lit­tle slips of paper that I used to mark the poems I liked best. As I grew old­er, those poems changed: a poem that baf­fled and bored me when I was sev­en revealed itself to me years lat­er. I learned many of them by heart and could still recite them to you now.”

I had a book like that: Favorite Poems Old and New: Select­ed for Boys and Girls, by Helen Fer­ris. I have it still. It brought me to poet­ry, which I start­ed writ­ing when I was in third grade. I have a respect and love for poet­ry to this day. And isn’t that what we want for our chil­dren? A steady path to con­nect with the beau­ty of words and big thoughts?

Sing a Song of Seasons

SING A SONG OF SEASONS. Text com­pi­la­tion copy­right © 2018 by Fiona Waters. Illus­tra­tions copy­right © 2018 by Frann Pre­ston-Gan­non. Repro­duced by per­mis­sion of the pub­lish­er, Can­dlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

The book’s design is thought­ful. There is a shiny rib­bon to mark your place. There is a Table of Con­tents for the book, a Table of Con­tents for each sea­son, an index of poets, an index of poems, and an index of first lines! You can find your favorite poem again and again. 

As your child grows to love poet­ry, as they get old­er, remem­ber to sup­ple­ment this book with oth­er slim vol­umes of poet­ry such as If You Were the Moon by Lau­ra Pur­die Salas, One Last Word: Wis­dom from the Harlem Renais­sance by Nik­ki Grimes, World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um, edit­ed by Lee Ben­nett Hop­kins, and Imag­ine by Juan Felipe Her­rera and Lau­ren Castil­lo. There are hun­dreds of won­der­ful books of poet­ry … but Sing a Song of Sea­sons will be a com­pelling door to that world.

Imag­ine each morn­ing in your class­room, pulling this book down from its spe­cial shelf, open­ing it to the day’s poem, show­ing your stu­dents the art for that day, and read­ing the poem out loud. If your stu­dents are old enough, per­haps a round-robin of chil­dren would read the day’s poem.

At home, what bet­ter way to start or end each day than with a few moments of qui­et while you read the book togeth­er?

Sing a Song of Seasons

SING A SONG OF SEASONS. Text com­pi­la­tion copy­right © 2018 by Fiona Waters. Illus­tra­tions copy­right © 2018 by Frann Pre­ston-Gan­non. Repro­duced by per­mis­sion of the pub­lish­er, Can­dlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Of course, you will open the book imme­di­ate­ly to find your birth­day poem and anniver­sary poem. Oak trees and acorns fig­ure large in our family’s life. We were delight­ed to find that the two-page illus­tra­tion for our anniver­sary is filled with oak leaves and acorns! Did I men­tion that I am in love with this book? You will be, too.

 

Read more...

imagine

ImagineThere are times when I open a new book that my pulse quick­ens and times when I need to be con­vinced. Some­times I can sense myself slid­ing com­fort­ably into the sur­round­ings of a pic­ture book, feel­ing wel­comed, under­stand­ing every­thing about the book because it is so well craft­ed. That’s this book.

First off, this is an auto­bi­og­ra­phy … so as a men­tor text it is ide­al. 

Bookol­o­gy has been focus­ing on sto­ries of immi­grants and refugees this fall and this is an excel­lent sto­ry to share for engag­ing empa­thy.

Most of all, it is writ­ten so lyri­cal­ly, so evoca­tive­ly, that you and your stu­dents will be charmed by Mr. Herrera’s sto­ry. He paints word pic­tures so well—and cap­tures emo­tions we all share in common—that we believe in this lit­tle boy. We can imag­ine our­selves tak­ing a jour­ney like his, attain­ing our dreams. 

If I helped Mom­ma feed
the hop­ping chick­ens
and catch the crazy turkey 
in the front yard
of our new vil­lage,

imag­ine”

This lit­tle boy, Juan Felipe Her­rera, grows up to become the Unit­ed States Poet Lau­re­ate (2015−2017) and win recog­ni­tion far and wide. This is the jour­ney he takes from a small child play­ing among chamomile to stand­ing on the steps of the Library of Con­gress, read­ing his poet­ry to the nation. (It’s also a good men­tor text for telling a life sto­ry in an under­stat­ed man­ner, with­out brag­ging.) It is an encour­ag­ing book, a fine exam­ple of what can come true if you imag­ine, if you work to make your dreams come to life.

Lau­ren Castillo’s illus­tra­tions are at once soft and strong, using a defin­ing black line against a warm, tex­tured back­ground. I found myself reach­ing out to touch the pages to expe­ri­ence the set­tings as they changed through­out Mr. Herrera’s life. Each illus­tra­tion invit­ed me to linger, to look at the home the boy is leav­ing behind, the creekbed he explores, the fre­quent changes in his sur­round­ings. These illus­tra­tions pro­vide depth and won­der and detail in all the right places. 

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed. This book belongs on tables in libraries, class­rooms, and homes where it can be eas­i­ly picked up and read again and again.

imag­ine
Juan Felipe Her­rera
illus­trat­ed by Lau­ren Castil­lo
Can­dlewick Press, 2018
ISBN 978–0763690526

Read more...

Eliza Wheeler

Eliza Wheeler

Eliza Wheel­er

Eliza Wheel­er is the fas­ci­nat­ing illus­tra­tor of many books, includ­ing John Ronald’s Drag­ons: The Sto­ry of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Pome­gran­ate Witch, and Tell Me a Tat­too Sto­ry. You can read about her work on her Wheel­er Stu­dio blog. For this inter­view, we are focus­ing on a series she has illus­trat­ed for Can­dlewick Press, the Cody books by Tri­cia Springstubb.

Your atten­tion to detail is astound­ing. Do you work on an illus­tra­tion from start to fin­ish before begin­ning the next one?

Thank you! I don’t work on illus­tra­tions from start to fin­ish, but rather devel­op sev­er­al at a time. For the Cody books, I worked on all the sketch­es at once, then inked all the linework, then fin­ished with all the water­col­or wash­es. This helps when I’m try­ing to meet a dead­line, because each stage has its own unique set-up.

Do you decide where an illus­tra­tion is appro­pri­ate with­in the text?

Decid­ing on where illus­tra­tions will be is usu­al­ly a col­lab­o­ra­tion with the art direc­tor. I read through the book for the first time and make notes about scenes that stand out as ones I’d have fun draw­ing, but also we’re hav­ing to think about spac­ing illus­tra­tions out even­ly in each chap­ter. In the Cody book series, we tried to make an illus­tra­tion land once every 2–3 spreads.

illus­tra­tion © Eliza Wheel­er, text © Tri­cia Springstubb, Cody and the Heart of a Cham­pi­on

Do you fig­ure out if it will be a spot illus­tra­tion or if it will spread across two pages? Do you decide where an illus­tra­tion will be on the pages?

When I sign the book con­tract, it’s stip­u­lat­ed how many spots, half page, full page, and spread illus­tra­tions there will be. So when I begin get­ting ideas for the illus­tra­tions, I’m decid­ing which for­mat would work best for that par­tic­u­lar one (with the help of the art direc­tor). For the Cody books, I was encour­aged to find var­ied place­ments for the illus­tra­tions on the page, and as long as it worked with the text space, I tried to have fun with the posi­tion of the illus­tra­tion.

revised sketch for Cody and the Heart of a Champion

illus­tra­tion © Eliza Wheel­er, text © Tri­cia Springstubb, Cody and the Heart of a Cham­pi­on, revised sketch

Do you work with an art direc­tor? What kind of direc­tion does that per­son give you? Do you have to edit your illus­tra­tions?

For chap­ter books I work with the art direc­tor, but for pic­ture books I’m often work­ing with both an art direc­tor and the book’s edi­tor. The art direc­tor helps me decide if an illus­tra­tion is work­ing, how the illus­tra­tions are flow­ing from page to page, whether I might be miss­ing details from the text, if a char­ac­ter isn’t look­ing quite right, or if I’m being con­sis­tent with scene details. There’s a lot of team­work involved in mak­ing books, and there are always many steps of edits and revi­sions along the way to get things work­ing well.

an example of Wyatt's t-shirts from Cody and the Heart of a Champion

illus­tra­tion © Eliza Wheel­er, Cody and the Heart of a Cham­pi­on Wyatt’s t-shirts

I love Wyatt’s t-shirts. Why do you take such care with design­ing them?

Wyatt’s shirts are fea­tured in a few places in book 1 and 2, and Cody is often “bor­row­ing” them from Wyatt’s bed­room.  This is Tri­cia Springstubb’s clever way of show­ing us more about Wyatt as a char­ac­ter, as well as Cody’s rela­tion­ship with him. Key advice that writ­ers hear is “show, don’t tell”, and I think Tri­cia is a mas­ter of this with this book series—she makes it look effort­less. Because Tricia’s tak­en the care of incor­po­rat­ing these visu­al ele­ments in the text, it’s become a part of who Wyatt is—he wears him­self on his sleeves! I like to infuse all of his clothes with his per­son­al­i­ty when I can.

Heart of a Champion illustration

illus­tra­tion © Eliza Wheel­er, text © Tri­cia Springstubb, Cody and the Heart of a Cham­pi­on, pages 54–55

On pages 54–55 (hard­cov­er), all of the feet and the shoes are unique to each per­son. There is no sense that you’re draw­ing the same per­son over and over. How do you man­age this?

It takes a lit­tle extra time, but even when there are side char­ac­ters that don’t come into the sto­ry, I like to try to give them their own iden­ti­ty. One way that I do this is by look­ing up pho­tos of kids in groups, on sports teams, or class pho­tos. Ref­er­enc­ing real kids makes it fun and easy to design groups of char­ac­ters.

illus­tra­tion © Eliza Wheel­er, text © Tri­cia Springstubb, Cody and the Heart of a Cham­pi­on, pages 88–89

On page 88, when you draw a bird on a branch, it has some­thing in its mouth. Why do you weave these details into your draw­ings?

Adding lit­tle scene details are always impor­tant to me, whether they’ve been described in the text or not, because I feel that they add valid­i­ty and inter­est to the sto­ry world. If we have a scene in Cody’s room, I try to add objects around that reflect her per­son­al­i­ty. Also, I think kids have a much bet­ter eye for details than adults do, and it’s some­thing I remem­ber car­ing about a lot as a kid (and still do as an adult).

Cody and the Heart of a Champion cover

cov­er art © Eliza Wheel­er,
Cody and the Heart of a Cham­pi­on

How do you decide the sub­ject of the cov­er … and the col­or palette for that cov­er?

I try to come up with an image that I feel cap­tures the gen­er­al spir­it of the book—it should give a sense of the char­ac­ters, the set­ting, and any promi­nent themes in the book. When I start­ed the Cody book series with book #1, I gave the art direc­tor and edi­tor sev­er­al ideas for dif­fer­ent lay­outs to choose from, and we revised those ideas until we land­ed on what the book cov­ers are now. For the books that fol­lowed, it was a mat­ter of keep­ing the same gen­er­al cov­er lay­out, but try­ing to give it a unique theme and col­or scheme, so that the books look like they belong to each oth­er while also stand­ing on their own. One thing that helped was that each book hap­pens over a dif­fer­ent sea­son dur­ing one year, so I was able to be inspired by the col­ors of each sea­son.

Do you work on the illus­tra­tions for one book at a time?

For books in a series, yes, I work on one book at a time in sequence. Often the author is writ­ing the next book while I’m illus­trat­ing their pre­vi­ous book. In gen­er­al, I’m often jug­gling book projects; illus­trat­ing for chap­ter books, mid­dle grade, and pic­ture books at the same time, and jump­ing between book worlds can be chal­leng­ing!

Do you have any tips for draw­ing char­ac­ters con­sis­tent­ly?

Yes! That is a par­tic­u­lar­ly chal­leng­ing task. I start the series by doing Char­ac­ter Stud­ies of the book’s char­ac­ters, and for each book add sketch­es of new side char­ac­ters as they’re intro­duced. After each book is fin­ished, I col­lage togeth­er a doc­u­ment with images of the char­ac­ters through­out the series, so that I can com­pare char­ac­ter draw­ings in the new book to make sure they look right.

Cody and the Heart of a Champion character studies

illus­tra­tion © Eliza Wheel­er, Cody and the Heart of a Cham­pi­on, char­ac­ter stud­ies

Cody and the Heart of a Champion character collage

illus­tra­tion © Eliza Wheel­er, Cody and the Heart of a Cham­pi­on, char­ac­ter col­lage

___________________

Thank you, Eliza, for help­ing us bet­ter under­stand how you infuse enchant­ment into the books you illus­trate. The care you and Tri­cia take makes Cody an unfor­get­table char­ac­ter.

Learn more about Eliza Wheel­er.

Read more...

The Secret Kingdom

The Secret KingdomThis book is irre­sistible. For all kinds of rea­sons.

Remem­ber when you were a kid, or maybe you do this now, how you’d take what­ev­er was at hand and cre­ate a house, a camp, an entire set­ting for you to play in? Where you could act out your sto­ries? Did you do this with found items from nature? Or things your fam­i­ly was throw­ing away? Did you scoop up cool fab­ric or papers to use when you need­ed them? Then this book is for you.

The author and illus­tra­tor tell the sto­ry of Nek Chand. It begins this way:

On the con­ti­nent of Asia, near the mighty Himalayas, in the Pun­jab region of long ago, sat the tiny vil­lage of Berian Kalan, the place Nek Chand Sai­ni called home.”

Claire A. Nevola, who is, I con­fess, one of my favorite illus­tra­tors because she knows how impor­tant the details are and seems to read my mind about what I need to know, begins with this illus­tra­tion.

from The Secret Kingdom, illustrated by Claire A. Nivola

sculp­ture by Bri­an Mar­shall

As you can see on the cov­er of the book, there are bro­ken pots and rib­bons and warped bicy­cle wheels, just the sort of thing you and I might have col­lect­ed. Per­haps you still do. (Anoth­er con­fes­sion, I have a Pin­ter­est board where I keep exam­ples of char­ac­ters made from Found Objects, so col­lect­ing bits and scraps is always on my mind. Here’s one of the char­ac­ters I find so charm­ing.)

Barb Rosen­stock tells the sto­ry. Nek Chand is born a sto­ry­teller. He notices the peo­ple and the world around him. He appre­ci­ates his vil­lage and the peo­ple, the com­mu­ni­ty, with whom he lives. Until the Pun­jab is split into two coun­tries, Pak­istan and India. Nek’s vil­lage is in Pak­istan, which is now Mus­lim. His fam­i­ly is Hin­du. “The Sai­ni fam­i­ly fled at night, walk­ing for twen­ty-four days across the new bor­der into India. Nek car­ried only vil­lage sto­ries in his bro­ken heart.” 

We have seen cur­rent pho­tos. The night­ly news tells us sto­ries (not enough of them) of the peo­ple who are leav­ing their much-loved homes. The Secret King­dom takes place in 1947. It could be tak­ing place today.

What is most impor­tant about this book is that it the true sto­ry of what one man does to wrap him­self in the mem­o­ries of home. With much effort, Nek finds a spot in the jun­gle near his new town. Patient­ly, he begins to clear a space, col­lect dis­card­ed trea­sures and boul­ders from riverbeds, and “half-dead plants from the city dump.” He began to tell his sto­ries by cre­at­ing art, a sanc­tu­ary, a place he could feel at home. 

He’s built all this on gov­ern­ment land. After many years, he is dis­cov­ered, and the gov­ern­ment intends to demol­ish all of his art­work. 

Every­one in Chandi­garh learned his secret. Offi­cials were out­raged. Nek Chand Sai­ni should lose his job!

His King­dom would be destroyed.

Until the peo­ple of Chandi­garh came.”

That stopped my breath­ing. It was the peo­ple who rec­og­nized imme­di­ate­ly how impor­tant this secret king­dom of Nek Chand’s tru­ly was. And it was the peo­ple who worked to save it. 

At the end of the sto­ry, there is a tru­ly appro­pri­ate fold-out sec­tion with pho­tographs that will have you say­ing, “Yes! I under­stand why this had to be saved. I would have worked with the com­mu­ni­ty to do this.”

Nek Chand (pho­to: Gilles Prob­st, Wiki­me­dia Com­mons)

A biog­ra­phy of Nek Chand is in the Author’s Note, help­ing the read­er under­stand how impor­tant and vital this man was. He died at age 90 in 2015. His art remains.

This is the sto­ry of what one per­son can do to pre­serve our sto­ries. It is also the sto­ry of how a com­mu­ni­ty of peo­ple can pro­tect, defend, and pre­serve what is tru­ly impor­tant to them. It is an irre­sistible true sto­ry.

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed for school and home.

The Secret King­dom: Nek Chand, a Chang­ing India, and a Hid­den World of Art
writ­ten by Barb Rosen­stock
illus­trat­ed  by Claire A. Nivola
pub­lished by Can­dlewick Press, 2017
ISBN 978−0−7636−7475−5

Read more...

Skinny Dip with Mira Bartók

Mira Bartok

Mira Bartók, author and illus­tra­tor, recent­ly ush­ered The Won­der­ling into the world and it is already on sev­er­al best of 2017 book lists. Con­grat­u­la­tions, Mira, and thanks for shar­ing your respons­es with our read­ers.

When did you first start read­ing books?

Age 4.

The Arrival, Shaun TanAll-time favorite book?

The Arrival by Shaun Tan.

Favorite break­fast or lunch as a kid?

Lunch: grilled cheese sand­wich, mashed pota­toes, and choco­late milk!

What’s your leasst favorite chore?

Vac­u­um­ing.

What’s your favorite part of start­ing a new project?

Read­ing all kinds of books and tak­ing ran­dom notes, and also going to muse­ums to sketch objects and paint­ings that relate to what I’m work­ing on.

Bare­foot? Socks? Shoes? How would we most often find you at home?

Soft, com­fy socks.

When are you your most cre­ative?

When I’m not pro­mot­ing a book, and when I turn off all elec­tron­ic devices. And my brain is usu­al­ly explod­ing with ideas when I’m either in a muse­um or walk­ing in the woods. 

Favorite fla­vor of ice cream?

Mint choco­late chip.

Landscape with Invisible Hand, M.T. AndersonBook on your bed­side table right now?

There are sev­er­al: M.T. Anderson’s Land­scape with Invis­i­ble Hand, two vol­umes of fairy tales by 19th cen­tu­ry Scot­tish writer George Mac­Don­ald, the first Red­wall book (I still haven’t read the series!), and a new short sto­ry col­lec­tion called The Age of Per­pet­u­al Light by a  bril­liant young writer named Josh Weil.

What’s your hid­den tal­ent?

I think I sightread piano music pret­ty fast. 

Your favorite toy as a child …

A lit­tle stuffed pony named: PONY

Favorite artist? Why?

South African artist William Ken­tridge. Because his work is avant-garde yet acces­si­ble, per­son­al and polit­i­cal, and intel­lec­tu­al and emo­tion­al.

William Kentridge

A Uni­ver­sal Archive, copy­right William Ken­tridge

tarantulaWhich is worse: spi­ders or snakes?

I love them both! I worked in a zoo and han­dled every­thing, includ­ing taran­tu­las!

What’s your best con­tri­bu­tion to tak­ing care of the envi­ron­ment?

I’m not sure which is my own best con­tri­bu­tion but I know that com­post­ing and recy­cling every day is super easy and real­ly helps. 

Why do you feel hope­ful for humankind?

It’s hard to feel hope­ful these days but when I see the lit­tle lit­tles of the world expe­ri­ence won­der, it give me hope. So I sup­pose I feel hope­ful because of them.

Read more...

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 247, 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...